Over the next three weeks I am off to India, to visit some old friends and have a holiday. I have been looking forward to this trip. I love travelling, I love going overseas and I have never been to India.
I am a little nervous; Will I like the India? Will India like me? What about the poverty? Will it be too dirty? Will it rain? Etc., etc.
To get there is going to be a grand adventure in itself. I need to be in Brisbane this week to do some programming and one of my sons is at “Schoolies” on the Gold Coast. Therefore, we’re going to fly from Coolangatta airport to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Southern India. In Southern India we will tour around for a week and then take an overnight train to Goa. Yes, that’s planes, trains and auto-mobiles…
So for the first leg of the journey I am going to drive. I have decided to drive for a number of reasons, not least of which is to carry computers and monitors with me to Brisbane for the work I need to do.
I have also decided to take my time on the drive North and elected to use The Bucket’s Way north of Newcastle up through the Great Dividing Range and pop out near Taree for the first night and then the drive on the second day will be along The Summerland Way through Casino and over Mount Lindesay. A significant detour compared to competing with the Power Rangers blasting up the Pacific Highway, covering the 900 kilometres in one day, but there are a number of significant road works on the Pacific Highway and I’m not in a major hurry.
As soon as you pull off the Pacific Highway an air of calm descends. People still drive quickly, but the rat-racing, clambering pace just doesn’t seem to be there. The other thing you notice is that this is ute country. Every second vehicle is a ute with a bloke in a hat, hands perched at the top of the steering wheel ready to a raise a “howdy-doody” finger if you wave to them first. Nice people. A bit reserved, but contented and pleasant.
The road quality is pretty good on both of my detours and, in particular, there are very few roads works. So my pace is steady and relaxed. The countryside along The Buckets Way is pretty but the countryside along The Summerland Way is something special. Stretching from Grafton up to Beaudesert on the outskirts of Brisbane, it has breathtaking views, grand vistas and winding roads. If you like driving, this is God’s country. The route had been known for its poor quality surface with some stretches of dirt, but these days it is a smooth ribbon of tarmac, very few cars and sweeping bends.
Mount Lindesay is a volcanic plug in the McPherson Range, just on the Queensland side of the border. A remarkable mountain, which despite the low cloud was magnificent.
Before I hit Mount Lindesay, I stopped for a coffee in Casino. I like Casino, its a true-blue Aussie town. Beef capital of NSW. Friendly people going about their business with a purpose.
At the cafe I ordered a sandwich and a cappuccino, just as my wife called (she’s already in India). She is having a good time on what appears to be a Mojito and Massage tour of Southern India. She remarked how much India is changing, how it is modernising very quickly and I reflected for a moment about the NSW Country; how much was it changing? We blast through these country roads and it appears pretty much the same each time, but things are changing here although more subtly.
My telephone call was made using a VOIP internet app on an iPhone, connected using a 4G signal. As I sipped my cappuccino the young chap at the table next door was talking loudly about crowd-funding his latest project to a girl who was lapping-up every word. My sandwich was cool and fresh, with ingredients that had been shipped in from all over Australia.
Here we were more than 500 kilometres from Sydney and 200 kilometres from Brisbane, in a town of less than 10,000 people talking over high speed internet connections, sipping coffees and discussing crowd-funding. India is modernising rapidly? So are we, it’s just that we didn’t see it happening.