Happy Australia Day – Everything You Need To Know About Australia, From Someone Who’s Never Been (Yet)
Today marks the day that a fleet of British ships arrived to Sydney Cove in New South Wales, and it’s 226 years since the Flag of Great Britain was raised to proclaim British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia.
The name Australia Day has evolved over time, and so have the meaning of it’s celebrations.
“In contemporary Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation, and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new immigrants into the Australian community.”
Tourism Australia describe it succintly as
“a day for Australians to celebrate everything that’s great about being Australian.”
So what is being Australian all about?
Despite the popular misnoma that if you were to burrow through the centre of Planet Earth from the UK (and the US funnily enough) you would end up in Australia, it might be true that ‘down under’ is almost the opposite of the UK in many ways. In a country of 22 million people, with a landmass big enough to fit most of continental europe inside of it, I decided to list a few of the ways I expect Australia to be different to the UK. I’ll be there for the first time in less than two weeks to check these facts for myself! Here’s everything you need to know about Australia, probably.
- They don’t have indoor toilets – only outdoor wooden privy’s called ‘the Dunny‘. Presumably this is similar to the Scottish term ‘Jobby’, except instead of doing a Jobby, you’ve done a Dunny.
- You never actually use the Dunny because 60% of the time there is a 100% chance you’ll die after being bitten by a ‘Red Spider Mite’, or other lethal arachnid, hiding under the seat of the Dunny. See example.
- Unlike Britain, where there are no lethal, poisonous or dangerous forms of life at all (unless you live near a careless pet shop owner or have adjusted your perception of danger to include slightly uneven paving, like the insurance industry), absolutely everything in Australia is dangerous and poisonous and lethal. From plant life upwards, the Australian version can kill you, with obvious examples like snakes and spiders – to the infamous Drop-Bear, cousin to those vicious Koalas.
- They have Aussie Rules Football which, in a parallel to the flora and fauna, is a much more dangerous version of the traditional British notion of Football (and similar to Gaelic football) .
- The weather ranges from hot and dry, to hotter-than-hell and dryer-than-the-sun. With a thinner than usual Ozone layer, a deep searing tan is easily achieved.
- Much like the now-extinct Dodo and Elephant Birds of the Indian Ocean, Australia is home to another flightless bird, the Flaming Galah (cousin of the Lutino WA Galah, pictured). Presumably this is due to the weather.
- The Australian for beer is ‘Fosters’. It makes you smarter and more successful with women, if you believe the adverts on British TV, and it’s all they drink. This is also due to the weather.
- There’s a good chance that if you shout the name Sheila at a group of Australian women, you will have got at least half of their names right. Ditto for Aussie blokes and the name Bruce.
- If they aren’t called Sheila or Bruce, they’re almost definitely a C*nt, which is a popular term of endearment. Everyone from your mates, your boss, people you’ve never met, or even your mum, could well be one. Australia has the second largest population of C*nts after Glasgow.
- Sharks are so populous in Australian waters that swimming at the beach can be like avoiding granny’s trolleys in the supermarket on a Saturday. Thankfully, they rarely cause problems and it’s actually the cows and Christmas trees you need to watch out for.
- Thanks to all the inhospitable facts of daily life down under, Australians are fond of exacting revenge on the wildlife, primarily to cook it on a barbecue. Weekend past-times might including hunting Kangaroos with your car windshield, or Piggin’. Piggin’ is the sporting pursuit of wild pigs in the outback with dogs, knives, shotguns and 4×4 trucks. Enjoyed by everyone from children to trainspotters, with a few cans of Fosters.
- Because the continent is so large, and frankly quite empty, Australians have turned to art in the form of Big Things for a solution. Popping up in a variety of unlikely spots across Australia, you can find many unremarkable things recreated as remarkably larger Big Things for the amusement of tourists and other road-trippers.
That sums up my expectations of Australia before visiting! Think I’m in for a shock? Or have I got it right and can just stay home?
I’ll be landing into Perth on February 7th via a couple of days in Singapore on the way, then popping over to Auckland (New Zealand) before returning to Melbourne in time for St Valentine’s, and staying in Melbo for a few weeks. What else? Sydney, Brisbane… who knows. I look forward to getting a bit deeper into Aussie culture. Is there anything you think I shouldn’t miss? Not including the above of course…
Happy Australia Day!