The Australian government’s department of foreign affairs and trade spared no detail as they issued a recent travel warning against South Africa.
I mean, they wear their hearts on their sleeves, slapped on some vegemite and sang their heart out about why travellers should take caution as if it was a sold out show at the Sydney Opera House.
The travel advisory website smartraveller.gov.au urges visitors to “exercise a high degree of caution because of the high level of serious crime.”
It goes on and says that there is a threat of terrorism in South Africa, that people should be cautious when using public transport (and avoid minibus taxis because the drivers are often unlicensed, among other things), that large gatherings should be avoided and that the rate of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is very high and that visitors should “exercise precautions with activities exposing you to risk of infection.”
But wait. There’s more mate.
Under safety and security they inform you that visitors won’t get the same level of service from police as they would in the land down under, that travelling to the CBD should be avoided and very important, when travelling by car one should keep the doors locked, windows shut and valuables out of sight.
G’day mate but come one mate. You forgot to mention we have also have sharks.
No mate. Not loan sharks who will scam tourists. Sharky sharks. That thing Mick Fanning punched in the face last year during the World Surf League quarter-final heats in Jeffreys Bay.
Sharky sharks. That should definitely be added to the travel advisory, right next your warning about swimming in lakes and rivers because of water-borne diseases and attacks by wildlife in some areas.
Oh bollocks. Shoot. Different country, wrong slang.
Oh Aussie Aussie Aussie. No-one told me about the water-borne diseases.
The travel advisory did however mention this, and for that we want to give ‘em a kangaroo-five:
“The Western Cape, including the city of Cape Town, is experiencing severe drought conditions and strict water restrictions are in place. Follow the advice of local authorities, including complying with water restrictions.”
Good on ya mate. And remember, a Capetonian will smell you from a mile away - every-other-day showers are in and smelling fresh is out. If you don’t comply with the water restrictions there’s more than just the Cape Doctor that will knock you off your feet. And that’s not a crime. It is a public service.
The South African government responded to these warnings, they saw their vegemite and raised them a marmite.
A media statement by DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) said that South Africa strongly objects to the travel advisory issued by Australia and that it has the potential to not only deter Australians from visiting South Africa, but also to tarnish our country’s image. In the statement it says that officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation have in the past requested, without success, that the advisory be amended to reflect the situation in South Africa as it relates to the true experiences of foreign tourists.
Perhaps the advisory are all out surfing at Bondi beach with some tinnys.
Now look mate, as South Africans we know that everything is not always hunky dory here. Yes we have our problems. But brah, ag I mean mate, you can use public transport (just not on the days they strike because you know, you ain’t going nowhere then).
You can be at large gatherings (just go to concerts instead of riots).
You can get HIV/AIDS (but you can also get that in Australia). You can travel to the CBD (go walk around the CBD in Cape Town, you’ll see that place is crawling with tourists and hipsters).
And on that note, you can walk around in South Africa (but mate, use your Aussie logic just like you’ll use it in any other country). You can actually drive around with your windows open (again, use your Aussie logic of when and where to open your windows).
You can hike up Table Mountain (but go in groups).
And yes, you can even bring your surfboard and goldilocks-beach-curls to South Africa and catch a wave (our sharks nibble too but they don’t get as hungry as often as the Aussie sharks).
Travel advisory aside, we as South Africans know that you are already surrounded by so many South Africans down under; our cultures and customs have made it into your neighbourhoods, Mrs Balls has made it into your pantries and our braai has made into – or rather onto - your barbie. But my brah, my tjommie, my boet, my china and my bree, we just have to tell you this: you can do your haka, wear your Uggs, and win a rugby game, but the real biltong is this side.
Oh wait the haka is New Zealand’s thing.
Whatever. Come on mate, visit.
Besides, you’re probably more likely to get kicked by a kangaroo in Australia than experience crime in South Africa.
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