Ideas from elsewhere that Australia should try

 

 

David Whitley thinks he’d love Oz even more if it’d just take a few foreign concepts on board…

For the traveller, Australia is one of the easiest countries in the world to get around and enjoy a glorious few weeks (or months) in. It does so many things really, really well – educational sign-posting on walking trails, preserving nature at every given opportunity and good pub dinners amongst them. But, just occasionally, it strikes that Australia could do with taking an idea or two from abroad and gleefully adopting it. The country couldn’t half do with this little lot, for example…

Motels

Go to the US, and there will be affordable places to stay near pretty much every interstate junction. The motels there may be soullessly generic, but they serve a function marvellously well. Sometimes, all you need is a bed for the night after a long drive - and a reasonable idea of the accommodation standard. Australia does have motels, but they tend to be spread about fairly randomly in anodyne suburbs, and independently owned.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there’s definitely room for the American model too.

Budget hotel chains

In a similar vein, Australia is curiously lacking the likes of Premier Inns, Easyhotels and Travelodges. (Well, actually, it does have Travelodges, but they’re rather different and higher in both standard and price). The hostel scene is superb for the budget traveller, but there’s a big gap in that next step up that seems eminently fillable.

 

 

Free WiFi

It’s gradually creeping in to some places, but Australia on the whole is appallingly behind the rest of the world when it comes to offering free WiFi. Part of this is due to the somewhat antiquated broadband network the country has lumbered itself with, but a lot of it is due to laziness and greed amongst hotel managers. Essentially, they’ve signed up for onerous service contracts, and aren’t prepared to bite the bullet, absorbing the cost, while they think they can just about get away with it.

High speed rail

Covering relatively long distances in Europe can be remarkably pleasant given some countries’ dedication to high speed rail. It’s 775km from Paris to Marseille, for instance, but that can be covered in around three hours and 15 minutes by train.

Australia has some of the busiest air routes in the world, and a number of city pairs that seem like they’re crying out for high speed rail as an alternative. Sydney to Melbourne, for example, is around 100km further than Paris to Marseille. A high speed rail line covering it in less than four hours would be far preferable to a grim nine hour slog down the Hume Highway or faffing around at airports at either end. It seems bleedingly obvious to kick off a high speed network linking the two largest cities, probably stopping at Canberra on the way.

Pre-packed sandwiches

I feel marginally ashamed of myself for saying this, but Australia could do with embracing mass-produced sandwiches stuffed into plastic packets occasionally. It’s utterly admirable that the norm is freshly-made sandwiches, put together with your choice of ingredients. But sometimes speed and price is of the essence – you just want a cheap Boots or Tesco meal deal to keep you going with the minimum of fuss. Go into the Aussie equivalents of British chemists and supermarkets, and you’ll find such things conspicuous by their absence.

 

 

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