Australia: you’re standing in it

The other night some of us were telling stories of the more risible impressions of Australia that we have encountered in our travels, and even at home. A few items:

1. No books? I remember a review of a book written by one of my teachers at Sydney University. The review was dismissive, ending with the comment, ‘what would one expect, for they do not have many books in Australia’.

2. Hunter-gatherers? Recently, at an international food gathering, a chef from these parts was introduced as doing wonders with items found in the bush. The MC went on to say that the chef in question had developed these skills while growing up in rural Australia. Since there was little ‘normal’ food, he had to forage about, looking for things to eat – much like a hunter-gatherer.

3. Culture? This one is quite common, especially from elitists. ‘Australia has no culture’ it is stated, as though it is a well-known ‘fact.’ This one is particularly bamboozling, not merely because it misspells ‘kulcha,’ but above all since it breezily dismisses the oldest culture in the world.

No books, culture, or civilised food – as we laughed at yet more examples, we agreed that we do rather well given the circumstances.


8 thoughts on “Australia: you’re standing in it

  1. Ach ja, Dad and I have suffered demeaning comments from a number of relatives and friends in our country of birth, for living in back-water. I believe one of our past Prime Ministers took that position as well.

    1. Do you mean this one?
      ‘I think Australia has to be a country which has the ‘Welcome’ sign out’.
      ‘I try to use the Australian idiom to its maximum advantage’.
      ‘the awful cultural cringe under Menzies … held us back for nearly a generation. That was the golden age when Australia was injected with a near lethal dose of old-fogeyism by the conservative parties opposite, when they put the country into neutral and where we gently ground to a halt in the nowhere land of the early 1980s’.

      1. In 1994 it was reported that Paul Keating, in a private conversation with Bob Hawke in 1990, had referred to Australia as ‘the arse end of the world’. See e.g. ‘The Independent’, 27 June 1994.
        That remark was repeated by Kevin Rudd in 2014.
        It has become the title of a song in ‘Keating, The Musical We Had To Have’.

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