It's generally recognised that Aussies are rather more, shall we say, brash than Kiwis. They're known as more forthright. But, are they?
Driving from Melbourne to Ned Kelly country in north-east Victoria proved that when it comes to road manners, the Aussies far out-balance Kiwis.
And, given the chance to drive an Alfa Romeo Giulia to complete the journey, why would you not?
The most-favoured route is the Hume Freeway. It's straight and flat for mile after mile so in driving terms it's relatively easy. There are none of the twists, climbs and narrowness of a good deal of New Zealand's roads but, even so, the consideration shown by Aussies in cars, utes and campers, and Aussies in large trucks, was exemplary.
Almost without exception drivers would indicate and pass, then indicate and slip back into the left-hand lane. When we were tucked in behind a truckie, he gave a flick of the indicator to let us know we could pass. How obliging!
And they don't dawdle. The speed limit is 110 k/ph with a tolerance (we were told) of between 5-10 k/ph. As a result, traffic moved freely.
When we arrived in Boralma after 260 kilometres we asked the rellies why Aussies behaved so well on the road. They were amazed. No-one had ever told them that before, they said. But, on reflection they thought it could be because road manners are hammered home consistently by police, by the government, by driving schools.
In New Zealand we're constantly reminded that speed kills. Yes, it does, especially if you're not wearing a seat belt. Yet, seat-belt use has declined in recent years in New Zealand despite extensive advertising campaigns. What we're not told is to be polite, to think of other road-users, to treat other drivers as we would treat ourselves.
Does therein lie part of the answer to our abysmal road toll?