After leaving Newcastle at around nine at night, all we had to do was drive back to Brissy. Rather than choosing to break up the journey, with another overnight stay in a dodgy hotel, we chose to drive back overnight and share the driving between us. An admirable idea at the time, but it all fell down where the co pilot was supposed to sleep while the other drove. Needless to say, when we did eventually arrive back at Brisbane at just 9 minutes past six in the morning, we had match sticks holding our eyes open and were well and truly worn out but glad to be alive.
It didn't take much longer before the comfort of a bed had us entrapped for the best part of the day ahead.
And with that in mind, this wouldn't be much of a blog entry so I have decided to take a look at Australian transport systems (hopefully excluding bus routes which I have managed to live without back in the UK since leaving school, and although they do exist, it just goes to show how in-effective they are against the modern man's love for cars). Yes there are planes and trains to do this too, but even more so there are automobiles.
And as you have previously read (you did didn’t you?) in the about travelling post, planes can quite often be a law unto themselves so we won’t be going there in this piece. I did however take a look at the local trains and unlike the British versions they seem to be a really laid back affair with plenty of space, and very clean to boot. Unfortunately, being aware of the current sensitivities of this terrorist laden world we live in, when I asked a station worker for permission to photograph a couple I was denied doing so while being given the weakest excuse ever that it would be dangerous for me to be darting around the rail tracks just to snap an oncoming choo choo. So now I must be looking simple as well as dodgy?
|Shh, don't tell anyone...|
Next I thought, I know, I’ll look at shipping. I like boats and thought out loud, “is there a harbour where we can get some passenger liners like I once did in Crete?” With that, Jodie soon had us bundled into the car and was driving to the Port of Brisbane. I’ll tell you what, if you want to see thousands of brand new cars and trucks awaiting being sold, and millions of metal containers, then this is the place to be. The port is huge and it was nigh on impossible to find a direct route to the water’s edge.
After a good half an hour or so of trying to find water, we came to another dead end in a road and a sign on the railings which read... Trespassers will be shot, deported and sold into some deviant form of sexual slavery or words to that effect and behind said fence lay a shed with a uniformed man sat eating his sandwiches.
When I asked him what the score was, the man replied that the good ol gubment took a very dim view on terrorists stealing goods before they got to slap huge taxes on them and it would be for my own good if I got the fook out of there rapid style. A very odd situation indeed I thought when you can travel down the coast to Sydney and take as many pics as you like of all the militaria (active serving warships) on full show at Garden Island.
|Port of Brisbane... Mum's the word|
But the biggest visible transport differences seem to come in the automobiles range of things. It is fair to say that in general, the Aussies tend to love their muscle cars. And while there are a few cheap and cheerful run-arounds on the Australian motorways, there are a hell of a lot more on today’s British roads, but this is hardly surprising I suppose with the UK petrol prices being as high as they are and the much longer routes to be travelled over here.
Another major difference (to me a builder type) is there are not that many panel vans around. Whereas we have vans of all shapes and sizes over in blighty ranging from micro cars to medium vans, transit vans, 3.5 tonne vans and even 7.5 tonne lorries, the Aussies seem to prefer their open backed utility vehicles (utes) with actual panel vans being much in the minority to the point they are virtually none existent (well almost). Yes they have their Toyota four by fours like we all do but they also have their shinier Fords and Holdens (GM) which we tend not to.
And then they have two further distinctions in this realm. Firstly the more industrial looking type, a car chassis-cab with an open tray slapped on the back. A true load it and go option.
Or then there’s the tamer more domestic looking version that looks more like a boy racer’s wet dream with fancy shoes on than any kind of true work horse. I guess that just makes me a boy racer then because they definitely have the looks even if I know nothing about the petrol thirsty rubber bands they probably use for engines.
|Want one ... These are the Holden's that Jodie has been banging on about throughout this whole blog's comments. Back in Blighty, this would be a Vauxhall Astra but for the fact they don't come in this shape variation.|
Another thing worthy of note is the distinct lack of vehicle signage (trade, company and heavy commercial). Rule one of marketing says that huge blank side of your vehicle is the most cost effective way to advertise. It tells your customers who you are, how to get you and what you do. What a missed opportunity therefore to not be doing it. There really are only a few taking advantage of this medium, I would love to know any reasons why.
Lorries seem to take on the more American style of huge bonneted Mack (Surprisingly no Peterbilts or did they fold already?) trucks rather than the more European flat fronted styles. And while there is a mix of the two, this mix definitely sides on that of the meatier Mack designs. Across the EU, the harmonised weight for international transport was set at 40 tonnes at a maximum length of 16.5m for articulated vehicles and 18.75m for drawbar combinations.
The maximum overall length permitted for rigid vehicles is 12m. And there is no legal maximum height limit for goods vehicles or for loads in Britain, but for rather obvious reasons, vehicles must be able to pass under bridges. However, since 1 February 2001, the UK’s maximum goods vehicle weight has been changed to 44 tonnes with the same maximum dimensions. I have yet to learn what the permitted tonnages are for the Australian highway brutes, but there are definitely a lot more wagons pulling extra long supplemental trailers over here.
|Fuck that's a big one|