The Outback Salute

If you’ve done any driving in the more remote areas of Oz then you’d know that as you pass a car coming from the other direction it is regular practice to wave, raise a hand or in some way offer a ‘g’day’.

However I have been getting in trouble lately from my lovely wife for failing to wave sufficiently often and appearing rude or uncaring (possibly because I am). Its quite ironic because a) we have no idea who we are waving to b) given we are travelling in opposite directions we will be unlikely to ever cross paths again…

But apparently you still need to wave…

So I have been experimenting with a variety of wave techniques, from the single raised finger (no not that one), to the army salute to the full blown ‘across the crowd – best friend I haven’t seen since high school’ wave. This one has caused a little embarrassment to Mrs Co-pilot who would prefer I wave in a more regular manner.

So I am wondering… am I the only reluctant waver out there, or are there others?…

Is it rude not to wave?…

Does anybody really care?…

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16 thoughts on “The Outback Salute

  1. Hamo – in most parts a single finger, raised casually from the steering wheel as you pass is considered acceptable. It is actually part of the road courtesy of the outback that arose from the fact that there was often so few travellers that the chances are it was a neighbour passing – even though you don’t recognise the car.

    By extension, everyone is your neighbour (can’t believe I have to tell that to YOU!) and thus you extend the courtesy to all those you pass – even though you may never see them again. After I lived outback I used to get weird looks in the city for the ingrained habit.

    Also slowing down to drop your dust when you pass by someone stopped by the side of the road (and stopping to check they are ok) is considered appropriate.

  2. We don’t do emotions in GB- neither do we have large areas of outback. In country areas, it is acceptable to lift a finger slightly from the steering wheel or to nod the head about 30 degrees, or even raise the eyebrows. It is frowned upon to express much more than that.

    Bill Bryson’s book ‘Notes from a small island’ says that in Northern British rural areas to do that is a sign that you may be accepted (we do even less emmotion in the North).

  3. Have fun mate. I always try and annoy the wife by tring different waves, tipping the hat and even poking out the tongue.

  4. Waves are fun. My only venture north saw me oft sat next to a UK ex-pat (very decent drummer!) who teased me about my obsession with acknowledging every single other vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist and bullock we came across when I was driving.

    Slowing down to drop the dust level is also a very courteous gesture – thanks for the reminder Gren.

    I did the same thing when I was in Perth some time ago – I would do a quick ‘nod & g’day’ thing to most people I passed on Hay St. Some strange reactions!!

    (mind you, I get strange reactions even when I’m just standing there, so no real surprise there)

  5. I know the etiquette! I am just not convinced I can be bothered 🙂

    The one finger doesn’t work for me as my steering wheel sits too low. I do it often and Danelle laughs at me as if say ‘whats the point of that!?’

    And fair enough!

  6. It’s un-Australian not to do the wave.

    When we crossed the Nullabor last year I was disappointed when I didn’t get a wave from some people.

  7. ah, the rural wave

    we’ve learned all about this as part of our seachange/treechange education

    it extends to the ferryman here too, everyone waves as they drive on and off – i guess it’s a gesture of acknowledgement and appreciation all in one (without them we’d have a bit of a swim!)

    mr x is a fan of the wave, me not so much

    perhaps my years of commuting on city trains taught me that when you are travelling you don’t communicate with fellow travellers, otherwise they think you’re weird – here its the other way around, if you don’t wave etc, they think you’re weird

  8. I moved to the Wheatbelt from Perth just over a year ago and didn’t understand why I had to wave at EVERYONE. My husband said it was just polite but I’ve found it’s usually tourists with caravans that I pass and they don’t wave anyway. If you waved in Perth then you’d have your finger permanently raised.

  9. hamo,

    my dad and I had this discussion on one particular trip… in his “dad humour” kind of way he settled on the following:

    – keep driving hand/s on the wheel

    – raised pinky finger to vertical (ala dr evil) without removing hand/s from wheel

    – lower pinky

    he seemed to think this was fine… i thought he was goose; in fact i may have called him a knob! 😉

    from that point i chose to ride in the back so that passersby would not associate me with him! 😉

  10. on comming car …

    flash your lights – they think camera or police up ahead, they smile and wave at you thinking what a good deed .. your hands have never left the wheel and companionship has been shared – brothers in arms.

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