Friday, 16 July 2010

The Darlocline: A new measure of Australian rurality

I've conducted several scientific studies on my road trips between Melbourne and Far North Queensland. By scientific, I mean completely ad hoc. And by studies, I mean stuff that I recorded when I remembered to do so.

Some of these studies were ornithological. When do apostlebirds first appear on the Newell Highway? How far north do white-winged choughs extend? Where does the white-backed form of the Australian magpie give way to the black-backed form.

I'd like to be able to provide answers, but on all trips so far I've usually driven a couple of hundred kilometres past the crucial location before I remember that I was supposed to make notes. Although I try again on the way back, my attention is often taken up in designing limpet mines that will attach to the corrugated sides of slow-moving caravans. It is not a simple task, you know. How do you slap a mine onto a target that's ahead of you? How do you set a delayed fuze? Are fridge magnets strong enough to do the job? You can see why I might miss the odd apostlebird, chough or magpie.

Anyway, I've applied the same scientific methodology (and all its flaws) to social history as well as natural history. Many years ago (ie the 80s), I developed the concept of the Patsycline. It is loosely based on the thermocline.

A thermocline … is a thin but distinct layer in a large body of fluid (e.g. water, such as an ocean or lake, or air, such as an atmosphere), in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below.

The Patsycline is the location where the proportion of country music on the radio suddenly becomes 100%. It is measured as the distance from the nearest state capital.

In the late 1980s, the Patsycline was on the Newell Highway somewhere south of Dubbo. Unfortunately, the proliferation of local FM stations combined with the existence of Lee Kernaghan has rendered this methodology unworkable. The Patsycline has been retired.

But it has been replaced by another measure of Australian rurality — the Darlocline. This is the geographical spot at which people in service stations call you 'Darl'. Although pinpointing it does depend on how often you stop for petrol, I am happy to report that the north – south Darlocline seems to be located in Biloela in central Queensland.

Now who says science isn't relevant?

12 comments: said...

Not me.
I wouldn't dare.
Not while you hsve those limpet mines to hand ... and slapping mentioned as well ... cripes!

Snail said...

It's only the slow-moving caravans, jj! And it's a more benign optioon than the rocket-propelled grenade launcher that I was planning to use ...

As for the Darlocline --- I thoroughly approve of it.

Tyto Tony said...

Darl seems usage by women of a certain age: checkout ladies, but not checkout chicks.

You need Bond's Aston Martin to see off pesky caravans.

Snail said...

Yes! I don't think I've ever heard a younger woman used the term 'darl'. Not that I have cross-referenced usage by age (that could be my next project), but I think 'darl' probabaly appears in the vocab sporadically at about 35 yrs and then increases in frequency. I'm sure someone has done the research on this part of the Australian vernacular.

The Aston Martin --- is that the one with the machine guns in the grille?

Tyto Tony said...

And an invisibility shield!

Snail said...

Now that I'm middle aged I walk around with one of those. But one for the car would be much handier!

Sherryl said...

What about the 'love' quotient?
Does it increase in fruit and vege shops? Or is that my imagination?

Gouldiae said...

Patsycline, Darlocline? What a great laugh to start my morning, plus I now have something to occupy my mind on the next long road trip! Are there any other indicators of Australian rurality out there?
Loved it, thanks Bronwen.

Woollybutt said...

I always thought a thermocline was something to do with a car's temperature gauge and hills. As in "at what point of driving up this incline will my temp gauge hit the red and the engine boil?"

And then there's the flannycline, which is the point you reach when driving from city to the outer suburbs where you suddenly realise 100% of the populace are wearing flannelette shirts...

Nice post, and could be the basis for a funding grant submission to carry out further research.

Snail said...

Sherryl, I think the distribution of 'love' by shop type might be a very interesting study. Anecdotally, it does seem to be strongly associated with greengrocers.

I heard 'doll' the other day, which confused me. Do I register it as a variant of 'darl' or as a separate category?

Snail said...

Gouldiae, I see that Woollybutt has come up with a possibilities in the flannycline.

The width of hat brims must be a useful measure. We'd have to exclude straw summer hats, but might have a separate category for picnic races.

Snail said...

Woolly, I can see the flannycline as a very fine scale suburban study.

Perhaps we would represent the percentage of flannel in a flannel rose similar to the wind roses used by BoM.