Australia Day Flyover

Tuesday, 27th February 2007 by

The super-high-resolution aerial images of Sydney from the recent Australia Day flyover have this morning been added to Google Maps.1

Google even did some sightseeing of their own in the email announcement when they included links to Queenscliff Bay, Shark Bay, Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, Luna Park, a Navy Ship, a Tall Ship, Fort Denison, Circular Quay and a totally awesome Helicopter in flight!


However we refuse to be outdone! So here’s some of the best sights we found ourselves, such as a kid on a swing, with a cool shadow…

…the words SEX + DEATH formed in grass beside a weird glass pyramid…

And people playing table tennis. On a floating table tennis table!2

The Australia Day event is different to the rest of Google’s aerial photography, as they actually pre-announced when the plane would by flying over, and even provided a tracker so that you could tell exactly when it would be overhead.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, lots of people naturally took the opportunity to do some serious advertising. One local company spent 10,000 AUD on a huge vinyl sign, whilst many others were attempting to promote everything from websites to dating services, and one person in particular even tried to do some promotion for their own political campaign…

It wasn’t all rampant capitalism though – one man staged an effort to send a message to his estranged wife, in an attempt to secure a reconciliation via the medium of Google Maps…

However, it would seem that all this effort was in vain, as it was later reported that the plane had taken a different flight path than originally described, and didn’t actually arrive at each spot at the planned time, and also didn’t cover nearly so much ground.

According to the SMH article:

At Bondi Beach, Erland Howden and a team from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW rallied over 50 troops together to create a human sign that read “Vote Climate”.

So, we scoured the images of Bondi Beach for any signs of a message. We found lots of new entries for our list of the Top 10 Naked People (and we may yet get to have a Top 100 Half-Naked Hot Chicks post!3), but by the time the plane actually arrived all the climate change campaigners had given up and gone home, as apparently they were suffering from sunburn (I’m sure they were well aware of the irony).


Here the story gets suspicious however. Again, from the SMH article:

Michael Fox and his wife Jodie Fox also had a run in with bureaucracy in the Moore Park, near Fox Studios. Using coloured pieces of A4 paper held down with bamboo satay sticks, the couple and a friend had formed the image of a giant eye.

So we located Moore Park on Google Maps, and yet strangely (despite the fact that this is newer imagery than is currently available on Google Earth), there is no giant eye here! In fact, it would appear that despite being newly updated, this image wasn’t taken on Australia day at all…

So, after hours of combing through the new images, we’ve found no real examples of private advertising or even any sign that the people of Sydney knew they’d be on Google Maps!

Well, except this of course…

…but given that is the official website of the whole country, it can’t possibly count as spam, right? If so, does that mean no spam made it through at all? All those folk who spent money on giant banners might be upset, but the Slashdotters would be pleased – they were up in arms about the potential “spamming” of Google Maps.

Some conspiracy theorists may say that the delayed flyover was a last-minute change of heart by Google, who perhaps didn’t want their maps application full of free adverts. And whilst it’s certainly possible that over the last 4 weeks Google have been going through all the images and replacing any remaining sections containing spam, they did actually promote this event as “get yourself on Google Maps”, so they must surely have anticipated what people would do, right?

  1. And now also Google Earth. 

  2. Surely a new No.1 for the Top 10 Sports on Google Earth

  3. Many apologies to our female readers, we’re sure there’s some hot dudes down there somewhere too…