Lessons from Travels: Down Under

by Carl Strang

As I wind down the Lessons from Travels series, I find a few topics remain to be mentioned from my trip to Australia. First, here’s a warning to those planning to drive in countries where cars go in the left lane. It’s not enough to visualize driving in the left lane. Remember that you will be sitting on the right side of the car. I pulled out of the car rental facility near the ferry depot in Tasmania, and immediately went up on the sidewalk at the left edge of the roadway. Fortunately no one else was around, and I quickly adjusted to my position in the lane, as well as the car’s.

The next point is that road kill looks strange. That’s because the fauna are strange. After all, the Australian mammals are mainly marsupials, and they will look different in flattened form from our North American car carrion.

We have nothing that looks like a pademelon.

We have nothing that looks like a pademelon.

Though both are marsupials, their possums are different from our opossums.

Though both are marsupials, and produce similar footprints, their possums are different from our opossums.

Finally, there is the matter of celestial bodies. The sky is inverted from our North American perspective. The sun appears to move counterclockwise above the northern horizon. At night, the moon is upside down. Orion stands on his head. Finally, you get to see the southern constellations and stars. There are fewer bright stars, and the sky consequently is less filled by bright, distinctive constellations. But then, there’s the Southern Cross, which makes up for a lot.

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