Thursday, April 15, 2010

a gold star for traffic congestion

recently whilst returning to sydney from a spell away in my secret mountain escape, we were unexpectedly marooned in goulburn for several hours after coming upon a severely blocked freeway. traffic was obviously not budging so with the benefits of my tonka toy 4WD unconventional, err, circumvention of the gridlock enabled an easyish return into ram town.

for those that don't know some of the great delights of goulburn, the rural inland dryland mecca of NSW, it hosts an oversized sheep as some kind of bizarre totem to agricultural prowess. by this token there should really be one in the major port ie. lyttleton, of new zealand standing proud like the grand lady of liberty in new york to welcome arrivals. anyway, i digress.

many hours were tediously killed in this rural anti-hub, an australian counterpart for douglas coupland's shampoo planet, an exposition of mindless mid west misanthropia. not just for gen X.

goulburn is a parched place crippled during drought time by extreme water restrictions. disenchanted youths rev up and down the main drag in hot rods & specced up utes in a dead-end town overshadowed by a maximum security prison, the national police college, a ghost abattoir and a shoe factory with operations long since migrated offshore.

on the back steets in the parks framed by brown grass, right wing family first conventions crackle alive with sausage sizzles on a sunday afternoon as aussie flags fly asunder even on an overcast day.

on auburn street the renovated mall goes off. after loading up on big macs & zesty salads, bottle-bronzed, powder-puffed girls with ironed hair waddle into supre basics. on australia day wknd the store boasted a full window display of a vast range of ozzie ozzie ozzie, & southern cross T shirts & singlets. there's nothing more australian.

after catching up on the various overheard goss in local bars which increasingly fill up with wayward travelers deigning to wait out the pile-up with rumours of overturned trucks on the freeway & no end in sight, we succumb to an extended stay & look for dinner. there's only so many hours one can spend in a pub when there's still another two which could become five or more to go.

enter the golden star. a very brave move by both the proprieters and my fellow shaolin warrior diner. down the road is the remnants of another chinese restaurant which bears the apparent scars of fire-bombing. on arrival this diamond in the rough was a morgue but the service was warm without being suspiciously desperate.

funnily enough by the time we left it was fast filling up with like-minded frustrated nomads, sharing tales between tables in hushed whispers of banked up traffic woes. we just shut up, soaked up the ambience with our fellow pioneers, enjoy the kitsch imagery, baby pink folded napkins, vegetarian friendly menu [featuring a sad but woefully necessary "australian section" starring T bone steak & chips] and the food, which was actually pretty good!

mostly we felt thankful that we weren't stuck out on the motorway immobile without the basics of food water to help alleviate the boredom of extreme traffic congestion which often precedes road rage.

i am reminded of all this because this week NSW roads minister says "fur will fly" after a major traffic delay on the F3. motorists were stuck for up to twelve hours after a fuel tanker overturned and blocked the flow and contingency plans failed with a capital F.

thousands of people stranded for hours in their cars, isolated without news, water or food. it's scary how fast everything can break down and how unlikely heroes are made, jobs are lost, epic tales are told.

once more yesterday i sat in an environment where i was privy secondhand to people relating their experiences to strangers placed in a common bond which broke the unspoken barrier of public non-communication.

and it made me think of the unlikely little shining star which fell off the flag in the town of the golden fleece that day & saved us against the flow.

golden star
chinese restaurant
151 auburn St
goulburn NSW 2580
(02) 4821 0388