Not that our idiot in his Subaru was completely forgotten by the time we got to Baxter but it’s fair to say he wasn’t really much of a concern to us. Seriously if we’d passed that wanker on the side of the road with three wheels missing we wouldn’t have given him a second thought, not even to laugh at him, because making our way through Baxter was more important than some boy racer in his toy car.
You might remember me saying that part of our journey for day three was going to take us through several towns that couldn’t be avoided before we got to Grenstein, well Baxter was the first of those town.
Most of the time while regional towns were difficult to traverse they were a lot easier than suburbia and in most cases they didn’t require us to do night passes, we just had the local police close the roads that we needed closed and made our way through at whatever pace was safe. As I told you we do choose the towns that we have to go through carefully and will detour a fair way just to select a town that is easier for us. The thing is we know at some point we have to go through a small town so unless it’s unavoidable the easier town is always the choice.
Turning off into Baxter was not a huge issue, the exit road from the highway was a long sweeping left hander, the shoulders were wide enough and the local roads corporation department had already been through and laid any of the road side signs down. We didn’t need the roads corporation to escort us through Baxter but part of our permit fees did include a fee for them to remove or lay down signs before we got there and put them back up after we went through.
Although the speed limit of the exit lane was eighty we had our load slowed down the to forty, it may have been an easy sweeping turn but with a trailer as long as ours, seven axles and the four axle dolly in case you’ve forgotten, any bend, even sweeping bends are taken with caution. The entire exit lane was about eight hundred metres in length at which point it merged with the lane coming from Baxter, at that point the road in both directions was ours.
Phil drove the lead pilot about a hundred metres ahead of me, the orange beacons on the roof of his ute bright and eye catching. Although we needed the lights legally there wouldn’t have been many people in the town who didn’t know we were coming, small towns are like that, sometimes we even have all the town come out to the road’s edge just to see us pass.
Where the two lanes met there was a large triangle traffic island, it was only a painted traffic island, and upright signs usually showed the traffic which side of the road they needed to be on in case common sense wasn’t enough but it still gave us a minor headache. The problem was that there was a concrete spoon drain in the middle of the the triangle, it was used to catch water off the road surface and run it back to the grassed area.
If you remember the drains when we crossed the freeway back on the first morning, you’ll know they don’t pose us a huge risk, but they are something we can’t ignore. The big difference this time was that because of the depth of the spoon drains outside of Baxter we were able to lay lengths of timber in them to fill the dip and allow the right hand axles to scoot over the top without dipping.
We had two of the walkers out on the road and watching as each axle on the right side crossed over the timber at less than ten kilometres per hour. It was slow given that we’d spent the best part of an hour cruising at eighty five and even an experienced driver has to fight the urge not to put the foot down and pick up speed when you’re moving at a speed slower than walking pace. Like I said, it was an easy enough hurdle to get over and it would be nice if all hurdles were that easy but alas they aren’t.
Getting through Baxter wasn’t a huge issue, the roads were wide, the local police had moved any parked cars off the street, there was no over hanging power lines and there was no trees. In many ways it was the perfect town, if we wanted to we could have cruised through the place at eighty and not hit a damn thing. Although that in itself would have presented us with a bit of a problem because at the end of what is probably called the CBD of Baxter, about six kilometres from the painted traffic island, we had to turn right and head out of town to join the Northwest Highway.
All speed dreams aside we had rules to adhere to and for the six kilometre trip through Baxter we didn’t once top fifteen kilometres per hour. It’s not as boring as you might think, we may sometimes get the urge to sink the boot in and pick up speed, obviously it doesn’t happen, but as long as we are moving it we generally don’t get too bored purely because there is so much to do. Even though five of us had taken wide loads through Baxter before we still all kept our eyes peeled for possible issues, thankfully there was none but we didn’t let our guard down.
When we did get to the left hander at Princes St we slowed to under ten kilometres per. It was of course a tight turn, even with all the signs removed, and we pushed the trailer steering to it’s full lock on all axles, one at a time in sequence until we had all axles turning the big load around the corner. It was one of the tightest and shortest corners we would tackle on the entire run but without blowing wind up our own arses we did make it look easy.
Traversing the town of Baxter, from highway to highway, took us a total of sixty eight minutes, but we did it and did it without any major dramas.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.