Day 105 Saturday 17/9/2022 Maitland to Marulan, 23 @ Hawkesbury 13 @ Sthn Highlands
It was a cool night and we woke to dew on the grass. Trotters are clop-clopping around the arena.
The GPS (she who didn’t know Blomfield Street) is now telling us to turn left out of the park into Blomfield Street. Within 5 mins we’re on the Hunter Expressway then the M1. We whinge about the joins in the concrete road and over the radio VeeWee says “ Did ya tighten your bra straps this morning.” That’ll give the truckies a laugh. On the radio we hear of floods on the Newell Highway at Dubbo and a possible evacuation of the zoo. How on earth do you evacuate a zoo?
At least we’re doing this stretch on a Saturday there are less trucks, and the traffic is fair. We pull up for a coffee at the Hawkesbury River restaurant area. The coffee is brilliant, and the young barista is quite a character. He makes a point of putting his large dog in the car so as not to scare little Nic who is a toy poodle. Standing in the sun sipping our coffees we remark on what a lovely day it is and of course, we’re still in Tshirts and shorts.
We’re all rather excited about going through the new North Connex tunnel which we’ve waited so long for. The drive through the bottleneck at Pennant Hills between the M7 and the Newcastle Expressway was always a nightmare for caravanners. We’re happy to pay the toll for the 9km shortcut. However, the poor old GPS gets her knickers in a twist trying to figure out where we are. Even though I updated her before we came away and the tunnel has been open for a year, she still didn’t recognise it. As we descend into the sandstone bedrock of Sydney she’s shouting “Turn right, turn right” before dissolving into “Satellite Lost!” At the tunnel’s deepest point there is sparkly lighting in the ceiling which generates a few oohs and aahs from other motorists on the CB radio.
We quickly leave Sydney behind and the weather turns. There’s light rain and congestion on the Hume Highway.
Our destination is the Terminus Hotel at Marulan. It has a paddock out the back for caravans and as informed over the phone, we park on the drier high side. We don’t want to be dragged out by a tow truck. There’s a vicious wind blowing, and the temperature has dropped to 13, that’s 13! Ten degrees cooler than at our morning coffee stop. We wander into the bar to introduce ourselves and are enveloped in rustic warmth. A wood fire is burning, and a small dog is sprawled in front of it. When we ask what time dinner starts, we are told “12:00”. Assuming that now we’re out of town and lunch is dinner and dinner is tea, Woody asks after tonight’s dinner. But we’re told that meals start at noon and go all day. Phew, glad we got that cleared up.
After lunch, we brace ourselves for a walk around town as it is too interesting to miss just because of a little chill. Marulan used to be one of the many towns dotted along the old Hume Highway as it wound through the hills on its way to Sydney. The town was bypassed in 1985 leaving a feast of heritage buildings. The town was established in 1820 and one can imagine the new settlers slowly moving out along the Great South Road which would become the road to Melbourne (Melbourne wasn’t founded until 1835). The Station Master’s house was built in 1868 as the rail came through and there are many interesting buildings, though I particularly liked the bone-shaped handrails on the butcher’s steps.
We wander back into the pub at 4:00pm for caravanner’s happy hour. The fire is blazing and the carpet is worn where half chihuahua Pixie the Publican likes to warm herself. This is a friendly pub with a welcoming ambience. The Terminus Hotel has been continuously trading since the early 1860’s and is one of the longest-trading pubs in NSW. Are those convict pick marks in the sandstone window ledges? With an AFL footy finals match soon to start we have an early dinner by the open fire in the dining room. A smooth red and lip-smacking lamb shanks makes it a perfect wintry evening though it does feel like we’re in some kind of time warp. Have we perhaps flown in from somewhere? This morning we were drinking coffee in T-shirts in the warm sunshine and now we’re in a winter scene, bare trees, icy winds and rugged up in our winter woolies.
Back at the van, we batten the hatches, turn on the diesel heater and watch Collingwood lose their chance for a go at the Premiership by one measly point!
And speaking of missing, one thing that we did miss today was the fact that Marulan is the only town in the world that is on the 150degree Meridien. This means that at each equinox sunrise is precisely 6:00am and sunset 6:00pm. Which I reckon says that one should do a bit of research instead of wandering about aimlessly and snapping yellow spotted birds.
Accom: $0 however a drink or meal in the pub is obligatory (self-contained vans only)
Fuel: $67.94 (197.9 c/l)
Towing Kms: 318kms