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    Re: GPS grids and maps
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2004 Jul 21, 14:45 +1000

    Quoting Marc Bernstein
    >TOP100 ... show every village and track
    I'd like to believe this. One of the things I enjoy in France is the relaxed 
    attitude about private lands that seems
    common (as compared to the sometimes obsessive anglophone attitude). Often 
    fields are not fenced, there is no
    way to tell whether a track is private or, for example, an access track into 
    and across a forest area. The smaller
    roads connecting rural properties, presumably part of the public network, are 
    also often without names. Which
    brings us full circle to the potential usefulness of the GPS.
    Cartographers, like nature, abhor a vacuum. In vast areas of Australia they 
    struggle, sometimes, to find anything
    to decorate the blank surface with. I'm often amused at the tiny places that 
    show up as though they were a major
    town on different maps. Sometimes there is just one building, these days 
    described as a roadhouse, that is the
    only source for all that civilization has to offer over an extended area. 
    Petrol, food, post ofice, banking,
    bureaucracy in all its forms - everything from mining permits to voting - and 
    all sorts of objects on sale to be
    found nowhere else, like canvas water bags to keep drinking water cool via 
    evaporation from the wet surface - a
    wonderful invention, hung on the exterior of the vehicle - or camel.
    Once I was looking for friends who were camped along the Paroo overflow, 
    western NSW. The nearest town was
    a opal mining place, full of wild and eccentric individuals who tended to stay 
    underground every second Thursday
    when the police visited. Most of the population lives underground, its cooler. 
    Even the motel offers underground
    accomodation. I arrived late and slept in the car. From before dawn car lights 
    were heading to a place out of
    town. At first light I folowed them. The destination was a freezer trailer, 
    chugging away in the middle of a vast
    empty plain. The vehicles congregating there looked like something out of Mad 
    Max, with most of the bodies
    removed as superfluous - who needs doors or roof or bonnet over the motor? - and a metal frame surounding
    the whole from which hung the bodies of the biggest kangaroos I've seen. They 
    had been shot that night and
    were to be loaded into the freezer trailer, to be hauled away later. So if you 
    enjoy exotic meat that may be
    where your kangaroo came from. I asked them if they had seen my friends, someone had. Out there when two
    vehicles pass the minimum of polite behaviour is to stop for at least a ten 
    minute chat, drivers window to driver's
    window. The road is blocked but that seldom matters. So spreads the local news. Anyway my friends were
    travelling with a camel drawn wagon, distinctive enough. The two pulling the 
    wagon were mother and daughter,
    and the grandaughter followed behind, as spare. So directions were given:
    "you go 'bout 30 mile 'til the water tank, then left 'bout 40 mile to the 
    grid" (cattle grid of metal poles set into the
    road, keeps catttle and sheep from crossing but not vehicles) and so on.  Its 
    only been about a quarter century
    since we've converted to kilometres. No matter; the directions were clear, 
    simple to follow and accurate. I
    arrived for a late breakfast of fresh yabbies (like small freshwater lobster).

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