As my family and friends back home enjoy Australia Day this year, I reflect on the things I love most about the country I was born in.
The most common question I’m asked when travelling is “where are you from?” But I’m never quite sure how to answer. I was born in Australia, lived there until my mid-twenties, have called London home for more than thirteen years, have both Australian and UK citizenship and have even surrendered my Australian drivers licence for a British one.
London has been my home since the year 2000 and has played a key role in shaping who I am today. It’s where I bought my first home (and committed to my first major debt), it’s been the base from which I’ve explored many incredible parts of the world and it’s where my friendship group has expanded from a group of other Australians to people from all over the world.
During my time in London I’ve evolved from a twenty-something who worked hard and partied even harder to a (nearly) forty year old with a more balanced perspective on life. It’s where I’ve had the freedom and opportunity to discover whom I am, what makes me happy and my priorities and goals in life.
But I’ll always be Australian.
I’m often asked: “do you think you’ll ever move back to Australia”. And whilst I don’t know the answer, I do know that leaving it has helped me realise what an incredible country it is, that I love returning every chance I get and that it will always be home.
16 Things I Love About Australia and Being Australian
1. The Simplicity of our Cuisine
We appreciate that simplicity is the key ingredient to great food. Five words: Beetroot. Chicken Salt. Sausage sizzle!
2. The Weather
To dispel a popular myth, it is not 30 degrees and sunny every day in Australia. But it is warm and sunny on enough of them to make the climate one of the best things about the country. The weather is a key driver of the comfortable, laid back and healthy lifestyle Australians are known for. We can even go for a swim at the beach on Christmas Day!
3. The BBQ
The Aussie BBQ is an iconic element of our culture. It is deeply imbedded in tradition and local rules, the most common being the assignment of Tong Master to the male host, a mandatory game of backyard cricket and an Esky full of beer.
4. The Sunsets
I’ve seen a lot of sunsets on my travels and I still think Australia’s are the best in the world. They are consistently unpredictable, from the roar of a fiery red and orange sky to the moody pastels that help extinguish the stresses of the day.
It’s a lonely existence in Australia if you don’t like sport. It dominates the after school hours of most children and many adults spend time playing competitively, socially, in a coaching or administrative role or simply as a spectator. It is often partnered with key social events, it regularly super-cedes key international moments in headline news and has the ability to unite the country. Australians love our sporting heroes, both on and off the field. David Boon (Boony) for example was just as popular for his success on the cricket pitch as his record-breaking beer drinking effort on a long haul flight to the UK in 1989.
6. Sporting Banter
Banter is just as much a sport in Australia as the physical activity happening on the oval. It adds another dimension to the game and the only rule is to be prepared to take as much as you give!
7. The Landscape
The irony that I travel the world in search of the type of destinations that exist in my own country is not lost on me. Rolling countryside, vibrant cities, golden sand beaches, incredible natural formations, humid rainforests, wide open desert spaces, the desolate outback, mountains, snowfields, rivers and lakes, just to name a few. The Australian landscape has something for everyone.
8. Aussie Rules Football
Even if you grew up in the rugby dominated North Eastern states you will know enough to participate in an Aussie Rules conversation. Even if (like my mother) you hate the game with a passion, you know not to schedule anything on the last Saturday in September. And if, like me, you have followed the sport passionately since you were a child, you know the team you support can influence the success of relationships just as much as age, dreams and life priorities.
9. Our Politically Incorrect Politicians
Forgetting the unpopular and somewhat embarrassing figures of recent times, the Politicians running the country when I was growing up were endearingly politically incorrect. Paul Keating was labelled the Lizard of Oz after putting his arm across the back of the Queen during her 1992 tour of Australia. But best of all is Bob Hawke, who declared “any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum” after Australia won the America’s Cup in 1983, set a new world speed record for beer drinking whilst at university and recently downed a pint of beer in 10 seconds flat at the Sydney Ashes Test.
10. The Wide Open Spaces
After living in London for long, it’s no shock that I gravitate towards the wide, open spaces of the Australian outback. And after growing up in the outback, it’s ironic but unsurprising that it’s a place I now feel most at peace. The silence is therapeutic, the landscape mesmerising and the open spaces refreshing.
11. It’s Easy to Travel as an Australian
The toughest thing about international travel for Australians is the time it takes to get anywhere. But it’s easy to get a passport, there aren’t many countries we need visas for and most other cultures welcome us without a pre-determined hatred based on the actions of our leaders.
12. The Meat Pie
During the horsemeat scandal in the UK last year, Australian comedian Adam Hills scoffed at the hysteria as he described the Aussie meat pie on his Channel 4 show The Last Leg. We don’t question the ingredients, we just enjoy the simplicity of ordering a meat pie from the local shop, adding some tomato sauce and devouring it from the paper bag it’s sold to us in.
13. The Wildlife
The number of dangerous wildlife species we have gives us the reputation for being hardened, brave and adventurous souls, a reputation we are proud of and unlikely to challenge. The fact that I’ve been known to experience a hysterical meltdown when a mouse ran across my lounge room floor is irrelevant. I’m from a country that has more deadly snakes than anywhere else in the world, enough dangerous animals to compile a Top 20 list and an ocean full of box jellyfish that are the most deadly of all. The fact that I’ve never come across most of them is also irrelevant – the fact that they simply exist in my country makes me tough and adventurous!
14. Chicken Parma
If there is one meal guaranteed to be a certainty on the menu of your local pub, it’s Chicken Parmigiana. It’s the first meal I order every time I return and it even has it’s own website, where Australian’s are invited to vote for their favourite one.
15. The Stereotype
As far as cultural stereotypes go, I can thing of worse ones than beer swigging, sun loving, sport fanatical, laid back Australians. And even though most of the Australian stereotypes are inaccurate and out-dated (we really don’t have kangaroos as pets), they are great conversation starters when you meet other travellers, especially the gullible ones…
16. Our National Anthem
I’m not talking about the official National Anthem that most of us don’t know the words to, but the unofficial tunes that have the ability to unite Australian travellers wherever they are. Playing the first few notes of Khe San or Down Under are guaranteed to be following by a loud and boisterous group sing-along between strangers united in a sense of the familiarity.
Happy Australia Day everyone!
You may also like:
Latest posts by Kellie Netherwood (see all)
- 18 Things You Might Not Know About Rwanda - February 11, 2017
- Postcards from Rwanda: Gorillas and Beyond - February 3, 2017
- Indonesia in Pictures: People of Ubud, Bali - January 4, 2017
- 16 Favourite Travel Photos of 2016 - January 1, 2017
- In Pictures: Natural Beauty of South Australia’s Murray River - November 28, 2016