Thursday, November 17, 2011

Australia is not a bigger New Zealand (Part 2)

The Roads

I keep losing my sense of direction.

Having lived all my life where the ocean is to the west, I am having trouble remembering that when the ocean is on my right I am travelling north not south. The road system does not help.

Some of the major roads have exits that swirl like spaghetti across a wide area. Heading North? Take the turn off to the West, and then follow the ring road that curves around almost 360 degrees. It reminds me of the slot car sets my kids used to have and the one steep curve that always sent the scale model cars flying off the track. Hold on tight to your seatbelts people.

Going South? Turn left and follow the side street until you hit the motorway going in the other direction. Sorry we forgot to put up the new sign but you will work it out.

There are always road works to make it even more confusing. Half the cost of road works must be due to all the associated chaos that goes with it. It is common to see two police cars (flashing lights), ten trucks (rotating hazard lights) and several trucks with movie screen sized messages (in flashing lights of course) with two thousand orange cones and a dozen road signs.

In New Zealand, I can tell I am coming up to road works when I see the dust cloud made by two graders and a truck. Sometimes I miss it completely until I see a sign saying “End of Road works”.

Australia has much more land area so when the workers leave, the new road may not be in the same place as the old. This confuses my GPS. In one perfectly straight section of motorway, my GPS always pictures me driving through nearby fields and nags me to re-join the motorway at once.

The funniest thing was watching the screen as I drove over the new Gateway Bridge. The GPS had not yet heard about the bridge and had me driving into the clear blue of the river. It was lost for words.

My GPS has been a lifesaver but it gets annoying the third time it tells me I have to go straight through at the next roundabout and I find myself muttering “I know, I know, enough already.”
I have now set the language to Spanish. “En dos kil√≥metros, en el glorienda, vaya todo derecho” sounds much less annoying and may come in handy when I finally get to explore South America.


Red Nomad OZ said...

But surely if you ever head to WA you'll be right at home? The sea will be on your left heading north there!!!!

Nikki said...

I hadn't thought of that. Now I have another reason to head west. Thanks for your comment.

Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living said...

You sound like someone I'd love to meet in person. I love adventure too, as I've moved around and now live in southern California. I'd love to visit Australia and know that I could move there. I see you're coming out with an e-book on house-sitting in Australia. How long could my husband and I house-sit for in Australia, with a visa? I'd like to get a feel for certain places, like Darwin, or somewhere not too busy between Sydney and Brisbane. Any ideas? Are you originally from New Zealand? Love your happiness approach too. How would you like to submit your own story on the "My Gutsy Story" contest on my blog, and I can link back to yours?
Check out the contest heading on my blog. You do sound very Gutsy.

Nikki said...

I would love to submit something for your blog although my brand of adventure might seem tame compared to an eighty year old skydiving .... Lol
I have just set up a web blog with more information on the housesitting book at
I am not sure about the visa requirements but the book has a link to the government immigration site. I will look it up.

Nikki said...

I looked up visas from the United States and it seems that you can apply for a visitors visa at any age but need to be between 18 and 30 years old to qualify for a year long working visa.
Check out