Culture

So How Do We Save Bali From Dickhead Australians?

The island nation has fallen out of love with our dunces from Down Under. It was only a matter of time.

It’s kind of a polite way of telling us to go back where we came from. Or at least to foist the worst of our binge drinking, king-hitting, environment-wrecking bogans on some other poor beach.

A travel fair in Bali this week set out to encourage Aussie travellers to go beyond the popular (read: idiot-infested) beaches of Kuta and Seminyak, and explore other parts of Indonesia. Battered Bali would become a transit point from which tourists would be asked to move on.

Udayana University professor Nyoman Sukma Arida is ringing the alarm bell. He says Bali tourism is approaching saturation point as the once-peaceful tropical island strains with environmental stress caused by hoards of marauding tourists.

“Bali should be used as a hub, as the distributor of tourists all over Indonesia,” Nyoman told AAP.

But we’ve worked hard to build that ‘idiot abroad’ image!

It seems those Balinese fools don’t care for the esteemed image carefully cultivated there by our dearest dunces of Down Under over the past decade or so, which couldn’t be more perfectly depicted in Channel Seven’s new series What Really Happens in Bali.

Warning: witnessing the full horror or Aussies let loose in Bali may induce death by embarrassment. Case in point: the unbearably sleazy Todd Gisondi from Newcastle, who gleefully boasts he’s bedded 100 women since gracing Bali with his presence four months ago. And what a joy that must have been for the ladies involved, considering he admits circa episode two that he has a small problem with premature ejaculation.

Then there’s Joe, in hospital watching over his 20-year-old mate as he recovers from a bout of methanol poisoning after downing countless cheap shots. Joe sagely comments: “We’re Generation Y. We’re dickheads. Like, we’re legit dickheads. We drink too much.” Give the lad a slow handclap!

This is how we do Bali: drunk, drugged, and intellect-free

So, how to save Bali from the bogans? The list of the Austrlian Government’s SmartTraveller warnings is as long as my arm, but that hasn’t deterred us. The 2002 Bali bombings quelled our love affair with the island only momentarily, with more than 16,000 Australians a week now pouring in.

Too many end up in the emergency department beaten and battered after drunken assaults and motorbike accidents, or suffering the side effects of experimenting with drugs like magic mushrooms. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 32 Australians died in Bali in 2012-13, while a total of 90 Australians were hospitalised.

Of course, we’re not all heading to Bali’s particularly beautiful brand of paradise intent on filling ourselves to the gills with cheap booze and drugs before vomming it all back up along Legian Road. But it’s those that do — or worse (hello Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine) — that make a bad name for the rest of us. Damn their stupid faces.

Hey, maybe the Federal Government can help out? (Yeah, right.)

Sydney Morning Herald travel editor Anthony Dennis pens a brilliant question on this very issue to Federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. “How come we spend billions of taxpayers funds each year preventing what may well include some perfectly decent people from entering our country when, on an annual basis, we inflict hundreds of thousands of our most egregious citizens on a poor old place like Bali?” he asks.

“Forget about ‘stop the boats’,” Dennis writes. “It’s time, please, to ‘turn back the bogans’.” Amen to that.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance writer living in Spain. Koren blogs at The Little Green House, tweets at @KorenHelbig and lurks on Google+.