As we approached central Albury I switched stations on the car radio and was greeted by some Bryan Adams. It could have been 21 years ago, when B was studying in Albury and I was a too frequent visitor. Next up was Belinda Carlisle’s Summer Rain, a song that has accompanied so many important moments in my life.
With closing time fast approaching, we pulled into a carpark outside of a shopping centre. As we wandered through Albury’s Myer department store Summer Rain again played over their sound system. I was difficult not to read something more into the coincidence.
I don’t know exactly why I wanted to go into Myer, some vague fantasy about rural department stores that I’ve had all these years, of buying a computer system from one. I didn’t, of course, just wandered mainly around the small toy section while Alex indulged in his own fantasies of ownership and play.
With most of Albury shut we wandered the main street reminiscing while Alex demanded to check into the motel. To placate him we promised an ice cream. As we walked back to the car we spotted Monumental Ice Cream across the road and, while he ate your standard (not that I would call the fine quality such) chocolate and mint, B and I indulged in nectarine and watermelon flavours. Perhaps it is fortunate that the shop did not exist all those years ago!
Having decided on a driving holiday to Victoria as a way to end the summer break, we departed later than expected and had to drop Kita off at the kennel before hitting the Hume Highway. It is important that we teach the new car the route, as we have done for all previous vehicles. A pity that the car can’t drive itself, for the route is so familiar.
But from the junction of the Hume and the Federal Highways the road is more of a trip down a wide memory lane and less of a frequent commute to Canberra. Granite boulders replace the coastal sandstone of the East, old and massive trees stand guard over the straw yellow and bright green irrigated fields.
The Hume now bypasses all the towns to Melbourne, a pity as they break up the journey, offering variation and history. We diverted off the highway to Gunning for a very nice meal of hamburgers and milkshake at the Old Gunning Cafe. Then onwards we drove, past windmills and the irrigation around the Murrumbidgee, the abandoned railway line into Gundagai until, after a few arewethereyets, we arrived at the outskirts of Albury.
Our last family hotel may have been a five star Hilton, but there is something special about your standard Aussie motel when you are on a road trip. The owners of the Winsor Park are friendly and there are no luggage restrictions or airport belts. And no turbulence. Just happy memories.