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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Australia 2011 - Day 4, Part 1 - Journey to Ayer's Rock

"Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves." - Rudyard Kipling

***

Australia 2011
Day 4 - 1st August - Journey to Ayer's Rock
(Part 1)

Somewhere in Melbourne I saw a flushless urinal which explained that the cubes at the bottom had bacteria to keep the urinals fresh. It made me realised I'd never seen such an explanation in Singapore.


We had been scheduled to take Tiger Airways but they played us out by getting grounded. Even though we waited, they didn't fly in time so we had to get a Qantas flight (lucky it didn't play us out like it did many recently), but it was very expensive flight.

It was really early, but some shops at the airport were already open. No surprise as the airport was already very crowded at 6+ - the bus driver said it was this way till 8+.

Almost all the Qantas Domestic counters were bag drop counters - self checkin was expected.

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From the Romance novel sub-genre of Medical Fiction. One was the book of the month.

The bookstore also had ""Kim Kardashian how hot can you be?"

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"Nice girls just don't get it"

Under the childrens (sic) section there was Twilight and Justin Bieber A-Z.

Under the business section was a "signed by author" section, which had been insincerely signed.

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Sydney Opera House Official Licensed Merchandise
Bear in mind that this was Melbourne Airport. Sad. And there was nothing BUT this under "Souvenirs".

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Under "All Toiletries, Accessories" there were "Four Seasons Studs & Ribs" condoms (and as we know, "ribbed for her pleasure, not yours")
Then again it was telling that only one type was offered

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The Classics section - with Steven Pinker. Poor guy.

Walking over to the International pre-checkin section, I found it a lot more exciting. Not only were there more shops but the shops had more things. For example the Health and Beauty shop stocked *2* types of condoms, not just one (they had Four Seasons Regular too). I guess sex is good for one's Health and Beauty. They also sold unisex flight socks as well as ladies' ones. Proceding on the assumption that the Domestic terminal shops would have the essentials and the International ones would have the frills, I observe that ladies' socks are more basic than unisex ones because women are more likely to use them than men.

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A white girl doing a very obvious and tasteless version of the Japanese cleavage-enhancing move on Australian Penthouse's cover

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Krispy Kreme at the airport! Except it was the most expensive KK ever at A$2.50 for an original glazed.

There was a "30 second series" - 50 ideas each in 30 seconds. Many will see this as degeneracy but this is not quite accurate - the sheer volume of things there are to know nowadays can lead to information overload.

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"The Saress. The Ultimate Beach Dress" for "the social woman" to "capture eyes"
Billed as easy to slip on, it is at least as important to note that it is easy to slip off as well

It seems FCUK in Australia is just "French Connection" - there's no UK bit. Maybe it's residual colonial resentment.

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""Rusty Tools". For the person who has everything. Made with 70% dark chocolate and 'rusted' with cocoa powder"

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Departure gate

One can bring liquids and gels on local flights (aerosols must be in their original cans or something). Maybe they figure no one will bother blowing those up. Or they realise airport security is just a huge charade so there's no point acting if the IATA isn't breathing down their necks. ID is not checked at all either - this can be seen as part of Australian laxity.

There is an interstate quarantine in Australia on food. This must be the strictest quarantine regime in the world, and can also be an excuse for protectionism.

At Alice Springs airport it was clear that I wasn't in Kansas anymore - alcohol bought at the airport cafe could not be taken past a certain point. Even the US is not so anal. But then they don't have alcohol problems like the Northern Territory does.

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"Will you be having sex safely this holiday?"
Good to know they think Safety First

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Hertz lets you rent trucks

Someone renting a car too was surnamed "Grope". Hurr hurr.

When booking my vehicles, I had wondered about whether to get GPS. It'd have cost about A$10 a day, but I figured it'd be more economical to get a local SIM and use my phone's GPS. Of course, in the Outback on much of the highways I wouldn't have reception and it wouldn't work, but I figured that since we were not renting 4WDs, when there was no reception we'd be on roads, and they'd be clearly signposted and there'd be only one direction to go in (whereas where the routes were more complicated we'd have cellphone reception). As a backup though, we'd gotten a map at Melbourne airport. Happily Google Navigation (the one with the voice narration) works in Australia, though for some reason it doesn't in Singapore.

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Our car - a Hyundai Getz

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I think I took this to post on foursquare

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"Drive on left in Australia"

There was no speed limit on open roads, or something like that, but everyone was really slow. So we went at an effective maximum of 140km/hr for various reasons: road safety, fuel efficiency, in the off chance of a speed limit and to not tax the car too much (the engine seemed to protest when we floored the pedal and went above 140).

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We spent hours driving in this desolate landscape

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It got pretty boring after a while

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Luckily we had two people to share the driving

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Are you falling aleep yet? I am.

We came up to one rest stop - Stuarts Well Roadhouse.

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Emus

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"Stuarts Well Roadhouse. The home of Dinky the Singing Dingo"

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Dingy place for Dinky

There was a girl at the counter who was quite friendly (despite fitting the description of what one might call 'White Trash' - among other things, too much eyeliner). She told me that the Singing Dingo was "world famous". This translated as "famous all over Australia" - among other things he's not on Wikipedia.

Unfortunately the other staff were cool at best. Notably who I assumed was Jim Cotterill, the dingo's owner, who exhibited the only clear-cut instance of racism I encountered in the whole trip. I know this because there was a group of 38 old white people at the restaurant for lunch (and to hear the Dingo) and he ignored me (even when I asked a question) while talking to them.

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Various writeouts on and photos of Dinky the Singing Dingo

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This is not the Dingo

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Info card. He's 11.

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The Dingo

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"Mine's bigger than yours"
This compares truck drivers' retirement plans

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Dingo in the shade and not singing

In any event the supposed 10 minute wait for the performance looked like it was going to last forever, so we took off at the 18 minute mark (at 12:30 when we left it was in 15 minutes). Outback time is like Indian time, perhaps. MR said it would just be howling anyway, and we had a sunset to catch.

Here is a non-embeddable clip of Dinky which makes my ears hurt (I'm not sure which is worse - the piano playing or the 'singing')

There's no FM radio reception along most stretches of NT highway. Phone reception I understand, but I thought radio waves went further.

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The next rest stop was Erldunda
There was a sign about a mouse problem to be 'irradicated' - another example of Bad Australian English

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"Australia. A Big country"

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"Dehydrated Bullshit"

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Junk food: sausage roll, desert dog, pig dog (from right to left)
The girl behind the counter was a cute Malaysian girl on a working holiday. It must've been quite sad working there. For one there was no 'yes' Optus reception (though she later informed me that Telstra worked).

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Descriptions of the 3

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Pig dog. Mmm.

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"No fishing"
???

Despite the road from Alice Springs to Uluru being a major one, there were quite a few potholes.

Signs greeting visitors on the road to Uluru were also in Japanese, Italian, German and a local aboriginal language. Italian was a weird choice.

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Ad conning people to do the 2011 Census. Spot the grammar mistake.

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Bogus Climate Change anti-plastic bag law. Even biodegradable checkout style plastic bags will be banned, so you can see saving money for retailers is probably the more important goal.

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"By arrangement with the Pitjantjatjara council the licencee will not sell 'takeaway' alcohol to persons who are residents of or travelling to Pitjantjatjara lands in South Australia, Mutitjulu Community, Docker River, the Peterman Lands or the Central Reserves of Western Australia"
A shameful example of racism manifested as structural violence

At Mt Ebenezer Road House there was an aboriginal art gallery with:

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An unenforceable $5,000 fine for photo-taking inside. "Police will be called". It is 190km from Yulara, probably the nearest place with a police presence. I highly doubt they will spend 3 hours driving down to nab someone for photo-taking.

After looking at ugly aboriginal paintings, I found the real reason photography was banned:

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Scampering mouse
Multiple photos of a mouse: what driving in the Outback for hours does to you

There are signs about speed cameras in the Northern Territory. Perhaps they are hidden in trees by the road - we didn't see any.

After many hours of driving, we saw a magnificent sight on the horizon.

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This is actually Mt Conner - which looks like Ayer's Rock (Uluru). It is not the same, however. Despite knowing of its existence, I was almost taken in. It's made of the same stone.

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Spot the grammar mistake at Curtin Springs Cattle Station

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The girl here was white but didn't seem local (my guess was German and I verified it later). However we had a sunset to catch so there was no time to make enquiries.


More than one person had suggested to me that I take 2 cars to drive in Australia, in case one broke down. Apparently they hadn't considered that a satellite phone would've been cheaper.

Some place had a sign saying cats were not allowed. But who'd bring them out into the Outback?!

There were what seemed to be 2 dead camels at the side of the highway at one point. Then we realised where Australian beef came from.
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