Monday, 11 June 2012

Day Ten of a Camper Holiday! - Homeward Bound

After dropping the Joey off in Dubbo on day nine, we over-nighted in Blayney. Blayney is a place rooted in both mine and A's family history. My maternal-maternal great grandfather was born here, and Blayney is also just up the road from A's father's childhood town of Carcoar.

The weather in Blayney was less than kind - minus 4 degrees, and the reverse-cycle air conditioner iced up again which meant yet another cold, noisy night.

As this was our last day on the road, we promised the kids McDonald's for lunch - conditional on good behaviour - and went visiting A's two remaining grandparents.

Our kids have been very lucky - luckier than most in that they have been able to meet and have some level of relationship with three of their great grandparents. My Oma has only passed on recently leaving the kids with two great grandparents, both of which are A's grandparents.

These great grandparents have recently moved into nursing homes - one in Bathurst, and the other in Taralga. So our itinerary was set: Bathurst nursing home, Taralga nursing home, Goulburn McDonald's, and then home to unpack and clean the camper.

The visit to Bathurst went well, and Nan was pleased to see us. She was in fine spirits, and the children behaved, remembered their manners and interacted well with her and each other.

During this visit a dark cloud was settling over my thoughts: The Oberon-Goulburn road crosses the Abercrombie River near Black Springs, and this crossing is at the bottom of a very deep gorge.

A very steep-sided deep gorge. With a little wooden bridge at the bottom.

The largest vehicle I had taken over that crossing before now was a Toyota HiAce. When driving out of the gorge, I recall the road being so steep that I was supporting my weight by holding on to the steering wheel. Parts of the road are not only very very steep, but there are strange cambers too.

I was not looking forward to taking 4490 kilograms of motor home through the gorge.

On the drive from Oberon to the top of the descent, I realised I was worrying too much about this gorge. After all I had followed tipper and dog combinations, and once I had even followed a semi-trailer.

This road is steep - we are the same height as the horizon.
Also note the camber of the road
- it's not too clear, but the road is leaning hard to the left.
So I calmed myself down, took a deep breath, set the gearbox to operate only in second gear, and started down the side of the gorge. At this point I was cursing silently over whatever rules forbid vehicles of less than 4.5 tonnes being fitted with exhaust brakes in Australia. I really could have used them.

With the motor home hanging off the gearbox at about 35 kilometres per hour and my view of the steep descent below, my only job was now to steer and periodically apply the brake. There was little else for me to do.

The bridge crossing the Abercrombie River.
Photo by Grahamec
The little wooden bridge crossing the river was looking worse for wear - part of the rails which prevent one from driving off the edge were missing, probably damaged in the recent floods.

The drive up the other side of the gorge was as slow as the descent.

Grandad in Taralga was pleased to see us, and broke into his usual story telling mode. Despite his frailty, this means that he is doing just fine.

After a quick stop at McDonald's we arrived home and began the long process of moving out of the camper and back into our own home.

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