I’ve heard tell of a person who has installed two GPS’s in his car. One has a female voice and is programmed to ignore toll roads whilst the other with a male voice is not and often selects the shortest or fastest way to a destination. It can be quite funny listening to both as they argue with each which way to go.

My wife has downloaded onto her GPS the voice of Scottish comedian Billy Connelly and if she happens to miss a turning or decides that she wants to take a detour or go a different way to the instructions that Billy Connelly has given, his voice comes on to say “Turn around, and not just yourself, turn the whole car around. You would not be in this predicament if you had listened to me in the first place”.

Now my GPS tells me where to go in a female voice. It is comforting when traveling alone as I can imagine my wife sitting alongside telling me where to go. It can also be frightening when traveling along country roads as I have experienced from time to time. You are out in the country on a quiet drive. No radio or CDs playing and have been traveling along a straight road for quite a while when suddenly a voice would boom out “turn right in 500 metres”. Talk about disturbing the peace and quiet. It is almost enough to bring on a heart attack.

Have you ever wondered how the people behind the voices would know the name of every road on the map? And what do you do if you had not followed the instructions of the GPS and then its starts to reconfigure and by the time it has reconfigured you had missed the next turning?

About a month ago I got a new GPS and I downloaded maps of Australia and New Zealand on to it. You would think that the maps downloaded would be fairly up to date. A week or so ago I was traveling south and between Gerroa and Berry where there has been a lot of roadworks most of which is nearing completion. On looking at the map on the GPS it had me traveling across paddocks when in fact I was either on the old Princes Hwy or on a new stretch of road. Luckily for me on my recent trip down south I knew part of the way to a location I was going to when my GPS said go straight ahead along the Princes Hwy then turn right towards HMAS Albatross. If I had followed the instruction on the GPS I would have missed the turning. I was on the Pacific Hwy at the corner of the road towards HMAS Albatross so there was no need to keep going straight ahead.

Technology can be great, but it can also be confusing. Remember when it was not all that long ago just about every household in major cities had at least one street directory. Before heading out across the city you would look up the maps to try to determine the best way to get to your destination. I can foresee that old street directories would become collector items that would be able to be bought or sold on sites such as e-bay. As many have found they can be useful in for historical studies where over the years you are able to see the growth or changes that have taken place in the various suburbs or cities. Imagine the roads that have been created over the past fifty odd years or so. The changes in some roads in renaming, road widening or even being replaced by motorways etc are yet other things you may notice. Street directories are handy documents for gauging how areas have changed over time.

If you have some great memories, or perhaps you belong to a local community organisation and would like to share your organisation’s history or story with us then feel free to share your memories or experiences by writing to 17 Rose St., Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 or email to [email protected]