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Australia highway wants to use Route 66 to rebrand itself March 1, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Highways.
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, Route 66 should be very flattered indeed by what certain highway boosters are wanting to do in Australia.

We’ll let The Australian newspaper explain:

Grain silos rising from flat terrain vie with open-cut mines for the attention of truckers who use the 660-mile Newell Highway. A kangaroo occasionally jumps across the arrow-straight road. Among the most unfortunately named districts hereabouts is Bland Shire.

Jeff Stien has a plan to change things. A member of the Newell Highway Promotions Committee, he wants to rebrand the road, which motorists think is one of eastern Australia’s worst, as Route 66 and make it a destination for lovers of Americana.

The committee is seeking government funding to promote the road, which connects the southern state of Victoria with Queensland in the northeast, as a tourist highway, complete with brand-new Route 66 signage, hoping to shake its image as a service road for travellers headed elsewhere. [...]

If all goes well, drivers will be stopping at an observatory that helped broadcast the Apollo moon landings, seeking relics of one of the biggest U.S. Pacific air bases in World War II and breaking out their blue suede shoes next January at a festival for Elvis Presley’s birthday.

Apparently the small towns along this mostly rural road have met hard times because of drought and a drop in commodity prices. The  New South Wales Parliament will decide on the proposal next month.

The Newell Highway has its own tourist-friendly website here. And this video provides a nice overview:

This effort makes one wonder whether the highway’s expanses — “dull” is a word that often comes to mind from its travelers — would cast the real Route 66 in a none-too-flattering light. Then again, the idea of faux Route 66 road signs Down Under might inspire Australians to seek out the genuine article.

(Image of Australia’s Newell Highway near West Wyalong via Wikimedia Commons)

Comments»

1. Laurel Kane - March 1, 2014

I think I love this idea, although I’d like to hear more. I hope they plan to have some American Route 66 fans and experts act as consultants in the effort. (Actually, wouldn’t it be fun to be one of those consultants? Sort of like creating Disneyland!)

2. Trevor Hilton - March 1, 2014

Looks like fun to me. I like driving and just seeing God’s Own handywork. I like a roadside attraction as much as the next Roadie. But I also like just seeing a beautiful vista.

3. Steve Davis - March 1, 2014

With names like Nerranderra and Grong Grong, you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that you are duplicating route 66.

Take some of these places and give them good names like Rolla, Springfield, Joplin, Baxter Springs, Vinita, Claremore, Shamrock, Amarillo, Tucumcari, to name just a few, and throw in considerable ruins of nearly abandoned communities, old rotting shells of once proud, full service gas stations, empty roadside cafes and ’50′s motels with once glittering, now toppling porcelain signs with smashed neon, and you’ll have a pretty good approximation.

From the looks, I’d be satisfied with what I had and make improvements from there. Highway 39 is not so bad. I’m sure the towns along the way don’t suffer the neglect inflicted from the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate Highways.

Ron Warnick - March 1, 2014

To be charitable, Steve, I suppose Australians find our Native American-named cities and Spanish-named cities on Route 66 a little exotic-sounding as well.

4. almadenmike - March 1, 2014

I visited Dubbo and Gilgandra (http://gilobs.com.au/) as part of a 1986 Halley’s Comet tour which included Fiji, New Zealand (and Sydney, Blue Mountains, Cairns & Port Douglas/Greeat Barrier Reef in Australia), as well. When I called the Australian consulate to arrange for my visa, the official laughed at me, “Why would you want to visit Dubbo?” The folks were very hospitable and the zoo was interesting. I’m sure any highway-centered promotion would encourage more folks — even locals — to appreciate the heritage of that hard-working, often overlooked near-outback area.

5. MR Traska - March 7, 2014

Flattering, maybe; to take the idea (minus the road number) and create a similar iconic Australian road trip is certainly a good idea … but this take sounds too Americanized. Seriously: don’t they have enough genuine Australian things to celebrate?


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