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Passers-by could be forgiven for thinking the entire Google Australia team was on strike today after staff gathered outside the company’s headquarters for a Street View stunt.

The search giant’s army of camera-equipped Holden Astra cars are preparing to traverse the country again from this week to take new, higher quality pictures of Australia’s capital cities for the Google Maps feature.

Street View allows web users to browse street-level images of much of the country from their PCs or mobile phones.

In what has become company tradition, Google staff gather outside their offices around the world to pose for shots that will eventually end up on Street View.

The US team prepared an elaborate stunt for the last round of Street View images and anyone browsing the Silicon Valley headquarters on Google Maps can see the results. There was a marriage proposal placard (“Proposal 2.0: Marry Me Leslie!!”), fake fighting, human pyramids, costumes and even a homage to the Village People.

street2In a similar vein, at midday today Google Australia staff lined the perimeter of Metcalfe Park, which sits just behind Google’s Australian headquarters in Pyrmont.

Head engineer Alan Noble was directing the action as the Street View car made several rounds, trailed by hordes of Googlers gunning for their 15 minutes of fame on Google Maps.

The props weren’t as elaborate as the US drive-by and were evidently limited to whatever the staff, most of whom were clad in Google merchandise, could grab on their way out of the building.

They included blow-up pool toys, exercise balls, propeller hats, toy guns and Google signs.

There was even a minor taste of celebrity as 2006 Miss Australia Erin McNaught took part in the stunt as part of a segment for Channel Nine’s CyberShack show.

The images should appear on Google Maps about the middle of next year.

“It’s become a Google tradition to do drive-bys of Google offices around the world, so, following that tradition, we all came out today to be immortalised by Street View,” company spokeswoman Annie Baxter said.