The Joys and Perils of Driving in Australia

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Some of the 12 Apostles

This morning, Steve and I left Melbourne (pronounced Mel-Bun) in Victoria for Adelaide in South Australia – in a rental car. We enjoyed our brief stay in the Garden City, but because of the draught and subsequent water rationing, the gardens, while beautiful, are not as green as usual. From the observation deck atop the Eureka Tower, we looked out onto the old city, its narrow laneways filled with cafes. For a mere $12, we could also have stepped into a clear box suspended outside the 88th floor, made to give the sensation of the floor breaking beneath your feet. Like their Kiwi neighbors, Aussies seem to thrive on the feeling of plummeting to the earth from dizzying heights. I’d pay $12 not to enjoy that hilarity myself.

After we picked up our car this morning in the city, some brave souls stepped in front of us and I yelled, “Get out of the way! There’s a Yank driving!” Every time Steve wanted to turn, he set off the windshield wipers instead. We have the cleanest windshield in Australia. I won’t go so far as to say that Aussies drive on the wrong side of the road, but it certainly isn’t the right side. Even before today, I found out how dangerous it is to be a pedestrian in a left-sided country. Just to be sure, whenever I cross a street, I look to the left and to the right, while keeping an eye on the cars coming towards me. Sometimes the drivers are asleep, sometimes children are driving, and sometimes there is no driver at all. That’s when I realize that I’ve been looking at the passenger seat.

Steve and I drove the first half of the Great Ocean Road today, stopping overnight in Mount Gambier, a lovely town and home of the volcanic crater lake called Blue Lake. Our first stop was the town of Anglesea, where we were told we’d see kangaroos “in the wild” on the golf course. Apparently others had been told that, too, because the golf club sported a sign reading “No kangaroo viewing allowed from the golf course.” We stopped to marvel at the amazing giant rock formations in the sea at Port Campbell, called the 12 Apostles. We counted anywhere between 8-10 apostles. We know Judas killed himself but we’re not sure what happened to the others.

Australia is the same size as the continental United States, and tomorrow we will cover a tiny bit more of its 2,900 miles as we head west.

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