Saturday, 5 March 2011

Travel ill-advisory

The world is a dangerous place and if watching nightly news reports doesn’t scare you half to death, reading Government Travel Advisories will.
There are, it seems people in every corner of the world plotting the downfall of the easy-going Aussie. This is what you get for trying to pass off Four X as beer to foreigners – it really ticks them off. It’s probably also responsible for climate change induced natural disasters. A million cows exuding methane from four stomachs is nothing on the toxic emissions of a six- pack of that gassy, ghastly brew passing through the digestive system of a Queenslander. It could be Australia’s very own weapon of mass destruction. Forget all that messy uranium and Googling ‘how to build your own nuke’.  Just send over a few raw recruits with a carton of Castlemaine’s finest and an hour up their sleeve. As soon as the impulse to light their own farts kicks in, the job is done.
I’m travelling soon to Dubai, which in the current Middle Eastern turmoil is a little oasis of calm in the midst of lots of blokes with beards and rocket launchers having a frank exchange of opinion. It’s so nice to see Facebook being used for something other than stalking 14 year old girls. Needless to say that the Government travel advice for anywhere in that region is less than reassuring. Forget travel insurance; just make sure your will is up to date and don’t start reading any long books.
This made me wonder what kind of advice foreigners are given about Australia. Quite frankly, it makes running naked through central Baghdad screaming ‘I want to have George Bush’s babies’ look lightweight by comparison.
The UK Government travel advice talks about a rare disease which one man in Tennant Creek caught back in 2004, but completely fails to mention that if you stay in the sun more than ten minutes your nose will melt and your face fall off. It talks of the dangers of sharks and crocodiles but nothing about how the wearing of socks and sandals will mark you as an enemy of the State and will have you shot on sight. This is why, when you see a person who is the colour of a letterbox with a white section from mid-calf down and a hunted expression, you know they’re a Pom.
The advice talks about how great the distances are in Australia when in reality, it’s what’s close to you that is really scary, as anyone who has woken up next to someone they met in Kings Cross will be able to tell you.
Australia’s dangerous wildlife and interesting bacterial diseases are given extensive coverage while not a word is devoted to the reasons why a kebab in St Kilda at 3am is not a Good Idea or what really goes into a Chiko roll.
There is even a Facebook page attached to the website where I was disappointed not to find some more practical counsel for travellers, although the advice not to go to a number of Middle East countries was ‘liked’ by Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qu’eda team.
It’s time we wrote the alternative travel advisory for foreign tourists to Australia. Starting with the Drop Bears.


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