Val hitching (with competition ahead of us.)
The alarm went off on time at 5.30, + was the signal for a good deal of panic: so much to do, so little time to do it. All the packing, all the clearing up – not to mention the relatively unimportant things like breakfast + saying goodbye to Mike. And yet, somehow, it all got done. Almost all anyway – discovered later that I’d left a favourite T-shirt behind. Then took a picture or 2 with Mike, said goodbye (another goodbye) + we were off.
Luckily, caught the ferry into the city – I had rather hoped we would, as it’s such a nice was to say goodbye to Sydney. It was a lovely day too, making it extra special. We persuaded one gentleman to take our picture, framed by the harbour bridge. And then we caught the train up to Town Hall. The guy we’d arranged the lift with was there, busily unloading vegetables (or vegies), but he had some bad news for us, in that his supplier in Newcastle wasn’t ready for him yet so he wasn’t able to go up. This was a huge disappointment to us, since the lift was the only reason we had decided to leave on Monday – otherwise we would have taken a rest day, especially in view of our exceptionally late night (Val was still feeling rather fragile.) So we almost decided to pack it in for the day + go back to Mosman, but reckoned in the end that since we’d actually made the effort to get up + moving, we might as well carry on. Especially since the bloke was happy to drive us out of town as far as the freeway. So we had a cup of coffee to wake us up + were off.
It was quite a way so a big help, but we were a bit nervous (as always) about the place we were dropped. Hitch-hiking is very similar to telephone sales in that respect – one is only as good as one’s next lift/sale. However, it turned out well enough, and very soon we had a ride. A young Aussie guy, too full of himself for my liking, + he drove too fast as well, but he whisked us a fair few miles along the road, so no real complaints. And soon after that another shortish ride, with a pretty drippy girl, nothing to say for herself. Which probably sounds unkind, but not everyone who picks one up is necessarily a marvellous person. One can be grateful for the lift without having one’s critical vision dimmed. And she did have the sense to drop us off at an excellent place – a service station. There we had some breakfast, much, much needed, a wonderful bacon + egg roll, with a pot of tea.
Our next ride was with the most pleasant bloke yet, a young student heading back to university at Newcastle. The most amazing thing about him was his youth. I don’t think I’ve ever had a ride with someone so young, ever. And he was good enough to drop us out of his way, on the northern outskirts of town. Next ride was another fairly short one, but a bloke with some interest in what we were doing, since he had planned something similar himself, before recently landing himself a job. Took us another few miles, + then we reckoned we might have a bit of trouble moving on from there. A big truck came steaming round the bend towards us. “Here’s one who won’t stop,” said I, + to prove us wrong, he did. It was a bloody good ride too, all the way to north of Taree. He had a drop-off to make at a small town off the main road as well, so we were treated to a ride thro’ some back country, + very green + beautiful it was. It was still a lovely evening, had been a beautiful day, + it was a bloody good ride. There were more long silences than chat – in fact, the chat was limited to straight one question, one answer. Our mate was heading to spend the night at a truck stop, + reckoned we’d have no trouble picking up a ride from there to Grafton, but as that would get us there around midnight, we asked if there was a camp-site in the vicinity. The answer was no, but he reckoned we’d be able to camp down there – if they said no, he’d spread the word on his CB that their tucker was no good. And sure enough, they said yes. So we pitched tent on a vacant bit of grass, + then had some dinner at the place – fair to middling. One strange thing – our mate seemed to drop us cold as soon as we were in the place. Perhaps it’s truckers’ honour or something, not to be too friendly with hitch-hikers. Ah well – trucky’s ethics don’t concern me.
So finally we are on the move again, even if we did noty get quite the flying start we had anticipated. And disappointing that, despite the diary mentioning two lots of pictures, one of us setting off, one on th3e ferry, I can find no sign of wither of them. Ah well.
Other than that, dropped back into hitching mode quite comfortably. In subsequent years, we were to hear more thhan one horror story about people hitching up this road, and meeting various unpleasant circumstances, but luckily we knew nothing of this at the time, and never encountered anything to give us cause for worry.