I had a problem. Not a life or death problem, like the one a huge huntsman spider was having with an equally huge wasp, but more of your first world, domestic plans have changed at the last-minute kind of problem. As the spider and wasp wrestled about on the hot gravel road I considered my options. I was enjoying a morning at work at Copeton Dam on the Gwydir river south west of Inverell. Gretta meanwhile, was in Tamworth for a two-day work course. I had keys to the house, Gretta didn’t.
This wouldn’t have been a problem except my stint at the dam had just been extended to the evening. There are some places you don’t mind getting stuck at. Copeton Dam would be one of them. A hot spot for those who like camping and fishing it accommodates some four thousand tourists come the summer holidays. Mid-week in the off season and the only competition for a good position by the water is from the kangaroos.
But with a ninety-minute drive back to Moree I had no chance of being home in time to collect Gretta from work. Bereft of keys or transport she would have to wait it out at the local McDonalds. I meanwhile, would be flying home on the Gwydir highway at a speed quick enough to knock some serious time off the ETA, while attempting to keep a low profile in a vehicle which is specifically marked to draw the public’s attention.
The police weren’t having it. There wasn’t a speed gun or flashing lights. Just two paddy wagons doing a sedate ninety with a conga line of cars trailing behind them all the way from Inverell to Moree. I willed them to turn off at Warialda, turn left for Bingara, have a rest stop at Graves End and then to just bugger of at Pally. But to no avail, the only consolation by then was that I had moved up to first in the queue behind.
Which is when things got a little scary.
The police convoy had spooked a driver towing a caravan who took the first opportunity to pull over to let them pass. At which point a B-Double decided to overtake from behind me. We were now three abreast on a two-lane road and all blinded by the setting sun we were driving into. I really hoped there wasn’t anything coming the other way. When the truck’s bull bar pulled up with my right ear the driver realized he had two cop cars to get around, not much highway left and some awkward questions to answer about the speed limiter in his truck.
Suddenly is throttle was off, the engine brake came on and he pulled in behind me with a comfortable following distance of at least an inch; and I started breathing again.
Getting home late had just stopped being a problem. And I was still having a better day than the spider, who lost to the wasp.