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Journal Entries for 2007-02 Australia Part II
OVERALL SUMMARY: Australia was very different from New Zealand. It's a much larger country, so the cities are much larger, too. There were I-sites strategically located throughout the area, but no more Jason maps!!! We got one great Jason map for Queensland (Cairns area) in New Zealand, but then couldn't find maps to cover an entire area. When we got to Melbourne, Victoria we had to use bits and pieces of 4 or 5 maps to find our way from Kyneton to Port Campbell, then back to Sydney. The maps we did find had either Hwy numbers or Hwy names, not both and it was hard to correlate them. We never did get a good city map of Sydney (the concierge at the hotel copied pages from the big Sydney directory for us).

In New Zealand there were lots of tours involving the Maori culture. Here, in Australia, it's the Aboriginals (or Traditional People) with their history, art, and culture as they strive to protect their natural heritage. We didn't go on any of these tours. The Maori culture tour in New Zealand was enough for us.

The major roads were in all in great shape, with OK signage. We did have trouble finding street signs (even in Melbourne itself). And the streets changed names every few miles. There were lots of four-lane divided highways with 110 km/hr speed limits. The smaller roads were also well maintained and had turnouts or overtaking lanes so I could let others overtake me. There were signs along the highways indicating that bicycles were allowed on the highways. We only saw one or two. We were glad there weren't more, it just didn't seem real safe to us. There were signs with a bed, spoon/fork, gas pump, etc at the freeway exit signs to indicate the services available at that exit. There were lots of times there were no services and it was really nice to know when the gas stations were available at the exits. All along the roads were clever signs about how Fatigue Kills and to take Powernaps. The ones I liked best were �Drinking Kills Driving Skills� and �A Microsleep Kills in Seconds�.

There were a lot of vehicles (both trucks and SUVs) with really high air intakes. By "high", I mean above the roof of the vehicle. Carl puzzled and puzzled over this, until finally we asked. In the rainforest area, mainly around Cairns, these vehicles have the high air intake so that they can ford across the flooded roads. We saw many instances during our drive towards Cape Tribulation where this might come in handy. But we saw these vehicle in the Melbourne and Sydney areas also. Maybe it was just a fashion statement in Melbourne and Sydney??!?!?

The signs were very similar to what we have here in the USA (and New Zealand)�same color code even (with brown, green and blue signs). They even had additional signs on the corner sign posts that showed points of interest, churches, hospitals, parks, etc.

We got more familiar with the different vocabulary, like changed traffic directions (detour), car driveaway (out the door car price), overdimension truck, booking, sorting (figuring out), rubbish bins, hire (rent), smash repair shops, free calls (toll free calls),New South Wales had speed cameras (radar). My favorite were the Lolly Shops (just like our candy stores). I finally figured out the Nth and Sth on the signs that we saw in New Zealand�they mean North and South!!!

It was a really good thing we didn't need to find accommodations in Australia like we did in New Zealand because there was no Jasons accommodations books. The tourist guides listed accommodations but the descriptions didn't list prices and other pertinent information. We had trouble several nights finding somewhere to spend the night. More about that in the details. We didn't stay in any of the B&Bs because we needed something for dinner and the B&Bs were, generally, away from towns and restaurants. The motels almost always had refrigerators and sometimes microwaves and stoves, so we could carry milk for breakfast and lunch meat for lunches. The hamburgers at the fast food places were OK, but they put tomato sauce on the burger instead of mayo or ketchup. Carl got a hamburger called The Lot which had everything on it, including beets.

We didn't eat out nearly as much in Australia as we did in New Zealand because we didn't travel as much. We were able to buy food for a week and then cook our own dinners for most of the first two weeks. We did eat out occasionally during the first two weeks and all of the time during the last week. We had some great meals. Their fish and chips were great!!! We had this several times because it was so easy to come by.

The weather was rainy in Cairns and not nearly as warm as we expected. It was warmer in Melbourne (didn't need A/C), but mornings and evening were cool. The last week along the coast we ran into some more rain and it was cool. We were careful to always have jackets, even Carl.

The electrical outlets were the same in Australia as they were in New Zealand, just a few inches above a counter or the floor. But, again, we were always able to work around this and used it throughout the trip to power the computer and battery charger (we were constantly charging the camera batteries). Also, we had to insert the room key into a slot by the front door in several places to enable all the electrical stuff, even the lights!!! This meant that we couldn't leave the A/C running while we were gone during the day. Bummer!!!

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