I took my mother's Toyota and drove on my own into town today – this is the first time I've come to Australia where I haven't rented a car, but since my mom doesn't go places much, I have the freedom to use hers. I've probably logged well over 5000 miles in my various visits to Australia, with my worst incident having been a speeding ticket in Melbourne some years ago.
But driving on the "wrong side" is always a bit challenging. The hardest single thing is actually the turn signals – they're positioned on the right side of the steering column instead of on the left, and so every time I need to signal a turn, I turn on my windshield wipers. Turning right isn't hard – you pull into the right-turn lane and wait, as one would a left hand turn in the US or Korea. There are lines on the pavement that prevent one from making a mistake. I actually find left turns more difficult, especially where there are no lines or traffic in the street or road being turned in to – it's so easy to just allow oneself to drift over to the right as one completes the turn. The worst I did, with that, was a time in 2008 when I was here, when I was in Cairns and turned left and put myself on the right side of a median strip. I realized my mistake immediately (the truck coming head on at me was a good hint), and pulled into a parking lot and got myself turned around. All of which is to say, it really isn't that much of a problem, but it's mentally intense during the "adaptation" phase.
I drove into Atherton, which is about 50 km north of my mom's house. They have a "Woolies" in Atherton – a sort of full-scale grocery store rather than the small-town grocery or convenience store in Ravenshoe. I bought a guide book for New Zealand (since I'm going there next week for a few days and I have absolutely no plan as to what to do). And I got some high-speed internet (though I'm not going to upload any photos because I haven't been taking many – I'll try to take more).
Driving around the "tableland" – as this part of Far North Queensland is called – always reminds me, scenically, of the Tehuantepec area of southern Mexico – the point where Veracruz and Tabasco and northern Chiapas and Oaxaca all join together. It's highland, but verdant and green with rolling hills and intermittent rain-forest in the gullies on the windward side of mountains. There are cows standing around in fields, and palm trees in people's yards. Tropical savannah farmland, it might be termed. It's quite beautiful, I will concede, but I'm not sure I could ever live in place such as this – it's quite isolated, with Cairns, 2 hours away, being the only "big city" but still having well less than 100,000 residents. The closest metropolis, Brisbane, is nearly 1000 km away. And that's not much of a metropolis, to be frank.
I will maybe try to post one other thing, unrelated to my current traveling, while here at the high-speed internet spot – might as well get my money's worth, right?