• 2021.12.07
  • Traffic on the Gold Coast – Differences from Japan
Compared to Sydney, Melbourne, and the other big cities, few people use public transport, and driving seems to make life much more convenient on the Gold Coast. There is a streetcar that runs from the university hospital to the center of Surfers Paradise and the neighboring suburb Broadbeach, but I don't think many people use it that much. In the near future the streetcar is going to go as far as Gold Coast Airport, which will make it more convenient for tourists, but there are a lot of people who will still not be able to get to work or school without a car, and as the population continues to grow on the Gold Coast, heavy traffic congestion is expected after streetcar routes are built. Thankfully we don’t get horrendous traffic jams at the moment, although we do get some congestion, but at different times of the day from Japan.
There’s plenty of space in Australia, and the roads are wide and the intake areas for public elementary and junior high schools are also large, which means not all the families in those areas live close enough to school to be able to walk there, so the parents have to drive their children to and from school, which causes school drop-off and pick-up traffic congestion.
The speed limit on roads near schools is restricted to 40 km/h when children are going to and from school, between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. and between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. The traffic has to slow down during these times, even on roads where the speed limit is usually 60 km/h or more. Sometimes the police do spot speed checks, and there are often cars with speed cameras parked on the side of a road on a route to a school. Breaking the speed limit can get you a fine of $400 to $500, depending on your speed.
The roads near schools can become heavily congested for a short time when the kids are being dropped off or picked up, so if you have to drive near a school during drop-off and pick-up times, you have to allow a bit of extra time.
On the Gold Coast there are about the same or higher proportions of people in so-called manual trades like electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and building trades, who are called “tradies,” than people who work in offices, so when they are going to or from work, they also have an effect on traffic congestion.
Tradies have to use their work trucks and so on, and there’s no possibility of them commuting by streetcar or bus.
They leave home between 6 and 6:30 a.m. and leave work between 3 and 3:30 p.m., so they’re quite early starters.
They start early and finish early, and of course they don’t get overtime, so the roads get busy at those times of the day. In Japan, those are probably the times of day when the roads are the least busy.
And after 10:00 p.m. on weekdays, there are only a few cars out and about and the streets are empty.
I guess at least half of the residents of the Gold Coast are already in bed (LOL).
Another difference from Japan is that cars always stop at cross-walks.
According to the 2021 Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) National Survey, 70% of cars do not stop at cross-walks in Japan.
Hearing that figure makes me think that with cross-walks in Japan, it still feels as though it’s the cars that have the right of way. If I go to cross the road when a car is approaching, I get the feeling that the driver might honk at me, and it makes me happy when occasionally a kind driver stops for me.
In Australia, however, if a driver ignores a pedestrian at a cross-walk and keeps on going, they will become the object of some intense anger, with arms thrown into the air (the reaction Westerners often have when they are angry). Sometimes they might even get yelled at. Sometimes the driver doesn’t deliberately mean to keep on going, in which case they apologize with a gesture to say "Sorry!"
Strictly speaking, when a driver fails to stop at a cross-walk, it’s a traffic violation and they might get a fine, but I have never heard of anyone actually being caught, and I have never seen police in the act of catching a driver for that. Even on a road where there is only one car travelling along it, the driver will always stop if there is a person standing at the cross-walk.
Which makes me wonder, “Really? Even though the person could cross the road as many times as they like once the car has passed?” But I think that shows just how absolutely powerful pedestrians are at cross-walks, and that drivers have a strong awareness that pedestrians have the right of way at cross-walks.
And a lot of cross-walks are on speed bumps, low raised ridges across roadways that prevent speeding.
If you don’t see this raised ridge and don't drop your speed while you are driving, the car will hit the bump with bang and bounce up a little, as though flying.

The cars in Australia are right-hand drive, you drive on the left-hand side of the road, and the roads are wide, which might make driving here easier for Japanese people.
If you have the opportunity to rent a car and drive on the Gold Coast, please be careful of these points while you’re driving, OK!

There are School Zone signs like this one on the roads near schools.
School zones are not in force during school vacations, but the signs don’t tell you when the vacations are, which may be confusing for tourists.

These signs tell you that there is a cross-walk with a speed bump.
It's not very clear in the photo, but can you see that the cross-walk is just slightly raised?
This bump is smooth, but there are others that have a steeper slope.


  • Chieko Suganuma (maiden name : Nagura)
  • JobCompany employee

She moved to Australia in 2000. She worked for a Japanese-affiliated travel agency, and then started her current position at a construction company in 2014.On her days off, she enjoys making soy candles that is a hobby of mine and walking on the beach.She hope to share rare lifestyle information from the local area with you.

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