Day Trip, Down-Under Style
By Esther Baird
Word Count: 757
Our family is a big fan of the day-trip. In Beverly we often open our map, pick a town about
two hours away that we haven’t visited and hit the road.
So in Sydney we decided we were ready to try a day-trip down under. Ensconced in our right
side steering rental car, (don’t ask how many car mirrors we side swiped in those first miles),
we headed north. Our destination was Hunter Valley, a wine area about two hours out of
Sydney. Getting there proved easy enough and by mid-morning we were happily tasting
Semillons and Merlots.
But after a bad Shiraz that I suggested tasted like Birkenstock sandals, we decided to push on to
the valley’s garden park where our daughter could play and we could grab lunch. Our map
showed that it was nearby and just a matter of following the orange roads - whatever that meant.
Apparently orange meant, ‘we’ve run out of asphalt – have fun!’. Though not the ideal
conditions for a small economy car, we hurtled onto the unsealed roads of dust and dirt and
admired the valley fields.
Suddenly, in just such a field, I saw something. Was it? It was!
“KANGAROOS!” I screamed.
My husband jerked violently and nearly drove us down the embankment. After we quickly
agreed that I’d point out wildlife in calmer tones, he pulled over and we looked. Sure enough
I’d seen three kangaroos. One was hopping at breakneck speed across a field. Hopping!
Because that’s what kangaroos do. We were bedazzled and once we finally found the park, we
sat and felt giddy about our authentic Australian sighting.
Leaving the valley was just as exciting though for all the wrong reasons. Fifteen minutes into
our drive we came to a policeman turning people around. Our maps didn’t show another road
out of the valley, but we followed the other cars to a small gas station and I went in to consult.
Inside the station the collective group of turned-back drivers explained to a bored employee that
the road out of th