Australia: The Car Country

Map of Australia with car iconThere’s no doubt about it – Australia is a nation of car drivers. It’s understandable in a way, when you consider the size of the place. (You can’t really expect decent public transport in the middle of the Outback.) However, even in major cities like Sydney with good public transport networks (in my opinion!), cars rule the roost:

  • People tend to look at you strangely if you don’t drive a car
  • Many roads in the suburbs don’t even have pavements (sidewalks if you’re American) – presumably you’re supposed to drive everywhere, or take your chances walking in the road
  • Fuel is cheap (compared to the UK, anyway)
  • Many couples have two cars (one car each)
  • Sydneysiders love their nice big gas-guzzling 4x4s (complete with roo bars to protect them from all those feral urban kangaroos bouncing down the high street)
  • “Camping” for Aussies means taking a tent the size of a small house, 4 fold-up tables, 8 chairs, 2 BBQs, and a portable shower – which of course, means at least one car if not two
  • Trains are so slow when you get out of Sydney that you’d be crazy not to go by car. For example, it takes 1.5 hours to drive to Kiama on the south coast (120km south of Sydney), but 2.5-3 hours to go by train.

We are now “one of them”

Until last week, we were one of those wacky types with no car. In fact we managed nearly 5 years on Sydney’s northern beaches without one. However, having a baby, combined with wanting to do some serious rural house-hunting, left us no option, and we’re now the proud owners of a new (well, nearly new) Corolla.

I have to say, it’s wonderful to be able to hop in the car and zoom off to places on the northern beaches that previously required a military operation to reach. It’s made me look at my local area in a completely different way. For example, Manly is about 45 minutes away by bus, allowing for walking to bus stops and waiting for buses. By car, it’s 10 minutes.

Sydney’s public transport, on the whole, is really good. However, when you consider the size of the city, and the low population density as you get out into the suburbs, life sure is a whole lot easier when you have a car!

Well, it’s Christmas eve and the little-un has just awoken, so we’re off for a leisurely drive around Narrabeen Lakes. Merry Christmas! 🙂

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