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A young woman walks into the motel reception.

"Can you tell me where the closest supermarket is?" she asks.

"Yup, 50 metres back up the road you just came in on," I respond.

"Can you give me the address so I can put it in my GPS?" she asks.

I look askance.

"But it's just back up the road. Fifty metres. You can't miss it."

She insists I find the street number so she can program the satnav and make the tortuous journey to buy a packet of chips and a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Later she comes seeking information about a nearby beach. I hand her a map and offer to show her the way.

It's her turn to look at me askance.

"I couldn't read a map to save my life," she says.

It occurs to me that this is true and we are producing a whole generation who have no navigational skills whatsoever.

They are totally at the mercy of a digitised voice dictating whether they turn left or right or proceed straight ahead for 10 kilometres. And they follow wherever they are led; forget about the journey, it's all about the destination.

The blinkers have been attached to their heads and they see neither left nor right, they just follow the snaking black line from A to B.

They have no curiosity about the world through which they are passing and no appreciation of what they are missing - the little detours through scrub to find secret beaches, the forested mountains shrouded in mist, the breath-taking views across the sparkling ocean, the array of cafes and shops nestled just five minutes from the main drag.

The question has to be asked. How would they cope if their GPS went on the blink or there was an obstacle on their designated route?

Husband Garry had a telling experience out west last year when he came to an intersection which had no sign posts. His head told him to turn left, but he decided to consult the Navman first. "Turn right," it said with great authority. Right he went, only to be led a merry dance through the undulating countryside which one hour later brought him back to his original position.

Extremely annoyed he canned the Navman and took the left fork, finally emerging at Goulburn and then onto the Shoalhaven.

Being aware of alternative routes is equally as important. We made the mistake of organising a family lunch at The Lagoon Seafood Restaurant in Wollongong between Christmas and New Year; a mistake only because of the number of holidaymakers still heading south to make good their vacation.

Our hearts sank as we saw the line of traffic snaking south, knowing what we would encounter on our return journey to the Shoalhaven.

But there was an alternative route: up Macquarie Pass, through Robertson and Wildes Meadow to Fitzroy Falls and then onto Kangaroo Valley.

It was an unexpected detour but it took us through such picturesque and beautiful countryside with hardly a car to disturb the tranquillity that we felt we'd won the lottery.

And the added bonus was we arrived home considerably earlier and more relaxed than if we'd chosen to stay in the meandering line of traffic through the Kiama bends.

It's the surprises in life that make it so rich. Unexpected detours mixed with a little curiosity put the delight back into the journey that is life.

So switch off the GPS, unfold the map and start exploring. It's a journey you'll not regret.

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