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What has coronavirus done to the millennial version of the great Australian dream?

Locked out of a housing market that blew out beyond their means, young Australians have embraced a different way of living in recent years.

If Australia can’t provide a house, they figured, then the world would become their home.

And if their work can’t be secure, then they would make insecurity a virtue and float from one place to the next.

Through both desire and necessity, the great Australian dream for many millennials isn’t a big house and backyard — it’s the ability to travel widely and live and work anywhere but here.

Now that dream has come to an end as well.

Backpackers walking over a bridge
Traveling abroad is something of a rite of passage for many young people.(Flickr: Slim Teller)

Charting the wanderlust

In the decades before COVID-19, Australia was experiencing a slow but remarkable shift.

We were increasingly travelling overseas.

What was a trickle in 1990 became a flood by last year, where almost 12 million international trips were recorded by Australian residents. That’s almost one trip for every second Australian.

And the group that left our shores the most? Those aged 30-34.

In fact, people aged 25-34 took almost the same number of overseas trips last year as all Australians took in 1990.

Within one generation heading abroad went from being a luxury of the few to an expectation of the many.

We can be a bit insufferable about it, actually.

Ask an Aussie where to visit and they will probably reel off a list of places and throw in some pointers about where you can get a “real” New York steak or why the Eiffel Tower is overrated and packed with tourists anyway.

At the same time, home ownership among that same 25-34 cohort has been in decline.

The majority now rent privately and are putting off buying until later in life (if that’s even possible then).

You might argue that the reason millennials aren’t buying houses is because they’re spending all their money on holidays, but that doesn’t really stack up.

At least, it’s not the only reason. Wages just haven’t kept up with prices.

Median house prices have increased from about four times the median income in the early 1990s — when many of their parents bought — to more than seven times by 2018, according to the Grattan Institute.Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

‘There’s just so much more out there’

Millennials like Rina Laino know this well.

The 26-year-old production manager was born and raised in Melbourne. Her dad and grandparents migrated to Australia from Italy in the great post-war wave and quickly set about establishing roots here.

“So for them, the first and most important thing in life is basically owning a house,” she said. “Owning a house is a really, really, really big deal for them.”

When Rina got some money together — which included offers of help from family — her dad insisted on taking her to open homes and auctions, hoping to find something simple, suitable and within her budget.

They couldn’t find anything. So Rina moved to Japan.

Australian Rina Laino among Japanese statues.
Rina tried it her dad’s way, but ultimately forged her own path.(Supplied: Rina Laino)

“For me personally, it’s like, yeah cool, I could have a house and I could have a mortgage. Or I can wait until that’s something that’s really necessary in my life,” she said.

“[Living overseas] was something I’ve wanted forever. Don’t get me wrong, I love Australia, but I think there’s just so much more out there.”

Rina has been in Tokyo for almost two years and has stayed on in her full-time job with a French company, despite the many pleas from her family to return to Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.

After all, Japan is her home now. You might say she’s one of the lucky few.

The dream is over

A few thousand kilometres away, Australian entrepreneur Michael Craig is rolling with the punches in Indonesia.

Michael Craig portrait
Michael Craig moved to Bali after running his business in Perth became too stressful.(Supplied: Dojo Bali)

Five years ago he founded a co-working space called Dojo Bali for people who could work remotely and wanted to have a base to operate and travel from.

The initial members were those who had started working in the 1990s and now had established careers.

Then something interesting happened: they began sharing their experiences on Instagram.

Suddenly, a wave of young creatives starting turning up, enticed by the idea of cheap beer, beachside massages and the freedom to work when and where they chose.

The age of members now ranges from 18 to 70, but the cohort that makes up by far the largest chunk? You guessed it: 25-35.

It also gave rise to a new term that evokes the kind of mentality they can wear with pride: digital nomad.

Members working at Dojo Bali co-working space in Canggu
Members work by the pool at Bali’s Dojo co-working space in Canggu.(ABC News: Nat Kassel)

“They don’t see themselves sitting at a desk and working for the man, so to speak,” Michael said.

“They’re sick of living with so many rules around them. Australia seems to have become like a nanny state.

“That’s what they tell me: ‘There’s too many rules, I can come here and it’s freedom’.”

Then the coronavirus came.

Wandering dream over

Dojo Bali has shut its doors, but that was the obvious move.

As the virus spread, whole countries put their people into isolation.

While the rules aren’t as strict in Australia as some other places, travel bans still mean no-one is getting out and very few are getting in. If Australians are coming back, it’s for the long haul.

For people like Grace Conrick, a 26-year-old nurse, this has brought long-held dreams to a halt.

Grace and her partner had been strategic in their plan to move to London next year to work and travel. It was a goal years in the making.

Grace Conrick on a boat smiling at the camera.
Grace plans on making the most of England’s proximity to mainland Europe.(Supplied: Grace Conrick)

“I wanted to do post-grad study, which I’m completing as we speak and due to finish at the end of the year,” she said.

“And obviously we want to have enough financial backing to enjoy our time over there and then come home [with some money] in our early 30s. We don’t really feel the need to settle down and buy a house just yet and I feel like why not do something different?”

Grace was drawn to the idea of seeing the kaleidoscopic cultures of mainland Europe as well as working in a different health system.

Now they’re waiting to see how the pandemic unfolds. But Grace says they might have to settle for an extended holiday, if that.

Wandering dream could be over

If you were looking for signs of a recalibration of priorities among young Australians, this might be it.

The more dire forecasts say flight prices could surge 27 per cent and house prices could drop as much as 30 per cent. Perhaps that swing would be enough to coax some millennials to settle here instead of leaving.

Or maybe the choice will be taken out of their hands.

“We want to be able to go and enjoy mainland Europe and enjoy the benefits of traveling,” Grace said.

“If we don’t have that freedom then the trip wouldn’t be as we planned at all.”

And here’s where we start to hint at the real fear: this isn’t a temporary hit to the wandering Australian dream, it’s the end as we know it.

We initially pinned our hopes on a COVID-19 vaccine being 12-18 months away, but increasingly experts are warning it may never come.

What does that future look like?

Most countries have already closed their borders and turned inwards to contain the spread. While in the US, President Donald Trump has also announced a suspension on immigration.

At this stage we’re led to believe these are radical but temporary restrictions to travel. Yet it’s hard not to see the marshalling of political forces who will use this crisis to further their isolationist cause.

In recent years we’ve seen far-right anti-immigration groups rise in Europe and call for tighter border controls.

This pandemic is like throwing petrol on that smouldering flame.

It is already happening on the extreme fringes in Australia, where white supremacists are reportedly “delighted” at the closure of borders and hope an ensuing societal collapse with create conditions to foster their uprising.

American travel writer Sam Youkilis also fears the crisis will deepen suspicions of foreigners and he has already witnessed early signs while in Morocco in March and news was filtering through of the outbreak in Italy.

“At a lot of the markets, where anyone would say they were from Italy there was a sort of sceptical resistance from Moroccans in their interactions,” he said. “Just a general scepticism that people didn’t have before of foreigners and tourists.”

Sam quickly returned to the US only to be forced into lockdown in New York City.

‘Fences are easier to build than dismantle’

It’s not alarmist to consider that the draconian restrictions we’ve accepted under extreme circumstances will never be fully wound back. That the modern age of free(ish) movement has come to an end.

History tells us this is exactly what can happen in times of global crisis.

As migration expert Speranta Dumitru writes in The Conversation, World War I saw the introduction of previously unheard-of restrictions on movement, including mandatory passports.

Those passports began in Europe and were only supposed to be a temporary measure to be wound back when things settled down.

A hand holds two Australian passports in Central Park, New York.
Can you imagine a world without passports?(ABC News: Melanie Vujkovic)

It was the stated goal of many international conferences that they be abolished and there be a “complete return to pre-war conditions”, but somehow it just never seemed the right time to do it.

As one person argued to a gathering of international delegates in Geneva in 1926: “Conditions had changed so much since the war that everyone had to take into consideration a good many things they could formerly ignore.”

Now the people who argue against passports are the radicals.

As Dumitru writes: “Fences are easier to build than dismantle.”

We could be entering a new age

Still, there is another way of looking at this. One that is a more positive idea to end on.

And that is that this pandemic will open our eyes to the idea of working away from the office and recognising the freedom of remote living.Coronavirus questions answeredBreaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast.Read more

“It’s the biggest experiment of remote work in the world,” says Michael from Dojo Bali.

“You’re having this massive experiment where all these people are going, ‘Hey, we’re working from home and hey, we can do this and it still works’.

That, combined with the wanderlust of millennials, could mean that rather than ending the era of movement, we are instead entering a new age. Even if there are new restrictions to deal with.

“They will push through that, because of the drive to go on that lifestyle,” Michael said.

“We’re already seeing our members want to come back to Bali. They’re all messaging, ‘When is Bali opening up? When is Bali opening up?'”

Who knows. But as long as millennials have the will, they may find a way.

So, dream on.

Hitchhikers around the world embark on sacred pilgrimage to piss on Ivan Milat’s grave

Australia’s most notorious serial killer, Ivan Milat, has finally f***** off to join the Mile Deep Club in the darkest corner of Hell. To celebrate the news, hitchhikers from across the globe have begun the holy pilgrimage towards his grave, where they’ll be saluting him with their middle fingers, not their thumbs. 

Milat killed at least seven people during the ’80s and ’90s. Several of those victims were hitchhikers, whom Milat picked up, tortured, and killed. His horrific crimes destroyed Australia’s reputation as a safe tourist destination and earnt him the moniker of “the backpacker murderer.”

On Sunday, the bastard wasted his final gasp of oxygen at the Australian taxpayers’ expense. He was 74. 

Upon hearing the news, hitchhikers around the world dropped their poetry notebooks, grabbed their rucksacks, and headed for the open road. 

“I think I’ll take a nice big dump right over his face,” said Jan, a freelance juggler who had already begun the pilgrimage from Amsterdam. 

“Everyone has the right to feel safe, no matter how they travel. Thanks to scurvy pigf****** like Milat, we’ll always have to look over our shoulder. But at least this particular **** is no longer a cause for concern.”

As the first pilgrims arrived on Sunday night to pay their disrespects, local police granted each visitor five minutes to fling bodily fluids of their choosing at the horrible man’s grave. There was then a candlelight vigil; pilgrims burnt all Milat’s most treasured personal possessions with candles.

Not long after Milat’s death, the Devil released a press statement saying how much he was going to enjoy tormenting Ivan Milat for all eternity. 

ED: I only source the copy, not write it !!

Source: The Tragic Traveller.com
Sourced by Mike Barrow

Britain will aim for freedom of movement deal with Australia

Free movement between Australia and the UK would be explored by the government in ‘post-Brexit’ business talks, Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, has announced.

Yesterday, while on a trip to Australia, Truss told journalists in Canberra that securing a trade deal was an ‘absolute priority’ after Britain left the EU. She believed an arrangement would take months rather than years to complete.

The proposal, which would allow British citizens to live and work in Australia visa-free, and vice-versa, was part of ongoing trade talks, she said.

At a press conference with the Australian trade minister, Simon Birmingham, Truss was asked about a freedom of movement proposal.

She said: “We’ve been clear on the fact we want to adopt the Australian-based points system in terms of our new immigration system as we leave the European union. We’ve recently made an announcement that we’re extending the work period after foreign students come to the UK for two years.

“But of course, our two countries have a special link and a historic relationship, and it’s certainly something that we will be looking at as part of our free-trade negotiations.”

Britain is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner, and the value of two-way trade is said to be worth up to $26.6bn (£14.60bn).

Birmingham said a trade deal with Britain would particularly benefit the UK’s agricultural sector. However there could be concerns about the proposal in Australia, as well as in New Zealand, which currently has visa-free arrangement with the country.

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said recently the Trans-Tasman visa-free arrangement with New Zealand was unique and not something his government would consider extending to other countries.

In New Zealand potential free movement to the UK could spark deep concern about a repeat of the ‘brain drain’ in the early 2000s when skilled workers left the country in their thousands.

Truss said the UK and Australia were ‘old friends, with new opportunities’. She was also due to be going to Japan for trade discussions.

Source: The Guardian

Sourced by Mike Barrow

The Bush Tucker Man is back and he’s bringing the outback to your smartphone

In the late 1980s, in the depths of remote Arnhem Land, a captain from the Australian Army sleeps in a swag and fishes the creeks.

As he ventures through the bush, he picks leaves, berries and bark from the dense, wild land.

He knows which are poisonous and which make for a nice cup of tea. He knows how to find fresh water on an isolated beach and how to create fire from tree sap.

Thanks to invaluable local knowledge gleaned from local Indigenous communities, he knows exactly how to survive.

This is Les Hiddins — aka the Bush Tucker Man, Australian icon and beloved ABC TV personality — doing what he does best.

Les Hiddins steps across a small waterfall.

PHOTO: Hiddins travelled all over northern Australia in his quest for bush tucker. (Supplied: Les Hiddins)

An Australian icon

With no scientific background or formal training, Hiddins was led by natural curiosity.

He returned from the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and decided he needed a change of scenery.

“When I came back, I corps transferred from infantry to army aviation and as a result of that found myself in the left-hand seat of a helicopter flying all around northern Australia and Arnhem Land,” he said.

Les Hiddins stands over a Kakadu plum to photograph it.

PHOTO: Les Hiddins takes his first photographs of the Kakadu plum in 1980. (Supplied: Les Hiddins)

“When you go to these very remote areas, you’ve got to ask yourself the question, ‘how would I get on if something happened and I had to survive here?’ So I started doing it as a hobby.

“I would say to the locals, ‘what bush tucker have you got here?'”

In 1987, he was awarded a Defence Fellowship to continue his research into survival in the bush and principally authored the Australian Army’s military survival manual.

He was awarded membership of the Order of Australia the same year.

In July 1988, the first episode of Bush Tucker Man aired on ABC TV. It would soon catapult him to national acclaim.

In the first episode, Hiddins explained that the only Australia native food exported to the world market was macadamias. That has since changed.

“There’s a plum we found in NT, it’s about as big as my thumb,” he said.

“Its common name used to be billygoat plum but we renamed it and we called it the Kakadu plum [and] it is now leading the world in ascorbic acid, Vitamin C. That’s a pretty interesting thing.”

His passion led him to the most remote parts of the country’s north, learning mostly from women in Indigenous communities, and in 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from James Cook University.

Into the 21st century

Although his immensely popular TV show ended in 1996 after three seasons, Hiddins didn’t stop learning or communicating his fascinating findings.

Twelve books later, including the much sought-after Field Guide and four children’s books, he has now embraced modern technology.

He and wife Sandy set up an Instagram account to showcase their mix of current and archival photos for a new and younger fan base.

Mrs Hiddins said they often get messages of appreciation via the app.

Les Hiddins writes field notes on a fold-up table in the bush.

PHOTO: Hiddens’s Instagram features archival photos like this, which shows Les writing field notes on location in 1980. (Supplied: Les Hiddins)

“Some of the followers are amazing, they’re primary school teachers in remote Indigenous communities in Arnhem Land,” she said.

“They have written in and sent messages saying, ‘this is so great, my grade four kids love your posts and now we’re watching the DVDs’, and I think that reaches a bigger audience than the books.”

Hiddins has also just launched a user-pays website featuring his comprehensive digital database of bush tucker.

It allows people to search a location and season to discover the types of flora and fauna they can expect to find in that region.

The website was designed by Brisbane company Ruby 6, with whom Hiddins worked closely to ensure it had the Bush Tucker Man feel.

A screenshot of the Bush Tucker Man website.

PHOTO: The Bush Tucker Man website allows users to search Hiddens’s vast database.

“We did originally put out a field guide [but] I thought, why do we want to republish again in paper format?” he said.

“Ruby 6 put all of that together for me, I just handed across to them the information, the photographs, the distribution map.

“I couldn’t do that myself so I had to get some other people who knew what they were doing to do that.”

The more things change the more they stay the same

For Hiddins, not much has changed.

He said life is good and he and Mrs Hiddins still go on regular camping trips to remote Australia.

Mrs Hiddins pointed out that work never really stops for the Bush Tucker Man, but that’s not a bad thing.

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Right destination, wrong photo: How tourism is plagued by misleading advertising

Imagine travelling to what you thought was your dream destination, only to find it is nothing like the picture.

A photo of two kangaroos on an impressive beach was recently used to advertise tours of Kangaroo Island in South Australia, but there was one problem — the photographer had never been there. 

Key points:

  • Tourism promoters are increasingly being caught out using the wrong photo to advertise a destination
  • Gold Coast pictures were used to sell Melbourne by publisher Fodor, which has since corrected the error
  • Customers have been advised to be wary of stock images when travelling to an unfamiliar destination

Nathan Gonclaves said he captured the photo in 2016 when he spent a few hours at Lucky Bay in Western Australia, waiting for kangaroos to appear.

He uploaded the image to a stock photography website and it had since been bought more than 1,000 times.

He said the recent use of the image to promote another destination was upsetting because he believed Lucky Bay in Esperance was “one of the most beautiful places on earth”.

“Places like Esperance pride themselves on their beauty, so when something is portrayed as somewhere else, it’s not very good,” he said.

But the Shire of Esperance said there were a few occasions each year when they found Esperance being used to promote a not-so-local place.

Social media posts showing the same footage from Esperance used to market Hawaii.

PHOTO: Facebook users pointed out that footage labelled ‘Hawaii’ was actually of a beach in Esperance, WA. (Supplied: Instagram/Facebook)


In another example, an Instagram video of Esperance’s Wharton Beach suddenly became Hawaii when it was uploaded onto a travel inspiration Facebook page with nearly half a million followers.

Shire chief executive Matthew Scott said occasionally they would show the mistaken identity cases on social media “to simply have a bit of a laugh with our residents”.

“It’s great that people are interested in our particular images in Esperance and we’d certainly like people be directed towards Esperance,” he said.

“But we don’t have a lot of control in how other places necessarily portray themselves.
“I suppose I’m looking at it like is plagiarism one of the highest forms of a compliment?”

Esperance is not the only location which might appear so alluring, it is used to lure tourists somewhere different. 

International travel publisher Fodor was last week caught advertising its yet-to-be-released Melbourne guide with a not so Melbourne scene.

Fodor's travel guide to Melbourne initially used a cover image of the Gold Coast.

PHOTO: It didn’t take Reddit users long to notice a Melbourne guidebook had an image of the Gold Coast on its cover. (Supplied: Fodor)

Reddit users were quick to identify the front cover as the Gold Coast skyline, but one user suggested “climate change [had] really done a number on Melbourne”.

Since the Reddit commentary, the company had corrected the book’s image on its Amazon page.

But at the time of publication, another website Booktopia still featured the “North North North North North North North Melbourne” image. 

Not as easy to be ‘loose with the truth’

University of Technology Sydney tourism lecturer David Beirman said despite these recent cases, false advertising in the industry had become less widespread. 

“In the 1990s, you were often relying on printed material or brochures,” he said.

“It’s a bit harder to get away with it these days, mainly because tour operators know that their customers can very easily check out the veracity of a photo.

“So it really doesn’t pay to lie about these things. When you do that, you actually damage your reputation.”

Dr Beirman said customers should be buyer aware, particularly if travelling to an unfamiliar destination.

“I accept the fact that some hotels are not going to look quite as gorgeous in real life as they do in the brochures,” he said.

“But when you have extreme differences, it raises some very serious questions about a particular business.”

Man in a university office wearing a black shirt smiling from ear to ear.

PHOTO: David Beirman is a tourism lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. (ABC RN: Sophie Kesteven

Stock photography ‘basically selling your soul to the devil’

Since Mr Gonclaves was alerted to the Kangaroo Island ad this week, he began removing some of his work from stock photography websites.

But he acknowledged the Lucky Bay image could easily find another home because he did not tag the image’s location when he was new to the website back in 2016.

“For me it’s back against the wall because unfortunately websites like [this] as soon as you upload those things, your rights are basically taken away,” he said. 

“When you download an image, I wouldn’t assume people would say it’s somewhere else without finding out where it is.”

The Murray Princess Cruise company featured in the ad said it was not their ad and there were a number of travel agents which could be responsible, but the ABC was unable to find the company. 

ED: Guilty as charged, your honour! The Byte wishes to express its own shortcomings by stating, yes, we too use stock photos.

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow