Rick and Em behind bars at the Old Busselton Jail

Casual Aussie Racism in Busselton

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While we were in Bussleton Rick took Em down to the jetty for a ride on the train that travels the length of the jetty. I was tired and needed a rest so I decided to stay back at camp, read my book and have some child free time. Rick told me later that it was super busy down there as it was school holidays. They were lucky enough to get the last 2 tickets but couldn’t even sit next to each other. He had to sit across from her.

Just before the train took off, one of the volunteers came up to Rick and asked him if he had bought a ticket for his child. He replied that he had and showed him the tickets.

The volunteer said to him, ‘It is just because it is busy and we can’t afford for anyone to ride without a ticket.’ Then the volunteer moved on.

The volunteer did not ask anyone else on the train if they had bought tickets for their children. In fact no one else was questioned or had their tickets checked.

When Rick and Em returned back to camp, Rick didn’t even mention to me what had happened. Em was super excited telling me about the train ride and how she made a friend and they thought it was hilarious calling it a ‘silly poo poo train’. Rick chimed in and told me that another lady made a joke about the silly kids on the poo poo train. They were all laughing thinking it was hilarious.

The story came out later that night when Rick, Em and I decided to go out for dinner. We went to Equinox on the Esplanade. We sat outside and ordered pizza. It wasn’t very busy outside, most people were sitting inside. After a while I said that I was going to go inside to the toilet. When I came back out Rick said to me, ‘I might go in to the toilet too. Did anyone say anything to you?’ I sort of scoffed and said, ‘What are you talking about? Of course no one said anything to me. We are paying customers. We can use the toilet inside if we want to.’ He looked a little flustered and then got up and went to the bathroom.

When he came back he told me the story about the volunteer checking his ticket on the train. I felt bad that I had scoffed at him because I realised that these are the sort of behaviours that I never have to worry about. I also know that if I had have been on that train with Rick and Em we would not have been questioned. Rick was ok about it but I was horrified. He said to me, ‘The volunteer was an old man. Sometimes they just don’t realise what they are doing.’

As disappointing as this experience was it didn’t sour our time in Busselton. We still had a great time you can read about it here. More than anything it just opened my eyes to some of the experiences that Rick has to deal with because of the colour of his skin.

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