The Outback Wave

See the article in the April Newsletter entitled “Outback Wave Protocol”.

Newsletter reader Janet advises that in the 1970s, the Wave used to be common when driving between Sydney and Adelaide — which is scarcely the Outback. No doubt the traffic was lighter in those days, and the pace of life in general allowed more attention to pleasantries and acknowledgement of one’s fellow travellers.

I look forward to more feedback on this subject. I’m particularly interested to hear from any overseas readers as to whether there is any equivalent of the Outback Wave in other countries.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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6 Responses to The Outback Wave

  1. dazzlerplus says:

    Newsletter reader Rick passed on this interesting taxonomy:

    Hand gestures from Mick Olsson (May 2005, en-route to Broken Hill)

    The amusing thing to note is the acknowledgement gained from fellow motorists in the forms of waves and finger gestures as they pass. I’ve identified the most popular and will attempt to give a brief description of them.

    1. The “Peace Man”; Left hand at 12 o’clock, index and middle finger raised in the classic sign of the 60’s.

    2. The “Cockatoo“; Left hand at 1 or 2 o’clock on the wheel, thumb remains and four fingers move up and spread to the left.

    3. The “Dicky Bird“; One for true cricket lovers. Right hand up with fingers clenched and the index straight up. Slight movement forwards towards windscreen as if answering that age old question “ow-iz-ee?”.

    4. The “Goal“; Hands in the classic 10 and 2 position on the wheel, both index fingers rocket upwards at the same time as if Sav Rocca has just threaded a beauty from 65 meters out.

    5. The “Stop!”; Right hand up in front with palm out towards oncoming driver.

    6. “The Howe”; (Refer American Indian custom – F Troop etc) Left hand gesture. Elbow stays to rear and in middle of seats, hand up vertically with palm exposed and all digits extended together.

    7 “The Frank“; My personal favourite and named after Cousin Frank who’s to tight to waste much energy. Left or right hand at 12 on the wheel, index finger only moves slightly up. At least it’s a gesture of acknowledgement, no matter how small.

    8. “The Cowboy”; Index and middle fingers outwards like you’re playing shoot-em-ups.

    9. “The Pope”. Hand forward palm outwards. Thumb out and index and middle fingers straight up. Ring and little finger bent inwards to palm. Also more effective if you make the sign of the cross as you pass vehicle!

  2. David says:

    I lived in the UK for a number of years, and discovered that the ‘outback wave’ had emigrated there even though the countryside could scarcely be described as the outback. On one occasion, I was merrily driving up the M1, and realised a little late that I was rapidly approaching the off-ramp I needed to exit. There was a huge lorry in front of me, but I judged I had time to safely cut across him. As I did, for some unknown reason, he leant out of his driver’s window, belching expletives as he did so, and gave me an ‘outback wave’ with two fingers upturned. I generously thought he was telling me it was two o’clock, when in fact it was only 10 o’clock in the morning. Perhaps he needed some tuition in the real outback wave Rick passed on this morning!

  3. dazzlerplus says:

    I’m informed by reader Ron that the Outback Wave is in standard use on Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

  4. Barry Holland says:

    Glad someone clarified that when using the raised single finger the hand should remain on the steering wheel. To do otherwise would be ambiguous I think. The oh so laconic two finger wave is the go.
    As a sometime motorcyclist we have our own code of greeting not observed by all but quite frequent in the bush, if not the outback. For me, fellow BMW riders get a left hand wave, all other marques get a deep nod of the head and Harley Davidson riders with beards and Nazi style helmets get – ignored.

  5. Richard Kessling says:

    1n the 1960’s, on roads less travelled in the UK, the outback wave was common. Principaly I’m talking the Highlands of Scotland and central Wales, where the best metalled roads were just wide enough for a bus or “lorry”. You had to get out of each others way and wave a cheery ‘thankyou’ to each others courtesy. I’m punting the outback wave evolved fron two wagons passing each other on some narrow track, at a time when there was time to stop and exchange news and views.

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