Even before the controversy over them blurring their Sydney images, it was noted that local map/sat pic providers are doing a better job than Google Maps: Ivan Pope says for the UK, try 192.com, and I’ve found Whereis.com.au has some better pics than Google for some Australian cities outside Sydney (to the point where you can see individually parked cars… hey where’s my car, it’s not at home? Ah there it is…)
Mind you, it looks like for rural and regional areas, Google’s still better, and they’re probably pouring more money than most into updating their pictures (they recently updated Melbourne, and a number of other cities). The bottom line seems to be: shop around.
My Google Earth is still showing Victoria with smoke from bushfires and most of Victoria a blur. I just had a look around the help area and did what I could, but it is still the same.