31-Aug-2017 -- As I was in Australia conducting a series of university presentations, professional development training events for primary and secondary teachers, and keynoting a major geography conference about the value of spatial thinking and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in education, a confluence visit seemed like the appropriate way to end this trip that took in 5 different cities and states. It also was a trip that included 2 conferences, one youth hack-a-thon, 6 university visits, and 4 teacher training events. And so, I took this opportunity on the one day I had in my schedule that was not in meetings or teaching to attempt 38 South 144 East. The main challenge: I would have to drive there. I had never driven on the left side of the road before.
I made arrangements the day before, and after walking to and spending nearly an hour at the very busy Hertz office in Melbourne, I was behind the wheel of a small car. I was doing everything that the web advice said NOT to do in terms of one's first time driving on the left: The advice said: Do not rent during rush hour, don't rent from a center city location, and don't drive on a freeway the first thing. I was doing all three of those things! But nothing ventured, nothing gained!
I drove out from the center of Melbourne, and only one person sounded their horn at me, which I considered a victory, plus I didn't hit anyone and no one hit me. After some stop and go traffic I was heading west out of the city, and then southwest. As I was on the M1, the busiest road in Victoria, I gripped the wheel the whole time, including when I started out on the 2 lane roads to the northwest of Geelong. I successfully navigated a few traffic circles, going clockwise, and stopped at a convenience store for "brecky". I took a photo of two types of cheese and crackers: One advertised as "tasty" and the other as "extra tasty." I bought one of each.
Adjacent to the convenience store was Ozzy Burgers, and I wondered if "Black Sabbath" songs accompanied the diners there. Soon I was in some beautiful countryside, traveling northwest along the A300 to Bannockburn, and then west-northwest along C143 through Teesdale. The trees were already thinning out and this would be closest I would get to the "outback", which was still of course some distance. But even here, the population density was a lot lower than Melbourne.
I turned to the north on Meredith-Shelford Road that I knew would pass just a few hundred meters east of the confluence, and my anticipation grew. I parked along the side of the road just north of the 38th South line of latitude, near a particularly broken part of the fence. The fence here was also covered with a particularly knotty and gnarly set of branches that required some careful footwork. Once over, the field to the west was easy traversing, covered with short grasses, but I was careful to watch out for snakes and other creatures. It would have been perfect to see some koalas in the trees, but they were nowhere to be found and these were no doubt the wrong kind of trees and the wrong time of day. After less than 10 minutes, I reached the confluence area, but it took 10 more minutes to zero out the unit, for some reason, even though I was careful to enter "new location" on my GPS unit.
The temperature stood at about 67 F (19.4 C) under sunny skies with not a cloud visible. Only a light breeze blew. It was late winter in Australia but incredibly mild. The ground here at the point was perfectly flat. This was my first confluence in Victoria, my third in Australia, and I was thankful to be here. I saw a few birds but no animals and no people. The field to the west was particularly striking, with huge dead trees pointing skyward every 50 meters in a cultivated field. Trees in the near distance, though, prevented any long view in any direction. The field did not appear to be under any sort of cultivation nor grazing. This was my first time on 38 South but the next day I would return, for a visit to 38 South 146 East. I hiked out the way I came in. I drove south on the road, and then southwest to the magnificent 12 Apostles eroded cliffs and seashore. This was one of the most scenic seashores I had ever seen and was well worth the trip. Even the drive to the shore was wonderful, through very small communities, and past strangely colored lakes, amazing trees, and seeing almost no vehicles on any of the roads.
Thus, it was my first time driving on the left side of the road, my first time in Australia, and my first confluence attempt in Victoria. The last day of August but a day of many firsts for me. It was a glorious, perfect day.