Random Roundabout Road Signs

round125th of January, 2013.

A Friday night most people probably don’t remember, either due to excessive alcohol consumption, or the fact that nothing really happened.

I, on the other hand, remember it well. For this particular Friday night was the night that I made a curious discovery, leading to a great deal of frustration, anguish and dissatisfaction as I explored further. I was driving home from a pretty good gig at the Orange Bowling Club (Jacob Bowden, The Looking Glass and Bobby Shades had all played decent sets and I’d managed to sign into the club as an ‘out-of-town’ member using my address in Melbourne), when I noticed a rather curious irregularity at a roundabout.

I spent a few days taking numerous and detailed notes (actually I just made sure to check out what the roundabout signs looked like when I was driving places but whatever hey), as well as Googling the NSW regulations on roundabout signs (as far as I can tell, there aren’t any) before deciding that something had to be done.

Today (at the time of writing, it’s Sunday, 10th February), my dear friend Mariah Kreiger and I spent a very painful but nonetheless very fulfilling hour circumnavigating the city with a camera and a really nice car (thanks Will Ferguson!) in order to further document what is sure to be a highly controversial issue.

This is our story.

So yeah. We started off at the roundabout which marks and defends the intersection of Streets Phillip and Anson – an important job to be sure.

Let’s have a look at our results.

…actually, this roundabout’s pretty normal.1 Let’s move on.

These signs do their jobs quite effectively, prompting Mariah to smile.
This photo was skilfully photobombed by the School Zone sign in the background. I might have to do another exposé on them in the future…

From there, we proceeded north (which I had to explain meant ‘just keep going straight, Mariah). This led us to the somewhat perplexing meeting between Anson Street and Heatherbrae Parade. I use the word ‘perplexing’ for two reasons – firstly, because it’s AWESOME, and secondly, because there are a number of inconsistencies here to which I feel it is my civic duty to draw attention.

Heatherbrae Parade, sign 1 (southside)

This poor sign sports an unfortunate wound from a previous encounter. I swear it wasn’t us.

Firstly, you’ll notice that this sign is rectangular.

It also sports a full stop at the end of ‘Pde’ – which, whilst technically accurate, isn’t even remotely consistent with the previously examined roundabout which – you’ll recall – contained exactly none.

Heatherbrae Parade, sign 2 (northside)

This sign is considerably different from the last, prompting Mariah’s expression of intrigue.

One key difference here. This sign is not rectangular, but pentagonal (there’s an arrow at the end). That’s kinda cool – but it’s on the same roundabout! Where’s the consistency, people? This is the kind of stuff which people complain about to referees (I reffed basketball for 5 years, I know about complaints) – but why not roundabout signs?

Anson St (or perhaps, ANSON ST)

We’re not really why this sign is so much better than the last sign for the same street, but it for some reason has capitals. Mariah reports that it’s also quite comfortable to lean on.

THIS SIGN IS IN ALL CAPS – which, the attentive reader will realise, is completely inconsistent both with this roundabout, and with the previous Anson St signs. Disgusting.

Cool. Next we headed along Anson Street and towards the bypass, before turning right and heading to the roundabout intersecting the Northern Distributor Rd with Leeds Pde. There’s nothing overly interesting about these signs, but it was pretty scary for me to run across there and back, so I’m sharing these photos anyways.

This sign isn’t particularly exciting, but the fact that I managed to get onto that roundabout without being killed certainly is.
A well-labeled roundabout sign, and a well-labeled t-shirt.

Right, I hope you enjoyed them. From there, we proceeded to the roundabout at McLachlan and Dalton Sts, which was well as being interesting for roundabout purposes, gave me an excellent opportunity to practice my NavMan skills (and voice).

McLachlan St (both sides)

This sign has been graffitied at some stage, presumably by someone hoping to correct the inconsistencies in case.

CAPITALS, rectangular.

Dalton St (both sides)

There wasn’t any road-work – council workers just wanted their sign to get in the photo.

Not capitals, not rectangular. Yeah, that makes sense.

Ok, this is pretty long – so let’s all just take some time out to relax. Maybe listen to this song – it will blow the classical music out your butt.

Ok, you’re back? We resume our journey with our heroes (I didn’t want to bandy the h-word around, but I’m pretty sure we’ve earned it by now) at the RAILWA (ok, yes, it does say ‘RAILWAY,’ but it’s really quite hard to see).

Mariah finds this sign to be rather exciting, inspiring her to do some weird robot dance thing.

More interesting than that horticulture-forced confusion, however, is that the roundabout lacks any other signage. At all. It’s as if they didn’t want people who’d just arrived in town (via the RAILWA) to know where they were going. Poor, poor Mariah…

Mariah is understandably confused by the lack of signage here. So am I, but I’m not in the photo.

Next up is the intersection of Moulder St. and Anson St., the only roundabout we found with complete consistency. Good effort, St.s2

I’m pointing out the full stops here…
…just in case you weren’t sure.

Onwards, and upwards, I shouted3 as we strode4 to the roundabout on the intersection of Dubbo, Bathurst, Cowra and Wellington. Wait, no…that’s not right. Whilst I don’t really object to letting people know which town they’re heading towards, there are signs for that (shown below)! It’d be really nice if instead of having signs on roundabouts which were quickly rendered superfluous by the other, much taller (and therefore better) signs, we could have signs that tell you which streets you’re using. But I suppose that’s just too much to ask.

At this roundabout, they tell the driver which town they’re headed for…
…but there are signs on the edge of the roundabout serving the same purpose. How functional!

Nearing the end of our journey, we headed to the intersection of Lords Place and Byng St. Interestingly, although Lords Place and Byng Street have the same number of characters, the powers that be decided that they’d abbreviate one, but not the other. Yeah, that makes sense, powers that be. You know what? The powers that be are silly.

The words ‘Byng Street’ have been abbreviated, presumably for financial reasons…
…but for some reason, ‘Lords Place’ was too important to be subjected to the same treatment.

Finally, Mariah and I came to the intersection of ANSON ST and Dalton St. – appropriately, the same roundabout where I first realised that we had a problem. You’ll notice that whilst ANSON ST is written in caps, with no full stop at the end, Dalton St. is not – and it features a full stop.

Towards the end of the day, Mariah and I were starting to run out of poses…


So, to recap: some signs are rectangular. Some aren’t. SOME ARE IN CAPITALS. Others aren’t. Some have full stops. Some don’t

Now, we’ve come to the end of a long and highly frustrating road. I hope whoever who is responsible for roundabout signage is reading this, because this inconsistency is unacceptable. We want answers, and we want them now. In the words of a considerably-less-than-great Australian, please explain.



1. That’s not actually true. Upon later examination the side pointing to the opposite Anson St (eastside) also has a dot, but I didn’t notice that until much later, at which point Mariah refused to stop the car – unfortunately rendering me unable to capture visual evidence. Women.
2. Streets, rather than saints. Although there is a street in Melbourne called ‘St. James St.’ which confuses the hell out of me…
3. I didn’t shout this. I didn’t even say this. Sorry for lying.
4. drove

Category: LocalOpinion


One comment

  1. What really boils my blood is the savings that could be had to the public purse e.g. less paint by omitting full stops, less metal by adhering to pointy signs. It’s no wonder we are in a global financial depression.

    I’m currently investigating UK road signs as part of a object detection project, and have already uncovered inconsistencies in the roundabout icon. Be assured, I will write to my MP on the matter. One day this will be fixed, and how our grandchildren will sit slack jawed as i regale these violations.

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Article by: Jordan White

Living mostly in Melbourne, but originally from Orange, Jordan White is a 3rd year student at the Victorian College of the Arts. He enjoys jazz guitar, dahl and reading about linguistics.