As we are making our way back to Sydney for our flight back to the United States, we’re left with lots of time to reflect on our experiences in Australia. Here are a few things I’ve learned about this country:
There are basically five broadcast television stations in Australia, and I’ve sometimes only been able to find three over the air. I don’t believe cable exists in this country so any other television is from satellite which is called “Austar.” The basic satellite is not much better with only a dozen more channels, with some American imports.
Radio and Music
Driving across Australia forced us to occasionally look for available radio stations, and we’ve found it to STINK! Jazz is non existent except for maybe an hour a week on the Australian Public radio network. Progressive Rock is no where to be found unless you consider the hits from Nickelback or Creed, and hardly any old R&B. The most music we found was Australian top 40, and retro pop from the previous two decades. I believe Australian radio is required by law to play a certain amount of Australian music on their airwaves, so I heard a lot of music I’ve never heard, and for good reason because it was pretty horrible! In order to keep their quota, they also played a lot of INXS, Midnight Oil, ACDC, and Men at Work, the last of which I haven’t heard in the States for 20 years! Occasionally, you’ll hear Rap on the radio, but it’s a strange watered down Rap that can only be possible in a land thousands of miles from its origin. It’s no wonder Australians are rated highest in downloading music from the Internet!
Music in Cars
Speaking of music in cars, one thing that is almost nonexistent in Australia is the loud sound systems in their cars. You just don’t hear the tribal call of youth through their cars with the “Dooog…Doong…st…Doong…Doong…st…” as they pass by. There must be laws here that limit these in-car systems that are prevalent in the States. The quiet has almost been pleasing!
A similar clash in car cultures exist here between V-8s and Imports. The old guard loves their V-8 muscle cars, and the rumble of dual exhausts is often heard from 30 year old Holdens along with modern incarnations available from the dealerships. The Subaru WRX is the next popular vehicle, and there are thousands on the street down under. The only problem is modifications to these cars is restricted in some states. In Queenland, intercoolers that change the front face of the car are prohibited, and nitros oxide is banned! The Australian society is hammered by the government to believe speed kills, and any form of speed modification must mean death, so it’s frowned upon.
Australia is under the strangle hold of the Speed Camera. These unmanned radar cameras have permanent and temporary mounting positions on the sides of the road, and force drivers to obey the speed limits. If you’re caught speeding with one of these cameras, you’ll receive a ticket in the mail from the picture of your car’s and registration. Points are deducted from your license, and when you run out of your allotment of points, you loose your license. These threats force Australians to drive with overt caution, often under the speed limit! Not knowing where these cameras might be with their indiscriminate photography, people are even afraid to pass without fear of a ticket. When I first arrived in this country, I was frustrated with everyone driving so slowly, but after 6 months of reform, I’ve submitted to driving at their speed limit! Thankfully I’m going home to the States where I won’t be watched by a speed camera!
The food outside of the major cities in Australia has not been that great, but I have to say the lamb has been fantastic. We’ve been grilling a lot because it’s certainly better than eating the take out choice of fish and chips or Dominos Pizza. Lamb is cheap, common, and is much tastier than cuts I’ve had in the States. In the States, we pay too much for lamb that is not near as good.
There is usually a choice of Internet shops in towns all across Australia. Rates range from $4-$6 AUD per hour, and ethernet access is usually available for personal laptops. Some hotels offer Internet in their rooms, but the rates are much higher for the convenience. The cheapest we’ve found was charged by the hour where we paid $20 AUD for 12 hours of access. It took us three days to use it up. Other systems charged by the day, and those rates ranged from $20-35 AUD. The rip-off was the limit of 50 mb of data transfer per day which is not a lot when surfing the Net. Surpassing this limit would incur extra charges per megabyte. Occasionally, we’ve found wireless broadband available for free, but it’s only happened a few times. Most people are password protecting their WiFi.
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