Thousands of Irish fans may be flying from Ireland for the Rugby World Cup, but one dedicated fan is planning to drive across Australia to get to an Irish game and he doesn’t even have a ticket.
Thousands of Irish fans may be flying from Ireland for the Rugby World Cup, but Tom Felle Deputy Editor of the Irish Echo tells us of one dedicated fan who is planning to drive across Australia to get to an Irish game and he doesn’t even have a ticket. Fergus O’Branagain, 45, originally from Walkinstown in Dublin, plans to fly from Darwin to Alice Springs across the Australian desert and then drive more than 3,000 miles through the “bush” to Melbourne to watch Ireland play Australia in the Rugby World Cup.
Fergus, a big rugby supporter, was a regular at Irish internationals before
moving to Australia.
“These days I have to settle for watching the games on the television, but I always try to get to a match when Ireland play in Australia,” he said.
When he learned about the Ireland v Australia match, he decided he had to go. He will make the trip from the top end to the bottom end of the continent with an Australian friend, and plans to meet up with old friends from Ireland in Melbourne.
“I’ll fly to Alice Springs and drive from there to Melbourne. There’s no point flying, there’s no fun in that,” he said. “It’s a good two day drive, eight hours or more each day. We won’t be in any hurry though and we’ll stop off a few places along the way. I haven’t driven through that part of the country yet so I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“I’m going to the compromise rules on the Friday night and to the rugby on Saturday hopefully. I haven’t got a ticket for the game yet but I’m hopeful. A friend of mine is flying in on the Thursday, and another friend I haven’t seen in 25 years will also be in Melbourne that weekend so it should be a
big weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The former Aer Lingus operations officer took three years unpaid leave from the company in 1989 and decided to try his luck in Australia. He ended up working for a commercial airline in Perth and never went back.
A few years later he moved to Broome and then to Darwin, the hottest and most humid city in Australia, and now works with Pearl Aviation, as a business development manager.
Part of Fergus’s job is dealing with medical contracts with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and in contract charters to gold mine sites in the middle of the Australian bush.
“It’s a pretty good job, I’m out and about most of the time and I’ve seen some of the most remote parts of Australia,” he said. “I’ve been right into central parts of Australia, a couple of thousand miles from anywhere. The last time I was there I was tracked by a couple of dingos looking for their
breakfast but most of the time it’s pretty uneventful.”
Fergus is married to an Australian and has three children. “Australia is home for me now. My wife has taken out Irish citizenship and the kids are Irish citizens as well. I’ve been home a few times in the last couple of years and I’m still in touch with family in Dublin.
“Darwin is great but it gets pretty hot. There are two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. During the dry season it’s a fantastic 32 degrees every day. In the wet season it is also 32 degrees, but the humidity is a killer. There are a few Irish pubs that are very civilised and act as havens though. There’s a small but vibrant Irish community in the Top End. We have an Irish Club and a Northern Territory Irish Association, We always put a rose in the Rose of Tralee and we get lots of Irish backpackers,” he added.