Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Aussie Way Of Greeting

Signage on Stuart Highway heading north from Adelaide

There's a great tradition still taking place on Australian country roads that has been around for many years, and long may it continue to be so. This tradition involves the practise of acknowledging complete strangers (but fellow travellers), as you cross the nation's highways.

This acknowledgment takes the form of a slight raising of the fingers of one hand just as two vehicles travelling in opposite directions pass each other. It is almost like a mini salute. You rarely have to take your hand completely off the steering wheel to execute this manoeuvre, and it can be so fleeting that if you are not paying attention, you could easily miss it.

I was delighted to see this practise still in use on a trip to Port Lincoln a few years ago (a round-trip distance of around 1300kms).

I don't know if this is a uniquely Australian practise, but it must surely be in danger of dying out as the years go by, and more and more cars take to our national highways. At some point it becomes impossible to acknowledge every driver you pass during a long trip. There are just too many travellers to greet. But it was not always so.

Back in the day, when we went on an extended drive through Australia's bush, there were far fewer travellers on our country roads. Back then, before the nation's major highways were even sealed, we would often stop and chat with fellow travellers to learn about the road conditions which lay ahead. Back then, you could travel, literally for many hours without seeing another vehicle on the road. So when you did encounter another car, you would always stop for a brief chat with the other driver.

Now of course, it is completely different. It is very rare to travel anywhere along our national highway system, and not encounter a continuous stream of vehicles, large and small on the way to somewhere else! Now, too, almost everyone carries a mobile (cell) phone with them, and you are never more than a few hours between country towns, roadside truck stops, and other forms of human contact. Add to that the increasing use of GPS systems, and it is almost impossible to get lost or be out of contact with another human for more than a couple of hours at a time.

I was thinking about all of this on my trip to Port Lincoln, when I began writing what I thought might be a song on the subject. In the end, it seems to have turned into a poem, but all it takes is the addition of a melody to turn it into a song, which I may yet do. Anyway, here it is...

© 2006, Jim Lesses. All Rights Reserved.

When you're driving on the highway,
And you want to say, "G'day"
To a stranger that is driving
Down the road the other way.
Just lift a coupl'a fingers,
Point them up towards the sky.
It's the Aussie way of greeting,
So go ahead, say, "Hi".

It's the Aussie way of greeting,
Nothing flashy, nothing grand.
Nothing over ostentatious,
Like the waving of a hand.
It isn't Regal; it isn't Papal,
It's never coarse, and never rough.
It's the Aussie way of greeting,
Understated - but enough.

It's the Aussie way of greeting,
From the people of the land.
If you ever need assistance
They will always raise a hand.
They will never leave you stranded
They will help you share the load.
It's the Aussie way of greeting,
And you will find it on the road.

It's the Aussie way of greeting,
May it live forever more.
May you never be too busy
Fellow travelers too ignore.
May you take the time to send one,
May it brighten up your way.
It's the Aussie way of greeting,
So raise your hand, and say, "G'day".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments, Thoughts and Feedback is encouraged.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...