xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Driven to distraction

Monday, 26 May 2014

Driven to distraction

What a day!
We eventually arrived safe and sound and finished up snug as a bug in a rug at our friend Angela’s sister's farm in Yannathan, Gippsland. But what a performance getting there.

We arrived around 7-30 pm after setting of from Corryong at  9-00am. In the meantime we covered over 600 hundred kilometres of Victoria along the Murray Valley and into Ned Kelly country at Beechworth, Glenrowan and the Strathbogie Ranges. You may be interested to know that I bought petrol at the BP service station in Glenrowan, where no doubt, Ned also bought his petrol!

Before we left Corryong we purchased a map of Victoria and a map of Melbourne. However, after a short time on the road, Navigator Lesley informed me that the map of Victoria did show any location for the town of Yannathan. All we knew was that it was about 100 kilometres east of Melbourne and south of the Dandenong Ranges.

“That is no problem for us,” I said to Navigator Lesley in the sort of calming voice airline pilots use when their port engine has burst into flames half way across the Pacific. “We can use my iPad. The Map App will plot a path for us all the way from Corryong to Thwaites Road in Yannathan.”

I pulled over to the side of the road and keyed in our Current Location and Destination. Quick as flash three blue lines appeared on the iPad map. I chose the route that would take us close to Beechworth and the Kelly Country. We followed the instruction from the lady who lives in my iPad and pretty soon we were cruising southwards along The Hume Highway towards Albury-Wodonga. We were enjoying the drive, confident that we knew exactly where we were going and that we were on the right track to get there. Along the way we diverted to the east, off the Hume Highway and headed into Kelly Country. The lady who lives in my IPad, calm as always, told us that she was re calculating our journey. What a little treasure she is?

We enjoyed a pleasant stopover in Beechworth, which is more than can be said for brave Ned Kelly, who spent two periods incarcerated in the large and foreboding Beechworth Gaol. As we left Beechworth, the iPad lady gave us new instructions and we headed south once more. We passed Mount Buffalo and travelled through rugged high country and fertile valleys.

At length we started to drive in increasingly dense traffic. It was beautiful spring afternoon and it seems most of Victoria was out doing a bit of Sunday driving. Every now and again the iPad lady would tell us to turn left at the next roundabout or take the second exit at the next round about. We followed her instructions, but I was becoming concerned that we seemed to be heading west, into Melbourne’s CBD, instead of south or east to where I thought Yannathan was, relative to the city.

At about three o' clock in the afternoon, as we were driving on a particularly busy road, Navigator Lesley calmly informed me that the iPad was indicating that it had 10% battery power left. We tried to conserve power but by four pm the battery was flat and we were in heavy traffic heading towards Melbourne...that is, away from Angela's place in Gippsland.

We pulled into a service station. The very friendly young man behind the counter said, when I asked, that he had never heard of Yannathan. He quickly pulled out his iPhone, located the place and started writing directions. As he had to serve his customer as well, it took him about fifteen minutes. As the customers came in to pay their petrol bills I asked each one of them, “Do you know how to get to Yannathan?” Some looked at me as if it was some kind of Candid Camera set up. Others seemed to be personally affronted that they did not know the name of every town and village in Victoria.

“Are you sure it is Victoria?” they would ask, as if I had to be searching for a place somewhere west of The Black Stump. Eventually the pleasant young fellow behind the counter handed over a piece of paper with along list of precise instructions as how to get from our present location to Thwaites Road in Yannathan. He looked at me as if I was going out on a night patrol along the Kokoda Track, with little chance of surviving till morning.

“You are about 100 kilometres away from Yannathan and you have a great deal of driving ahead of you,” he said as he bid us farewell. His final words were, “Basically you need to continue along this road until you reach the Ringwood Bypass, turn right and then you will come to the Melbourne Eastlink exit, then you eventually get onto The Princes Highway. Get on to that and follow the instructions. Good luck.”

The instructions worked perfectly…for twenty minutes. We set off in the direction he indicated and, after about ten kilometres, found the Ringwood Bypass. That should have eventually led us to the Melbourne Eastlink. Unfortunately, in the great throng of traffic I missed the appropriate exit and finished up heading into the Melbourne CBD via the Melba Tunnel, which seemed to be about four kilometres long. Soon after we emerged from the tunnel, I managed to take an exit and headed back east in search of an entry to the Eastlink.

We did find an on ramp to the Eastlink and we also found a big sign saying Eastlink On Ramp Closed. Great! We decided to drive along another road heading east and try and get on the Eastlink further down the line. After about twenty minutes we found another on ramp for the Eastlink. Unfortunately, we also found another sign telling us that this Eastlink on ramp was closed.

Back again to the suburban streets and another search for an Eastlink entry. Same result. Entry closed. The strange thing was that although the entries to the Eastlink were signed as closed, there were no detour signs or any indication of an alternative route to Gippsland and the Dandenong Ranges.

So, without any map references and a dead iPad, we set off like Columbus. Unlike him, we were heading east instead of west, but, just like him, we did not have a clue as to where we were going. I knew that Fern Tree Gully was at the foot of the Dandenongs and we headed in that direction. The only good thing that we had going for us was that Victoria was on Daylight Saving time so, even though it was now well past 6-30pm, the light was still good.

We looked in vain for any road signs indicating the Eastlink; Monash Highway, Princes Highway, Gippsland or surrounding towns like Drouin or Pakenham. Eventually, we pulled into the Fern Tree Gully shopping area and decided to call Angela on Navigator Lesley’s mobile telephone to get some sort of direction.

Well, this worked very well. Angela directed us across several suburbs until we hit the M1, or the Monash Freeway, which later became the Princes Freeway to Gippsland. After about forty five minutes, Angela eventually led us to the strangely named Koo We Rup exit. In fact there were three exits to Koo We Rup and we had to take the third one. I immediately wondered how a little place like Koo Wee Rup could have three freeway exits but the Eastlink off the Ringwood Bypass only had one. 
In the fading light we thought we were home and hosed. But no! Angela said the farm was still about twenty kilometres away so we needed a lot more guidance. Still, we were in the neighbourhood and getting closer.Then Navigator Lesley told me, very calmly, that her mobile phone indicated only 10% of battery was left. We drove bravely onwards, into the gathering gloom. The phone cut out just as we reached Thwaites Road. We drove about two kilometres along this road, found the farm gate entry and were soon enjoying warm and friendly rural hospitality provided by Angela, her sister Jo, husband, Matt and their three children. It was really great to be in a family atmosphere once again and we were very grateful for the hospitality extended from this very lovely family.

We spent the next day exploring scenic Phillip Island and enjoyed a pleasant lunch outdoors, overlooking Bass Strait at the picturesque seaside resort town of Kilcunda. It was a bright, sunny day and after lunch we sat for an hour in the car, listening to classical music in stereo and gazing out across a beautiful bay towards Bass Strait. Tasmania was somewhere over the horizon. Oscar Wilde said, "Life wasn't meant to be easy, but it was mean't to be interesting." Well, Oscar, old boy, sometimes it can be really beautiful, too.

After our very pleasant stay in Yannathan, we set off on the Tuesday morning  for Melbourne, where we had already booked our accommodation via the internet well before we had left Perth in early March. In fact, when the Queen Mary2 was in Melbourne we had actually visited the hotel to check out the location. WE noted that Little Bourke Street was a one way street from the Spring Street end. 

We arrived at the Punt Road exit just a little over an  hour later. I was familiar with this part of Dear Old Melbourne Town and soon entered Spring Street, heading straight for our hotel in Little Bourke Street. I was just remarking to Navigator Lesley how easy the path to our hotel had been, when I noticed a police car blocking off the top end of Spring Street, diverting traffic away from Little Bourke Street. Away from our hotel. Oh, no. Not again? Once more we had found the right road, only to find it closed off by officialdom, this time, not by a detour sign, or three, but by a burly copper.

So for the next hour we drove around and around Melbourne. I even drove out to Brunswick, but there was nowhere to park, so we just kept driving. Finally, on about our fourth sweep up Spring Street, the police car had vanished and we turned left into little Bourke Street and checked into our hotel.

I am happy to say that, despite the driving misadventures, our stay in Melbourne made all of it worthwhile.

1 comment:

  1. Jane Comment Fairy15 June 2014 at 11:35

    Hi Dad,
    the reason why you didn't see the word verification is because you are the author of the blog. If you sign out of google/blog and then try and leave a comment it will request you to write the letters/numbers to prove you're not a robot. Try and it and see! You'll have to sign back in though to write a post.
    It definitely works as I have to write numbers in to publish this comment!
    Love Jane xxx


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