“Things White People Like”, and its various spin offs have been circulating the net for years now. Although I am new to Australia, I have already noticed certain, ahem, trends, which it would be unfair of me to keep to myself. Allow me to present my own version of things Australians like:
Things Australians like:
Leaving Australia– A friend once told me “The world is for when you are young, Australia will still be there when you are old.” I think this is pretty good advice, and applicable for all of us, not just the Aussies. Backpacking and living abroad is a right of passage in many countries, although the idea has never really taken off with the Americans. That’s something we should work on. Maybe teach it in schools. When I was living in London I met more Aussies than English. They are everywhere, scattering themselves amongst the world like tanned, fun loving marbles. Perhaps because they hail from a large island in the middle of nowhere, they appreciate the importance of getting out there and seeing it all. I like it.
Australian-shaped hamburgers- Hamburger patties formed in the shape of the Australian continent was not something I expected to come across in a chain supermarket recently. We certainly don’t see burger patties in the shape of Texas (though I could see that catching on there), or patties in the shape of Japan (cooking times for different sized islands might prove problematic on the “barbie”; it just wouldn’t be practical). This country is so patriotic, even their meat products must get involved. I had to buy some.
Frightening you with their dangerousness of their wildlife– Australia has the same insects we have in the Northern Hemisphere, if those insects were force fed steroids for millennia or two. Everything is super sized, both in size, and in the ability to kill you very quickly. This takes some getting used to. For me it was the first time you find a 2-inch flying cockroach popped into my bedroom to say hello. The local people, however, are not fazed by such things, and actually seem to relish, with pride, the fact that their country lays claim to (most) everything lethal, toothy, and venomous. You have sharks- BAM we have great whites! You have jellyfish- BAM we have jellyfish that will eat your jellyfish for breakfast. Not to mention a small octopus who will paralyze you completely within mere minutes of contact. Yes, the Aussies love their dangerous wildlife, and every one of them will have a story to tell you about that python they found under their sofa (no big deal), or the time their mate dove into the sea, just to emerge with a blue bottle having wrapped himself around his face. But he’s ok now.
Mullets– Don’t get me wrong- I am not accusing all Aussies of sporting this style. God forbid. In most of the western world, the mullet faded into oblivion at about the same time as Hulk Hogan’s career and the cassette tape. But here, even in Sydney, there is a group of mullet die-hards, young people especially, which want to rock a bit of “business in the front, party in the back.” Just the other day, a man perhaps in his 40’s boarded a train I was on. Did my eyes deceive me? I struggled to take it all in. This man was the proud owner of a DREADLOCK MULLET! Not only had he spent years and years of his life growing out his dreads, he now decided the best way to accentuate his crowning glory was to cut it into a dreadlock mullet. A mullet of dreadlocks. I only wish I thought to take a photo of it to show you all.
Criminals -Ned Kelly, Chopper, Carl Williams. If you are Australian, heck, maybe even if you aren’t, you will know these guys. This has nothing to do with Australia’s convict past, and I mean no disrespect here. Maybe it has more to do with the fact that some of these guys were just so insanely out there, that one cannot help but take notice, or make a major motion picture out if it.
Ned Kelly was a bushranger from the 1800’s turned bank robber turned murderer, and possibly the most famous Aussie criminal. Sounds like a great guy, I know. Yet let’s consider the opening line of his Wikipedia page: “He is considered by some to be merely a cold-blooded cop killer — others, however, consider him to be a folk hero”. He also robbed banks, and murdered a sheriff. While the right side of the law caught up with him and he was hanged in 1880, it is estimated a petition to spare his life had obtained roughly 30,000 signatures.
These days, everyone also knows about Chopper Read, a more contemporary self-confessed murderer of many. Reading an autobiographical account of this upstanding citizen recently, I found parts so stomach-turning that I had to turn the pages that much faster. For fun, this guy liked to force his enemies to chew razor blades, that is when he wasn’t busy cutting off their toes. He chopped off both his own ears, (sorry Van Gogh, you’ve been outdone), for the hell of it, had a passion for violence, and was a general go to man in Melbourne for murder, criminal activity, and general debauchery for many years. Yet the people can’t get enough of him- Go figure. If these two gents haven’t satisfied your criminal longings, check out the Underbelly, a hugely popular drama about the recent Melbourne gang wars. With at least one main character getting murdered in each episode, combined with a generous helping of scenes set in strip clubs and gratuitous naked women, there’s something for everyone!
So now you know. For whats it worth, I am glad that the Aussies love to travel. I am always grateful for a fellow English speaker abroad, even if they insist on telling me about that one time with the red back spider that was “THAT BIG”. But it didn’t bother him. I guess as long as he’s not a relation of Chopper, we should be fine.