Back in the 1990’s I lived in Brizzy (Brisbane – Australia) for nearly 10 years. It was an interesting time in my life, a time which I enjoyed and a time which I didn’t. Australia has always run hot and cold for me. It sill does. Natural Beauty, some wonderful people, incredible weather, wow! Australia is the lucky country, it has everything, it really does. But it is a robust place, politically, socially and on the sports field as well. It takes no prisoners, (no historical pun intended) so there is a lot to admire. But in Queensland particularly, there seems to be undertone of isolationism and mistrust of foreigners, or anyone who wasn’t born in Ipswich, Goondiwindi or Kingaroy.
As a Kiwi Immigrant of the 90’s, it seem’s I paid the price for the excesses of the Kiwi Immigrants of the 80’s. I get that. Australia didn’t owe me anything – I get that too. But I didn’t ask for anything, nor wanted anything, and I can honestly say not once did I access the Hospital system, the Welfare system or seek any other kind of assistance. I paid my taxes, but was not allowed to vote. I was not Australian – it was fair enough. I was never unemployed having found work within 2 weeks of arriving.I participated in the community and believe I contributed to the growth and and prosperity of Australia. I made particular effort to have Australian Friends and not just hang out with other Kiwi’s.
Most Australians are big hearted, warm and welcoming, but not all. And after nearly 10 years of being chipped at, after 10 years of Kiwi Bashing it all got a bit much. The rise of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party was pretty much the last straw for me. It was time to leave.
My love/hate relationship of Australia also extends to its Fauna. Snakes, Spiders, Bats, Cochroaches, Goanna’s and Green Ants are all lovely in their own way; but they seem to like to co-habit with humans far too much for my liking.
A friend of mine found an 8 foot Carpet Snake in his bathroom; this was during a dinner party. ‘Andy, come here,’ he whispered, his hand blocking his mouth, disguising the urgency from behind his palm, ‘I need some help.’ The other guests oblivious to our pathetic attempts to get the resting reptile to move on. Where I lived I had bats roosting in nearby trees and dropping Mango shit all over my washing on the line. I couldn’t sit down on my front lawn lest my fat arse got bitten by green ants – seriously the most pain I have ever encountered.
I have had a Goanna steal my picnic lunch at the Botanical Gardens. Completely unaware, I’ve stepped over a Death Adder on a bush walk. I’ve had leeches attach themselves to my scrotum after wading through a swampy bit on Frazer Island. I’ve watched a Grass Snake climb the wall above my Television, thinking oh well its only a Grass Snake. Iv’e had to call a pest removalist to get rid of a Blue Tongue Lizard who refused to move away from behind my washing machine. I was camping once out the back of Gympie when another poor camper got bitten by a Taipan and had to be airlifted out. And lastly, Iv’e been stung by a Stinger in Moreton Bay – just call me Jonah!
But the most frightening of all was the time when I removed a Hornets nest from my front balcony. It was the the week before I was due to leave Australia and I was cleaning out my flat, getting it ready for tenants. One of the last jobs was to remove the Hornets who had established themselves a nest on the railing of my balcony. I didn’t need protection, I didn’t need chemicals, no, all I needed was a broom! All I needed to do, was to simply give the nest a good whack and it would fall to the driveway below. Easy as.
I closed the sliding deck door behind me as I snuck up on the nest. I had decided to close the door in case any stray Hornets decided to fly through the open door into the lounge. Twinkles toes, light on my feet, I was the ultimate personification of stealth. On my first attempt of Hornet removal I grabbed the broom handle, took a great big swing and missed! On my next attempt I hit the nest full on. It shuddered, it wobbled, but it did not fall and 140 Hornets awoke from their siesta. I know there was 140, because that’s how many stings I received. I counted them afterward!
I quickly retreated to the sliding door. In my haste and panic I jiggled the handle too vigorously and the lock mechanism dropped. I was locked out. The Hornets had now regathered their wits, realising it was a stupid Kiwi Boy who needed to be taught a lesson in matters of convivial neighbourly relations. Each sting was like an atomic pin prick, like a Tens Machine set on 10 with 140 pads placed all over my body.
I had no choice but to jump over the balcony railing to the driveway 10 foot below. I jumped, I dropped, my ankle collapsing on contact with the concrete. The Hornets following, still stinging, it seemed to me that after each sting, they would retreat for moment, thinking to themselves,’easy as’ before returning to have another go. Up the stairs I stumbled; if you call moving at 50 miles an hour a stumble. Through the door, slamming it closed,I eventually made it to safety. After experimenting with both hot and cold showers trying to take the sting out, I returned to the lounge. I looked out the window. The Hornet’s had gone, and within 7 days so was I.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In NZ we have a General Election next year, and Winston Peter’s who started his NZ First Political Party back in the 90’s is expected to be the King Maker. His party polices are based upon Immigration, and was the NZ Forerunner for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Political Party. This is scary, not just politically. You see there is a nest of Wasps which have made themselves a home on my deck and while I have a new broom, I’m running out of countries to live in.