We got here safely enough. And spent the first night near Bribie Island, mostly just recuperating from our frantic preparations to leave and the traveling itself.A guy from ABC Integra car rentals met us at the airport with our new home. The transition couldn't have been easier. We repacked in order to fit our stuff into the small van, and went about the business of learning how to drive on the other side of the road. I went around and around the parking lot several times, and ventured uncertainly onto the road. Brian McCabe, a postdoc from Ireland, had given me some advice on what to look out for. He was spot on. Shifting gears was no problem at all. Intersections were a little tricky, but I soon adopted the “when in doubt, stay to the left” mantra, and the roundabouts actually make things easier than seemingly familiar intersections. The least intuitive thing was maintaining the right position on the road. In the US you automatically account for the car extending out to the right of you, and choose your position on the road accordingly. In Australia, the car extends to your left, but subconsciously you still expect the car to be there on your right, with the nerve-wracking effect of putting the car, and particularly the passenger, far too close to (if not past) the left-hand edge of the road. I'm not sure whether it was scarier to drive or to ride in the van here. With a few kilometers under our belt, I think we've got it now though… more or less.
Our first stop was on Bribie (“Bry-bee”) Island. We pulled in to a caravan park there and fell asleep to the sound of thunder and lightening. We are so happy to have a campervan. It was still raining the next day as we checked out the local beach, used bookstore, and snack shop. And by the way, we are so happy to have a campervan.
[Tom: The bookstore was an interesting experience as we got into an extended conversation about mixed marriages with the owner. Everyone here seems to have been born in another country, but so far they have all been Euros. The result is that within the first 24 hours Theresa was approached in a supermarket and asked for help locating Asian cooking products and we heard (at length) about how interesting it is that mixed-race marriages don't seem to bother our generation.]