11 February 2009

Driving back to NSW Via Mount Lindesay

"Even the cane toads weren't distracting me. I may as well have been at Le Mans with all its twists and turns...I drove on and came to a very small town (if you can call it that) called The Risk. It seemed an apt name given our journey over Mount Lindesay!"

During the Christmas period we drove to Ballina to spend time with my wife's side of the family. Christmas Day was certainly a big day especially for our two daughters. Santa somehow tracked down where they were staying and left lots of presents. Obviously he has a high tech GPS in his supersonic sleigh!

Anyway, on Christmas day one of No Worries cousins invited us to stay for a couple of days with her and her husband as it was their oldest daughter's 4Th birthday. So a couple of days later we set off to the town of Beaudesert in SE Queensland - situated sort of between Brisbane and the Gold Coast and sort of in the hinterland.

The drive was quite scenic once we turned off the Pacific Highway and head along the Beaudesert road. We arrived just as the birthday party was in full swing. During the afternoon we ate and drank lots. I spent a lot of the time in the lounge room with the other men watching South Africa give Australia a rare cricketing lesson.

Our stay there was very relaxing (and hot too!). We did experience a huge thunder storm that caused some damage to the area but not to where we were. The lightning was spectacular to watch, providing you were not out in it as we were for some of the time. It certainly made driving the last couple of kilometres interesting!

It was early evening two days later when we decided to head back to NSW and onto Lismore where we were going to spend some time with my mother in law. My Wife's cousin suggested taking the Mount Lindesay Highway which goes through to Kyogle in NSW and then onto Lismore. I checked our GPS and it indicated that it was the quickest way. In 2.5 hours we would be in Lismore!

We said our farewells and set off on the Mount Lindesay Highway. The sun had just set and the moon was up. The mountains looked fantastic in the twilight. It reminded me of some of the American road trips. If you used a small modicum of imagination you could have thought you were driving through parts of the Rockies or even on Route 66. It really was awesome.

I was in my element, it was becoming a great drive. Then all of the sudden my headlights caught some animals sitting on the road. They were cane toads. Initially I diverted around them but after a few kilometres there was no other option than to hit them. Occasionally you could hear a small 'thud' as a cane toad was hit by the car.

In the distance Mount Lindesay was getting closer. It is shaped a bit like a wedding cake and is certainly worth a view. By now it was dark and you had to drive on full beam to see the road. I had not seen any traffic going in the opposite direction except for one truck. Obviously the route was not used much. Then a sign appeared on the side of the road. It informed that for the next 16 kilometres the road would be very windy. No problems, I thought, I have driven on many long and winding roads (good title for a song I think!).

The road narrowed and started to wind sharply. What made this slightly different was that the turns were extremely acute. In places you could only go very slow to ensure that you stayed on the road. As the road climbed it was obvious that there was a steep drop on one side of the road. Also, the turns were continuous. I was turning the steering wheel from left to right continuously. Luckily we had power steering.

No Worries was worried. She was concerned that I might be taking the turns too fast and that if there was traffic coming the other way then we could have a problem. I, by now, was enjoying myself. I was alert and relishing the challenge. Even the cane toads weren't distracting me. I may as well have been at Le Mans with all its twists and turns. My wife, however, was starting to hyperventilate and holding the dashboard.

I could not understand her concerns. The car was handling the sharp bends very well. One stage I took a hand off the steering wheel to grab a bottle of water. No Worries started really freaking out! I knew that we had to get off this mountain road as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there were no turn offs. We continued driving up the mountain and then down the other side. Fortunately no cars or trucks were approaching from the other side. It was just us and darkness (and a few hundred cane toads).

Finally after what seemed like an hour we hit a straight road. There was a sign that said we had entered into NSW. It also had the words 'drive carefully'. I couldn't help but think the sign should also be facing the way we had come! Another thing we noticed was that there were much fewer cane toads. Maybe they need a passport to enter across the border!

After a brief stop I drove on and came to a very small town (if you can call it that) called The Risk. It seemed an apt name given our journey over Mount Lindesay! Maybe the town forefathers had a sense of humour when they named the town. That's the thing about country Australia some of the towns named seem to be quite funny. Possibly their names were devised after a drunken Friday night.

I drove on to Casino and let my wife drive the last 45 minutes. My back was hurting and I was starting to get tired. For the record I am certain there are no casinos in Casino.

My wife was still getting over her Mount Lindesay experience and was driving quite slow. I tactfully pointed out that she could go a little faster. A few minutes late we saw the lights of Lismore in the distance. No Worries told me she was glad to see them. We entered the outskirts of Lismore when No Worries suddenly stopped the car. She was having a delayed reaction to our journey. I got in the car and drove onto my mother in laws house.

When we got there No Worries said "can we never ever drive on that road again!". I told her that was fine - even though I wanted to do it all over again just for the adrenalin rush!

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