Blog: Dave LeggettPetrol sniffing breakthrough

Dave Leggett | 2 April 2007

I was referred earlier to a piece in the Daily Telegraph today about an important breakthrough in the battle to stop some Australians sniffing petrol and eschewing that rather bland amber coloured liquid known as Foster's. Seriously, though, it's no laughing matter.

Sniffing petrol has apparently been widespread among scattered Aborigine communities in the 'Outback' and it has turned some into 'wheelchair-bound zombies', the article says.

But now they've introduced a new petrol chemically engineered not to yield a 'high', so there's no point in bothering. The article goes on to say that the new petrol, called Opal, has dramatically reduced the number of sniffing addicts in the dozens of remote townships scattered across Australia's central desert.

It was developed by BP and is subsidised by the Australian government.

The article says that Aborigines who until recently spent their time sucking on tins and bottles filled with petrol are now going back to school, applying for jobs and taking up sports. The number of regular petrol sniffers in the Northern Territory has dropped from about 600 to 20 since Opal was introduced to more than 60 settlements two years ago.

I had heard of petrol sniffing for reasons of intoxication, but had no idea it had caught on to this extent anywhere. Brings new meaning to the term 'petrolhead'.

Sounds like a good technical breakthrough, but how desperate must things be in these communities for that situation to have arisen in the first place? Scary.

Actually, writing this piece reminded me that there's a website that goes by the name of sniffpetrol that I haven't visited in a while...still a few adolescent-type laughs to be had there, courtesy of Mr P (I suppose I shouldn't reveal the author's name here; almost got him to write for just-auto once...but he's a very busy lad).

sniffpetrol website


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