Commuting to work the Clarence way
AS A young bloke in the outer western belt of Melbourne (in the ironically-named suburb of Sunshine) it was an 80km round-trip to Uni every day, but it was via flat, featureless fields by way of the airport, with no lights or traffic jams.
Even living on the Gold Coast was a breeze as far as commuting went. Though there were a few traffic lights between our Burleigh home and the grim, Soviet-bunker-style office block in Miami, you'd get to work in fairly good spirits.
I've never really fully suffered through years of commuting to and from work.
Occasionally though, I've found myself on an arterial road within 30 clicks of a capital city CBD at 8.30 on a weekday morning, and gained a horrifying glimpse into the life of a hardcore road-warrior commuter.
Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Repeat.
If you're even five minutes late getting out the door, you'll lose 40 minutes in the snarl.
A string of brake lights stretching out into infinity.
Maybe it builds resilience, maybe it fosters Buddhist principles of embracing suffering ... or maybe it crushes a small corner of your soul.
By comparison, commuting in the Clarence Valley (at least, my early experiences of commuting between Yamba, Maclean and occasionally Grafton) might be as good as commuting gets.
My morning routine goes a little like this: Cruise out of the Yamba 50 zone; wind across the Oyster Channel bridge and wonder if it's the same pelican every day who's always hanging out on the north side of the channel; then I check the tidal flow that compresses under the road at Shallow Channel; wind up to 90 along the straights out to Palmers - perhaps pull over for coffee pit stop - cruise along cane fields; feel a slight pang of concern for the free range chooks that scratch along the roadside just west of Harwood Bridge (though they appear to have better road awareness than our dog); ease off the throttle as I enter Maclean - between the special summer sentinels of the Jacaranda to the left and the Flame Tree to the right; and as I cruise along the 50 strip, I always wonder who owns the refurbed trawler that's tied up right next to the road; I dream about what it would be like to live on that boat, then I turn into Wharf Street, take in a final vista of the river, and before I know it, I'm wrestling with the oversized silver accordion windscreen shade thing, greeting a colleague, and punching the proverbial clock.
Honestly, you've no idea, getting from A to B in the Clarence Valley is a dream.
- Get your copy of 52 Discoveries in Our Big Backyard. This fun little book is free and available at information centres, cafes, holiday parks and other places humans tend to gather. Call 6643 0800 and council can send one out to you.