Driving Left, and Other Absurdities.

Australia has been fantastic so far. After two days of adjusting our sleep patterns in the (expensive!) little boutique hotel we picked up our camper van and proceded to a little campground at the South end of Sydney, but still within the city. From there we could still catch the very efficient train/subway system back downtown for a couple more touristy things. We spent one day with a quick guided tour of the opera house (It was amazing and VERY beautiful closeup too!) and then we went on to our scheduled bridgewalk. To spend about two hours climbing the Sydney Harbor bridge, we forked out about $456 for the family. (The Aussie $ is about $0.95 of the CAN $.) Yes, it was a tonne of money but even Claudette agreed that it was an amazing climb and a reasonable price. We weren’t allowed to have a scrap of paper in our pockets much less our own camera, so of course we had to purchase their (extravagantly priced) copies of our family photos. $20 each for digital copies!!!! Holy crap man… Of course the photos are simply amazing themselves so we bought two of the four different poses we took. I have posted these to the picture gallery already but haven’t had a chance to put up an Australia title slide. The pics are huge though in case anyone tries to download them. At about 6MB each they’ll probably take 5-20 each depending upon connection speeds.

Driving on the left side of the road has been quite interesting so far. I started out in the city, and drove most of the highway a couple hours South to our next campground in Kiama, NSW. At a rest stop on the highway I made Claudette switch with me and she did great too. The most common error for both of us so far has been turning on the windshield washers several times in an attempt to engage the signal light, (which of course is on the opposite side of the steering wheel). It’s difficult to focus on traffic and the lane edge on my left side when I’m driving in the right lane, but other than that I think we have both adapted reasonably well. The other main thing that we hadn’t considered before coming here was how the opposite sides of traffic affect our behavior and previously learned patterns as a pedestrian. While it is great to be out of Latin America, and have some rights again, we have to look the opposite direction everytime before crossing a road.

While we quickly noticed the crazy prices in and around Sydney for tourist hotels and restaurants, we quickly adapted by staying at a cheap place and trying to eat at bistros for our first few days in the city. Our budget hotel, was reasonably clean, but we could hear sounds at all hours through the door into the courtyard outside. The bathrooms were also shared & down the hall. All this for $128/night! A restaurant lunch would easily have cost us $60+ although the portions admiteedly were very generous, (such that Claudette, Alex & Luke wouldn’t be able to eat everything, and I would feel bloated if I did). We took to looking for bistros intended for the downtown office workers where the food was very good, fresh, and we could eat as a family for about $25-$35.

We bought the highway travel GPS option with our camper and it is amazingly wonderful. I wouldn’t get one in Oilberta of course, but for driving in a foreign country it is phenomenally worthwhile! Our camper is very small though, and there is much shuffling of gear and suitcases around between day and night time use. I see some others in the campground which are twice or thrice the size and wonder how nice it might be with all that luxurious room. Then I watch them trying to drive these beomoths (only 24′ even) around and back them in to tight places. Then when we finally get to the gas pumps I’m sure we’ll REALLY appreciate having a smaller van. Gas here is about the same as at home. $1.40/L in the city, and $1.20 ish in the outlying areas. We’re told that the prices are pretty much jacked up by 15-20 cents/liter every weekend starting Thursday night, and go back down for Monday morning.

We have no idea where we’re going or what our schedule is for the next week or so. We came South of Sydney first simply because that’s the end of town we were at. The campground we are currently at has a beautiful ocean beach right beside it and a great (unheated) pool as well as very nice laundry and common cooking facilities. We bought a site that has an ensuite bathroom adjacent to the site. It even has a large shower with the toilette and large sink. This costs an extra $20/night, but Claudette wanted to have that luxury a few days every week. Alex & Luke made friends with some Aussie kids last night, but they checked out this morning (Thursday) and moved on. We are going to stay here one or maybe two more nights before heading North, skirting around Sydney on the inland (West) side.

2 Responses to “Driving Left, and Other Absurdities.”

  1. grandmavi says:

    It was wonderful hearing from you all tonight.
    Glad you’re having such a GREAT time!
    Too bad you’re having trouble finding Internet connections there.
    When you get a chance, don’t forget to put up a picture of Alex and Luke being friendly with a kangaroo!!
    Love from Grandma Vi

  2. Rick says:

    Well we encountered our first Kangaroo last night. It was pretty cool! Tasted like chicken! (OK, not really… it actually tasted like very juicy & tender beef jerky; Mmmmmmmmmmm!) I forgot to take a picture of us eating supper with those delectable slabs of meat on our plates though. Maybe next time! There were lots of possoms around the campground and in the trees last night at the RV park though.

    Alex met a boy, Jake, that she talked quite a while with. After he was sitting with someone else (and away from her) I snuck up behind him and growled loudly, thus scaring the living piss out of him! (and showing him who’s boss! )