Australian time flies by
This is Mike’s latest report from the 2014 Trans-Oceania cycling expedition
There are a million reasons to come to Australia – the sun, the food, the wine, the beaches, koala bears, kangaroos, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, the friendly people – well, you get the idea. The list could go on forever.
On the flip side there is only one reason not to visit ‘the Lucky Country’ – the Australian fly. It may only be a singular deterrent but, unfortunately, there are, based on personal experience, about 50 billion of them for every square kilometre.
They are unaffected by any climactic conditions – howling wind, blazing sun, pouring rain – it is all the same to them. They buzz around your face, landing on your lips, in your ears, behind your sunglasses and, their favourite, crawling up into your nostrils. The only relief comes with sunset when the flies suddenly disappear but you know that the next day, the instant the sun peeks above the horizon, all 50 billion of them will be back.
As Bill Bryson puts it in his hilarious and seminal book on Australia – In a Sunburnt Country – “An Australian fly will try to suck the moisture off your eyeball. He will, if not constantly turned back, go into parts of your ear that a Q-tip can only dream about. He will happily die for the glory of taking a tiny dump on your tongue.”
Their persistence and pervasiveness is largely responsible for the widely recognized gesture known as the ‘Aussie salute’. Many of us think that the nuclear tests that took place in the Great Victorian Desert had some sort of crazy effect of the common house fly and created the current monstrous incarnation.
“I’m Louis the fly, Louis the fly,
Straight from rubbish tip to you,
Spreading disease with the greatest of ease,
Straight from the rubbish tip to you.
I’m bad and mean and mighty unclean,
Afraid of no one, expect the man with the can of Mortein.*
Oh Louis, poor dead Louis,
Afraid of no one, except the man with the can of Mortein.”
– the Mortein Jingle by Bryce Courtney
*Mortein is an Australian brand of fly spray which was very popular in the 1960’s