Paula and Chris together:— After a quick breakfast of toast
with spaghetti/ baked beans and a pack of the car we set off. I took the first stint to Yass. Two and a half hours later we paid homage to the Golden Arches by stopping for coffee and a frappe. I
then waited in a queue that wound its way back into the restaurant (for want of a better word) to gain access to one of only four toilets. As I waited, breathing in the pungent odour of reconstituted sausages, eggs and bacon, I reflected on the fact that this had become another one of those modern Australian travel rituals that was being practised in Maccas all over Australia as a way of bribing children (both young and old) to cope with the next stage of their journey to whatever seaside destination they were heading to before they asked the question dreaded by all traveling parents: “are we there yet?”

With coffee, frappe and Boxing Day
Herald ( half the news content but double the ads ) in hand we
commenced the next stage of the journey to Griffith. It wasn’t long
before the frappe & coffee took effect so we had to make a
short detour at a Rest & Revive stop St Young where some
enterprising local was trying to offload boxes of cherries. In
deference to Dorothea Mackellar we won’t comment on the sweeping
plains because there was almost 1,000 kms of them but it was
extraordinary to drive along the Murrumbidgee in flood, everything
was so green. We felt very proud of the fact that we were so well
prepared for our journey to the point where we had organized both
lunch and dinner, that was until we reached the “fruit fly border”
and realized that most of our foodstuffs had to be disposed of as
toxic waste. We then spent the remainder of the journey on the
lookout for a place that sold salad items that weren’t green. But
alas the only sign of life in any of these towns was a $2 shop in
Griffith (obviously operated by Buddhists) which was selling
discounted Christmas decorations and Tshirts for those beginning
their 2011 Christmas shopping. I took over the wheel and headed to
Hay where we stopped for a bottle of Coke not realizing that in
Hay, Coke was like Grange Hermitage, every drop was precious and
expensive. The drive to Balranald was the most boring part of the
journey; 187kms of flat saltbush punctuated by emus and flooded
billabongs. The Club Motel in Balranald was a welcome sight (
particularly when you looked at the alternatives- the Motel Sturt,
the Caravan park and the Shamrock Hotel.) We injected some cash
into the local economy by having a drink in the Ex Serviceman’s
Club next door ( with the other 6 customers) and were pleasantly
surprised to find evidence of civilization through bottled boutique
beer and Sav Blanc! We finished the Christmas ham for dinner
accompanied by GREEN salad ( sadly our quest for colour came to
nought) and washed down with Hay’s finest bottle of Grange. We went
for a walk through town but suddenly the wind came up; curiously
all was calm in the rest of the town except around us, where the
ghost of Christmas Dinners Past was raising a gale. We didn’t need
aerogard: Paula was knocking the mosses down with gas attacks
reminiscent of the Somme in 1916. Once ventilated, there was
nothing for it but bed. The TV had nothing on except the same
movies that Sydney had a week ago. By Adelaide, we should be able
to enjoy the second series of West Wing on its first run. Time
zones are amazing!