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Journeys : Apr May 2011
My wife hit the brakes. Which was strange because she was sitting in the passenger’s seat. We were on the Pacific Highway in Sydney, approaching Chatswood. Suddenly our lane became a right-hand turn lane, and we wanted to go straight ahead, up to Killara. When I tried veering left into the centre lane, all hell broke loose. Blar ing hor ns, gesticulations and savage looks. So in the passenger seat my wife hit her imaginar y brakes while I reluctantly turned right and spent 15 minutes extracting myself from the back streets of Chatswood and re-joining the thundering traffic on the Pacific Highway. Quick w its, a forensic understanding of the road system and an ability to accurately read sometimes confusing signs are all useful attributes in Sydney. But what helps most are interstate number plates. I’ve driven on Tasmanian plates and been afforded the greatest courtesy. But I’ve also driven hired cars in Sydney. With nothing to distinguish you from any Sydneysider, the gloves come off. Last year we got involved in a vicious dog fight when we found ourselves in an E-tag lane approaching the Harbour Bridge tunnel. We needed to be in a cash lane, which meant hurling ourselves across two lanes of traffic. There was the usual volcanic eruption of car horns, flashing lights and heart-stopping moments as things got sorted out. Unfor tunately, this gladiatorial approach to city driving is somewhat catching and after a week in Sydney I’m as robust as anyone else. When I get home, even the hoons on the Brooker Highway don’t know what’s hit them until my Sydney manners have wor n off. Road signage is another danger for the unwary. So my wife rides shotgun, watching out for bus-only lanes, school zones, red light cameras, and variable speed zones, while I concentrate on staying in lane and keeping us alive. Road wars in Sydney Stuart Bridges enters the fray Infringement penalties are vicious. We pulled up in Blues Point Road, North Sydney, to pick up a pizza. The sign suggested we had 15 minutes’ free parking, but the pole teetered under the weight of all the signage atop it. We didn’t notice the small sign at the very top saying our parking spot would become a clear way in five minutes’ time. Emerging from the pizza store, there was a North Sydney Council parking inspector issuing us with an electronic ticket. How much? Four dollars short of $200! The parking inspector acknowledged that the signage was complex and confusing, but hey, that’s life. She shrugged. Back in Hobart I wrote to North Sydney Council, declining to pay. It led to a flurry of correspondence with the Council. In the meantime, my non-payment had elevated the issue to a very official-sounding NSW gover nment department, whose job it was to collect unpaid fines. I was informed that in effect my house would be confiscated and my children sold into slavery unless I paid immediately. Already at war with North Sydney Council, hostilities now opened up on a new front. The correspondence became uglier until unexpectedly, I received a call from the Council. On review, they felt their case wouldn’t stand up in court and they were dropping the matter. Rather more celebratory whisky than was wise got passed around that evening. After all, this Scotsman had saved $196 for an infringement that would cost $30 in Hobart. Neither space nor modesty allows me to reminisce about my encounter with a rather startled tram on the light rail at Ultimo. We were going from North Sydney to Drummoyne when our lane suddenly veered off into the CBD. I can’t recall how I ended up on the light rail corridor, but it seemed to provide enormous enter tainment for the crowds around Paddy’s Market. So if you want an adrenaline rush in Sydney, forget about Luna Park. The Spit Junction on a wet day can be about as exciting as life gets. Life on the move 32 April / May 2011 Looking for a new car? Ex-Tasmanian Government vehicles, most about two years old with 40,000km RACT Roadworthy Inspection with each vehicle (includes pre-registration certificate) Viewings and fixed price on Saturdays from 9am-2pm or Mondays from 8am Auctions every Tuesday at 11am 56 Sunderland Street, Derwent Park 6548C Buy with confidence at Pickles Auctions www.ract.com.au
Feb March 2011
Jun Jul 2011