As if the infamous 'hook' turns - making right turns from the left-most lane - didn't make getting around Melbourne enough of a challenge, some of the street names add to the confusion.
First, there seem to be almost as many Collins Streets here as there are Peachtrees in Atlanta.
A bit further down, the first east-west street north of Flinders Street is called Flinders Lane.
It's not like Australia is short of military, sports or cultural heroes to name streets after. Why do they double up like this?
In general though, Melbourne is a delightful city. It's particularly easy for Torontonians to get adjusted, because the downtown streets are laid out in a nice, familiar, rectangular grid pattern.
And the water - the Yarra River - is on the south, just as Lake Ontario is for us.
We don't have bridges across our water though...
The city is remarkably clean. There's a nice mixture of wonderful old buildings like the Flinders Street station (left) which I'm heading to as I type in the clean and efficient electric train/subway/Metro system), and spectacular modern architecture (right).
The residents are at least as racially and culturally diverse as T-Dot, although a lot of them do seem to smoke. And everyone, even the security people at the Australian Open Tennis Tournament, is very friendly and, well, open.
I wonder if they have to dial up the 'tude if they work the up-coming Formula One Grand Prix?
I dunno - I've never been to that race.
It seems I'm not alone in liking this place, judging from the published comments of most of the F1 drivers, and the autographs on the competitors' sign-in board at the tennis event. The security guy was oh so pleasant in refusing to allow me to take a photo of it, although not nice enough to just look the other way for 1/125th of a second. Still not sure why it wasn't allowed - it seemed to be excellent publicity for the event and a 'humanizing' element for these ball-hawking automatons that are today's tennis pros.
And just half an hour from downtown, you can find some terrific roads upon which you can wring out something as potent as the Ford Falcon GT-P I drove today (more in a future edition of Wheels) and not even break the speed limit.
Which is a Good Thing, because Australia is littered with speed cameras, and the constabulary seems to have beaten all the testosterone out of the drivers, who all seem to meander along at a couple of klicks over whatever the limit happens to be. I only saw one guy driving really fast, in an older Ford Mondeo in a rather shocking shade of turquoise blue (maybe he was ashamed of it and was just trying to get it back in the garage).
That said, I didn't see a single traffic cop in three days of driving around here.
Australia has a very high seat belt wearing rate, but given their supposed interest in traffic safety, I'm surprised there is no Daytime Running Lights regulation here, and very few drivers turn their lights on all the time.
C'mon mates; time to get with the program.
And despite signs requiring drivers to keep left (our right) except 'for 'overtaking', their lane discipline on freeways isn't a whole lot better than ours. On twisty mountain roads however, they will pull over and let you pass. I was following a previous-generation Kia Rio four-door hatch on one of the above-mentioned roads. It was being driven probably as fast as a Kia Rio has ever been driven since Bob English ran one in Targa Newfoundland a few years ago. The guy clearly knew what he was doing, but realizing he had no chance against a supercharged V8 Falcon, he too pulled over to let me carry on. He deserved the jaunty wave I gave him.
In all, Australia is a fantastic place to visit - and, I bet, to live.