Louis Burke | Culture | Contact

An ordinary Thursday night shift has become anything but as North Betoota RSL club front-desker Stuart Atkins (65) asked a group of non-English speaking backpackers if they are already club members.

“Good evening guys. Member?”

The startled group of Melbourne-bound French backpackers stated they know enough English to get by, but were unable to recognise the term “member?” as a greeting.

“Sorry? I don’t understand…”

“Youse already members?”


Following this Atkins launched into a five-minute speel about the benefits of an annual club membership such as reduced food and drink prices as well as automatic entry into monthly mega-prize raffles.


Having only met three French people in his lifetime, it took Atkins some time to clue on to the idea that this group of people who were likely spending their first and last night in Betoota, would not be able to make the most of a year-long RSL membership.

Moving along, Atkins asked them to scan their ID’s to get their temporary membership ticket and permit them entry into the club.

Following the machine’s struggle to recognise a French driver’s license, Atkins double checked that they didn’t just want to save some time and become members anyway.

“Or you could sign up for five years and pay just $40?”

“We are from Biarritz.”

At a complete loss of what to do, Atkins signed the group of four in by filling in their information on the old visitor book system, nearly giving up at least twice during the process.

Speaking through a translator, traveller Marcel Aubergine (25) shared with us what she thought of his cultural experience at one of Australia’s many fine RSL’s.

“It was easier to get through quarantine at Darwin Airport than it was to get in here. There is a restaurant in Japan where you sit in your own cubicle and a pair of anonymous hands pass you your food through a curtain. That place has more of a focus on people than here.”

More to come.


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