Australian April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Australia's This Day Tonight ran a segment about the "Dial-O-Fish," a new electronic fishing rod that could be set to catch any desired species. A "fishing expert" demonstrated how to use the device. First he dialed up garfish, and soon had caught half a dozen. Next he dialed up tommy ruff. Hundreds of viewers reportedly called in wanting to know where to buy one, and a Japanese manufacturer declared it was ready to go into production immediately.
Sydney Opera House Sinking.
Australia's This Day Tonight reported that the Sydney Opera House was sinking into the harbor. The report showed scuba divers examining the foundations and included interviews with concerned "experts".
Australia's This Day Tonight revealed that the country would soon be converting to "metric time." Under the new system there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20-hour days. Furthermore, seconds would become millidays, minutes become centidays, and hours become decidays. The report included an interview with Deputy Premier Des Corcoran who (participating in the prank) praised the new time system. The Adelaide townhall was shown sporting a new 10-hour metric clock face. The show received numerous calls from viewers who fell for the hoax. One caller wanted to know how he could convert his newly purchased digital clock to metric time.
The Sydney Iceberg.
A barge appeared in Sydney Harbor towing a giant iceberg. Sydneysiders were expecting it. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman (owner of Dick Smith’s Foods), had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded. He said that he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These well-traveled cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavor of any drink they cooled. Slowly the iceberg made its way into the harbor. Local radio stations provided blow-by-blow coverage of the scene. Only when the berg was
Phony Gold Nugget.
In late March, Australian fruit grower Bob Boyce revealed that he had unearthed a 10-pound gold nugget worth $70,000 while planting a citrus tree. The story was picked up by the international media, with Reuters reporting that the Australian government had confirmed the worth of the nugget.
But on April 1, Boyce confessed that the gold nugget was phony. He explained, "I didn't plan the joke for personal publicity. I just wanted to bring a smile to people on April Fools' Day."
Vertical Parking Locator.
Car-maker MINI placed ads in several Australian papers describing a new space-saving technology: the Vertical Parking Locator (VPL), which allowed MINIs to park vertically on the side of buildings:
"ASC+T-backed VPL gives MINIs sufficient traction to attain and maintain an erect parking position and to cling securely to the side of the designated building. All-but seamless in operation, VPL makes its presence felt via a subtle frisson of vibration as the traction system is activated. A warning jingle recorded by a string quartet in the key of G also sounds."
Endangered Species Restaurant.
The Sydney Morning Herald reviewed Species restaurant in their Good Living supplement. This unusual dining establishment allowed diners to sample animals featured on the World Wildlife Fund's endangered list. Among its specialties: braised slices of hairy nosed wombat, yellow spotted tree frog kebabs and Sumatran Rhino steaks. The owner of the restaurant was named April Phewell. The next day the paper received numerous letters from outraged readers who thought the restaurant was real.
Yum Cha Carts Regulated.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that new legislation had been proposed that would require operators of yum cha trolley carts (as seen in Chinese restaurants) to obtain a license. The legislation had been proposed due to "dangerous trolley usage in yum-cha eateries." An expert noted: "There's been a lot of problem with dumpling accidents particularly. Dumplings retain their heat for quite some time. You get one of those in your lap and it can be extremely painful." Under the new rules, operators of the food carts would first have to complete an instructional course, and then would "carry a small 'L' plate on their carts for six months before being granted full licences."
Keep your roof open - or else!.
MINI Australia warned drivers of the MINI Cabrio that a detail of their contract specified that they always had to keep the roof of their car open, even during inclement weather. Failure to honor this contract would meet with severe punishment. The driver would be "ejected from their vehicle" and their car would be given to someone "willing to comply with the Contract."
A team of specially trained MINI operatives, the MINI Roof Down Squad (M.R.D.S.), took to the streets of major Australian cities on April 1st in order to detect violations of the MINI Always Open Contract.
Scratch’n'Sniff Credit Cards.
Virgin Money of Australia announced the introduction of barbecue-scented scratch'n'sniff credit cards:
"The scratched 'aroma' will embody the spirit of Australia, reminding owners of a freshly barbequed snag. Virgin Money expects the new card to be particularly popular amongst Aussies travelling overseas who are seeking a mouth-watering memento to remind them of home."
YouTube Rickrolls its Visitors.
YouTube "rickrolled" its visitors. All the "featured video" links on its front page sent people to a video of 1980s pop singer Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up. The video was posted under the user name YTRickRollsYou. Over 7 million people fell for the prank.
["Rickrolling" is a bait-and-switch-style prank that became popular on the internet in 2007. The prank is simple. A victim is tricked into clicking a link that takes them to a video of Rick Astley's song.]
Google Australia debuted gDay technology "enabling you to search content on the internet before it is created":
"The core technology that powers gDay™ is MATE™ (Machine Automated Temporal Extrapolation). Using MATE's™ machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques developed in Google's Sydney offices, we can construct elements of the future. Google spiders crawl publicly available web information and our index of historic, cached web content. Using a mashup of numerous factors such as recurrence plots, fuzzy measure analysis, online betting odds and the weather forecast from the iGoogle weather gadget, we can create a sophisticated model of what the internet will
Free Childcare at Political Offices.
An advertisement that appeared on page five of the Australian newspaper claimed that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had volunteered the use of the electorate offices as a child-minding service: "Each MP's electorate office will today be accepting newborns for a free child minding service. This is another example of Labor's commitment to working families." The advocacy group Get Up later claimed responsibility for the ad.
Free internet access through digital radio.
Australia's Courier Mail reported that the roll-out of digital radio in Queensland had the unintended side effect of making high-speed internet access freely available through old radio receivers. The paper interviewed the University of Queensland's head of frequency physics Prof Sayd al Lio who said, "the technicians had tapped into something that had eluded researchers for decades." To access the free internet, readers were instructed to place a radio on a surface outdoors in a direct line towards the Mt. Coot-tha radio towers:
"Tune in to any AM station with a moderate volume, not so loud it annoys the neighbours. Place your laptop behind the radio receiver, again in a direct line with the towers, and open your favourite internet browser. Experts say that today, April 1, otherwise known as April Fool's Day, should produce the strongest signal."
Melbourne Cricket Grounds Renamed.
Australia's Herald Sun newspaper reported that a Chinese company, Mekong Industries, had submitted a multi-million dollar proposal to buy the naming rights to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, renaming the stadium the Mekong Cricket Grounds.
The report played on fears that Asian companies were rapidly taking over Australian industries, especially in the mining sector, and provoked an angry response from readers. By midday, the story had attracted almost 200 angry comments such as “The Chinese corporate takeover of Australia has begun!” and “OZ Minerals, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Minerals, now the MCG. What next?” People suggested other names for the stadium, such as "Mainly Corporate Greed," "Mao's Cricket Ground" and "Melbourne Sports Ground (MSG)."
However, some did realize the story was a joke, noting that the spokeswoman's name was "April Fulton."
Melbourne makes bid to host Running of the Bulls.
Melbourne Tourism Minister Tim Holding announced the city was making a bid to host the Running of the Bulls:
"For too long the people of Pamplona have monopolised this event, the Brumby Government is determined to grab the bull by the horns and snare this important event for Melbourne."
Holding said the bull run would "start in the historic theatre precinct at the Paris End of Collins Street, travel through Chinatown, across Swanston Street, through the quaint King Street district and end at a packed Etihad Stadium."
Google Australia announced it had partnered with the Australian rules football league to develop the gBall.
This was a rugby ball with "inbuilt GPS and motion sensor systems to monitor the location, force and torque of each kick." Google could then provide users with "detailed online kicking tips, style suggestions and tutorials based on their gBall kicking data." As an added bonus, "Kicking data is also sent to national talent scouts and player agents. The gBall will vibrate if talent scouts or player agents want to make contact with the user."
"Cling-film bandits" struck Melbourne, wrapping at least 400 cars in the city in cling film. They wrapped cars parked at shopping malls, railway stations, and in residential areas. A note attached to the cars read: "Happy April Fools Day love Evie."
The police did not investigate the prank because no damage had been done to the cars.
Artline Memory Stick.
Pelikan Artline placed ads in Australian papers announcing its new "Artline Memory Stick" — a pen that could remember everything you wrote.
"The Artline Memory Stick digitally records everything you write or draw on a 2GB built-in flash drive. Forget the worry of losing the shopping list or the scrap of paper with that vital name or number on it. You can download it all later - as you wrote it, or in the typeface of your choice. How's that for back-up?"
Ikea HUNDSTOL Highchair For Dogs.
Ikea Australia introduced the HUNDSTOL Highchair for Dogs, as part of an effort "to accommodate the growing demand for furniture that reflects today's modern family." The chair was designed with the dog's comfort in mind, with a hole in the back of the chair for the tail, and paw grips on the seat for stability. Two inset bowls could be easily removed for washing.
Left-Handed Allen Key.
IKEA ran an ad in Australian papers apologizing to customers who had received left-handed allen keys with a product. "To exchange your incorrect key," the ad said, "we'll provide a swap box at the store entrance."
An illustration showed the difference between an "erroneous left-handed allen key" and a "correct right-handed allen key."
The Monarto Zoo in South Australia announced that a "zebracorn" had been born in the zoo. It was so named because it had a "peculiar looking bump" on its forehead, as if it was growing a horn. Thus a zebra-unicorn. However, the zebracorn was not on display as it was residing in an off-limits area.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.