“Do you remember what it was like in the old days? It used to take such a long time to drive from Lismore to Ballina.”, I said to Pat as we zoomed along the highway, so I could catch a plane back to Sydney.
Before the road was upgraded during the 1990s, there used to be “three miles of winding road”. It was a terrible s-bend that inevitably made me feel carsick. As I shared the story on the “Good Old Days of Lismore” page on Facebook, I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only one who felt carsick. Lots of people have shared similar memories, sitting with a plastic ice-cream container in their laps to capture the vomit.
Other people have shared stories of lots of potentially risky behaviour as they drove at speed.
I asked the question if the old road still existed, and apparently it does, in parts. One person wrote: “About half of the old road is still accessible and used, called “Duck Creek Mountain Rd” and used to access houses. The bottom half is overgrown however, but can still be seen from the Uralba Rd intersection (bottom of the old road) and for some parts where it parallels the new road at a lower level.”
Maybe because I was much younger, or maybe because the road was longer (or more likely a combination of both), the trip always seemed much longer, and took closer to an hour to drive from Lismore to Ballina. We used to have to stop and take a break at my aunty’s place at the Alphadale Crossroads. Now, the trip from South Lismore to Ballina Airport takes about thirty-five minutes. If I could I would travel from Lismore Airport, but it’s much more expensive than flying from Ballina.
So we arrived at Ballina Airport, and I headed inside, and enjoyed a glass of wine while my family drove back to Lismore. And then there was a second glass of wine, and then a third one, as we discovered the flight had been significantly delayed.
At around 4.30pm, just ten minutes before the planned departure we were told “Jetstar 461 from Ballina to Sydney was delayed “until further notice”. Apparently one of the crew members was ill and they were trying to find someone else.
I got myself a seat with a power point, so I could charge my phone and computer. And I was seated next to a fairly grumpy English woman, who had already begun writing a complaint letter. “The Qantas flight must have been half empty. Surely they could have found room for us on that”, she said, after being told she would need to buy another ticket if she wanted to transfer.