by Joe Mehaffey

                                                                                         revised 2012

My wife,  Celia and I along with another couple went on a 5  week tour of "Outback Australia".  People asked us,  "How can you tell
when  you  are actually "IN the OUTBACK"?  Here are some  of  the answers  we have come up with.  Keep in mind that NONE  of  these
tidbits applies EVERYWHERE in the Outback.  But EACH ONE  applies SOMEWHERE  in the Outback.  All of us had a wonderful trip as  we
traveled  along the route Sydney> Canberra> Melbourne>  Adeliade> Perth>   Geraldon>  Port  Hedland>  Broome>  Katherine>   Darwin>
Karunda>  Alice  Springs> Adeliade.  We loved the trip,   had  no problems,   the  roads were good, (We stuck  mostly  to  "sealed"
[bitumen] roads.),  hotels always had a room.  In short,  we  had a GREAT time! 

Now  to  the MEAT..  You know you are in the  Australian  Outback when:

1)   You have to wait until after 9pm at night so the COLD  water  won't be too hot to bathe in.  (Mt Isa)
2)   You find out that the water spraying over the pond near  the  artesian  well is to cool it down from 160F so the cows  can  drink it.
3)   Some  of  the tractor trailer trucks you pass are  160  feet  long and have three trailers in tandem (road trains).
4)   You  are  thrilled  when  you go out at  7AM  and  find  the temperature only 33C (90F) so far.
5)   Stores offer insect repellent as "impulse items" beside  the cash register.
6)   The petrol stations are 150 miles apart.
7)   You  notice  sweat running down your legs but  in  the  next breath comment on how comfortable it is today.
8)   You  look  forward to the availability of the  NEXT  3  STAR motel.
9)   You  carry your own jar of instant Lipton's Iced  Tea  (with lemon) into the restaurant for dinner.
10)  You  find  that you can routinely see 3km or more  down  the perfectly  straight road when you get ready to pass  a  road train truck with 3 or 4 trailers.
11)  You  can  drive  on the main highway in Western Australia  (and  the  ONLY  paved highway)  for  the region and pass just 5 vehicles  an  hour
     coming in the opposite direction.
12)  You  stop  on the side of the road, and  any  driver  coming along stops and asks if you need help.
13)  The  anthills  on the side of the road are taller  than  you  are.
14)  Farms along the highway are often larger than Rhode Island.
15)  Your  Hertz rental station wagon is the only 2  wheel  drive vehicle  in  a parking lot.  (And the others all  have  "Roo Bars" and snorkels.)
16)  You  are  afraid to drive at night because you might  hit  a kangaroo.
17)  Petrol  costs 95 cents a LITER and you are DELIGHTED to  pay it. (in 1998)
18)  The car air conditioner is always on BOOST.
19)  You  get excited because the sign says "McDonald's  -  190km ahead".
20)  A  heated  discussion develops over whether  to  eat  peanut  butter  and  jelly sandwiches in the car or to  eat  at  the roadhouse lunch bar,  the only restaurant within 300 km.
21)  Your  wife keeps asking if you checked the oil and water  at the last petrol stop.
22)  A  petrol  station with 2 pumps, a one  star  motel,  and  a lunch counter is shown on a map of the continent.
23)  The nearest telephone is 150km away.
24)  You see a bush fire and report it at the next police station  and  they  say,  "Burn now, burn later,  don't  worry  about it".
25)  They call dust devils "Willie Willies" and you can see 4  or 5 in a day.
26)  Getting dressed up to go out to dinner means putting on your socks.
27)  One of the questions you ask at the motel desk is:  "Do  you have evaporative cooling or refrigerated air conditioning?"
28)  The lizards you see on the highway are 2 feet long.
29)  You  notice that the electric power line along the road  has only ONE wire.
30)  The  motel runs its diesel generator all day and  all  night every day so you will have electricity.
31)  The motel has its own water demineralization plant.
32)  You  wonder why in the world you brought all of  those  long pants with you.
33)  The Flying Doctor Service guarantees they can get  you to  a hospital in less than 2 hours in case of emergency.
34)  The locals advise you to take an HF radio with you to use in case you have an "off the road" emergency and need help.
35)  You  check  your  emergency food  and  water  supplies  each morning before leaving the motel.
36)  You  come  to know the true meaning of "miles and  miles  of nothing but miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles".
37)  You go outside and notice sweat beads rolling down your back and consider it perfectly normal.
38)  Most of the wide river beds you see are without water.
39)  Road  signs  say names like "Humpty Doo  and  Jabiru,   next left".
40)  Road signs warn of "Kangaroos, next 50km".
41)  The TV in the motel has ONE channel and it ISN't CNN.
42)  You turn on the car radio and fail to locate ANY station  on either the AM or FM dial.
43)  You notice that the flies go for the nose first.
44)  The  girls notice that the lower back half of their hair  is soaking wet and they haven't been swimming or showering. 
45)  You aren't able to wear a t-shirt more than one day. 
46)  You are pleased to invest $7 in your own personal "face net" to keep the ever present flies at bay along the shore. 
47)  The  water  in  the swimming pool is warmer  than  your  bath  water.
48)  The  locals  all  have SNORKELS on their  four  wheel  drive vehicles in case of flooded roads. (And, just as important..
     to keep the air intake up out of the dust so you will not have to change your engine air filter daily if you drive on "unsealed"
49)  The cockatoos and parrots are flying FREE.
50)  You  know you can't be lost because there is only one  paved road within 250km  and you're on it.
51)  You  realize  that the Aussies wear knee length  socks  in  the desert to soak up the sweat and help cool off their legs.
52)  The hotel you stop at for  the  night  has  a large  outdoor swimming pool with 40 tons of refrigeration so the water  is
     cool enough to swim in.  (Mt. Isa)

Whatever it is about the Outback,  you know that the beauty,  the
harshness  and  the  uniqueness of  the  Australian  Outback  are
without  comparison   and that you will return one  day  to  this  
picturesque place.  Original written  2/15/98

By Joe Mehaffey,  et al