back to article Whinging Brits reflect on epic Oz road trip

El Reg's Special Projects Bureau has just about recovered from its epic Oz roadtrip in pursuit of the World Solar Challenge competitors, and we though we'd share a few thoughts on our Outback odyssey. Since we're dyed-in-the-wool Poms, you can expect a few whinges along the way, but we've thoughtfully flagged these so those …


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  1. Roger Jenkins


    Gawd, whinging Poms. If you reckon that was rough, you should have tried it when it was a dirt road all the way down. The road trains would drag a rooster tail of dust behind them half a km. long.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Dirt

      Aha - I've done the Oodnadata Track. Not much tarmac and plenty of dust.

  2. VG


    Too bad - had to show ID to buy grog .Do some research and appreciate the level of consumption and associated injury, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, early death, offending and other problems here and efforts to deal with them . Otherwise, take your little sun-powered cars back to the land of grey skies. Alice Springs has it and Scotland is next for floor price. Maybe even the Poms will take it up. Look up WHO research, produce your ID or go away. Not a real inconvenience for you mob, so stop whining and get with the program. Enjoy your roaming.


    1. Ru

      Good to know...

      Whinging is apparently a cross-commonwealth skill.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Australia: it's a bit foreign

    I take it the moan about there not being any decent skinny latte available was removed for reasons of space

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Australia: it's a bit foreign

      Correct. It's hellish out there, I can tell you. I had to go a whole three days without any exfoliating facial scrub, and you trying getting a tub of Ben & Jerry's organic sun-tickled guava ice cream in Coober Pedy. It's not right, really...

  4. Winkypop Silver badge

    Whinge is about right

    You want mobile coverage in the back of beyond?

    Come on guys, remember where you were.

    Adventure doesn't require a strong mobile signal.

    PS: Hitting a 'roo at 120 is no fun at all.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Whinge is about right

      Well, we wouldn't have given a tinker's about coverage if we hadn't actually been working on this particular adventure.

      We were thinking more about the poor souls who have to live out there all the time without proper comms. The bloke in Dunmarra had some creaky satellite internet set-up, hardly appropriate for a country which makes heaps of money extracting expensive metals from big holes in the ground - themselves often in the back end of nowhere.

      Having said all that, I think some of our commenters are taking the piece a little too seriously this fine Friday. Pub o'clock, I reckon...

      1. Michael Hoffmann

        That's because until recently it was left to the blessed Free Market and Open Competition in the Market that was going to solve the problem of getting a mostly empty continent dragged into the 21st century of connectivity. Read: if it wasn't profitable in the next quarter to keep the shareholders happy, it wasn't happening at all.

        So, a new Socialist, Tree-Hugging, Union-Ridden Bunch of Pinkos(tm) said "this isn't working" and came up with the idea of the NBN. A massive boondoggle for government contractors and civil servants alike. A mess in its progression, like any government run project. But at least it would be *something*, so that you poms could order chai-flavoured pizza in Didjabringabeeralong.

        Alas, this is bound to last until said government is replaced by Holy Roller In a Budgie Smuggler Tony Abott in 2013, after which it's back to Telst.... err, I mean the blessed Free Market to sit with their fingers up their..., err, bring us all close to the modern world of high-speed broadband.

        *sigh* T. Pratchett had it right when he insinuated that the best thing would just be to incarcerate all Australian politicians immediately after election.

      2. Winkypop Silver badge

        Re: Whinge is about right

        Yeah sorry mate, it just amazes me when people over here freak when they 'go outside mobile range'.

        Have a pint of something warm for me

    2. Matthew 3

      RE: Hitting a 'roo at 120

      Probably even less fun for the 'roo.

      1. Michael Xion

        The too would be fine... long as you weren't driving a road train. Those buggers are 7 foot tall and all muscle.

    3. FozzyBear

      PS: Hitting a 'roo at 120 is no fun at all.

      Particularly if it is a big red buck, Unless you're driving a prime mover or fitted with bull bars of the likes from mad max 2 you are almost guaranteed you are walking the rest of the way or trying to thumb a ride

  5. John Gamble
    Thumb Up

    This Article Moved Me

    The thought of Drew, staring forlornly at his iPhone, weeping gently, then slowly descending into despair and madness until you had to clock him with a netbook (okay, you didn't mention that part, but I think it's a reasonable extrapolation) is one of the more moving things I've read in El Reg.

    Best piece of literature I've seen in a long time.

  6. aeloen

    Captain Picard in the Outback?

    Is Gary Frost at Dunmarra Wayside Inn actually Captain Picard?

  7. Nick Galloway

    Small iPad???

    The offensive picture of the iPad on the last page would indicate that you guys have a special edition of a small format iPad or that beer glass is a little larger than your average pint. Either that or the camera you were using suffers some severe distortion at the periphery.

    Things in Oz are bigger than most and the beers are similarly copious, only in the interests of keeping cool, of course!

    1. Stephen Mullan 1

      Really, are you sure, because here they sell scooners, not pints, which that glass is, and a scooner is 425 ml, in comparison to 568 ml for the UK pint, so the picture size, is fine.

  8. nichobe

    When one is on a Walkabout,

    One does not need coverage.

    1. raving angry loony

      The folks living out there aren't on walkabout, they're living and working there.

  9. Mr Young
    Thumb Up

    Hehe - entertaining article

    And did you say "readers of delicate sensibilities" just because it's Friday?

  10. 5.antiago


    That's not Gary Frost, that's Patrick Stewart...

    When I was there I saw quite a few roos but no emus :-(

  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Is that a hotel bedroom?

    Or a prison cell following a dirty protest?

    And now I have this (frankly terrifying) image of Lester and Drew, (suitably pyjamad), sitting in that bed like Eric and Ernie.

    1. Morrie Wyatt

      It is indeed.

      The opal miners in Coober Pedy quickly found out that it was a great deal more comfortable living underground than above. The walls you see are the natural rock colours.

      (Coober Pedy is from the Aboriginal term Kupa-Piti, which translates to "White man's hole". I will leave it to the imagination of the reader to interpret their meaning :-))

  12. Brew

    I Understand Now

    I anxiously looked forward to reading your daily reports on the race but noticed that focus was lost after the first day or two. The ordeal of empty space, dust and blank fondleslab screens must have been frightening. I understand now.

  13. Petrea Mitchell

    Asking for ID is unusual?

    Pardon an easily confused Yank who may have missed some sarcasm, but is it really that unusual in the UK to be asked for ID when buying beer?

    I really enjoyed this travelogue. Oddly, I've wound up with a feeling that the Land Down Under isn't such a foreign place after all. Now I feel that when I need to provide a concise description of what my part of the world (western US) is like, I can confidently say, "It's like Australia, only with guns."

    1. JulesMoules

      Hiya Petrea...

      These guys are a little old but, in the spirit of things, most kids in the UK don't carry ID (in the formal sense). They may have a driving license, or not, but at the time these guys were young, probably not. I'm a lot older. Never carried ID. Still don't now.

      You gotta remember that drinking in the UK is legal at 18 - nationwide. Same in Oz.

      There's been quite a change in the past few years. Some bars have been prosecuted for selling alcohol to 'minors' (I desperately wanted to write miners there) and so are a little more cautious and now will ask for proof of age of any youngster. I'd never heard of bar being prosecuted in my day.

      My 25 year old nephew, when he was seventeen, was wandering home 3 sheets to the wind one night when he got mugged. He managed to fight his way out of that but lost his kebab in the process. The cops, having seen it all on live CCTV, were quite impressed and wondered if he'd ever thought of joining the cops for a career. When he told them to Foxtrot Oscar they simply cautioned him for drinking under age.

      Also never happened to my 19 year old, who looks fifteen at best, at any time....... But then we live in a smallish Midland town.

      I guess the idea of asking a grown man for ID was met with a bewildered WTF?

      1. Mr Young
        Thumb Up

        lost his kebab?

        Hope it wasn't a chicken kebab ffs

    2. Displacement Activity


      > Now I feel that when I need to provide a concise description of what

      > my part of the world (western US) is like, I can confidently say,

      > "It's like Australia, only with guns."

      ...and lots of big signs giving ORDERS. And cops moving you on. And beggars.

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Australia is ... strange.

    The native animals are even stranger.

    My brother emigrated there many years ago. He used to be almost normal - not any more!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Pom Whinge 3: Coverage? What coverage?

    Yes, your whinge is quite valid, and it's about time Telstra pulled their finger out and actually put their money where their mouth was.

    You don't have to go far out of a capital city before coverage deteriorates … We've had signal strength drop to almost nothing (using a vehicle mounted 9dBi external mobile antenna) on the "oh-so-wonderful" NextG service less than 50km from Brisbane (at Lake Manchester).

    How the crappy internal antenna of an iPhone is supposed to pick anything up is anyone's guess.

  16. Morrie Wyatt

    Pom bootnote clarification

    Actually, the term Pom is a phonetic abbreviation of POHM. (The H being silent)

    Going back to Australia's convict past, the acronym expanded to "Prisoner Of His/Her Majesty".

    The whingeing part was probably because such transportees weren't too happy about the idea.

    These days, Australians by and large do pretty much as we please, so now the acronym instead refers to those stuck back in old blighty, under the thumb of Her Majesty's government.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Try again

      "The origin of this term is not confirmed and there are several persistent false etymologies."

    2. VoodooForce

      it has to be said with the right pronounciation

      the closest a Pomie Bastard can come to understanding how to say Pommie Bastard is to imagine Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) using the phrase as an expletive and/or just before phone booking said individual.

  17. Il Midga di Macaroni

    Whinge FAIL

    I've heard better whinges from locals complaining about it taking too long to bring a glass of red.

  18. Neil of Qld

    Of course the classic whinging pom insists on telling everyone how cheap, clean and friendly London is. Seriously they do, it really annoys every other British person in Australia.

    Hint on outback adventures you don't get all the modern conveniences you expect in a large city.

    The restrictions on alcohol are due to severe alcohol problems in the Territory. I think asking an obviously adult for ID was a piss take.

  19. Charybdis

    Rental Car what?!

    What sort of 2-bob rental agency were you using?

    'Normally, you can't take hire cars out of the Northern Territory, and certainly not on one-way trips.' ?!

    What a load of rubbish! Both tourists and locals do this all the time. You've been had, boys!

  20. Nudge

    no skippies?

    did you do ANY driving around/after dusk?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes we did - and at dawn.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ID <> Proof of Age...

    Not living in the Territory I can't be certain of the reasons, but I'd put my money on the requirement for ID not being as proof of age, but proof of identity.

    They know you're old enough to drink (or wouldn't care anyway), but I'd guess there's some crazy requirement as part of the NT intervention (started by a John Howard government about 4 years ago and not killed off by the current lot).

    They want to make sure J Bloggs isn't buying up metric s***loads of booze to then on-sell to aboriginal communities which they're trying to keep dry.

    1. 4lan
      Thumb Up

      ID when purchasing 'take-away' alcohol

      I live in the NT and the official line is that due to high drink related crime there's a 'banned drinkers' list which your ID is used to check against. No details are retained etc.

      As a recent arrival from the UK I found this a little surprising, given the cost though how anyone can afford to consistently and frequently buy enough to get drunk AND cause a nuisance is odd!


  22. Big-nosed Pengie

    I hope they didn't make you drink any of the feline urine that many of my fellow Australians are wont to call "beer". Gods - that's cruel and unusual punishment.

    Getting a decent real ale here is next to bloody impossible.

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