Wollongong to Albury – Day 1 of Road Trip March 2020

(Driving Distance Approximately 500klm or 310 miles)

Friday 6th March 2020

Australians have coped with extended drought, water restrictions, unprecedented bush fires, flooding rains, and the threat of cyclones, but the thing that has brought them undone is the fear of running out of toilet paper during the Corona Virus crisis.

Social media is running riot. Photos of empty supermarket shelves and jokes abound. Bill even took a photo of our local supermarket this morning, just to prove to me it is true (but I can’t get the photo off his phone to include on this post).

I’ve read various high-brow academic reasons for this panic buying, but really, I don’t think any sane person can explain it. Clearly it is a first-world problem, and I think the root cause is that telephone books are now on the internet and not printed on paper. Cut up phone books served the purpose perfectly well in my childhood. Of course, we didn’t have sewerage either, so the paper did not need to flush down the loo. Minor difference.  Sydney Water has even posted notices reminding people that “Items such as tissues, kitchen roll, newspaper and wet wipes don’t break down within our systems, and can lead to blockages.”

So Bill and I have risen above the pandemonium and headed off on our latest road trip. We’ve abdicated our responsibility to join the rush to stock-up, and passed that on to the owners of the motels at which we will stay en-route.

Today, Day One, was only a positioning drive for the exploration that is, to come. Heading west from our home in Wollongong, we joined the M31, the main highway which runs from Sydney to Melbourne, following a section of the brown route on this map below.  The traditional name for the M31 is the Hume Highway,  named after Australian explorer Hamilton Hume (1797-1873) who in 1824 pioneered the route with fellow explorer William Hovell.

Of the towns marked on the below map, we drove the section from Mittagong to Albury/Wodonga, skirting Canberra, which requires a turn-off the M31.

See the source image

Source: https://www.sydneymelbournetouring.com Accessed 6/3/2020

Our destination is Ballarat, which is about halfway between Bendigo and Geelong on the above map. Rather than drive straight through, we have overnighted at Albury, which is on the New South Wales side of the border created by the Murray River. It is twinned with Wodonga, which is on the Victorian side of the river.

Since it was late morning when we got away, we were ready for lunch by the time we reached Goulburn. This regional town was one of the first inland settlements and for a long time before the gold rush was the extent of European settlement in colonial times. It is still an important pastoral area, as boasted by the “Big Merino” which greets visitors as they enter town.

In the main street, we stumbled across the Paragon Cafe, which dates back to the 1940s and was quite possibly first established by Greek immigrants, as it is typical of the Art Deco, American-style cafes they introduced to Australia. Inside the large space, there were booths as well as tables, gilded panels of mirrors, high ceilings, and pendant lights; and a long mahogany bar. It was very busy and seemed popular with locals, as well as others passing through like us. The menu was extensive and servings large. The tastes were pleasant but not outstanding. I had a giggle over my savoury crepe. They used the same batter as for the dessert crepes, and the sweetness was not the right match with chicken and asparagus. The TV chef, Gordon Ramsay, would have something to say about that. A nice touch though, was they offer a separate menu for gluten free, which made it simpler for Bill to choose. Anyway, the Paragon Cafe in Goulburn is a quaint nostalgic visit for coffee and cake, or basic home-style, cafe comfort food.

Without stopping, the drive should have taken us around 5.5 hours, but lunch, and a later toilet stop further down the highway, added an hour to that. At the comfort break we fell into conversation with a lady with two lovely white dogs. One was a Shih Tzu cross, but the other turned out to be a breed I hadn’t seen before, an Irish Wheaten Terrier. Hers was even whiter than in the below photo.

That’s all for today. A bit low key, but I expect there will be plenty more to write about in the coming weeks as we wind our way through three Australian states.

GG Friday 6th March 2020

25 thoughts on “Wollongong to Albury – Day 1 of Road Trip March 2020

  1. The ‘toilet paper’ panic appears to have struck the UK too. Totally bizarre, but has also spawned some rather amusing photos on Twitter. It seems that some folk decided to take piles of our less salubrious newspapers off their stands and re-arrange them along the empty shelves as an alternative to the sold-out loo paper.
    Hope you enjoy your trip and please may I have the Irish Wheaten woof😍.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gorgeous dog. We’re getting plenty of joke mileage out of the toilet paper debacle. But an elderly mother and her daughter were charged with assault for setting upon another shopper who was trying to get “just one packet” when they were grabbing all the stock. The mother threw herself across the trolley to guard their hoard! Amazing behaviour. A month ago we were giving our all to support victims of bush-fires, now we can’t spare a roll of paper.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the strangest thing about this is there’s similar footage from UK and USA to yours – totally bizarre. And, although there’s reports of loo paper shortages in the rest of Europe, Japan and South Korea I’ve not seen footage of people fighting over it. Maybe that’s got more to do with the confidence of bystanders to film and upload such disappointing behaviour. All round testing times.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Gwen and Bill I purchased some extra toilet paper didn’t last long as Leigh and family arrived for dinner last Thursday and not being organised took some of my extra stock with them, just getting organised for QE2 today and Lindsay of for his golf holiday at 6.30 am today have a great time travel safe a I am sure you will have a great holiday Marion xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They might have been a bit tired but Gwen wasn’t to tired to talk about everything. We all enjoyed a good time and Bill had to stop Gwen now and then so I could get a word in.


  4. NZ people have been buying up toilet paper too, our shelves in the local supermarket were almost empty when I shopped on Thursday. Look forward to reading your blog, we have travelled that route too. Cheers Lynne


  5. Have a great trip. We head north to the Sunshine Coast on Monday – although not much sunshine is predicted. Our local supermarket has a sign warning that they have imposed a temporary limit of 4 packs of toilet paper per transaction. My mind revels in thoughts about what I could do with 4 packs of toilet paper. love. Chris.


  6. Great blog Gwen! You certainly get on with it and give real good info on what you are doing. Hadn’t realised you were leaving this week! Have a great trip – we’ll miss you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t get the TP thing, but try to find travel size disinfectant wipes – impossible. The US Olympic Track and Field Trials are scheduled for Eugene in June – will be interesting to see if they’re cancelled. Great time for a road trip – airplanes probably not… Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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