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When the apocalypse comes, Armageddon far away from Perth

Forget what you read on the net, Melbourne and Sydney are ideal spots to ride out the apocalypse.

For the true fan of the apocalypse, the end of the world is all about the shooting and shopping. Oh sure, there's the dread, horror and the terribly sad bits where everyone dies and you can't get a decent coffee any more. But not everyone dying is a dead loss. Some of them really asked for it, like the scientists who were messing with powers beyond their control and the barista who didn't turn up for work when all I wanted was that one last morning cappuccino before I fired up the chainsaws duct-taped to my stolen Hilux and cut my way through the screaming hordes standing between me, my last coffee and freedom.

I was disturbed this week then to hear from some guy on the internet that Perth was adjudged to be not just the best place in Australia to see out the end of the world, but one of the best anywhere when the whole world goes down the S-bend. (Archival note for future generations: in the early years of the 21st century, some guy on the internet replaced ''sources close to the issue'', ''high-ranking government officials'' and ''many people are now saying'' as the gold standard of verification for ridiculous, unverified stories in the mass media).

I'm not sure why some guy on the internet leapt to the entirely wrong conclusion Perth was the Big Rock Candy Mountain towards which he'd best point his chainsaw-festooned vehicle when the dead rose or the comets fell. Perhaps he was working from super-secret government plans that somehow leaked before high-ranking government officials opened a massive black bag of wet work operators to erase the leaks and all who had seen them. I could believe that.

Or maybe he was just laying a dummy trail, for dummies to follow into the desert, thereby freeing up precious chainsaws and dwindling cappuccino stocks for those of us who read the tea leaves in the rising sea waters as they poured through the streets of the dying capital and around the buoyant beer kegs I'd bungeed to the Hilux wherever it proved difficult to strap on another chainsaw. I could believe that too. Because I would totally do the same thing.

But I can't believe Perth is a genuine pick to see out the last of days. Not unless you genuinely want them to be your last of days. Most likely the poor judgment call was based on an old story ''Ten Places to Ride Out the Apocalypse'', which listed Perth because of its remote location and vast, agriculturally productive hinterland. What the super-nerds at iO9 failed to take into account, of course, is that everyone in WA already rolls around in massive, weaponised four-wheel-drives with circular saws for wheels. The Cars That Ate Paris is not a cult Australian autopocalypse flick, it's just a traffic report from the Perth to Mandurah freeway.

No, if you're going to enjoy Armageddon, like anything, you need to prepare. Certain locales will lend themselves more readily to particular cataclysms and due preparation for the plague or robot uprising or giant Tasmanian snot-blob invasion (you better believe I added that story to the top of my watch-list this week) will see you well-placed to enjoy the unparalleled shooting and shopping opportunities. Or shooting and looting, if you're a tedious literalist. (A word of caution: in nine out of 10 simulations run in my imagination, tedious literalists are the first to die after scientists messing with powers beyond their control and tardy baristas. They often suffer tragic chainsaw accidents just before the unhinged vicar who has abandoned his faith after God abandoned humanity, and long before the Second Disposable Hottie gets eaten.)


Brisbane, for instance, has long been recognised by some guy on the internet, who may have been me, as the perfect redoubt against the shambling hordes of the walking dead. Not all of the city, naturally. Most of the population would have to be sacrificed if only to swell the ranks of the shambling hordes for the hardiest survivors to enjoy. (The hardiest survivors being me, the third through sixth Disposable Hotties, the comic relief guy, and some B-list characters who'll hang around long enough for you to become attached to before … you know.)

Melbourne, on the other hand, is the perfect place to ride out a climate-change catastrophe because it looks just like Venice with the waves lapping at the third or fourth floor of Myer on Bourke Street. Unlike Venice, however, the logical grid pattern would make navigating less of a chore, especially with man-eating pirates furiously paddling after you. A few short strokes up to the hilltop fort of the Spring Street cantonment and you're home to the Melbourne Club barracks while arrows rise gracefully from the battlements to feather your cannibal nemeses.

Sydney, of course, can be the only choice for those with an eye for the catastrophic spectacular, as Guillermo del Toro showed us in Pacific Rim, and somebody else did in the last tell of Independence Day. Nothing says you're having a world-class extinction level event like destroying the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The suburbs of the Upper North Shore too, since del Toro's monster lizards seemed to stomp through them before kicking down the Coat Hanger. But Perth?


John Birmingham blogs for Fairfax Media at and himself at