Words by James Robertson Art by Joanna Leucuta
We see some pretty strange things when we travel overseas.
People carrying whole families on a scooter, others devouring chicken feet and fried spiders. But, have we become used to how unique and odd Australia can be? There’s no doubt about it, we’re a strange bunch.
Our language alone, is distinctive to say the least. We Australians or Aussies, will abbreviate nearly anything, I don’t know if its laziness or a strategy to allow us to talk about more important things like the footy or Married at First Sight.
It’s not McDonald’s it’s “Maccas”. If you want a cup of tea you ask for a “cuppa”. You will get a weird look if you say you need to go to the service station for some petrol, it’s the servo. It appears it’s even too exhaustive to say you’re going to the bottle shop, it’s the bottle-o.
‘How’s it going?,’ ‘How’s what going?’, ‘It?’ – Not that we actually expect a response, all we really want is a ‘Yeah, good mate.’
In 2005, the government issued a ban on saying the word ‘mate’ at Parliament House, yeah, good luck. That ban lasted 24 hours before it was overturned. As well as our slang, Australia’s well recognised as home to a surplus of deadly animals ‘that’ll bite ya’.
You know that cute little platypus? Well it has venom strong enough to kill a small dog. The box jellyfish is responsible for more deaths in Australia than snakes, sharks and saltwater crocodiles. Seventeen of the world’s most poisonous snakes can be found in Australia and we’re home to around 1,500 types of spiders.
Despite this, we still love to walk around with no shoes on, or at least with just a pair of thongs. Be careful, telling foreigners you like to wear thongs might give them the wrong idea.
We’re the undisputed home of the ‘barbie’ (BBQ) which takes a team of two to master. One to actually cook the food, the other to stand there, drinking a stubbie, commenting ‘Mmm yep, lookin’ good mate’. However, despite the common saying, there isn’t too much shrimp going onto the barbie.
We love our beer, that’s a fact. It is said that our former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is probably more well known for his drinking achievements than any political prowess, setting a world record for skolling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. That’s right, our Prime Minister actually was in the Guinness World Records for drinking beer! This isn’t surprising seeing as Aussies drink 1.7 billion litres of beer per year, that’s about 680 bottles of beer for each adult. In 2015, nearly 18 per cent of adults consumed more than two standard drinks per day, on average, we go too hard, too quickly.
We have the highest rate of gambling in the world with over 80 per cent of Australian adults engaging in gambling of some kind. More than 20 percent of the world’s pokie machines are found in Australia. Enjoy your pot (Beer) and Parma (Chicken).
We’re not just a bunch of backwards, gambling, booze hounds though, Australia was the second country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1902. Over 200 different languages and dialects are spoken in Australia, including 45 Indigenous languages. The most common non-English spoken languages are Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Mandarin.
More than 25% of all Australians were born in another country.
Chinese explorers travelled to Australia long before Europeans arrived. As early as the 1400s, sailors and fishermen came to Australia for sea-cucumbers and to trade with Indigenous peoples. The Beijing Zoo actually had a Kangaroo on display, long before Australia was colonised by good old Captain Cook.
Kangaroo meat can be purchased from the supermarket, butchers and is available on restaurant menus. We’re the only country in the world that dines on our national emblem.
Each week, 70 visitors/tourists overstay their visas. It’s not hard to see why. We are home to ancient rainforests and red deserts, snow-capped mountains and clear waters fringed by white-sand beaches.
Melbourne has secured the spot for ‘most liveable city’ seven years in a row. We are talking on a global scale, that’s got to mean something. Melbourne is also recognised as one of the coffee capitals of the world. Home to world class restaurants, art precincts and live music.
Whilst the typical Aussie does enjoy a pot of VB and a meat pie, it’s becoming just as common to sip on your espresso martini and nibble on a Caramel Parfait Glace with Salted Peanut Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse.
So I hope I’ve given you little look into this strange place we call Australia, where people could tell you more about a Bunnings snag than our Prime Minister.