Travel

The Weirdest Laws in Australia

Stay on the right side of the law.

The last couple of years have been a little different, to say the least. But as state borders around Australia open up (see you someday Western Australia) you need to keep an eye on travel restrictions and whatnot to make sure you’re not disappointed come time to arrive at your destination. Something else that’s probably not top of mind when travelling around Australia, is staying on the right side of the law. Sure, you’re probably not heading out to another part of the country seeking out to break a law, what we’re talking about is laws that you wouldn’t expect to see, the ones you probably didn’t know you were breaking. Yes, weird laws.

Almost any place in the world has a weird law that’s a relic of a bygone era, a lot of the time you’ll find these laws will tie back to the church somehow, usually making it illegal to do certain things on a Sunday. But still, many of these laws still exist in Australia, however weird they seem today. For instance, bars are still required by law to stable, water, and feed the horses of their patrons. It’s a shame they don’t need to refuel your car.

These are the weirdest laws around Australia.

Victoria

First on the list is Victoria, as there are many weird laws that are still around today.

In Victoria, it is an offence to fly a kite ‘to the annoyance of any person’ which it seems most people on St Kilda beach don’t pay attention to.

It’s also illegal in Victoria to sing an ‘obscene song or ballad’ in a public place. Does ‘obscene’ translate to the quality of singing from the buskers in Melbourne’s CBD? Who can say?

Been sent a letter by homing pigeon? Don’t even think about taking that homing pigeon if you’re a Victoria, or a resident of South Australia, as it is illegal to do so without being given ‘lawful authority.

You must not attach your goat, or your dog, to a vehicle in Victoria and then drive it through a public area, or else you’ll be up for a $777.30 fine.

It’s probably rarely necessary, but it’s also illegal in Victoria to undertake any rainmaking activity unless you’re authorised to do so. No ‘artificial nucleating’ or seeding of clouds using a manned aircraft is allowed.

It’s also illegal to pretend to tell someone’s fortunes or use witchcraft or ‘crafty science’ in Victoria to discover where stolen goods might be found.

New South Wales

Bus drivers in New South Wales should be on their best behaviour when there’s a bit of rain about. In NSW it is illegal for bus drivers to splash mud on passengers, drivers must slow down or stop in the event that they might be in danger of splashing a bit of mud on potential passengers.

If you’re driving a bus and you do happen to splash mud on a bus shelter full of passengers, you could be up for a fine of $2200.

Western Australia

It’s been well publicised, but the curious potato law of Western Australia is in fact real.

In WA you cannot be in possession of more than 50kg of potatoes. You can only hold 50kg of potatoes or more if you’re a member of the ‘Potato Corporation’ or an authorised agent of the corporation. The penalty for breaking this law in Western Australia is $2,000 for a first offence, or $5,000 if you’re in the habit of collecting a large amount of potatoes for subsequent offences.

You can also be jailed in Western Australia for up to 12 months if you’re cleaning up seabird or bat poo without a licence.

South Australia

In South Australia, you can’t just travel around ringing people’s doorbells at your leisure. Unlawfully ringing doorbells in the state can carry a maximum fine of $250. Best make sure you’ve got the right address.

If you’re thinking about disrupting a wedding in South Australia, you’re out of luck. Disrupting a wedding or a funeral in the state could see you face a maximum penalty of $10,000 or two years in prison.

Tasmania

It is illegal in Tasmania to offer a reward for stolen property without asking any questions. This law also applies in South Australia.

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Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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