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Deadly snakes, venomous spiders, killer bushfires & bad sportsmanship don’t get a look-in with our new Aussie tourism campaign

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
Deadly snakes, venomous spiders, killer bushfires & bad sportsmanship don’t get a look-in with our new Aussie tourism campaign
Kylie and mates promote a rosy view of Down Under where every day is a sun-filled holiday but the reality to us Aussies is a mix of lethal snakes and spiders, ill-treatment of our indigenous people and inhumane detention centres.

As an Aussie-born and bred bloke, I cringed at the latest campaign from Tourism Australia aimed at luring curious Brits to the Great Southern Land as it recycled all the old stereotypes while asking a collection of UK-friendly celebrities to sing tonelessly along to the embarrassing ‘Matesong’.

It is three minutes and ten seconds packed with cliches, interspersed with a 51-year-old Kylie Minogue goofing about wiggling her butt while so-called comedian Adam Hills (yet to say one thing I find funny) makes Brexit jokes. Again, just not funny.

All that’s missing is someone in a hat fringed with dangling corks while their nose is caked in white zinc cream.

One striking image the advert does use is of Uluru, the big, red rock in the centre of Australia. Over the years, millions of tourists – domestic and foreign – have climbed this rock despite the protests of indigenous people who hold the site sacred. Nonetheless, they were ignored and people continued to climb and fall from Uluru, until November this year when it was finally agreed that it would be permanently closed.

The problem with that is, why would you want to go and look at a towering rock in the desert if you can’t climb to its peak and admire the view? It is the middle of nowhere and, apart from some high-priced luxury hotels, stories of dingoes stealing babies and miles and miles of nothing, there’s not much else to see.

And then there’s the campaign advert’s obsession with sport! Sure, we Australians like our sport, like most nations around the world, but sometimes that interest reveals a really ugly underbelly of win-at-all-costs competitiveness that is not endearing at all. In fact, many of us cringe at the extravagant boasting of sporting success and the extroverted celebrations.

Because when you start imagining sport is actually the be-all and end-all in life, that’s when you get the international-level cheating of the sort that the Australian cricket team undertook against South Africa. Funny that didn’t make it to the Tourism Australia advert.

So it all looks rosy Down Under. Where everyone surfs, every day is full sunshine and cloudless skies, and we all just want to be mates with visiting Poms.

Sorry to pop the balloon, but we Aussies can be just as xenophobic, casually racist and culturally insensitive as the next nation.

There are also a few more things that a British tourist intending to visit our nation, at Kylie’s invitation, needs to know. Things that Tourism Australia won’t tell you.

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Flies. And more flies. There are flies everywhere and they are incredibly annoying. Just when you think life can’t get any better because the barbie’s blazing and the beer is cold, swarms of little black bushflies engulf you, crawling in your eyes, your ears, your mouth, your nose.

Of course there are also the deadly spiders – redbacks, funnel webs and the creepy huntsman. And the snakes – the highly venomous southern death adder (its bite will kill you in just six hours), red-bellied black snakes, taipans, brown snakes, tiger snakes, copperheads and the list goes on.

Then there’s the heat. Okay, so one day it’s a pleasant 24 degrees. Then suddenly, the next day soars to a strength-sapping 40 degrees. You can cook meat at that temperature. 

It pretty much rules out anything physical, forget the beach, you would literally roast.


Thanks to the thinning of the ozone layer above Australia, the sun burns incredibly fiercely. Twenty minutes at a time in the sun at high temperatures is really all anyone can bear, before it actually becomes quite painful.

Add to that the intense heat of the rampant bushfires that have engulfed the country this year, burning an estimated four million hectares, leaving nine people dead and a thick pall of smoke hanging over Sydney, turning the sky an eerie twilight color in Australia’s largest city.

It’s like the post-apocalyptic world of that other well-known Australian, who also was left out of the ad campaign, Mad Max.

But please, don’t let me put you off, go to Australia for a holiday but just make sure you do not overstay your visa. An estimate in 2017 put the number of people who have overstayed their visas in Oz at around 64,000.

If you are caught without a valid visa you will be deported and you could even end up in a detention center. You do not want to end up there. Just this year they were subject to a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission which found the excessively harsh conditions, use of force and disregard of basic human rights a serious cause for concern.

Maybe Kylie and her mates could sing a song about that.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.