By Catherine Deveny... When I was young and beautiful (OK, not beautiful, just thinner with better hair) I did my share of travel. I remember meeting a young Norwegian guy in Shanghai who asked me what the drinking age in Australia was. I told him 18. "Enforced?" he asked, "Yes," I replied, "They make us drink".
My most recent travel experience took me to Toora, a spec of a town in Gippsland. Why Toora? For no other reason than Toora is "a root" spelt backwards. We stayed in cabins with decor that could best be described as a cross between a prison visiting room and a psychiatric ward. Smell that sweat and cigarette smoke embedded in the lino. Toora: Toorak without the K.
There's nothing like travel to bring out the racist in you. Like many who travel abroad, I'm constantly consumed by hatred of Australians. Loud drunken bogans whose nasal accents cut through the humid Phuket air like a chainsaw: "Jesus Chroist, Aaron just rack off, I've had a gutful." To the question "Are you Australian?" my stock response is to look confused, wave my hands and scream "No English! No English!" and then scurry away mumbling in a made-up language.
If you'd like to experience irrational xenophobia for your fellow Australians without having to get shots, get sick or get your head punched in, may I suggest you tune into Getaway. Golly, is that the time already? It's Go The Thump On Channel Nine O'clock.
Getaway is travel porn. Some destinations are high class and pricey, others more reminiscent of the home girls page in the Australasian Post. Luxury cruise ships, horse riding in Canada and clam chowder in Boston fall under the heading "suffer in your jocks, you're too poor". The destinations for the rest of us involve motels with aqua polyester quilts, exposed brick walls and plastic kettles next to an ashtray on a bar fridge.
It's the presenters that remind me how much I detest Australian travellers. Jules Lund is part-man, part-Boonie doll. Why say drive when you could say "droive", why say behind when you could say "behoind"? And why say happy when you could say stoked?
Dermott Brereton goes off to Namibia, which turns the term African adventure into A Frickin Adventure. Ben Dark ends up in the jungles of Peru, has a ritual performed by a shaman in a party hat, then gets the translator to ask if the holy man was wearing any jocks under his kaftan. "Did ya have ya undies on? Did ya?"
And then there's Catriona Rowntree, a woman I have an irrational desire to back over if I ever see her in a car park. It's wrong, I know. I'm sure plenty of people love her. She certainly loves herself. She's attractive, animated and can strap on the fake smile better than any presenter on television. She speaks with a voice that makes you feel as if she's about to launch into an all singing all dancing version of Hey Big Spender. I can't help thinking she would've made a great flight attendant.
I know, I'm going straight to hell. Are we there yet?
Catriona Rowntree, from travel show Getaway.
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