They popped up before Christmas like a plague of politicians preceding an election. A parade of signs meant to guide wary Southerners who have travelled through the gates at Oatlands to the promised lands beyond.
Knocked flat by COVID, our tourism industry is like a fallen boxer trying to rise before the referee counts them out. Still battling the travelling restrictions that are imposed one minute and removed the next, and also the perception that you'd basically be mad to go on an interstate holiday.
In an effort then to promote intrastate tourism - getting Tasmanians to "holiday at home" - the taxpayer-funded Tourism Tasmania have festooned our roads with one of the blandest, most insipid marketing efforts imaginable.
All over the state you will find the signs proclaiming you're on a "drive journey" underneath some name they have assigned to the route. Those across the North and North-West promoting the "Northern Forage" are particularly, well, crap.
There's so much not to like about what really amounts to more visual pollution.
There's the drab appearance. Lacking in colour or really anything. You can get away with that if the words draw attention, such as, my favourite, "Drowsy Drivers Die", but in this case? They'll make you drowsy.
Speaking of the words, we're offered "forage". That's not one you tend to hear in every day conversation.
Armies use to forage before they learned to take a packed lunch. It wasn't a pleasant experience for the locals who were left hungry and often worse. We know visitors aren't here to rape and pillage, or hope so anyway, but forage? Really?
We know visitors aren't here to rape and pillage, or hope so anyway, but forage? Really?
Then there's the lumping of our two regions into one; a slight - albeit unintended - at our respective regional identities.
Apparently visitors from the South don't differentiate between the North and the North-West. We can assume it's all - in their minds - just "not Hobart".
It really begs the question though as to whether this is an admission of the monumental failure of previous campaigns aimed at promoting said regions.
But, let's be fair, Southerners are odd.
For some inexplicable reason they stubbornly hold to the notion that it takes longer to drive from Hobart to Launceston than it does from Launceston to Hobart.
This might explain why it is common to meet people from the wrong half of the state who have rarely, if ever, visited the right half.
We can, however, also see this as an opportunity in a time of crisis to encourage more of our fellow Tasmanians to get in their cars and visit parts unknown; spending their money holidaying at home.
While promoting "drive journeys" is all well and good, the execution is the issue.
The tourism experts would say the idea is that visitors will see the signs, get out their smart phones or tablets and Google whatever route they're supposedly travelling on.
Preferably, if they remember, they'll do this when they next stop, or they'll have a companion do the Googling, since road safety is important after all.
If a visitor looks up the "Northern Forage" they'll find a website with four-day itineraries for visits to the East Tamar, the West Tamar, the so-called Central North (Deloraine to Sisters Beach) and the North-West (really Circular Head).
Besides being geographically challenged, those behind it all needed to put themselves in the shoes - or rather seats - of the tourists driving past the signs because, surely, most people when they're already motoring down the road know where they're headed.
I do wonder how this campaign with its littering of our roadsides was approved by the powers that be.
It might go to show how marketing gurus can be even more effective at selling to those who pay their bills than to their actual target audience. Taxpayer-funded tourism bodies must be the perfect clients too, with little accountability for the success or otherwise of their spending.
On the bright side, when it dawns on the decision-makers that the "drive journey" signs are a failure they can be quietly repurposed.
They are already concreted into the ground, so it would not cost as much as has already been spent to replace the dull and uninspiring with something eye-catching.
Images of our native wildlife would contrast the unmissable roadkill, or maybe - and this is a revolutionary idea I know - we could actually promote our attractions.
- Anthony Haneveer is a deputy editor with Australian Community Media in Tasmania.