Driving in Australia

Brisbane drove me crazy!  I’m sure the jet lag and acclimating to being on the other side of the rode and having all the controls be in their opposite location played a part.  However, this city’s layout frustrated me.  I stopped to ask for directions at least four times and no one knew the names of the streets.  It was all: “go up there for a bit, then turn that way for a while and then turn again.”  Even at the car rental agency, it took all three employees, google maps, and two paper maps to try to explain how to get to our destination.  Perhaps what seemed most crazy to me was the frequency that roads changed names after intersections.  It took us over an hour to go 15 kilometers to our hotel.  Thankfully, everyone was very understanding and patient.

City plans in other locales shared this common trait, road names changed periodically.  In Bundaberg, Princess street changed to Bagara road.   Travelling north, the A3 changed names a dozen times before becoming the M1.  This happened again and again.

We had no map, so I frequently stopped for directions.  When stopping, everyone was helpful and polite, but they didn’t seem to know the names of the streets, or only some of them.  The older the person I asked, the better the job they did with street names and directions.  I came to believe that the lack of street name knowledge and navigation a real side effect of relying on technology to get around.  Case-in-point, younger folks would open their phone and show me a google map, even in the location was only a few kilometers away.  Older people would use their hands and gesticulating where to veer and turn and help me understand what the lay of the land was like.

Some of getting used to driving down under is blinkers are the right hand, not the left. The left and is wipers.  Consequently, every turn was prefaced by making sure the wipers cleaned the windshield before turning.  Round-a-bouts post the street exit perpendicular to the street rather than parallel. Left on reds ok, but not right on reds. Right turns went across traffic.

We saw a huge swath of Australian coast.  From Bundaberg sprawling cattle ranches gave way to sugar cane plantations.  I only saw one orchard.  There were nearly a hundred kangaroo roadkill.  While sad, it’s not hitting the kangaroo population whose growth is outpacing humans in Australia (with a government estimate in 2011 of 34 million kangaroos).  The road kills are having an impact on other species such as the cassowary with reports lists vehicle strikes as the number one cause of cassowary deaths.

Wild emus grazed in freshly cut cane fields.  Outside of Bowen, there were some orchards, tomato fields, and squash fields.  Then back to cattle ranges.  Just outside of Igham there were more sugar cane plantations.  We could see multiple plantation smoke stacks along the way.

Another thing that caught my eye was the surprising lack of litter.  I think we saw more road kills than roadside rubbish.  Perhaps this had something to do with the Australian population being nearly 24 million for the whole continent.  That is just two-thirds the size of California.

I snapped this vista coming down Girringun National Park.  It overlooks the valley that stretches on to Ingham to Forrest Beach.  Notable in this snap, dead center, is the forest that has been cleared away.  It almost looks like a scar.  Sure a narrow 100 meter wide section was cleared around the roadway, but the road continues straight into the forest.  All the clearing to the right of the straight section is clear cut forest.  At least 50 acres of recently cleared forest.  When we drove by we could see the uprooted and felled trees.  This was done to create more space for cattle.

  • Brisbane-Bundaberg – 360 km
  • Bundaberg-Yeppon – 329 km
  • Yeppon – Canonvale – 494 km
  • Canonvale – Forrest Beach – 402 km
  • Forrest Beach – Manoora – 253 km
  • Manoora – Mossman – 160 km
  • Manoora – Cape Tribulation – 280 km
  • Manoora – Kuranda – 60 km

2,338 kilometers (1452 miles) along the East Coast of Australia offered a great way to sample some of what Australia offers.  It was also quite the adventure.


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