First Impressions

Aussies were friendly. Fascinated by American accents–especially Southern dialects. My wife has a mild Southern accent.  Victoria had a varied topographical mixture–flatland, rolling hills and valleys, mountains, seacoast. The Mornington Peninsula, where our daughter resides, reminded me of Southern California.  Ballarat, a gold rush town, the Grampian mountains, reminded me of scenes from the American West.

Had the route from Melbourne airport memorized.  Or so, I thought.  The last freeway change threw me off course.  I wanted the M11 Mornington Peninsular Freeway.  I took the Frankston freeway instead, which soon ran out.  Who knew, the proper exit was to a place called Portsea?  My response, during the heat of battle, “I’m not going to any unfamiliar destination.”  Those words came back to haunt me.  In retrospect, those were a lot of letters to squeeze on one highway sign.

My spouse and co-pilot didn’t hesitate to remind of speed limits at every opportunity.  “Speed limit’s 100 KPH, not 110.”  “Yes Dear, I’m doing the best I can.”  It was even more difficult to drive 80KPH.  Australia used speed enforcement cameras.  Highway tolls were automatically assigned from cameras on overpasses.

Before getting completely lost, I asked a friendly Australian chap shopping at a petrol station/convenience store for help with directions.  He stayed just ahead of us as we departed, pointed out a right turn at the third roundabout–which led to the esplanade and our destination.  My spouse amused, because my jacket, previously secured to my waist, dangled behind like a dragon’s tail.  That day my entertainment skills exceeded my sense of direction.

As time went on, got lost a few more times–even with GPS.  Misguided, looking for a winery, took the worst washboard dirt road I’ve ever experienced.  Amazingly, the rental car remained intact.  Aussies were always helpful–even a surfer dude visiting from Adelaide.

Directional signaling with the windshield wipers, as the controls were reversed and unfamiliar, happened several times.  Somthing I had to unlearn upon my return stateside.  A two-day drive along the beautiful Great Ocean Road, cemented left-side driving techniques. I learned to look right, then left at intersections.

Talking the talk: Aussies liked abbreviations–McDonalds fast-food restaurants christened, “Mackers.”  The Aussie Woolworths giant food chain, shortened to “Woolies.”  Trade workers were,”tradies.”  Truck drivers, “truckies.”  Special occasions/events, “speckies.”  Heard G’Day and G’Day Mate frequently.

It began with the Qantas flight out, when I misheard the flight attendant announce breakfast choices.  “Eggs are free,” instead of what she meant–“Eggs or fruit?”  Of course, I opted for eggs, since they were free.  Incidentally, Aussies shortened breakfast to “brekky” or “brekkers.”



Author: warturoadam77p

70 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

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