Strange and amusing things can sometimes happen in my line of work.
Sometimes you wind up spending hours waiting for a person or an event or an announcement that never materialises.
Then other days you wind up officially unveiling a new road name.
I was sent out on Wednesday to the Kingsford-Smith Memorial at the Brisbane Airport. Now, if you're a Brisbanite, chances are you've spent time looking at Smithy's lovely old Southern Cross and wondering how the Fokker he made it across the Pacific in such a little aircraft. As basically the only free parking in the airport precinct it was always de rigeur to pull in while waiting for airport drop offs/pick ups.
Of course, things have changed out at Brisbane Airport. There's a bunch of new roads, and Sir Charles' hanger is practically inaccessible. So it was with some confusion that I spent the best part of 20 minutes doing circles around Nancy Bird Way, Airport Drive and Moreton Drive, in the rain, before eventually getting onto the little slip road entry to the memorial.
I was there for the official unveiling of new road signage for the "Southern Cross Way". This was the name chosen to replace the "Old Gateway Motorway" stretch of road from Eagle Farm to Banyo. Emergency Services had been getting confused with the new, sexy Gateway, so requested the change to avoid moniker mix-ups.
Main Roads ran a competition for suggestions, and got things such as Serpentine Way (after an original creek in the area), Bernborough Way (after a famous racehorse), and even George Negas Way (after a famous mustachioed reporter). But Southern Cross Way pipped them all, taking out the "constellation" prize, according to the media release.
(So sue me, I liked that gag).
Obviously the lack of any mention of George Negus meant no other media was interested. I was the only person to show up. The two Main Roads departmental girls who greeted me seemed so excited, pressing a "schedule of events" into my hands. It almost made my heart break. They'd worked out a proper detailed event, with times and everything. They even had courtesy water bottles ready on a table. And the only person they had to show off their hard work to was one slightly damp and direction-impaired radio journo.
Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace, who resembles something of a big friendly bear, seemed very excited that I'd come along. I'd not even said hello before he turned to his media adviser and said, "Natalie should unveil the road sign with me!"
I burst out laughing. So did everyone else. But the Minister wasn't kidding, he honestly thought it would be a great idea. I started gut-laughing at the thought of it.
"Well, I would love to," I replied.
And so we strode over to a road sign, covered in a black sheet, and turned towards the Main Roads staffers and Ellen the media adviser. The Minister proudly announced the changing of the Old Gateway Motorway to the Southern Cross Way, and we peeled back the sheet. One of the Main Roads girls had a camera and we posed for photos. We even shook hands.
The whole time I was killing myself laughing. It was honestly such a bizarre, unlikely, ridiculous thing to happen, that excessive laughter was the only appropriate reaction.
I mentioned that I'd had a hard time getting into the place, and it turned out, I wasn't the only one. The minister had also had trouble wheeling around the new airport roads. He even asked his Main Roads people to ask the Brisbane Airport Corporation to look into better signage for the place, so people could find it more easily.
So by a strange twist of events, I somehow unveiled a new road name, and perhaps, even assisted future directionally-challenged drivers to find Smithy's famous Fokker.