Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack
Podcast Number 95 – Are we there yet? Travelling by car in Australia
Australia is a big place. Distances are often long between our larger towns and cities. Notwithstanding our long distances, we only have around 24 million people. This is one of the many reasons why we just can’t afford to have an extensive network of trains crisscrossing the nation. As a result, a popular way to get around in Australia is by car. Yes, we do fly a lot, especially over very long distances, but we also use our cars a lot for shorter distances. Travelling 200 or 300 or indeed 400 kilometres by car is no big deal in Australia. You just jump in the car and go.
When I was a child, we lived in a small coastal town in Western Australia called Bunbury. My grandmother and grandfather, on my father’s side, lived in Perth, the capital of Western Australia. That was around 180 kilometres away. Naturally, my parents liked to visit them reasonably often. So the family would jump in the car and off we would go. It would take around 2 and a half hours to get there, in those days. Travelling long distances in a car, especially for children, can be boring. To avoid this, Australian families have a tradition of playing games while they travel. In this podcast, I would like to tell you about just a few of those travelling car games.
The best known car travelling game is ‘I Spy’. It goes like this. One person in the car sees something in the car, or on the road, or in the countryside and they say – ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…..’ then they give the starting letter for that object. Let’s suppose the person was thinking of the word ‘road’, because that is something everyone in the car can see. Obviously, ‘road’ starts with the letter ‘r’. ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘r’’. The other people in the car try to guess what it is. They might say ‘Rob’ (that’s if I was in the car), or they might say ‘rain’ if it was raining, or they might say ‘radio’ (if the car had a radio), or might say ‘road’. People keep guessing until someone gives the right answer. Sometimes the people in the car just can’t guess the word, in which case they say, ‘oh alright, we give up. What is it?’ Then the person playing will give the correct answer. Now this game can be a lot of fun, especially when someone thinks of something which everyone can see, but no-one can guess. Usually, the person who gets the right answer is the one to play next, or alternatively each person can have a turn in order. You can keep a score of who has the most right answers, or you can just play without scoring. You can also make up your own rules as you go. For example, only choose things that are outside the car, or only choose things that are inside the car, or whatever special rule you might think of.
Another good game is ‘Who am I?’ The person playing thinks of a famous person such as a sports person, an actor, a singer or a television personality. It has to be someone that everyone will know, even the youngest in the car (that’s important). The other people then ask questions about that person and the player can only answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The others have to keep asking questions until one of them can guess who it is. For example, let’s suppose the person playing has chosen Queen Elizabeth as their famous person. The questions might go like this. Are they female? Yes. Is she older than 60? Yes. Is she in show business? No. Is she Australian? No. Is she English? Yes. Is she older than 80? Yes. Is it the Queen? Correct! Usually there will be more questions than this, but sometimes people can guess the answer quite quickly.
Another game is the alphabet word game. This one is a little harder and not so good for younger children, but it is still a great game. The first player gives the name of an animal, say for example ‘cow’. The next player must then give the name of an animal which starts with the last letter of that word. In this case, they must give an animal starting with ‘w’. This could be, for example, ‘worm’. The next player must then give an animal starting with its last letter, ‘m’. That could be ‘mouse’. And so it goes on. A good addition to this game is that each player must first say all the animals that have been given so far, in order. In my example, the next player would have to say ‘cow, worm, mouse’ before they gave their animal, which in this case must start with the letter ‘e’. That is a good test for the memory. If a player is unable to say all the previous animals, they are out. The winner of the game is the player who is left after all others are out.
There are obviously many, many more games you can play while travelling in a car. Just do a search on the internet and you’re sure to find some.
Besides games, there are also other things you can do. One of the best activities is to sing songs which everyone knows. This is a great pastime and everyone can really get into the swing of things.
Whatever the game or activity while travelling, keep everyone busy, or perhaps tire them out so that they have a quiet sleep (but not the driver of course). Hopefully you won’t have to hear the dreaded phrase coming from the back seat, ‘Are we there yet?’
If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. I will write back to you, in English of course. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.
Podcast 95 Quiz- Did you understand the podcast?
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If you got all the questions right, well done! If you got some questions wrong, don’t worry. It’s normal for language learners to take time to develop their understanding.
Question 1 of 10
True or False? – Making a long trip by car of several hundred kilometres is quite common in Australia.Correct
Question 2 of 10
True or False? – As a child, Rob would quite often travel by car from Bunbury to Perth with his parents.Correct
Question 3 of 10
True or False? – Rob thinks it is always boring for Australian families to travel a long distance by car.Correct
Question 4 of 10
True or False? – In the game ‘I Spy’, you must guess the first letter of the object.Correct
Question 5 of 10
True or False? – In ‘I Spy’, the games stops when the other people can’t guess what the object is.Correct
Question 6 of 10
True or False? – In ‘I Spy’, you can change the rules about where the object must be – inside or outside the car.Correct
Question 7 of 10
True or False? – In the game ‘Who Am I?’, the person playing the game can only answer yes or no to each question.Correct
Question 8 of 10
True or False? – In the alphabet game, it is important to know how to spell the name of the animal.Correct
Question 9 of 10
True or False? – You can make the alphabet game easier by also listing off all the animals that have been given so far.Correct
Question 10 of 10
True or False? – Rob loves to hear the words ‘Are we there yet?’ from the back seat of the car.Correct
activities = things to do
addition = when you add something
afford = when you have enough money to buy something
alphabet = the list of all the letters, from A to Z
alternatively = another way or another view
avoid = when you stop something from happening to you
between = the space between two places, objects or people
boring = when something is not interesting
coastal = where the sea meets the land
correct = right
crisscrossing = going from one side to the other side, and from top to bottom
distances = how far it is from one place to another place
dreaded = something which you don’t like
extensive = large, complicated
famous = someone who is well known by lots of people
give up = to stop doing something because it is too hard
into the swing of things = when you learn how to do something well
jump in the car = to open the car door and get inside
let’s suppose = imagine, think of something in your mind
letter = (here) one of the 26 characters in the alphabet. For example, A, B, C, etc
memory = (here) the ability to remember things
nation = a country
no big deal = it is not a problem
notwithstanding = despite
object = something which you can see and touch
obviously = when something can be easily seen or understood
pastime = something you do for fun, to pass the time
personality = a famous person
phrase = a few words spoken together, not a full sentence
previous = the one or ones before
Queen Elizabeth = the Queen of Great Britain and also Australia – head of government
radio = a device which can play a radio station
reasonably = not too high and not too low
score = how many points you have in a game
spy = (here) to look at something, usually without other people seeing you
tradition = something which has been done for a long time
travelling = going from one place to another place, by car, or train, or ship, or airplane
February 7, 2022 at 1:40 am
You gave the podcast a great title, I think. I’ll test to see if I won’t have to say: ‘Are we there yet?’ when I play the games with my family on my next road trip. Many thanks for recommending these interesting games.
Greetings from Hangzhou China.
February 7, 2022 at 10:16 pm
Many thanks for your comment.
Greetings from Melbourne.
June 7, 2019 at 3:33 pm
Hi Rob. I and my kids (8 and 10 years old) like to play the same games, especially “guess an animal”. We live in Russia and it’s funny that the games are similar all around the world
June 11, 2019 at 10:09 pm
Thanks for your comment. It’s great to know that the games you play in Russia are similar to the games we play here in Australia. It just shows that we are all similar, even if we live so far apart and come from different cultures. Thanks for your continued interest in my podcast. I really appreciate it.
April 15, 2018 at 7:25 pm
Thank you! What is your favourite place in Australia?
April 16, 2018 at 8:15 am
Hi Nurul nisa,
Thanks for your comment. My favourite place in Australia is Tasmania. Tasmania has beautiful countryside and the scenery is amazing. The roads are very good for motorcycling, one of my favourite hobbies. I always enjoy a holiday in Tasmania.
Have a great day.