Signs of Life and Wonder


Apparently the residents of Gungahlin have had enough of being a lower priority to other areas of Canberra.

According to the road signs off the new Majura Parkway, Gungahlin has gone it alone as a city. It is now separate to the rest of Canberra. Have a look at the sign above – Canberra is to the left – and Gungahlin is straight through.

Lucky them – I hope they now elect their own chief minister or mayor.

Canberra has a problem with identifying its city centre – being Civic to most of us. As you travel around the suburbs it is variously called ‘City’, ‘City Centre’ ‘Canberra City’ and of course ‘Canberra’. I am not sure what the people of Tuggeranong think when they see the signs that point north to the ‘City’. Did they think they were part of the same city as the rest of Canberra?

Maybe the sign makers live in the centre of Canberra and regard everyone else as being somewhere else.

Signs can be mysteriously misleading if you are not familiar with what they are trying to communicate about.

For instance what generation of Australians would expect to see a puffing steam train crossing a major highway. Apparently they are out there somewhere.


And then there are those pesky Australian animals. An American colleague asked what animal was that when she saw the sign below.


If you had no idea what it was and were used to large bears, your expectations could be totally different to those of us here in Australia who know what it is supposed to represent.

Then the sign makers have confused it more by placing one of those bear like signs alongside that of a kangaroo.

If you did not know – would you now expect them to be both of the same size?


And talking of Kangaroos, if you think you know how big they are – then think again when you look at this sign where one of those bouncing beasts is next to a human. They must be huge down there near the Canberra airport. (This sign has recently been removed)


Then there are signs that can cause some quite smiles given their placement.

For instance there is this sign in Mildura plonked right in front of the giant murray cod – just in case you missed it.


Or there was this sign for a bank in Manly. Unfortunately due to the placement by someone else of those beer barrels, it looks as though that bank has indeed been enjoying their huge profits.


But – my best signage experience was a couple of years ago outside Tucson Arizona. Having left my partner to her conference, I hired a car and headed off into the desert – which is also a national park. After speaking to some park rangers I headed our looking for sites with indigenous rock carvings – as well as to enjoy the fantastic scenery full of cactus of many shapes and sizes.


It was while walking up one trail that I came across this sign (below). I have watched my share of American movies and know the dangers of rattle snakes. I carried on but it sure did make me far more alert as I climbed the next set of rocks.


Then there was this one that really shook me up. I had pulled up at one of the sites suggested and was met with this sign (below)

It was just as much to do with the casual nature of the advice on how to react if confronted by a mountain lion. To understand my position, I was out there all by myself, I had been driving around for over an hour and had encountered maybe two other vehicles, and right now it was 35 degrees – and the sign was telling me to use my jacket to scare of any lion. What jacket?

And after ‘my encounter’ I was expected to be alive enough to report the incident?


Yep – I turned around, got straight back in the car – and drove off to another site.

One last story for now.

Australia’s occupation by the English commenced officially with the landing of Captain Cook in Botany Bay. Such an important site in any other country would be most likely crowded out with monuments and tourist facilities. Several years ago we ventured out to see what was in place to mark this significant spot in Botany Bay.

There is a very simple lonely obelisk and in front of that to mark the actual spot and then there is this…..



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