More fish in the sea for the wild but friend West

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The post-shark ocean ... I'm not swimming in that!

Halllooo Mailbbagggerrrs!

Welcome back to another rip-roaring ripper of a read as our controversy-loving correspondents take us on a fun-filled incident packed tour of the grey nomad world. And what an unfriendly world it is if you are in Western Australia … or is it?

In the last edition of the Weekly Mailbag, one brave soul, Jen the Courageous, had the temerity to suggest that the inhabitants of the wild west … and even those nomads visiting that remote outpost … were not as friendly as in other parts of the Great Sothern Land.

Well, the reaction was … well … distinctly unfriendly.

Ron, aka Wombat, is a proud WA man.

“Jen is talking crap,” he declared. “When travelling this great country of ours we always make a point of talking to other campers, we give them info and they give us info, especially if we are travelling in opposite directions.”

Hooray for friendly Wombat! Hooray for the friendly west! Could the worm be about to turn? Are WA natives actually even more friendly than their eastern counterparts? Is it Jen the Courageous and the rest of the country that are the real grumps here?

No, says, the ever diplomatic Ron.

“We have always found WA travellers to be the same as any other state,” he writes. “Most travellers are very friendly people but there is always the one traveller like Jen who has to complain about something.”

Hmmm! I think we will declare that peace, of sorts, has broken out across the grey nomad universe …and leave it at that.

But before we leave the subject entirely, Ron has one final olive branch to offer.

Crossing the Nullarbor

There’s friendly and there’s WA friendly!

“I attach a pic of Western Australians crossing the Nulla, so that you can see how friendly they are (see pic right),” he says. “Sorry about the dust on the lens.”

Jeeez. Thanks, Ron. I guess there’s friendly … and then there’s WA friendly!

One creature that hasn’t been very friendly at all in the west in recent months has been the shark. Our story about moves by the government there to track and potentially kill sharks that are considered to pose an imminent threat was predictably controversial.

Trevor was quick to point out that it is such an emotive subject in the same league as crocodile attacks that the facts can sometimes get obscured.

“I would like to point out with due deference to those killed by such attacks and their families that the number of people who have died is very small,” he said. “Do we ask for a ban on cars, the number of deaths by car-related incidents is massive in comparison?”

He points out that in other parts of the world there have been catastrophic results when the predator has been removed from the food chain or its presence reduced. In the USA, he says, the wolf was shot, baited and trapped for a long time with devastating consequence … and it is only since it has been reintroduced to its native habitat that the balance is slowly returning.

“If, on my travels around this great country, I go to north Queensland or the Northern Territory, I would expect to only swim where I knew I was safe and stay away from crocodile areas,” he writes. “If I want to swim in shark-infested waters, then I have the possibility that I may be attacked … I do not expect that every shark be culled so I am perfectly safe.”

Fair points and well made, Trevor. As you say, there is already a lot of pressure on the shark population from over fishing and illegal poaching for shark fins for the Asian markets. Nonetheless, while people – however relatively infrequently – do get taken by sharks, it will be close to impossible to take emotion out of the debate.

Right then, from a veteran grey nomad to a novice nomad in need of help from the mighty, mighty Mailbaggers.

Jenny and her partner are planning a 12-month trip (anticlockwise) from March 2013 to March 2014. Hooray for you guys … so what’s the problem?

“Centrelink have told me that when I and my partner are on the road for 12 months, we will have to report to them every time we move from one caravan park to another,” she splutters. “How ridiculous! I wonder if anyone has had a similar experience.”

Over to you, oh mighty ones!

Okay we started the show with a discussion about how unfriendly some grey nomads are, so perhaps it is fitting that we end it with a debate on how ‘elderly’ they are. Our recent story asking whether reaching the grand old age of 70 made you a genuine ‘oldie’ sparked a strong reaction from our outrageous youthful readership.

“Definitely not,” declares David M. “You can consider yourself old at any age, but I definitely won’t consider myself old at 70.”

Jimbo, however, is not so sure.

“Well I’m 70 and sure do feel it,” he writes. “Can’t even catch a chick with a walking frame.”

Shucks, Jim. I’m afraid I can’t help you there. Hmmm! Hang on, though. Perhaps you should try your luck over in WA!

Adios amigos. Farewell, mighty, mighty Mailbaggers. Until we meet again, I bid you adieu … and keep those emails coming.

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