It happened a few weeks back on a Sunday in this very small farming town. Something that changed the mood and even made it onto international news sites, but not a claim to fame Ayr needs. Every little town wants to be placed on the map, but why anyone would want to be seen in a negative light is beyond me.
I was walking to Coles (a major Australian supermarket) from my hostel. A few minutes walk and because there is so little to do in Ayr, it is a trip I make everyday. It’s what we do in the working hostel. Make sure you don’t get enough food in for a couple of days because, well, how would we kill time after work? It sounds crazy, but it’s true.
I was walking down the street to the supermarket, it’s a straight road until you get to the car park. It’s a quick left at a building with blacked out windows, what this building is in not sure. I’m not even sure if it is occupied.
This is the poster in question. Warning, strong language.
There was in fact another poster a few steps up, however I don’t think it was appropriate to upload here. It was much more racist and I would probably have to blank out the majority of the poster. The funny thing is the choice of wording here. ‘Ayr is a backpacker free-zone.’
It really isn’t.
Ayr is a farming town like many others in rural Australia, heavily relying on backpackers to keep the industry moving. I assume the reason I have to do the 88 days of farm work to obtain a second year visa is due to a shortage of young people willing to work away from the cities. I don’t blame them, it really is something you have to have a passion for. If all the backpackers left Ayr overnight, they would be pretty screwed here. Most locals know this.
You can read a little more about this in articles over here at the relatively local SBS and the UK’s Daily Mail Online.
Also, if I’m not of ‘Northern European descent’ I’m not welcome here. Well, I’m a backpacker of Northern European descent. So being British allows me to stay, but being a backpacker cancels it out. Confused? Yeah, me too.
The Mail Online article above is interesting as it talks of the backpackers that hit back at the posters. Also, the locals that disagree with such discrimination. I have to say, the locals have been lovely since I’ve been here. The hatred in the posters is not seen in the town.
Don’t get me wrong, backpackers can be a troublesome bunch. I see working hostels as like being back at university. Young people working hard and partying hard. We are loud on the weekends when everyone meets for the bars to let off some steam generated by a week of long farm days. I can also see how much money goes into these bars, restaurants and hostels from the backpackers. It is a cycle that cannot afford to have a small minority of people breaking it up.
What are your thoughts on this? are you a backpacker or live in an area that is popular with them? Love them or hate them, they will never be as bad as the people that are capable of creating such hateful posters.
They will be happy I’m sure to know that I only have 25 days left.