As a new member of the Highlands community, I was given a job to cover a meeting on Wombeyan Caves Road at Bullio Woolshed. I’ve always considered myself a good driver, so when I was met with “be careful on Womeyan Caves Road” from a co-worker, I had a feeling of over confidence. My adventure began in the comfort of the office as I worked out my directions. My work phone’s maps suggested an hour-plus journey and my personal phone offered a 45-minute option. Let the confusion begin!
With a nice 20-minute drive left I found myself on the upward climb to Bullio, on a smooth dirt path. I didn’t think it looked dangerous. I thought “Google maps is wrong, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” I drove along the dusty trail thinking, “if this meeting is about a road this normal, people have too much time on their hands to complain.” The drive started to ascend, I enjoyed the views on offer, until the surface became harsher and the road much more narrow.
Driving along the tight road, I became distracted by the “deathly drop” half a car’s width to my right, especially as there were no safety barriers. I thought “if a car comes the other way, how are we going to pass each other?” It became quite the distraction.
I continued my drive towards a single vehicle tunnel with a state-of-the-art safety feature (insert sarcasm), “beep whilst going through, so oncoming traffic can hear”. As a 28-year old male, I enjoy my music turned up loud, so for the safety of myself and possible oncoming traffic, I turned down my Michael Bolton tracks. Escaping the one-way “tunnel of doom” and avoiding the “drop of death” at its end with, again no safety rails in sight, I ventured forward.
There were many vantage points on the way up. It would have been lovely to pull over and enjoy the view, pity a majority of the road’s edging was unsafe. I had made it to the top, I had survived, I had conquered the almighty dangerous Wombeyan Caves Road. Or had I?
As the adrenalin was pumping and Michael Bolton blasted, my car suddenly went through the worst turbulence-feeling I had ever experienced. The car was shaking like a paint mixing machine. The surface, about 200 metres from the Bullio Woolshed, was so rough I had to pull over. As other cars passed me and made their way to parking spots, I noticed they were all in a 4WD. This was no place for an Adelaide city kid and his Mazda 2.
One Councillor said the Wombeyan Caves Road was indeed safe and that “he and his children take it regularly and had done their whole lives”. I was just happy I got out of it alive.
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