We pulled off the road and sat there wondering which way to go. We’d spent the morning climbing through the mountains between Tamworth and Armidale. There was another 100kms of Great Dividing Range to conquer before Coffs Harbour.
But there was a left turn that would take us directly to Grafton. Same distance, about 100kms but it would save us at least an hour tomorrow. Ah, what the heck, let’s do it.
The first 7 or 8 kms were OK, narrow and a bit windy, but I figured if this was the go, we’d be OK. Then the road narrowed more, started squiggling rather than waving and yep, climbing. Now Pat, our 1990 Patrol is in reasonable shape, but with the 20 foot van loaded with ‘stuff’, it doesn’t exactly laugh at the slopes. Within 10 kms I was down to second, and not for a short time … for a decent stretch. Tight corners and hairpin bends. Gulp. Nowhere to turn around now.
When we cruised into Grafton about two and half hours later it was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased we’d done it (as in, we can take this thing through any mountain pass now) or slap myself across the face and pronounce me a fool.
Actually I exaggerate, I wouldn’t have kept going if I thought we were being foolish, but it was challenging driving and I was pleased we didn’t meet any truck coming the other way. We’ve wandered up to the pub (a 4 or 5 km walk), had a good feed, talked to the kids, and caught up on the news.
Tomorrow … well I have been looking forward to being in Byron Bay for a long time, It will be sweet.