For decades they were the butt of jokes and derisory remarks for being the worst State in Australia in having the highest amount of greenies per head of population, as well as the highest unemployment figures and the worst economy. They hadn’t joined the dots.
Festering like a sore wound, the boys from WHAM ZHALA (We Hate all Miners, Zionists, Heterosexuals and Liberals Anyhow), had an intense dislike of mainlanders, which was reaching a new peak. Their acronym, boldly painted on their leather jackets, convinced neighbours that they were a fringe rock group without instruments.
Inspired by Russian President Putin’s act of wandering into neighbouring Crimea with armed troops and China’s claiming of the Spratley Islands near the Philippines and taking over, the boys decided they should attack mainland Australia and do likewise. After all, the few remaining Australian navy patrol boats were not only cracking up but were nowhere to be seen two days either side of a weekend. This would be like taking candy from a baby.
They bought three old timber scallop fishing boats, well past their prime, but each with a reliable old Gardner diesel engine that could be hand cranked if the starter battery was flat.
The plan was elegant in its simplicity. The day after collecting their dole payment, they would go into action and Wham Zhala 1 would attack Victoria, WZ2 would attack South Australia and WZ3 would go into New South Wales. The boys were confident that those mainland dummies would then realise they were surrounded and give up without a struggle.
Bruce, the leader, appointed Dazza and Wayne to be in charge of the other boats. The weapons cache consisted of some old 303s and 22s used for shooting rabbits and some petrol bomb components for visual effect.
Under cover of darkness, they steamed slowly down the Tamar River, unaware that the flood tide was slowing them down and wasting their fuel.
At the mouth of the river, Bruce steamed WZ1 straight ahead towards Melbourne, Dazza veered off to the left towards Adelaide and Wayne headed right towards New South Wales.
Bass Strait dishes up some fierce frontal weather and that night was no exception. Nevertheless, each boat ploughed on.
The next night, the loom of what Bruce thought was Melbourne, appeared ahead. Cutting the navigation and cabin lights, the would-be terrorists blackened their faces and prepared their weapons for the charge ashore.
Steering towards the brightest cluster of lighting, Bruce could not see the shallow bar of the estuary and the vessel abruptly came to a halt. Over the side they jumped, those at the aft end, still in deep water, surfaced without their guns, collectively thinking that maybe, just maybe, they should have rehearsed this.
Bedraggled, but in the full spirits which exudes from most zealots, they burst into the main doors of the large building.
“Everyone freeze !” screamed Bruce, gesticulating wildly in a Gestapo manner. “We’ve had it with you coal mining, tree cutting, oxygen thieving bastards, surrender now, sign up, cut the Green and Tassie jokes and no-one will be hurt!”
The Zumba Fest dance Class at the Barwon Heads Hotel was in full swing and the gesticulating newcomers must be the headline act mystery instructors that they were expecting. So everyone copied Bruce’s moves amongst screams of approval.
Bruce and his team, with eyes agog, were swept away by the sea of gyrating bodies, now convinced it was too late for these clearly drug-addled mainlanders. They themselves were likely to be sacrificed and thrown onto a big barbecue.
Twenty-four hours later, on the second night, Dazza, had most of his crew of six seasick. Having inadvertently placed his mobile phone next to the magnetic compass, it swung around in a gentle manner which would have delighted most compass adjustors. For the last 12 hours, his vessel was heading in the wrong direction.
The engine spluttered to a halt. “I took on enough fuel to get to Adelaide, and we’ve just run out of fuel, so we must be there!” Dazza proclaimed triumphantly. The team went out on deck and gazed into the darkness. Sure enough, only one mile away, was the clear dark outline of land. “You’re a genius Dazza”, the boys said in unison, “but what is that loud hissing noise?”
Shortly afterwards, the little fishing boat and its crew were dumped unceremoniously by breaking surf waves on Porky Beach, King Island. They survived, but minus their weapons and their dignity. As the dawn broke, they wearily trudged into the old King Island dairy, dejected to find out that they were still in Tasmania and phoning home via a local call, was meagre consolation.
Away to the east, the bad weather from the port quarter had given WZ3 so much leeway, that they missed Gabo Island near the NSW border and Wayne just kept heading east, trying to locate it.
Four days and 1,100 miles later, they slowly entered Hokianga Harbour on the north-west tip of New Zealand. Tying up at the Opononi jetty, they asked the old Maori guy fishing there “Mate, is this New South Wales?”
Disdainfully looking up he responded, “Sorry Bro, but just head north up to the Cape, then drift along with the westerlies for about 100-150 days, it’s around there somewhere”.
Regrouping six months later, Team Wham Zhala concluded that the exercise should be presented in a slightly exaggerated form at the following Greens conference in Tasmania, to provide misguided inspiration to more up and coming green legends.
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