Firstly, I will state that I have been living here in Sydney for most of my life and have travelled extensively both within Australia and internationally.
Australia is the Ultimate
You live here by the grace of God, hoping that you don't get busted for SOMETHING, because, apart from going to work and working for a salary for a large corporate - everything else is more-or-less illegal in some way.
day there is a new law banning something, or making something else more difficult, or increasing a tax etc etc..
It's a beautiful country, with nice people, but the government in all its forms and all its versions makes it a hell to live in if you wish to do anything apart from the aforementioned "work for a salary" and have some quiet time to yourself at home on the weekend.
So the baseline is that everything is illegal here, and you hope that the police/government etc aren't specifically looking at any given time for something to fine you for.
Stay small and under the radar
and there is hope that you will get away living a normal life and doing normal things.. and maybe even having a pleasant cruise
. BUT DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED!
What do I mean by this?
Say you want to paint
your deck with non-slip (my current
task!) - sure, go ahead and do it, but officially
, by law, you're not allowed to do any maintenance
work on your mooring
. So there's a 99% chance that nobody will care, but if they want you busted, you're gone.
Say you want to install some deck hardware
... yep, Officially a no-no.
Say you want to change your oil filter
... Officially nope.
Of course this is really stretching it - and if you took it to court it would probably be come out ok, but the point is that at face value, these are all unlawful activities.
In fact, there are a myriad of further specific
examples like this in a boating
context including the number of nights at anchor
, the fact that it is officially illegal to live aboard, blah blah blah.... and it is impossible
to know them all (but ignorance of the law is no excuse apparently)
Did you see what happened to the Sydney version of the Occupy Wall Street movement? They were evicted by dozens of police in no time, under the "no camping" law. Right to free speech? Not here.
There is always some law that can be used to shaft you for SOMETHING
is a few hundred metres from the wharf/boat ramp
. I have a largish RIB
with an outboard motor
which I use to go back and forth - I don't go anywhere else, don't do circles and create a huge wash/wake and scream like the wakeboarding boats - just one boring trip in the morning and a boring trip back in the evening... All good... Just last week though, after hundreds of these trips, my number came up. On the way back, there was a police boat on the wharf checking every boat that came back, looking for SOMETHING (ANYTHING!). I was busted for.. wait for it.. not wearing a lifejacket. ARE YOU KIDDING!!?
It appears that there is now a new law, if you are in a vessel shorter than 4.8m (~15ft) and you are alone.. regardless of whether the vessel is a tender
or not, you MUST wear a lifejacket. Even if your entire trip is only 10m/yards from shore in a protected bay, in full daylight, to your big-arse sailboat with your epirb
, satphone, liferaft
blah blah blah on it.
Other boats were being fined for various things ranging from not carrying a whistle/paddle/bucket to not having a fishing license
. Police and almost anybody with any authority here is an intimidating bully. (and don't expect to rely on them for help if you call 000/911.. you're on your own. - but that's another thread!)
Roads are the same, breath tests for alcohol/DUI etc - at bizarre times - like Monday mornings on main roads (WHY?!?!?) Speed cameras in the middle of nowhere where there is no safety
issue... you name it.. I was caught by the highway patrol on radar
at 3am in a coastal holiday town some 10 years ago doing 60km/h (30mph?) in a 50km/h (35mph?) on a straight stretch, with no houses around.
So if you come here, chances are that - apart from your initial compulsory meeting with authority/customs etc - you might
be lucky enough to "get away" with having a normal time and having a normal cruise
, but if your number comes up, that's that.
I live in fear every day that yet some more of my freedoms will be taken away, or those freedoms which were already taken away by new laws months/years ago will begin to be enforced.