Back road or commuter’s highway?

Michael Matheson       Journalist
There’s a reason why I choose the back roads, but on my last long drive I didn’t. I took the highway.
Main roads are generally so much better now by any measurable standard, and for this drive I needed good roads. It was an overnight, 1800km round trip to collect a ute-load of things. Time and distance where equally important — I had to eat miles.
I plotted a route on the best roads there were, including a few hundred kilometres of the northern New England Hwy in NSW. There’s a lot of dual carriageway up there now, and the slow, dangerous bits have been replaced by wide, straight and open highway. Easy.
But this is not a driver’s road. It is a commuter’s road. It is a road for travelling efficiently from A to B. Covering long distances is simple and relaxing, though I wouldn’t call it enjoyable.
All too often I could look out my window and see remnants of the old New England Hwy snaking around a hill that had been cleaved by the new dual carriageways. Reminders of the days when the road was fun.
Back roads 1
Of course, it was only fun if you were really driving. And only if the road was empty, which it could never be today. So I acknowledge it’s better that the old road is gone and the new one rules.
But if I hadn’t been on a mission I’d have been heading south for Armidale on the road from Grafton via Ebor. That’s a driver’s road.

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