Time for another reprint of one of my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles; this one appeared in their September issue. Available at all good newsagents for just £3.99, it is a bargain, but I still like to let my readers see my article for free.
And this one was about traffic in Australia…
No matter where you live in the world, somebody there will find something to be unhappy about. Australia is no different. Us Brits are often referred to as “whingeing Pom’s”, but Australians aren’t averse to a bit of a moan either. A lot of the things that people complain about in the UK are often the very same things that give people the hump down under.
It strikes me though, that moaning is relative. Anyone who has lived in both countries is well placed to talk about Australia versus England: moaning compared. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.
The example I am going to use here, and I could have picked any one of a fair selection, is traffic. Here, in Australia, people do complain about the traffic. Let me get quite specific about this by quoting a news headline that appeared in the Courier Mail here in Brisbane in November 2010.
Now, if you have a cup of coffee in your hand, I suggest you put it down before reading any further. Here’s the headline. “Southeast Queensland motorists stuck at 40km/h in peak hour on clogged major roads.” 40 km/h! That link actually goes to News.com.au who have since reprinted the article, if ever they take that down, here’s a screen grab of the headline…
Horses running in the Grand National at Aintree only average 49 km/h! Other notoriously slow roads mentioned in the report were Wardell St and Jubilee Terrace, which averaged just 19 km/h during the morning peak and Kingsford Smith Drive, where average peak time speeds were 36 km/h, down from 45 km/h in 2008.
Okay, you can pick your coffee up now, as I talk about the day I watched the sunset on the M25. Well, the M25 is a very long road, that’s perfectly feasible, you would think. Not, if like me, you were only travelling from the Enfield turn off to the M11, a distance of just about 12 kilometres. Actually, I didn’t just see the sunset; I saw the day move from light to dark.
Nothing like that has ever happened to me anywhere in Australia and certainly not around Brisbane. Yes, I hear Sydney can get quite congested at times, I’ve heard the same mentioned about Perth. But Adelaide, incidentally, they call “the 20 minute city”. The idea being, you can get from anywhere to anywhere in the city in 20 minutes or less.
Here in Brisbane, I’ve never heard anyone mention the word “gridlock”. Where I used to live in Essex, that word was quite popular. Here in Australia, traffic that grinds to a halt is almost unheard of. Traffic can be slow-moving on some roads, but in England, some people in certain places dream of slow-moving. Anything moving!
But as I have said, moaning is relative.
Thirty odd years ago, only one million people lived in Brisbane. You were probably more likely to have to slow down for a kangaroo than a car. Today, 2 million people live in Brisbane and a much higher proportion of those have cars than they did way back. If you can remember never having to slow down, never being in a traffic jam, never having to queue, then today’s traffic is something to moan about. But not for me; I still remember how it used to be back in England. You won’t catch me whingeing about the traffic in Australia.