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Tracks to Bathurst

We were booked to fly to Rockhampton tomorrow, our first flights in a year and a half. Not happening. The borders are closed again. For those in Greater Sydney there is nowhere to go but New South Wales itself. So that is what we are doing.

Driving the new car we cross the Blue Mountains. The traffic is relatively heavy, but flowing. Our destination is Bathurst and we reach it an hour after midday, hungry.

The room isn't ready, so we cross the road into the centre of town and take lunch at Nikki's Cafe. Then, with the afternoon passing we check into the motel, then drive a short distance to the Bathurst Rail Museum. 

The museum is located at what used to be the Bathurst Railway Institute, where young men were trained to maintain and operate the railways of New South Wales. It also served as a social hub for sports and other activities. 

The museum has a series of static and video displays about the institute, but the biggest attraction is the largest public model railway layout in the Southern Hemisphere.

The HO scale layout models the train line between Bathurst and Tarana. The route is modelled in exquisite detail, with the trains, stations, yards and bridges in between. When I bend over to inspect the Indian Pacific stopped at Bathurst Station I am taken back to my own overnight rides on Australian trains years ago.

I am not such a fan of the mode of transport displayed in the next museum we visit. Further out of town beside the famous Mount Panorama circuit is the National Motor Racing Museum.

There are a huge number of cars and motorcycles on display, lots of Fords and Holdens. I'm amused by the dinky little early racers, looking more like children's toys than the cars of today.

We recreate our own little Bathurst 1000 with a anti-clockwise drive around the track, one of Australian sport's most sacred sites. There isn't to be any racing, though, with a police patrol monitoring for wannabe hoons.

In the middle and surrounding the circuit are working farms and a vineyard. We stop by the lookout up the top and Mount Panorama lives up to its name with spectacular views across the city and the rural landscape. Flat bottomed clouds float languidly in the deep blue sky above the yellow and deep green landscape.

This is the view I need, of space and distant horizons. We have flown over here so many times en route to Singapore and Malaysia. 

The tight steep curves down the hill make me wonder at the skill of the racers as they do it at speed. Then we are on the home stretch. 

Tracks of road and rail today, but none in the sky. 


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