It was high, arid plateauland. I had expected jagged Jinan Map peaks and dizzy cliff-hanging roads. We crossed the Kunlun range, which I’d last Jinan Map seen in its western limits near Kashgar. The road didn’t seem to be going uphill and it was only from the gradients of streams that I could tell how steeply we were rising. The following day we traversed up to another mountain pass and I guessed that we had reached about 14,500 feet. The altitude made me feel tired so I was content to pass the time by dozing and having slightly inane talks with Wang.
A car trip along the EastLink Tollway exposes motorists to fleeting and/or sustained moments of stimulation and reverie where imaginative, visually-diverting and existential thoughts – including daydreams, musings and opinions as well as physical sensations and feelings derived from the high-speed encounter between the route the motorist and the roadside environment – amplify the driving experience. Additionally, a series of topologies and multiple, heterogeneous placings’ (Merriman 2004: 154) are uncovered along the elaborately-conceived, designed and engineered motorway. The multiple sensualities, materialities, topographies and psychogeographies’ (Edensor 2003: 152) encountered on the Tollway are augmented by the strategically-positioned, site-specific public art.
A month after its official opening in 2008, the EastLink Tollway became fully operational. The dual six-lane carriageway opened up a new arterial passage linking inner-city Melbourne to its outer eastern and southeastern suburbs. Characteristic of neo-liberal forces of privatization that consider the city a decentralized metropolis where relatively few journeys [are] capable of being made by public transport’ (Davison 2004: 252), the Tollway seeks to meet the transportation needs of the new world of electronic communication, information-based industries and just-in-time-technology, and of a workforce increasingly geared to part-time, casual and mobile employment’ (Davison 2004: 252), as its route extends across an interstitial space that slices through established suburbs, passes by new outer-urban housing developments and across a collection of other sites including golf courses, scrap and timber yards, electrical substations, water treatment facilities, market gardens, wetlands and grasslands and commercial and industrial parks. As with all of the city’s major roads, the EastLink Tollway is aligned to a major watercourse reflecting the common arterial [nature] of the transport networks developed in Melbourne in the past 120 years’ (Presland 2008: 220), with many of the city’s major roads and freeways situated adjacent to the flow of rivers and creeks.