Sotho Meyer in Australia
By Sotho Meyer
I think I finally get it, I get why so many white South Africans have chosen to move to Australia and please don’t be confused, I am saying I get why they choose Australia not their reasons for leaving South Africa. And here is why I say I understand the choice because before my trip to Australia I couldn’t quite understand why someone would fly almost 20 hours to get to really what is a land of prisoners.
I arrived in Sydney via Perth after almost a full 24 hours of travel, and somewhere at the back of my mind I expected to be greeted by neo-nationalists from South Africa, proudly waving the Vierkleur. You can only imagine my surprise when my taxi driver said over 200 different nationalities end up in Australia, he called it: a land of foreigners. For some reason I thought only racist white South Africans end up there – first surprise of the evening. And it certainly wasn’t the last, It was certainly because after a very lively chat with my taxi driver I had to part with a equivalent of 750 rand for that nice taxi ride! Australia is notoriously expensive.
My next surprise was my hotel. I suppose the polite word is quaint, I invite you to read between the lines. It Felt like I had walked into a pre-1994 government building and they also had the plastic flowers to emphasize the era. But besides my dated accommodation and the high cost of living in Sydney, most of my surprises were good ones. Like, for instance, how easy it was to get around Sydney as a lonesome, female traveller on public transport. I used trains to get round everywhere and they were just amazing! Always on time, clean and safe (at least from my experience) and get this – people eat on these trains an even dared to chew gum, unlike a certain monorail train service in Gauteng where I’m sure you would get arrested for farting.
The thing about the land of prisoners is that there is immense national pride, people don’t litter because they don’t want to stay in a filthy place. People don’t cross a red robot like we do here, they wait until it turns green whether there is traffic or not. Motorists are incredibly considerate. Although I think it must be partly because there are very serious consequences for knocking down pedestrians or road rage. And the fines for Jay walking are even heavier.
So what have I experienced in my 9 days in Australia? An incredibly clean city with very nice people, one or two pricks but you know pricks make the world go round…every country needs them. Just like the hobos who I was initially annoyed to see in Sydney’s CBD. The thought that came to mind was: “how dare you populate our beautiful Australia with all your shopping trollies and your dirty self” until I remembered that actually I’m not from there. In fact I was probably the first black person some Aussies had ever seen with the naked eye. I suppose such is Australia. A land of prisoners-where-indigenous-people-were -once-classified-as-fauna-or-flora. But I was overwhelmed by the sense of national pride and love that the citizens have for their country, which probably explains why I came back home with an “I LOVE AUSTRALIA” t-shirt which will be very ironic here in S.A.