Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I don’t get it, why people grumble about back packers.

I hear it all the time: “They come in here, expect this and that and so on. We tell them it isn’t happening but they keep on coming.”

Who are they? Where are they from? 

“Oh, you know, that accent.”

Which accent?

“The one that’s around now.”

It’s backpackerism. They are denied individuality, separate cultures, identities and language groups, just one big pack hiding out in the bush waiting to enter town and annoy unsuspecting and innocent business people hell bent on staying alive and in business.

Here’s a secret: I was once a backpacker. Most of my friends were once backpackers. Nearly all of us came home, got degrees, found solid work, made families and now own houses in quiet suburbs, or just out of town on small bush blocks.

I met my partner and wife, also a backpacker, while working on a kibbutz in Israel, a hot bed of hard work, hard talk and soft socialism. We are still together 35 years later.

Whenever I see a backpacker I see us, and know full well most of them are on a journey of discovery, both internal and external, and that if we are kind to them they will remember us, tell their friends what a great time they had, maybe come back with their families when they have more than enough money to spend on fancy accommodation and fine food, and maybe they'll even stay and make important cultural contributions.

It happens. My partner is proof.