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Australians are well-known for their practical jokes. Drop bears. Tall tales. Basically, if there’s an opportunity for a good-natured prank, they’ll pull it. When we asked a backpacker who worked at our hostel in Noosa what the “must-see
We arrived in Hervey Bay and immediately asked management at Next Backpackers about this famous museum. With little commentary, they directed us to it and even offered us a ride. Upon arriving at the tiny, clay, plaster building on the Esplanade, we weren’t sure what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t Vic Hislop, famed shark hunter.
Our first clue that this maybe wasn’t going to be the educational experience we were hoping for, still high from our shark dive in Mooloolaba, should have come from the sly smirk the receptionist shot us as she played a short introductory video about the establishment. Our second clue should have come when the video ended and she coyly asked, “Are you sure you want to go in?”
We were sure.
[Sliding door opens to reveal a red-carpeted, blue brick room. Newspaper clippings cover almost every visible inch of the walls.]
BL: What’s that smell?
BJ: What....is this?
[The girls walk around the room reading through the old newspaper clippings on the wall. They stop at one and look at each other.]
BL: Is this guy crazy?
BJ: Is he serious? He can’t be serious. He’s...is that...what’s a “greenie"
BL: I don’t know but I feel like I’m in his secret shed, like we shouldn’t be rummaging through here right now.
BJ: Or like we should be getting ready to put the lotion in the basket. Are all of these articles about him?
BL: I think it’s his personal collection of articles about shark attacks. Weekly World News, that doesn’t even sound legitimate. Is that like the National Enquirer, the one with all the stories about Elvis still being alive?
BJ: Didn’t the intro video say that this wasn’t meant to scare you out of the water? “Mother of four gets killed by bull sharks”? That definitely scares me out of the water.
[They look at a eye sitting on a plate under glass.]
BL: I wonder if he pulled that eye out with his bare hands?
BJ: I don’t know, but I’ve never seen anyone hate anything as much as this guy hates sharks.
BL: Did they like kill his mother or something? He doesn’t just hunt sharks for fun, he loathes them.
[The girls walk around the room. Alternating between feeling horrified and seriously questioning the sanity of the person who recommended they go there, they sat down to watch one of the videos playing on a loop.]
BJ: Wow. This just keeps on getting worse, doesn’t it?
BL: He wants to overturn the Australian Government, so he can hunt sharks again. Hayden Panittiere would have a field day with this guy.
BJ: I feel like every time this guy opens his mouth a baby koala dies. Honestly, this is pretty disturbing. It takes investors to get a place like this going, which means that more than one person thought this was a good idea.
[BL gets up and heads to the next room, while BJ remains getting more and more horrified as the video continues.]
BL: [From the other room] Bobbi, it just gets worse. Get in here.
BJ: [Walks in. Sees three dead sharks in a freezer.] WHAT. What is this?!
BL: I used to be scared of great whites, now I just feel bad for them. [She pulls up a squeegee tied on a string by the dead shark viewing window.] What is it with Australians and squeegees?
BJ: Australians really like them, don’t they? Listen. If this was actually informational and not just the mad ramblings of a guy with a shark complex, this might just be sad. This? This is tragic.
BL: I can’t be in this room anymore. I’m going to barf. Should we go to the theater room?
BJ: We should because we’re here, and this is $24 we’ll never see again. But. I’m scared.
[The girls enter one of two “cinema rooms” with a few rows of lawn chairs facing a small television. Vic is on screen cutting open the stomach of a large shark he just captured in the ocean. As he’s cutting the shark he says, “Thousand
BL: Did he really just say that?
BJ: He really did. This is gross. I feel like I need a shower. And a hug.
BL: I love the way he edited this video though. Wow, the captions on the end are on fire. [Vic gives a final message at the end of the video then walks off camera.] Is he shooting this himself? He could have at least edited out the part where he walks off screen to turn off the camera.
[The girls walk out of the first theater and into the second one to watch another film.]
BJ: [Sits down] I can’t. [Stands up and leaves room]
[The girls stand in the center of the main room, bewildered and wondering what to do next.]
BL: I want my $12 back, not because I’m unsatisfied. I just don’t want to fund this guy. How do places like this still exist?
BJ: Um. I’m unsatisfied. In addition to wanting my $12 back, I want that hour of my life back as well. Seriously, does Vic live in Hervey Bay? I feel like we need to have a conversation with him to fully understand.
BL: Would you want to have a conversation with your village crazy at home? I’m fine just pretending this never happened. But I’m stealing his quote, “I just can’t sort these greenies out.”
[The girls back away from the building slowly, vowing never to speak of the experience again, but to never forget.]
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