Driving on the left

I love to drive.  Always have.  Always will.

I remember being very young and thinking to myself, I should be allowed to drive.  It looks so easy and like so much fun! As I was growing up, my dad used to let me steer from the passenger seat, even if my mom wasn’t thrilled at the prospect.

Later, I was upgraded from “steerer” to “shifter” in our old ’91 Hyundai Sonata!  That was a thrill, and surprisingly when I would shift into 2nd instead of 4th my dad wouldn’t get too upset with me.

Then, when I did my driving courses, my instructor would always tell me “slow down“… “ya ya, when I take the exam, I’ll slow down“, I’d tell him.  I passed my exam, easy-peasy, and bought myself a run down ’90 Chrysler LeBaron.  I was one of the first of my friends to get a car.  I was always the chauffeur, and I loved it.

I’ve always felt comfortable driving, and I would say I am a great driver.  Hopefully most people who have been in my car would agree! So when we first got to Australia, and the prospect of driving on the left-hand side of the road presented itself, I wasn’t fazed at all!

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Death’s Corner in Arthur’s Pass. Ya, no biggie!


Since our trip to Australia went from Cairns to Airlie Beach, and then to Brisbane, renting a car wasn’t really necessary.  Most of these places were easy to get around in by foot or public transportation.

Then, we got to the Sunshine Coast, more specifically to Buderim.  At first we took a bus to go into town and to the beaches of Maloolooba and Marouchydore.  But after a few days, we decided there was more to see, so we finally rented a car!

Coincidentally, it ended up being the same car we sold before leaving on this amazing trip, a Nissan Pulsar (the Australian version of the Versa).

I think a lot of people assume driving on the other side of the road is difficult because they think you’ll end up driving on the wrong side. But that only happened to me once, or maybe twice, but the real difficulty is simply staying in your lane!

Mistakenly driving on the wrong side can happen (usually when you’re on a small dirt road, or in a parking lot), but staying on the correct side is a lot easier than you would think, as you just follow traffic.  There are usually medians too, so physically getting onto the wrong side is harder than you would think.

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The epic 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, one of our best road trips

Staying in your lane though… that did take some getting used to.  I was always taught that when you are driving, you should hug the left side of your lane.  They say to do this because you are more likely to get hit from your right side than you are from your left side (when driving on the right side of the road). So that was the hardest impulse to break.  For the first day or two, Carine would keep getting nervous and telling me “stay in your lane!”

Being such a great driver, I would get so mad at myself.  Since you’re driving on the left, you now need to hug the right side of the lane.  Otherwise, you’ll be sitting half in your lane, and half in the lane to your left.

But after two days or so, I got the hang of it.  After a week, it no longer even felt like I was driving on the ‘wrong’ side anymore.

I drove a bit in the Sunshine Coast, and then did the Great Ocean road, from Melbourne to Portland and back (about 1,000kms) in a Wicked mini camper 2 sleeper.

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I’ve heard of sleeping in your car, but have you heard of sleeping on top of your car?

The next difficulty is where to look when you are crossing through an intersection.  Usually, you look left first expecting cars going from left to right.  But now the cars are coming from your right, so if you look the wrong way you could be in for a terrible surprise!  This did happen to me once while driving through New Zealand, and it was definitely the most terrifying ‘driving on the left’ experience we had, but we are still alive, again, thanks to my great driving skills!  Sarcasm?  Meh, you decide!

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A view we’re lucky to have seen in Wanaka, New Zealand

But the most exciting ‘driving on the left’ that I’ve done is, without doubt, the 4,500+ kms I did through New Zealand.   It was conquered with the help of 2 different camper vans and a trusty Nissan Pulsar for a few days.  We cruised through the South Island of New Zealand in a Spaceship Beta 2S and then drove a 4-berth motor-home we relocated for Imoova (a relocation service for campervans in New Zealand).

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Our little UFO
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The “Big Bertha”

So ask me, “Derek, should I drive in a country that drives on the opposite side that I am used to?”

The answer is easy!  Are you a good driver?  Yes?  Go for it!

No???  I think you answered your own question.  Do us all a favour, and take the bus!


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new experiences driving on the left

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