It’s The Little Differences
So I’ve been living in Australia for coming on four months now and, as I’m sure has been posted in many blogs before me:
It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same sh** over there that they got here, but it’s just, just there it’s a little different.
Some of them are good and others not so good but many are just little things one notices and/or is a little strange to begin with. First of all it’s pretty neat that Woolworths still exists but here it’s a supermarket as opposed to one that sells toys/games/penny sweets and what-have-you. Keeping with the supermarket thing; in the ACT there are no plastic bags, they were banned last August. Instead you can pay 10¢ or so for each time which to begin with is all you can do but then, over time, you remember to leave a few bags in the car in case of an impromptu shop. Don’t get me wrong though, I like the fact that they’re banned as it really does promote bag re-use.
Gambling machines, or “pokies”, are big business over here. You can’t find a club (as in a members club sorta thing) without them and there are many reminders around the places to remind those playing to be responsible gamblers. This is vastly different to back home where you’re lucky to find more than a couple of fruit machines in the pub nor are you likely to find ones offering jackpots of $1,000 up! Speaking of pubs, at least in the ACT, they’re damn hard to find. There are some and to be fair they’re pretty decent; the Wig & Pen for example brew their own award-winning ale. Instead clubs are the most common place for a social meet up.
Speeding and drink-driving are a big thing here insofar as the police are very visible. Back in Bristol I spotted speed vans very infrequently if ever on the routes I took to work. Here I’ve seen one probably every couple of weeks or so. They also fine you pretty heavily. I was unlucky enough to be caught by a speed camera a week or so after getting here and had cough up $160 or so and a demerit point for my trouble. You essentially have 12 points and lose one or more depending on the offence and its severity. During holidays or long weekends they do double demerit points and fine even heavier if you’re caught. They’re also plenty of signs saying such lovely things as “Drink & Drive; die in a ditch” or “Drive n txt u b next”. So yeah, they’re pretty serious on the subject.
They also have cycle lanes here but, unlike Bristol, they a) are more than a few feet (Gloucester road doesn’t count as cars are pretty much camped in the cycle lane) and b) are rather wide. For example on my commute to work I cycle down Adelaide Avenue which is main tributary into the city. It’s a dual-carriageway with high volumes of traffic travelling at speed. However I have a large cycle lane, clearly marked and at off-ramps there is a green strip to highlight the lane for drivers and at on-ramps there’s a spot to rest and wait till a gap appears. There are also plenty of off-road (not in the 4×4 sense) cycle lanes too and they’re all over the city. I was warned about being buzzed by drivers here in Canberra but it’s only happened on a couple of occasions and to be fair is no worse than some drivers I met whilst cycling in Bristol.
Speaking of cars and driving again they have car tax here only it’s vastly more expensive but then again it does include 3rd party fire & theft insurance as part of the deal. That said it’s still rather painful paying $470 for six months of rego! Buying a second-hand car is also a little different. Don’t get me wrong, back in Blighty it was always a good idea to check a car out before you buy it but before one can rego a car here you have to submit it to a road worthy test. It’s kind of like having an MOT as, if your car fails, you need to get the stuff sorted and re-tested before you can register it in your name. You can still carry forward rego if the car had some left on it but whereas if a car had an MOT you can just wait till that runs out you have 2 weeks from the purchase date to get it through a road worthy and registered in your name.
There’s plenty more and I could add here and perhaps I’ll do another post somewhere down the line but yeah, things are a little different and take getting used to like the metric system ;)