Route 66 News

Australia highway wants to use Route 66 to rebrand itself

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, Route 66 should be very flattered indeed by what certain highway boosters are wanting to do in Australia.

We’ll let The Australian newspaper explain:

Grain silos rising from flat terrain vie with open-cut mines for the attention of truckers who use the 660-mile Newell Highway. A kangaroo occasionally jumps across the arrow-straight road. Among the most unfortunately named districts hereabouts is Bland Shire.

Jeff Stien has a plan to change things. A member of the Newell Highway Promotions Committee, he wants to rebrand the road, which motorists think is one of eastern Australia’s worst, as Route 66 and make it a destination for lovers of Americana.

The committee is seeking government funding to promote the road, which connects the southern state of Victoria with Queensland in the northeast, as a tourist highway, complete with brand-new Route 66 signage, hoping to shake its image as a service road for travellers headed elsewhere. […]

If all goes well, drivers will be stopping at an observatory that helped broadcast the Apollo moon landings, seeking relics of one of the biggest U.S. Pacific air bases in World War II and breaking out their blue suede shoes next January at a festival for Elvis Presley’s birthday.

Apparently the small towns along this mostly rural road have met hard times because of drought and a drop in commodity prices. The  New South Wales Parliament will decide on the proposal next month.

The Newell Highway has its own tourist-friendly website here. And this video provides a nice overview:

This effort makes one wonder whether the highway’s expanses — “dull” is a word that often comes to mind from its travelers — would cast the real Route 66 in a none-too-flattering light. Then again, the idea of faux Route 66 road signs Down Under might inspire Australians to seek out the genuine article.