Sydney Traffic’s A Bitch.

by Lori Dwyer on September 1, 2010 · 10 comments

Beep beep,

In a post quite a while back (that I have freaking searched and searched for and cannot for the arse of me find), Mel over at SugerCoat It mentioned that the thought of driving in Sydney traffic scares the bejesus out of her. That is totally a fair call. Sydney driving is a funny thing- either you got it, or you don’t. I commented on that post, in my usual smarmy fashion, that I am not afraid of Sydney traffic. I can navigate a No Right Turn, with my trusty street directory on my lap, while avoiding 24 pedestrians, three men-in-lycra-on-bicycles, giving a taxi driver the finger and swearing that George Street was right freaking here last time I came into the city.

Bike couriers.

For those of you who haven’t risked life, limb and side mirrors attempting to navigate Sydney streets, our CDB is woven mess of one ways, no right turns, lane ways that go to nowhere and carnivorous underground parking honeycombs that are impossible to find one’s way out of. Even your GPS won’t help you there. Bike couriers move faster than anything else, buses always have right of way and the only people who actually know where they’re going are the taxi drivers, who are a slow moving, rabid breed upon themselves.

I live a good 45 minute drive away from the Sydney CBD- that’s even further away from Sydney than where the Olympics were actually held. And when I say 45 minute drive, I mean on a very good day. Accessing the delights of the Capitol Theater or Rabens Footwear requires a pilgrimage up the M5 motorway. This should only be attempted between the hours of 9am and 2:30pm. Any earlier or later and you will find yourself stuck on the M5 carpark and your 45 minute trip becomes a 2 and a half hour marathon. Don’t bother driving the M5 at night. You will pay your $4 toll only to find yourself shunted off at the next exit because the whole bloody thing is closed for roadwork.

My interview with Abby Cadabby a little while ago involved a trek up the M5 into the city. I took my good mate Auntie Mickey with me for photography skills and moral support. She scared me slightly by bringing her NavBitch. (Open gutter, remove mind- that’s her GPS).

I’m really not a Global Positioning System kind of chick. Give me a big, chunky Gregory’s that flies off the passengers seat when you take a corner to fast over an arrogant car cigarette lighter with a touch screen. Anyday.

Navbitch produced a total fail by losing signal within the myriad of Sydney tunnels that one is required to cross reference to reach the north side of the city without taking a five hour round trip through Redfern. But she redeemed herself by guiding us effortlessly through the lower streets of the CBD.

And then promptly failed again when she and her uppity voice instructed us that we had reached our destination, just as we cruised on past the entrance to the carpark at the Hilton Hotel.

Whatever. From that point we turned NavBitch off and trusted our luck. It found us in a mammoth underground parking station. You know the ones. Once you are silly enough to turn in, there is nowhere to go but down. And down. And round. And round. And you find yourself thanking God that there are traction arks cut into the cement ramp and your tires are relatively new (my first car, an ’85 BlueBird, would have been like a kid on a waterslide coming down this thing).

And for this privilege, you pay… well. Anywhere from $25 to $60, depending on where you’re silly enough to park. Most of the time, one wrong turn in the CBD has eaten up the extra half an hour you allowed yourself to be punctual, so you don’t have the privilege of being picky.

And if you think the parking’s expensive, well, don’t fret. Most parking stations throw in patronizing staff and/or annoying ticket machines as an added bonus.

Once, in the Darling Harbour crappark carpark (blessedly above ground), the Man and I approached the ticket sellers window, with a real person behind it, only to be told we had to use the machine to pay for our overpriced parking. The machine, that we found to be out of order. And when we returned to the window, it was closed. 15 minutes later the attendant sauntered back, smirked and said “Oh, sorry. Afternoon tea break”.


The day of the Abby interview, there was no staff to be rude to us. The ticket machine did that job just fine. Insert ticket. $20. Inert $50 note. Message flashes that the machine will not accept $50 notes for payments under $30. Grrr. Walk 20 meters to ATM. Take out $20 note. Return to machine.

Reinsert ticket. It seems, in the two minutes we’ve been gone, the clock has ticked over another hour. Fee is now $30. Grr. Reinsert $50 note.

Which the f**king thing now will not accept.


I spent the drive home swearing in the ear of Auntie Mickey that the people who live in the inner city are freaking insane, and that’s why the whole place is so difficult to get into and out of. And that I am never f**king going there again.

*Ahem* So like I said, I’m not afraid of Sydney traffic. It’s the patronizing, tomb-like parking stations that scare me.
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Maxabella September 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

I don't mind the traffic. Driving is the only competitive sport I play these days. I really hate parking and I just won't pay for it. If I have to walk for an hour to my destination rather than pay those grey money-leechers I will. x


River September 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

We lived in Sydney from late 1975 until late 1979. Well, out in the suburbs, at Glenfield. If I needed to be in the city for anything at all, I used the trains to get to and from. Yes, even with three kids under five. So much easier. Plus, I don't drive, so…trains.


River September 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm

We lived in Sydney from late 1975 until late 1979. Well, out in the suburbs, at Glenfield. If I needed to be in the city for anything at all, I used the trains to get to and from. Yes, even with three kids under five. So much easier. Plus, I don't drive, so…trains.


Ebonie’s Mummy September 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I have never driven in the CBD I make my hubby do it. The 3 times I have been with him we have screamed at each other the whole time.
The stupid GPS makes matters worse…
Definately a cooling off is required after you eventually find the destination thats for sure!


Taryn Rucci September 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I am shaking just reading this!! Living in the land of Dull – by Dull I mean Perth, getting into the city is a breeze on most days and we live quite close. We don't have tolls or anything like that here. I didn't think driving here was a breeze until I read this! Don't think I will be driving my way into the Sydney CBD anytime soon! xx


katepickle September 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Oh how I hate those under ground car parks… 'put your f'ing huge white bus in that tiny little car park madam…" yeah right!!!
and Sydney driving scared me way too much to even attempt it.. give me Melbourne with the trams and crazy hook turns any day!


Kimberly September 1, 2010 at 10:22 am

Is that first picture of you on the bike taken this year? Cause you look fabulous honey! The dude driving it looks totally pissed off though. It's like he's saying "Fracken traffic" Or "It's so hot and sunny out the banana hanging outside my spanx is so gonna get burned"

PS. Love NavBitch.


life in a pink fibro September 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

Am laughing. You have delivered my daily dose of smugness early. Usually I have to wait for the 'traffic update' on the nightly news to feel happy that I left the Sydney traffic behind. It's a very good reason to get out of the place. And I absolutely loathe multi-storey parking stations. They suck like a NavBitch.


Jane September 1, 2010 at 8:36 am

I avoid driving to the city at all costs. I live about 30 minutes north of the CBD, and if I ever have to go into the city (which is practically never), I take the train. I've lived in Adelaide and Melbourne before, and their CBD's are so straightforward and grid-like. Sydney CBD is just one big shit fight! Once I drove to the airport (meaning I had to go through part of the CBD). Never again. GPS fail.


Anonymous September 1, 2010 at 8:32 am

Mrs Sarie and I had the same experience… only without the parking. Seems driving a big van in the city means that your not actually allowed into the underground car parks because your too tall.

So I drove around in circles for an hour :(


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