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Hazards on the Hamilton Highway
5. In the Stories of the Hamilton Highway series.

There are hazards to any driving, but some apply to B140.

Sun: Geelong to Hamilton is a 3 hour drive east-west. In March and September
you are likely to be dazzled by driving into the sun rising at 7am or setting at
6pm. It is best to plan for a hour rest break at that time. The rest of the
year has the sun to the north or south of the road so is not such a problem.

Animals: Dawn and dusk are dangerous times for other reasons. Wildlife are
grazing on the road verge, birds are eating the night's roadkill, kangaroos are
heading back to their resting spots in plantations.

Water: For much of its length the highway is built over basalt clay. This moves
as it wets and dries with the seasons, and is seldom solid like a rock. Thus the
wheel tracks of heavy trucks tends to form furrows which become channels of
water when it rains. Tyres without a full tread can float and lose steering in
these conditions.

Undulations: The clay base causes another problem. Nearby sugargum
plantations can cause an uneven surface where the roots growing out under the
road cause differential drying and shrinking of the clay. This is a particular problem between Berrybank and Lismore.

   

The Highway between Penshurst & Caramut
Fog: The flat terrain of the plains causes a different problem between May and August on calm chilly nights. Fog forms when the humidity is high and the temperature and wind speed is low. When the Met Bureau forecasts frost and fogs they need to be taken seriously. Fogs can be continuous on B140 and will drop your safe speed from 100kph to 40kph.

Fatigue: Several hours of easy driving can be a killer. Take drowsiness seriously. There are not many overnight cafes or large towns on the B140 so it is harder to find a stimulating place to stop. Take a powernap or listen to an MP3 or CD thriller from your local library.

It's not called the Crater Way for no reason: At various locations (eg between Penshurst and Caramut) the Highway has deteriorated into lengths of potholes, some marked at 80kms and some not. In wet weather its wise to drive carefully at these locations because we can never be sure just how deep the potholes have become. The Highway is frequently repaired, which frequently doesn't last longer than the next rain (see the heading 'Water').

Author © Chris Lang 2015

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