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Our family, with its weird sense of humour, takes great glee in finding funny signs — particularly road signs, but anything (store names, street names, graffiti) will do. This probably began, although I can’t recall, as a way to ease the boredom of a long road trip when the kids were small. Each kid tried to outdo the other in finding the most ridiculous one. For quite some time, the winner was a road sign that read: “Squeeze Left.” And they did — all three urchins pushing against each other to see who could squeeze the most and thus irritate the hell out of the weakest sibling. Made for an interesting journey.

Old habits die hard, so while in Australia, I delighted in finding many new signs that tickled my funny bone. Allow me to share with you.

The best, by a landslide, was a sign at the MOMA museum in Sydney — or more specifically, in the parking lot. The director of the museum has a sign delineating his special space. It says : GOD. And, not to be outdone, the sign next to his spot says: GOD’S MISTRESS. I speculated that all this lot needs to be complete is a sign for his wife that says: The Wife’s Lawyer (a.k.a. Pitbull).

Whereas here in Ontario, we have signs warning of Moose and Deer , Turtle or Duck crossings (with a mother and line of babies behind her), signs to beware of Kangaroos, Wombats, Wallabys are common in Oz. Then, assuming the worst, there are posted signs about what to do when you injure wildlife…of course, if you run into a large kangaroo, chances are you’ll need the auto repair shop more than a vet!

When Gill and her siblings were small, they found it hard to understand directions to get to places. But they did know when we got to a certain off-ramp from the freeway that sported  what they referred to as “The Tippy Truck” sign. Trying to warn drivers of a sharp angle and possible danger for overly tall or top heavy trucks, it showed the truck at a twenty degree angle, seeming about to fall over on its side. In Australia, I spied a similar sign — but the truck was at what appeared to be a forty-five degree angle. I guess they had to allow for the steep, mountainous roads and cliffs — cliffs that begged for vehicles to fall off the edge.

And one of my favourites was the sign outside a facility that had a small shop plus outdoor aviary with cockatiels, parrots and cockatoos. The owner had a wicked sense of humour and would apparently do anything to attract attention and potential customers. The sign said: “SEX…Now That I Have Your Attention…”. Inside the building, in the middle of Nowhere, Outback, he had a collection of weird and wonderful sayings — all funny, most rude, and all part of his philosophy of life. Well, I guess if you live in the middle of the Outback, you do what you have to do to attract customers.

I cannot leave this subject without mentioning some brilliant restaurant names: Fishy Business, The Hog’s Ear, The Drunken Admiral’s, and Flippers, a seafood restaurant on the pier in Hobart, Tasmania.

All of these signs proved to me that Aussies have a wicked sense of humour.When walking or driving around, in city or country, odd sculptures appear randomly — by way of nothing, just for amusement’s sake. In an alleyway in Melbourne, amongst outdoor cafe tables, sat a large metal water fountain in the shape of a fish. Along the highway, in a bare field, oops, another sculpture! No reason, just because they can. And if they don’t like a particular road sign, they are not above altering it. And so “No overtaking or passing on Bridge” became “No Overtaking or Pissing on Bridge”.

While wandering through a lovely park in Tasmania, I spied a rustic chalet  on a hill, almost obscured by trees. It appeared to be an upscale restaurant. On the railing running along the porch were three huge peacocks…standing above a sign that said “Dining Room Closed”. Apparently the birds had other ideas since they sure looked ready for dinner!

One small town we visited had been having a mural contest. The entire town got into the fun of a contest to produce the best/most off-beat/most colorful mural.  They did the artwork on the side of buildings and sometimes covered the entire wall of the structures. It was a delightful, whimsical project that demonstrated genuine community spirit. Oh, yes, that was the same town that featured, on one corner, an old man with a Santa Claus beard leading around a llama…available for pictures at two bucks a pop! And you know WHO was a sucker for that! I think I looked good with him…and he liked to snuggle right up to the humans wanting to pet him. I won’t soon forget that town and its delights!

I found myself wishing that Gill, Crazy D and L’il Sis could have been there. Of course, had they been, two things could have happened: One, they would have jumped out of the car to kidnap the llama and bring it home. Or two, I would have had to use the kiddie locks to keep them confined in the car so they wouldn’t go around stealing all the great signs to add to the basement decor! Perhaps, all told, better that they weren’t in Oz. The country has enough weird people without our lot…