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It must be time for a full Christmas roast.

Getting our guests to this year’s Christmas party was like a Top Gear challenge; the real Top Gear, when it had Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, Captain Slow and was worth watching. Our six guests were coming from Canberra and Sydney which just goes to show how entrenched in our social calendar this dinner party has become. They had all chosen a different form of transport and with a heat wave sweeping across the state we were keen to see who would arrive fresh and ready to party.

Nate and Anna opted for the road trip. Loading up their Holden SS Ute they hit the black top on Friday afternoon; a full twenty four hours before dinner time. Renee and Dave decided to throw money at the problem and fly QANTAS. Meanwhile, April and Nick who live in Sydney, compromised and booked a train ticket.

As the temperatures soared into the low forties Nate and Anna made good time to Dubbo, having stolen a march on everyone else. Their lead was soon eaten up on Saturday morning however when they started running into agricultural traffic. Nothing stops a dream run on the highway like getting stuck behind a header. Harvest is in full swing and this year has already been declared a record breaker. The amount of headers and grain trucks on the road is phenomenal. The SS Ute wasn’t going anywhere fast.

There might not have been any traffic concerns for our fliers but they had problems of their own. After catching the dawn flight out of Canberra to transfer in Sydney things were starting to warm up. When the pilots started shuffling people around in the cabin to get the weight distribution right on the fully loaded Dash 8 they knew they were on a regional flight.  A few calculations on the back of an envelope and the pilots decided to offload more weight. As the plane took off, fifteen passengers—including Renee and Dave—were completely unaware that their baggage had been deliberately left behind.

We’ll never know what the train trip was like. April’s ears, having been alerted to the fact that the brain had booked an eight hour trip on the world’s most inefficient public rail system, went on strike. Struck down on the platform with complete loss of balance, April and Nick never made it to the party.

Renee and Dave landed mid-morning, stepping out of the plane into the furnace like heat blasting up from the airport tarmac to be greeted with the news that their bags would be on the next plane. Nate and Anna pulled up in the driveway a few hours later to step out of the air-conditioned comfort of their ute with a tray full of luggage.

No Top Gear like challenge would be complete without a winner and a biased opinion in favour of cars. But it’s safe to say we were the real winners, because we have friends prepared to travel 800km for a dinner party.

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Dinner: it’s worth the drive.
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