Friday, April 16, 2010- in which I describe the OZ roads and we get lost

We woke up a decent hour to start our drive, but still it was early considering I was still wiped from not sleeping the other night. We ate the cornflakes we brought with us for breakfast in water glasses because we had no bowls in the room. Then we packed up our stuff and hit the road. We had to get back on the Bruce Highway (A1) and so of course we followed the signs for it. Turns out though, the signs took us in huge loop around Rockhampton in which A1 was only a few streets up from where we first started. I really don’t get why they made it like that because it was a waste of 20 minutes fighting through traffic to get to the practically the same place.

I should probably explain what the highways are like here. It’s not at all the interstates in the States where you have nice medians separating the opposite directions of traffic. For the most part, from Townsville and Brisbane the road is a two lane highway, one lane each way, with only a double white line separating the lanes. It gets really tiring driving on these roads because while there are occasionally an extra lane to pass, sometimes it’s only the two lanes with dotted lines allowing you to pass. However, since Marieke’s car is so low power, if we were stuck behind a slow car or truck we were stuck there for a looong time; her car wouldn’t be able to speed up fast enough to cut into the other lane and get back to ours before a car would pass us.

In fact, head on collisions is often a problem on these highways. About every kilometer or two, there’s signs to “take a break mate, you’re eyes are shot,” or “collision zone, next 25 km.” It can be kind of intimidating sometimes when you’re driving, especially at night and a huge truck with bright lights looks like it’s barreling towards you from the other lane.

Another thing you have to look out for is Kangaroo and Koalas crossing the road. About half of cars that drive on the roads here have roo-bars, which are bars attached to the hood of the car so that if you hit a kangaroo, it will bounce off the car instead of hitting the windshield. Running over a Kangaroo on the highway is as common as hitting a deer in the U.S. Actually, the first wild kangaroo I saw in Australia was not a happy, bouncing Kangaroo like I thought it would be, but roadkill.

This is why it takes a lot of concentration to drive on roads in Australia. Marieke and I were constantly saying “please don’t let us hit a kangaroo” because not only would it be traumatizing, but also her car doesn’t have a roo-bar and hitting one would probably total it. However, we were lucky throughout the trip and while we saw a lot of roadkill and dead kangaroos, we didn’t hit anything ourselves.

About halfway through our drive from Rockhampton to Brisbane there was a sign for Hervey (pronounced like Harvey; I don’t why understand Australians pronounce things like they do sometimes) Bay Tourist Drive. Since we were going to Hervey Bay later in our trip, Marieke and I thought it’d be cool to check it out. The drive really took us out of the way, added an extra hour to our journey, but we had a nice break from driving by walking on the beach. The beach was similar to sandflats and there was practically nobody on it. I love when I have the beach to myself so it was very nice. ?

Then once we left Hervey Bay, I texted my friend Scott who we were supposed to stay with in Brisbane that we were a few hours away. Then I got a strange message back from him about whether we would want to hang out tonight or just meet up tomorrow. I told him I thought we were staying with him and he said, “yeah, right. No worries, come on down.”

So we drove a few more hours then texted Scott that we were about two hours away and he said he was going to the movies but we could meet him at his house after that. Because we were tired and didn’t feel like sitting around doing nothing while he was at the movie, Marieke and I decided it would be easier on all of us for we stayed in a hostel in the city. Coming into Brisbane, we finally had nice roads with multiple lanes and a median.

However, we spent over an hour driving around, searching for our hostel! Even though we had a map, it was from the Lonely Planet Travel guide book and wasn’t that helpful. I think we asked five different people on the streets to help us find it, and at one point her car almost couldn’t make it up a steep hill and we almost rolled down into traffic. :/

Finally we found it, checked in and shared a room with an Irish-American guy and his Irish friend. It was funny talking to the Irish American guy because one minute he sounded completely American and then the next he sounded completely Irish. They were nice enough, but the room smelled like sweaty feet because they hadn’t done laundry in two weeks and had been wearing the same socks for a few days!! Ew.

I got to talk to Scott after his movie let out (apparently he thought we were coming a lot later that night?) and we made plans to meet up the next day to go to the Australian Zoo. Then Marieke and I passed out again.

Written by Cali4beach

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