My excitement for visiting and exploring Australia was tempered by the fact that we would be required to drive on the left side of the road. This is a huge mental shift and I wasn’t sure our brains could make the change. On our 40+ hour plane ride I have to admit I obsessed about it.
Now that our host Joe has taken us on several outings, I’ve calmed down. Yesterday he sent us on our own and with paper map in hand and Google maps on the iPhone, Stephen and I drove 70 km northwest to the historical town of Toodyay. I sat on the left, Stephen on the right and as we made turns and passed through roundabouts we both chanted “stay left, stay left”. The drive was through the bush on two lane roads which is easier than city driving. Even so, Stephen mistook the windshield wiper for the turn indicator at nearly every turn.
We’ve had a few days to acclimate and settle in. Australia SIM cards have replaced our Verizon cards and we’ve got Australian currency in our wallets. With just a few days in Perth here are a few first impressions:
- There are over a hundred species of Eucalyptus trees and most people use the word Gum and Eucalyptus interchangeably.
- The amount and species of birds is staggering. Every morning we wake up to a new cacophony of bird calls.
- The azure blue color of the Indian Ocean is beautiful.
- Perth is extremely isolated. It’s a big city with 2 million people but to get to another city it’s a three hour plane flight. Driving to another city takes days. And in between, there’s desert…lots of it.
When I was ten years old my fourth grade teacher taught me the song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. I remember the melody and the lyrics but never thought about the meaning until today. Just outside our bedroom window is a Gum tree and in it sits a Kookaburra making the most unusual calls…it sounds like a laugh.
I’m 57 years old and I finally understand the lyrics of this song:
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!
We are off to a great start and extremely grateful to Ingrid and Joseph who invited us to stay in their home and care for their dog Valentino while they’re on holiday.
Today is Australia Day which means fireworks and meat grilled on the barbie.