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.