Showing posts with label Australian tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian tourism. Show all posts

Monday, September 24, 2012

So where the bloody hell are you?

Maybe some of my readers don't know this notorious punchline from an Australia Tourism video of 5 years ago:


In Sydney yesterday, certain tourists were given an exceptional opportunity of using their mobile phones to tell worried friends where the bloody hell they happened to be located.

"Apparently we're somewhere between Darling Harbour and Chinatown. We were doing a sightseeing tour in the monorail. Then the bloody thing stopped, and we've been stranded in mid-air for an hour now. Down in the street, we can see firetrucks and rescue workers in hard hats who seem to be getting ready to use a huge mobile crane to reach us. I don't expect we'll be back on earth for a while yet. So, there's no need to hurry about throwing another few prawns on the barbie."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vision of the Alice

Click the following remarkable image (copy of a photo by Chris Crerar) to access a fine article in The Australian entitled Destroyed in Alice written by Nicolas Rothwell.

The article describes an aspect of the celebrated town in central Australia in terms that don't exactly correspond to the usual merry tone of Down Under tourist authorities. Personally, I've never had an opportunity of setting foot in this territory, so I merely imagine what media folk tell us.

Recently, on French TV, there was an excellent presentation of the background of the settlement, linked to the fabulous technological adventure of the erection of an overland telegraph line across Australia. For reasons I didn't learn, the lady who acted as a well-informed guide throughout this interesting historical documentary spoke perfect French.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My boomerangs keep coming back

Australia is a big country, and all kinds of things can go wrong.



My problem, on the contrary, is that my boomerangs keep coming back. I can hear fellow Aussies saying: "That's the whole idea, you silly bugger!" Maybe, but the boomerangs I'm talking about are my emails, sent from France to Australia. Often, some of my emails get bounced by the Antipodes for mysterious reasons (or rather, for no apparent reason whatsoever), and they're sent all the way back here to Gamone, unread by the Australians for whom they were intended.

I first ran into this problem back in 2006, when I was making plans for a visit to Australia. Suddenly, I was alarmed to discover that my emails to my aunt Nancy in Sydney were being rejected by her ISP [Internet service provider] called Big Pond. Fortunately, I had other email contacts with Australia, not to mention the telephone. So, this curious behavior of my aunt's email account didn't cause any serious problems.

Towards the end of that year, however this communication obstacle still existed, which meant that I could no longer send emails at all to my aunt. At my end of the line, I couldn't do anything to correct this anomaly. Big Pond, out in Australia, persisted in believing that I was a spammer, intent upon annoying innocent Aussies such as my aunt. Naturally, I suggested to my aunt that she should simply explain to Big Pond that her nephew in France was not a delinquent spammer. Or, if this failed, she should simply change ISPs. Unfortunately, from a problem-solving viewpoint, giving that sort of advice to my aunt was no more effective than reciting prayers to the Great Internet God.

In those circumstances, I decided to create this blog, which would enable the news from Gamone to get through to my Australian relatives impeccably, in rain, hail or snow. Meanwhile, I discovered that the email account of my sister Susan often behaved in rejection mode.

Today, almost four years later, the problem still exists. If anything, it has worsened. Over the last few days, emails to my cousin Mitchell and my schoolmate Ron have bounced, on totally different servers. I'm starting to think that this rejection of French email by Australian servers is becoming viral…

The funny thing is that this situation doesn't appear to worry people unduly in Australia. My sister Anne informed our friend Ron that the problem existed, but she prefaced my forwarded email with a rhetorical question: Conspiracy theory...? As for Ron, he assured us that it was probably just a matter of his mail box overflowing.

The writing however is clearly on the wall, even if Aussies don't understand it. Terse messages attached to my various emails that have been bounced by Australian ISPs always contain a three-letter acronym: RBL. This is short for Realtime Blackhole List: a list of IP addresses whose owners supposedly fail to stop the proliferation of spam. Really, the term "blackhole" is most appropriate and eloquent, although "Bermuda Triangle" would have been just as good.

Whenever the letters RBL are associated with the refusal to deliver an email, there's no point in talking about William's conspiracy theory, or overflowing mailboxes. These letters merely mean that a brain-damaged Aussie ISP has asked a big faceless firm (either Japanese or American in the cases I've examined) to filter out spammers. And for those firms—Do their employees understand French, enabling them to recognize spam?—almost everything that comes out of France seems to be classified as spam… even when it's sent by the state-owned telecom organization, Orange.

Part of the "blackhole" problem is that Australians are not particularly inclined to complain spontaneously about emails that they haven't received! They imagine that it's my problem, not theirs. (On the other hand, they would certainly be annoyed if their own emails failed to reach me in France… which has surely never been the case.) Besides, when Anne informs Mitchell or Ron that this "blackhole" problem has arisen, she also forwards them a copy of my bounced email. Consequently, it's as if there had never been any problem! So, they're not particularly motivated to do anything at their end of the line… especially if they're influenced by Anne's suggestion that this might be a simple case of paranoia, or by the theme of an overflowing mailbox.

OK, let me now point out a rather obvious way in which this idiotic "blackhole" situation could be causing enormous damage to Australia. First, read the following excellent article, entitled Carrying the torch, concerning the dearth of expected touristic business in the wake of the Olympic Games:

You can probably guess where I'm heading. Over the last four years, my main email contacts in Australia have concerned about ten individuals. And, of them, four have been corrupted by the "blackhole" thing. I remember thinking, at the time of the rugby world cup in France: What would happen if a French tour operator was unable to warn an Australian customer that there were modifications to their booking? Today, it's a fact that countless people plan their vacations through the Internet. Imagine potential French tourists who start sending emails to Australia in the hope of obtaining touristic information, only to find that their requests bounce because of the "blackhole" bug. At a rough guess, I would say that, over the last few years, tens of thousands of touristic requests emailed from France to Australia have probably disappeared forever in this absurd manner. So, it's time that Australians got their act together and made sure that this idiotic "blackhole" obstacle is eradicated. But this probably won't happen. After all, it's Down Under...

BREAKING NEWS: Following my complaint to Trend Micro for "blackholing" an email I sent to my friend Ron in Australia a few days ago [see my comment addressed to Bruce], I received a reply from a member of their Spam Investigations Team. Concerning my current IP, this lady says:

[…] we have seen recent spam activity from it. The first time we saw spam in this IP was in May 2007.

In May 2007, my ISP was Free. I changed to my present ISP, Orange, over a year ago. The Trend Micro reply continues:

Please investigate your network for spamming activity and then fix the issues. When you have done this, contact us again and provide the following information:

1. What caused the problem that allowed spam to come from this machine/server?
2. What did you do to fix the problem?
3. What are you doing to prevent it from happening again?

We need this information to make sure that the problem has been resolved prior to removing the IP.


It's a delightful example of a question of the variety: "Have you stopped beating your wife?" In any case, I don't intend to pursue this ridiculous and time-wasting subject. It's high time for Aussie ISPs and their clients to assume their responsibilities. These ISPs should explain to their clients, first and foremost, why they've relegated the task of spam detection and filtering to a foreign firm based in Tokyo. Is this task beyond the technical expertise of Australian engineers?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Does Australia cheat a bit?

I was recently intrigued by a front-page article, with a lovely photo, about the participation of Australia at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London. Mystified, I asked myself how Australian horticulturalists might be capable of organizing and creating such a splendid show on the opposite side of the planet. Well, the answer was simple. All the plants in the "Australian" exhibit at Chelsea were Mediterranean specimens, imported from gardens in Italy! Maybe Australia was awarded some kind of a Chelsea prize (?) for counterfeit.

Recently, I wrote an article entitled Nothing like Sam [display] whose over-optimistic title was belied by the fact that our Gold Coast Samantha finally met her match. At the start of that article, I mentioned an Aussie video designed to promote tourism, which you're encouraged to examine [display]. Now, I don't wish to waste time in analyzing this outrageous production. I merely draw attention to the fact that it introduces a credibility gap, right from the start. It begins by an image of a guy seated at a white piano on a sandy beach.

Hey! Do viewers (including those who've seen the magnificent movie of Jane Campion) still believe in this kind of romantic publicity shit? We then see a pair of would-be surfers on an idle sea, awaiting "the first wave of the day". Do these dumb guys really imagine that waves are about to roll over this flat sea? Lo and behold: Two dolphins jump into the air, on the horizon, backed by the rising sun.

Sorry, mate. I don't buy one iota of all that video shit. You Aussie tourist folk are cheating ridiculously. One only has to analyze the shadows in the above absurd image to realize immediately that it's a fake video montage. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Only one thing is true. As far as video cheating is concerned, there's nothing like Australia. This raises a more general question. Can outsiders believe anything about Australia that's related by Aussie tourist authorities. My answer to that question is a firm NO. Those folk spend their time (and financial resources) inventing a fairy-tale land—right down to details such as cute friendly Aboriginal kids swimming in billabongs—that simply doesn't exist!

Now, if you happen to be a Florida widow or an aged Japanese couple, with surplus dollars or yens dropping out of your pockets, please disregard anything I've just said.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Girt by sky

The Dutch airline KLM has been operating commercial flights between Europe and Australia since before World War II.

Judging from its graphic style, I would imagine that this ad dates from the late 50s… at a time when air hostesses looked a bit like this:


Six years ago, a merger took place between Air France and KLM. Europeans still visualize Sydney as a place with a vast harbor and a big bridge. But a new visual icon has slipped into the picture. Incidentally, there's an aspect of Sydney's Opera House that has always amused me. When tourists see a spectacular structure such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral or the Tower of London, they usually imagine stepping inside it for a visit. But I'm not sure that many tourists in Sydney would envisage buying tickets to see an opera!

In Sydney, visitors wander around the opera house in order to look up in admiration at the bridge, just as they walk over the bridge in order to be able to gaze down upon the opera house. It's a closed circuit.

I have frequent opportunities of confirming that French folk continue to imagine Australia as an exotic wonderland on the other side of the planet. Countless people tell me they dream of going there… but it's a bit like saying they want to take a ride in a hot-air balloon, or go on holidays in a horse-drawn caravan, or cross the canal system of France in a houseboat. It's something that people say they want to do, while rarely going one step further and deciding to actually do so.

When I look at the nice old-fashioned KLM poster, I'm convinced that this graphic style would still be perfect for modern publicity concerning Australia, because foreigners like to imagine it as a picture-book land. And Australians are surely happy to believe this, too. Indeed, the tourist authorities could attempt to persuade the municipality of Sydney to paint the arch of the bridge blue, the pylons pink and the waterside buildings yellow. Boat-owners would be encouraged to adorn their craft with dozens of brightly-colored flags. And the opening line of Dorothea's Mackellar's celebrated poem could be slightly modified to reflect our wishful thinking:

I love a colorful country.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trashy recruiting video

In my October article entitled New approach to Australian tourism [display], I expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the "gotta go walkabout" theme for enticing overseas visitors to lose themselves Down Under. Today, we find far worse, for another national cause: recruiting future champions for the Olympic Games.

[Click the image to see the video.]

I have the impression that the local communication specialists who make such promotional videos (including, above all, the notorious "what the bloody hell" tourism thing) don't have the necessary creative talents to produce the right messages in the right style. The presentation of the fellow with the big mouth is vulgar and offensive to the British. Besides, the violent message at the end—"Let's rip the Brits to bits"—conveys a particularly nasty impression of the alleged Aussie Olympic spirit. Incredibly and embarrassingly trashy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New approach to Australian tourism

Everybody remembers fondly the video commercial promoting Australian tourism that ended with a question that shocked the British: "So where the bloody hell are you? "



Today, a new approach is about to be adopted, created by the filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. Here's the curious video message designed to coax hordes of fatigued US tourists to sunny Down Under:



Will it work? Like bloody hell, it will. As they say in the classics: "Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves. Sometimes we gotta go walkabout." Me, gotta go walkabout...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Australian backyard view

My friend Bruce Hudson sent me this delightful view of cockatoos on his back lawn near the New South Wales town of Young. It's a splendid image of everyday Australia.

I was struck by the fact that almost all the beautiful gold-crested birds, engaged in eating capeweed seeds, are aligned in parallel. Scientists have found (the references escape me for the moment) that animals tend to orient themselves, while at rest, with respect to geomagnetic fields. Maybe Bruce might undertake rigorous experimentation in the context of his backyard cockies (as they're called Down Under).

Meanwhile, I've installed a kangaroo banner in the right-hand column of my blog pointing to the wilderness tours organized by John Thompson. Ever since our recent Internet encounter [display], I've liked the intelligent style of this man (whom I've never met) and the nature of his touristic services. He sounds like authentic Australia.