Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Aussie Miscellany Part I

A collage of the great railway logos and emblems we came across. Can you name them all?

The Land of Variety. . .

Not one to keep statistics, but looking back at the photos, we'd seen 33 classes of locomotives (AN, B, BL, CLP, DL, EL, G, GL, GM, MZ, NR, PL, RL, S, T, VL, X, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 73, 80, 81, 82, 90, 92, 421, 423, 442, 5000). We'd only missed seeing the CLF, LDP, and 600 class of those regularly found in NSW. These locomotives were found in 24 distinct paint schemes. Try doing that in the US these days!

A B-double petrol tanker in Goulburn. . .

Cool Trucks!

Aussies love their truckkies. No wonder railways are having such a tough time getting a good foothold on freight traffic! The variety of these brawny semi-trucks is amazing; we didn't get far enough out in the bush to encounter the "Road Train" in its 300' glory, but we got plenty of opportunities to view the nearly-as-impressive "B-Doubles", a semi-tractor pulling a fifth-wheel equipped three-axle trailer allowing a second three-axle trailer in tow behind it. These combinations are eating the freight railway's lunch. And almost all the tractors have impressive "'roo guards" up front to slap away creatures (and smaller vehicles) that dare get in their way!

Livestock B-double at Maitland. Love that Roo Bar!

And, they love the Ute!

For a country predominantly rural in its land area, you'd think there'd be more pick-up trucks in Australia. But we sure didn't see a lot of them. US-style pickup trucks are uncommon enough in Australia that Charlie Harris pointed out a Dodge pickup pulling a box-trailer on the Hume Highway near Yass one morning. "Reminds you the states, eh?" he remarked, but it took a minute for his comment to sink in. Big American-style pickup trucks are few and far between in Australia. . .if you need a bed on your vehicle to haul stuff, it's more likely you'll turn to a "Ute."

Sweet-looking Holden in Bathurst. I'd bet these would sell well in the States. . .

In the States, we've had El Caminos and Rancheros (and Subaru gave us a Brat), but these have come and gone without much traction on the buying public. But maybe it's time US Automakers should think about reintroducing the concept here. They'd certainly have better fuel economy, and the utes from Holden and Ford are certainly stylish enough and offer a big variety of rear beds, from a flatbed to a tilting bed to a traditional pickup bed with tonneau cover. Even Mitsubishi offers them, with a crew-cab configuration. What does Detroit have to lose? If a Ford Falcon Ute were offered in the US, I'd certainly consider it! But it's just American culture, I guess, that equates rugged individualism to owning a truck. . that's why Ford sold, for example, over 900,000 F-series trucks in 2006 alone.

Here's a Ford Falcon with a flat bed for hauling. . .

. . and a bright red Holden as well.

Buy Your Gasoline on Tuesday!
Most of the time in Australia, fuel was around $1.30 a litre. . .except on Tuesdays, when it dropped to $1.10 or so. . .then went back to $1.30 the next day. What's with that? Why does fuel drop so precipitiously on Tuesday only? Here's what Caltex's website says:
The price of petrol generally goes up on the same day each week because of competitive discounting over the previous week. Because discounting increases sales for a short period until competitors react, some service stations will continually move prices downwards in small steps. It takes about a week to reach the point where petrol is being sold close to or below cost, which is unsustainable. Consequently, at different times on Wednesday or sometimes Thursday, other petrol retailers independently increase their prices at some or all of the sites where they control the price. Competitors are carefully watched and if their prices don’t increase to similar levels, retailers may reconsider their price increases. Price increases are not timed to coincide with pension or pay day.
Makes no sense to me. Why not just keep the price low all week and preclude gas lines on Tuesday nights? But I'm glad they don't increase prices on pension or pay day.
Would you lick Nicole's backside? And pay 55 cents to do so?

The Land of Mel and Nicole
Found it strange that Australia Post has a stamp featuring Nicole Kidman on it. Guess you don't have to be dead to be on a stamp in Australia, but I know one Canberra resident who so dislikes Kidman that the thought of flipping her stamp over and licking its backside is particularly unpleasant! To be equitable, stamps also featuring Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush, and Kate Blanchett were released at the same time. I wonder what a Russell Crowe stamp tastes like?
And front page news during our visit was Mel Gibson's divorce, with wonderful detail about just what his beleagured wife was asking for in the divorce settlement and lots of juicy gossip about the Russian models Mel has cheated with over the years. Aussie's are just as celebrity crazy as we are in the states, so obsessing about the trivial when there are so many serious topics to be concerned about is not strictly an American thing. I'd imagine if you visited Sierra Leone, the newspapers would be filled with gossip about Sierra Leone's most famous celebrity (though, to be fair, I was unable to find the name of one using Google). I wonder if they have Sierra Leone's Got Talent! on their television?


Anonymous said...

Hey Blair,

Who do you think invented the ute/pickup?

Paul Bartle

BEK said...

I'm going to say Australian's invented them. They're wonderful vehicles, and i really don't see a reason why we in the US couldn't embrace the concept again. I always wanted a '64 Ranchero, but that snazzy Holden Ute would be even better!

IainS said...


not only did we invent the Ute but some bloke in Victoria got the brilliant idea of a Rolls Royce ute. He cut his Rolls down and drove around with hay bales in the back until Rolls Royce turned up. They were terribly upset that their works of art were treated so badly. They bought his Rolls off him and he took the money and made two Mercedes utes.

Personally I'd go for an ASLAV to save all those arguments about car parking spaces and right of way.

Nemesis said...

Hello Blair, Just spent sunday arvo being highly entertained by your blog, particularly your visit to down under.

I am Maitland and bred, but spent some time in the 'big smoke' prior to coming back to my home town and settling down, I now live in a place called Woodville which is about a ten click drive north of town.

Woodville is about as sleepy a place as you can get with not even a horse in town!

All we have here is a church (usually empty) and a general store. No pub!

4400 clicks in two weeks is a lot of driving but I guess when you have a yen for everything to do with railways, you don't notice the driving aspect.

I also model NSWGR, but at this point in time have dismantled my partially completed layout into storage, until we build ourselves a place on some land we have a little farther up the road.

I'm into the transition times from steam to diesel during the 50's, 60's and 70's. So I have a mixture of steamers and deseasels along with lots of rolling stock from the same era.

I'm waiting to take delivery of a GM 42 class and two Alco 40 class as well as a C38(streamline) and a CPH railmotor.

You and Lance get a mention in Augusts edition of Branchline Ramblings in AMRM. I hope you subscribe to this very good Aussie train magazine because you will get lots of tips from it.

All the best Blair if you need any info at all let me know.