Monday, 21 February, 2022

Vegemite for all as borders open; Saudi’s women train drivers; Operation Save The Manatee; and who’s for a game of pickleball?



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Manatees eat lettuce:


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There will be Vegemite and cuddly koala toys for all at our international airports this morning as Australia re-opens its borders to tourists after two years of COVID-inspired border closures.

Some 56 international flights will land in airports all over the country today, bringing visitors from the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

It’s a big milestone as we emerge from the worst COVID restrictions – and a big boost for the many businesses in Australia – from hotels to restaurants to tour guides to travel companies – who rely on international tourists to survive.

Surf life savers and drag queens will be among the locals welcoming visitors back to Sydney Airport today – with all visitors receiving a goodie bag containing vegemite and stuffed koala and kangaroo toys, an Aussie flag and eucalyptus leaves. Nice. 

The first plane is due to land at 6.30 this morning – bringing to an end two years of our borders being closed to international tourists. For the first time in that time, visitors who are double vaccinated can enter the country without having to go into hotel quarantine. 

The opening of our borders comes only days after WA Premier Mark McGowan announced his state would lift its border restrictions to overseas travelers on March 3 .

In further evidence there is light at the end of what has been a long and dark COVID tunnel – the NSW government has announced it is scaling back RAT tests in public schools. 

From next Monday, students will no longer have to take twice weekly RAT tests – and only have to stick the stick up their snoz if they have symptoms. 

Can I get a hallelujah?



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops and today we’ve landed in Saudi Arabia … where more than 28,000 women have applied for 30 train driver jobs.

So – why is that remarkable? Well – 28,000 people of any gender – male or female – applying for 30 jobs is pretty incredible. But what makes this even more amazing is that it was only in 2018 – not even four years ago – that women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive cars. Yes, that’s right. 

There are lots of things that women in Saudi Arabia cannot do without the permission of one of the men in their lives – be it their husband, father or brothers. But as things slowly change there – more and more women are getting jobs and entering the workforce.

And as the 28,000 keen job applicants show, women are keen to get to work.

The 30 successful women will drive high-speed trains between the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Now that’s a cool job. 



What would you say if I invited you to play a game of pickleball? I’m guessing most of you would say… um… what’s that?? Even though it’s been around since 1965, pickleball is now the fastest growing sport in America, with almost five million players regularly hitting the court last year. Hotels are converting their tennis courts to pickleball courts, and there’s a chain of wood fired chicken restaurants that also have courts… called, you guessed it, Chicken N Pickle. And it’s not just an American thing… the International Federation of Pickleball has member associations in 70 countries, most of which have joined in the last three years. And yes, you can play pickleball in every state and territory in Australia. 

Okay but what IS pickleball? Well, it’s a combination of badminton, pingpong, and tennis. It was invented almost 60 years ago by three American dads, and was apparently named after one man’s dog, Pickles. So it has nothing to do with a crunchy vegetable in spiced vinegar… 

There’s a video explainer in today’s episode notes; which says it’s fun and low-impact, which is something you won’t have to worry about for a while, but sounds especially nice for my old knees.




And it’s off to the waters off Florida, in the United States we go, where a remarkable effort is underway to feed starving manatees 25 tonnes of local lettuce.

Whoa … slow down there … what’s a manatee? It’s only about the cutest critter in the ocean … think a dugong crossed with a walrus with a snub little nose and whiskers and cute-as-you-like little front flippers. 

They’re native to the waters off Florida – but pollution in the ocean there has killed off the sea grass they would normally eat. So local officials came up with a plan to heave tons and tons of fresh lettuce into the water for the manatees to feast on. And they’re loving it- with up to 350 showing up every day to chow down on the green stuff.

The moral to this story? Eat your veggies, people. Because if you don’t the manatees will.

There’s a video of a cute baby manatee eating lettuce in today’s episode notes. Because it’s a Monday and we all need to ease ourselves into the week gently… 



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. In which country have women only recently been allowed to drive?
  2. What sort of animal is being fed lettuce in Florida?
  3. What’s the name of the badminton-like sport taking off in America and proving popular here in Oz too?




It’s February 21… birthday of Harry Potter actor, Alan Rickman (better known as Professor Snape); and it’s also International Mother Language Day – where we celebrate all the different languages in the world .. because being able to speak lots of languages is just about the coolest thing, I reckon.

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … Quin from Frenchs Forest, Ann-Theresa from Kempsey, Henry from Victoria and Alex from Killarney Heights. 

Classroom shout outs go to …class 5E at Helensvale State School, class 5/6W and Mr Wright from Balgownie Public School, class 5/6 Orange and Mrs Hilton at North Wagga Public School and lastly to Mrs Aldis 4th Grade class at Baldivis Primary School. 

The S’Quiz Answers:

1, Saudi Arabia

2, Manatee

3, Pickleball