|Bleached white gum tree|
Australia is paranoid about anyone bringing in invasive species: animals, flowers, trees... amything. And understandably so. In the past anything that was brought in, flourished and took off with a passion. Cats. Rabbits. Blackberries. They’re all out to conquer native plants and animals. I was utterly amazed when, upon landing at Sydney Airport, we were told to remain seated with our seatbelts securely fastened. Then the flight attendants opened all overhead compartments and proceeded to spray the entire inside of the plane with pesticide. My mouth had dropped open in disbelief but I quickly closed it and actually huddled under my scarf and tried not to breathe. The smell reminded me of the long banned Flit sprays my parents used in mosquito season. I come from Salt Spring Island where, if you so much as whisper the words “Round Up” people gasp and stare at you.
Having now been in Australia for a while, I am slightly more sympathetic. Think of it the other way. What if we, inadvertently, brought back Australian flies? Heaven help us. The buggers could easily come aboard airplanes inside our nostrils or riding inside our ears. Whereas Canadian flies are polite, almost apologetic if they land on your arm, Australians flies insist on a close personal relationship. They like your mouth. The closer the better. Your eyeballs are fine too. So if there is a chance of importing Australian flies to other parts of the world, perhaps we should spray all airplanes...
Last night we crossed the border between Northern Territories and Western Australia. And there we met the Cucumber Police! They have a real border station and uniformed guards who are out to get your veggies. I’m not sure what exactly they are looking for, but they seem to live in fear of your potatoes. I surrended two wrinkled oranges and some limp lettuce. But that wasn’t enough. The guard boarded our camper and proceeded to go through all cupboards. Two blushing tomatoes were caught in the act and arrested. An innocent zucchini was hauled off as a common criminal. A cold, baked potato was handcuffed and contained. Even the banana peels from the garbage got a life sentence.
Come to think of it, perhaps they should train all those rabbits. I’m sure they’d sniff out every last carrot from every passing camper van.