PORT AUGUSTA, Australia, Aug. 17 (Ben Hooper) — Authorities in South Australia said a “McDonald’s Opening Soon” sign installed as a prank in the middle of a desert has been removed.
The 50-foot-tall sign was discovered earlier in the summer atop a dune in the middle of the Simpson Desert Conservation Park — 124 miles from the edge of the desert and 373 miles from the nearest McDonald’s — along with a glass box that appears to contain a bag of McDonald’s food with the instruction: “Break glass in emergency.”
South Australia Environment Minister Ian Hunter confirmed a ranger was sent on a 12-hour drive from Port Augusta to remove the sign, as it is illegal to erect a structure in a conservation area without permission.
“We do see the funny side of this,” Hunter told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “It is very humorous but we particularly don’t want people searching for a sign off the tracks, damaging the fragile landscape and putting themselves potentially at risk in a very remote location.”
Phil Gregurke of the Mungerrannie Hotel said the sign has been installed in its new home in front of his business.
“At one time, the bar here used to be the number one photographed item up here,” he said. “Now I reckon the Maccas sign is the number one picture. People just stand under it or stand in the bus stop with the Maccas sign above them and yeah, it’s a good laugh.”
The man who originally placed the sign in the desert confirmed the prank last month on condition of anonymity and said it required about 12 months of planning and help from his “Army mates.” He said the apparent bag of food in the glass case actually contains only a pair of toilet paper rolls.