Friday, 20 January 2012

A - Z of Australia - D is for Driving, Drinking and Dressing

My 3 D´s in one!
Driving is done on the left side of the road, steering wheel on the right side of the car.
Having lived in Europe for 12 years it took quite a few weeks to get used to it, I would either sit on the left side and realize there was no steering wheel or when driving out of a parking lot I would observe the others to see which side I should go to. Why can´t the whole world drive on the same side?
Another change was from a manual car to an automatic! I was petrified of an automatic at first, kept on looking for the gears when driving, of course the indicator and the screen wipers are also on the opposite side, so I would be flicking the wipers instead of the indicator...
Nowadays I cannot imagine driving a manual car again, it´s just so easy with an automatic.
In fact when I went to Portugal in November and drove my Dad´s car, I almost gave him a heart attack when I didn´t know how to put the reverse gear on, and when driving in built up areas I kept on forgetting to change gears...

Changing my Portuguese driver´s licence was easy. We had ours officially translated, but when we went into the Department of Transport and handed in the translations as well as the certified copies of the originals the guy just handed back the translations and said that as all European licences are the same they knew what to look for.

So, fill in form, have your photo taken right there, do your eye test, chose if you want to pay your licence yearly or 5 yearly, and half an hour later (I swear, it only took half an hour!!) we were called and given our provisional licences. Within 2 weeks we had our originals. Because Australians don´t have an ID document like they have in Europe, the driver´s licence card is considered and ID, another one would be a Passport if you have one.
When your licence is up for renewal you get a written notification from the Department of Transport.

I was impressed, that was our first dealing with a Government department, and they were very efficient!!
Holders of licences from most Non-European countries will have to do a theory test or a driver assessment test. Also this only applies to Western Australia, as rules are different for all States. You even have to change licences if you move to another State.
 My son had done his driver´s licence in Portugal a year before we came, which meant he had to display a P plate on his back window when driving, until he had the licence for 2 years. (Now 3 years in Western Australia).

Nowadays restrictions for P plate owners (Provisional licence) have been increased and they are not allowed to drive between midnight and 5am, they must have zero blood alcohol at all times, etc ...There has been talks of restricting P plate drivers from driving potent cars as well, as there have been quite a lot of fatal accidents with youngsters who lose control of their cars (or probably their parent´s potent car...).
Learner drivers must drive with a qualified driver and display an L plate on their car.

Because Perth is a fairly quiet and relaxed city, traffic is not too chaotic, unless there is an accident or roadworks...Peak hour is usually not too bad either, if you compare it to the bigger cities of Melbourne or Sydney. Main traffic congestion at peak times is to or from the city centre.

Speed limits are 50km in urban areas, 60 or 70km in main roads and 100km in the highways.
If driving in front or close to a school during the allocated times in the sign, you must not exceed the 40km speed limit.
Australian love their potent motors, but I don´t see much point in having those petrol guzzlers when the maximum speed is 100km on the highways.

Fines are quite heavy in Australia - some fines carry demerit points which are deducted from your licence and you are only allowed to lose up to a certain amount on a yearly basis, if you go over then you have to sit a driving test again.
During public holidays, Easter and Christmas, the demerit points are doubled!

We didn´t bring a car from Europe as there is no point in having a car with the wheel on the wrong side.
Cars are generally cheaper than they were in Portugal, especially the Asian cars. European cars are of course more expensive to buy and to service.

A booze bus and some drinkers sitting
Drinking - A very serious problem, is the drinking and driving.
A lot of young people, and some not so young, get carried away with drinking, and feel they are still capable of handling a vehicle and driving as if they were stone sober. Quite a few accidents happen this way, and sometimes innocent people are killed or hurt. 
Fortunately on weekends there are a lot of Booze-buses around the city and some of the most popular entertainment venues, and some drinkers get caught red-handed and their car is impounded.
Once while waiting in a line to blow the balloon, the car in front of ours decided to cross the barrier dividing the lanes and turn into the opposite direction.
Straight away a policeman jumped into his car and sped after him. I can just imagine that the driver would be double penalized for crossing the lane and for trying to flee from the Police...

Burned rubber on roads by hooners
Hooning is another pastime of the young  - rubber burning - what a waste of tyres, disrespect for the law and the streets, and a danger for people around. They obviously have lots of money to spend on new tyres, otherwise they wouldn´t waste them.
Under new laws hooner´s cars will be impounded for a few days. If caught a third time the car will be crushed!!
Thankfully this doesn´t happen in my suburb!

Before finishing the post about driving just a warning, much to myself as anyone else to whom this could happen.

Just this Wednesday a young man bumped into the rear of my car while I waited at a stop sign. It was something quite small, or at least the damage looked small.

The young man said he didn't have his driver´s licence with him, but would contact me the following day and pay me $400 as he thought that would cover the damage. He gave me his name and address and I took his car number plate too. I should have been more street wise at my age and ring the number he gave me just to make sure, but I believe everybody is as honest as I am. 
Also the fact he said he didn't have his licence with him should have rang alarm bells in my head... As it turned out the phone number he gave me was incorrect, and I wonder if the address was real? 
I took the car to a panel beater today and the damage will cost $880 to fix, as the bumper would ideally need replacement!!!
I will have to go to the Police tomorrow and see if from the number plate they are able to provide me with his details. My insurance company will pay for the repair but will have to go after him to cover it, or my insurance premium will go up!

So, be warned, if no driver´s licence, call the Police, take photos of the car and the driver, call the number he gives you to confirm it rings...How silly of me!
In Australia, accidents should be reported to the Police, and it can be done online at:

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Dressing - Not really related at all to the above, but I thought the subject of dressing merited a couple of lines...
Australians are very casual dressers, but for work they will put on a nice pair of trousers, skirt or dress.
Some professionals must wear a suit or formal clothing for work purposes, and going around the city centre I find that office people are smartly dressed.

Otherwise the dress code in summer, especially among the young crowd is mostly shorts and thongs (i.e: flip-flops), jeans, very minute mini skirts and a lot of cleavage for the ladies and also shorts and thongs or jeans for the men - they even go to Uni dressed in shorts.

I find that the women love showing their boobs, and have no problems showing a lot of cleavage at work, which I find must be a bit distracting and out of place in a work situation.
I remember a male friend once saying all men at his office loved going past the Human Resources department and go a bit "ga-ga" over one of the booby secretaries... I bet she loved the attention she was getting from her male colleagues!

I'm old fashioned and brought up in another era when you were taught that you dress for the occasion, so I wear smart-casual clothes to work with either flat shoes or heels. 
Flip-flops and shorts are for the home or beach use only.
Another strange thing I see is a few people walking barefoot when in the shopping centres or even around the city centre. I find it a bit "yukki", they would be picking up all the bacteria from dirty floors and streets, they could cut their feet, etc, etc. I even have trouble walking barefoot at home, the only place I do it would be at the beach...


  1. Don't worry we have all been taken in at one time or another. Some people have ao much nerve! I hope you do manage to track this guy down!

    I can relate to your comment re driving on the other side. When I first started driving in Portugal I felw the steering wheel was on the wrong side.


  2. I can only imagine how difficult it is to have to drive on the other side after many years the opposite way, I must say I agree with you on the WHY is it different elsewhere. I feel the same about the the no shoes when out in the shopping centres, it looks so horrible,and it doesn't take a minute to put on even a pair of slip slops! Hope that you've enjoyed the cooler weather today, I certainly have.

  3. I am surprised that you find Australian women (Perth) in particular show lots of boobs I lived in Portugal for two years and was amazed at the low cut dresses tees etc that the Portuguese women wore, I found it quite vuglar and I don't notice it much here funny how we all see things different.

  4. Very informative! In SA, it might take all day to get your license. People start lining up at 6 a.m. and even sometimes pay people to wait in live for them and only come when their spot is close to the beginning! It took a while for me to get used to the opposite side of the car as well. Luckily everything flipped like a mirror image and my brain was able to make the switch fairly easily. My husband...not so much! When I got into my car accident in October, things went fairly well with the other drivers, although I haven't heard anything since (the owner of the car we were borrowing handled it all). I did take pictures, but not of the drivers. Double checking the numbers by calling them right them is a great idea!

  5. The normal expense of a Automatic driving lessons Wolverhampton is currently £24, and with the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) suggesting 47 hours of educational cost under the supervision of an expert teacher, the aggregate expense of exercises for a student will be £1,128.

  6. Information on our driving test centres and also waiting times and pass rates ... How long you can expect to wait for a driving test and which test centres have th Tallaght Driving Test Centre


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