Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Take a Break, Mate

Written 17 September

Australia seems concerned with the welfare of its drivers, but less in a paternalistic way than as mates. They’ve set up rest areas along the highways between ports of call. In the US these stops exist as locations for toilets and vending machines, methods of keeping commuters from flooding small towns with annoying requests for bathroom keys or peeing on the side of the road. Here the rest areas are just that. Not just restrooms, but areas for a rest.

Signs have a bit of friendly concern – if in cheesy form – in the sense of “Drive to arrive,” “Please arrive alive,” and “Rest, revive, survive.” (This is a country of protective slogans and health-wise catchphrases.) Five kilometers out a sign gives you a heads up. Other signs tell you how far to the next few rest areas. If you’re going to have a friend looking out, it doesn’t hurt that they are a well-informed and educational one.

The rest areas are more than just toilets. They have those, usually the composting type that doesn’t need water and yet don’t smell too bad. There’s usually a sign educating about the landscape of the plant life or history of the area. There’ll be a picnic table or several, usually under a shelter to protect from the sun* or, much less importantly, the rain. A fair few of the rest areas will have propane barbies as well, to turn your relaxing stop into a chilled-out mealtime. Some have wood campfire pit grills instead. If you’re going to have a friend looking out, it doesn’t hurt for them to have a cool home.

A fair few of the sights also allow or encourage overnight parking so people aren’t driving tired. This is something lacking in the states that always got to me. Don’t drive tired, but don’t rest here. In Oz, if you aren’t good to drive, you can stay over. If you’re going to have the knowledgeable, concerned friend with the cool house, even better that he lets you crash on the couch if you’re in no state to drive.

* Remember to be sun safe. Slip, slop, slap. (Slip on a shirt, slop on sunblock, slap on a hat and sunnies.)

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This entry was posted on October 10, 2012 by in Australia, Northern Territory (Darwin), Outback and tagged , .

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