"Even in New Zealand I got a bit anxious."
There's a bit of a stereotype about people who don't travel. The stereotype says they're uncultured One Nation supporters who go around calling Australia "the best country in the world." This perception is probably most prevalent in the minds of young inner-city people who do travel. Or basically, the political opposite of what we just described.
But surely there's a range of reasons to not travel. Surely? So to challenge/explore the stereotype, we asked a range of people why they're happy staying put.
Kalya Mini, 26. Freelance Makeup Artist
VICE: Why don't you have an interest in leaving?
Kalya: I've just never had any real interest. Like, I have been overseas, I've actually been to 12 different countries in 18 months because I went touring with Nitro Circus with my ex-husband who rides. But I had an uneasy feeling about it. That was back in 2013, and it feels so much worse now with all the terrorist stuff going on. You just don't know when, who, or how. You get over there and you think, oh my God, if something happened right now, who would know? Even if I was living in Sydney I'd feel weird about going into the city.
So it's a massive fear issue for you?
Yeah, I've only recently realised that I've let fear stop me from doing a lot of things; fear of heights, flights, being so far away from home. I'm envious of backpackers' carefree attitudes, but then again, I don't feel like I'm missing out on much either. If I'm at home on a Friday night and all my friends are out, I'll feel like I'm missing out, so I'll go out. But if friends are overseas, I don't care.
Have your parents travelled abroad?
I think mum instilled the fear. She hasn't travelled outside Australia and any time I have gone anywhere, she's said "don't do this, don't do that, be careful, you've got blonde hair and blue eyes!"
I've lived in 33 different places in Australia. We moved around a lot because that's just what she did. I can understand why people people want to go overseas, but why go over when there is so much to explore here? When I was 22 weeks pregnant I was in the desert in Western Australia, wrangling a brumby foal to save its life. That's adventurous. Other cultures are interesting and everything but I don't feel I need to go over there to see them. That's what Google is for!
Sean Harris, 36. Pizza Chef
So you don't think you'll ever leave Australia?
Yeah, I'm 100 percent sure I'll never leave this country. And it actually pisses me off when other people do, because we have so much beautiful stuff here. Everyone always carries on about how beautiful places overseas are and how cheap things are. Blah blah blah! How about you try going to the Great Barrier Reef? Go to Queensland, go to Darwin, go to Tasmania. There's so much to see here.
What about travelling for a cultural experience rather than the scenery?
Nah, not really interested. I like my own home and my own culture enough. It's cool being an Aussie, that's why so many people from China come to Aussie. We're chilled out cool cunts. No dramas. We've got the internet to read about the shit that's happening in different parts of the world. That's why it's called the World Wide Web!
Do you travel around Australia a lot?
All the time. I save up and try to take my kids somewhere when they come visit me in their school holidays. I want them to love this country and appreciate where they're from and have pride in who they are. It's a great country and anyone born here should feel lucky. It's the lucky country and I've always believed that. I get so sick of hearing all the stuff about people who move here wanting to change our laws. If they don't like the way it is here they don't have to stay.
So I guess you would say Australia is the best country in the world?
Bloody oath it is!
Alison Whittaker (left), 48. Community Service Officer
Why don't you have any interest in leaving?
I think growing up on a property three quarters of an hour from town had a bit to do with it. Just going to school and coming home, not socialising much. That small world creates isolation. I was always quite happy at home doing my little creative things as a kid and I'm much the same now. When I did once think about travelling, it was too expensive. Then I had the children, the first one at 21, so life became all about them. I brought them up until I was in my 40s and by then I had no interest. It took me 30 years to leave NSW and I've only done that once.
Tell me about that.
Well I just needed a break, so I saved up, which was pretty hard to do at that time. But I did it and got on a plane by myself and went to the Whitsundays. I remember thinking oh my God, this is huge, I'm going to Queensland! I got upgraded to beachfront accommodation, drank cocktails, saw the Great Barrier Reef—I thought I was the bee's knees! And that's the only travel I've done.
Would you like to do more?
If I was going to travel, my desire is to travel inside Australia. I have a passion for Aboriginal culture and I'd love to go spend time in those communities. But if someone said to me let's go to China, let's go to Europe, let's go to Mexico, I'd just be like, "Uh, no thanks." I think it's the fear—terrorism, different laws, stuff the media's probably put in my head. The idea that it's too easy to get in trouble. And foreign people, I probably don't feel comfortable with them. I find it hard to feel comfortable with city people, let alone foreign people. It's ridiculous. Whereas I have my daughter who had the opportunity to go to China with school. She decided she wanted to go, so we made it happen. And since then her wings have just spread. And I support her 100 percent, I didn't want to pass my fear onto my kids.
Rob Smith, 30. Trade Assistant
Hey Rob, why the zero interest?
Well the opportunity hasn't really been presented to me. My brother went to Europe once and wanted me to go but it was just him and his missus and I didn't want to do that. None of my mates have any interest in travelling either.
Would you consider going by yourself?
Nah, I wouldn't go overseas by myself. Because it's not a personal fulfilment for me. It would be weird and boring. You need to experience it with someone. It'd be okay to go over with someone who likes seeing all that culture stuff or whatever, but I'd just be going over for something to do. Get on a plane, do something a bit different. It's not really for me.
So you're not really interested in different cultures?
I like different cultures. I don't look them up or read about them or anything. But if I meet someone who isn't Australian, from overseas or something, it's interesting to know how they live. I like hearing other accents, and there's more and more of them around where I live, like in the pie shop. You know what they say, it's not Australian if it's not made in China. That refers to my meat pies!
Keith Fraser (59) and Susan Fraser (57), Team Leader and Childcare Worker
Have you ever been overseas?
Keith: A few years ago we went because our youngest son's rugby club was touring New Zealand. Sue wanted to go, I wasn't that keen but she wouldn't go by herself. I enjoyed it, I did, but I think I've had my trip overseas.
Susan: Yeah we had fun. Like we had dodgy motels, remember the blackout and the storm? So there were funny parts to it. Queenstown was lovely, I'd like to go back there. You might need to get on that plane again, Keith.
Keith: Passport's retired, Sue.
Why do you think you don't have an interest in leaving?
Keith: Security's an issue these days but that's not a factor in why I haven't travelled overseas. I've got no ambition for it because I've only seen New South Wales and a bit of Queensland and Victoria. I travel for work so I don't do much sightseeing, but I like to see how places in Australia change over the years. I'd like to do a trip of the whole country, spend a bit of time in the outback. But to do NT, WA and SA properly, that's month's of driving. I haven't got around to doing that yet.
What if you won an all expenses paid holiday to South-East Asia, would you go?
Keith: No, I'd find someone else to give it to. Susan would go.
Susan: I wouldn't go if you didn't go. I can honestly sit here and say I wouldn't leave Australia now. Even in New Zealand I got a bit anxious. And I got in trouble for taking photos at the airport before we even left Australia, it's nerve wracking!
Keith: Whether I'll even get around to travelling around Australia, I don't know. There's a lot of stuff that gets in the way.
Susan: And now we have our beautiful grandchildren who we adore, they take up a lot of our time. We have them when our kids work, I'm taking one to tennis tomorrow and then the other to ballet.
Keith: And we've got a few animals here. There needs to be someone around to keep an eye on water in this weather.
Check out more of Jess' writing at comfortisforwimps.com.