Following on from answering the age-old question of Why are there SO MANY Aussies in London?, now seemed like as good a time as any to discuss some of the other questions I hear on the regular, now that I live on the other side of the world.
I get the curiosity, I really do. Most people haven’t been to Australia and their knowledge of it largely stems from cartoon caricatures, the dumb shit we do that makes international news and Steve Irwin (RIP). But despite the brainwashing we have about Americans, I don’t believe they’re all redneck hicks who’ve married their cousins, or aggressively hipster sex maniacs with a bizarre obsession for Starbucks (AKA, the most overrated coffee you can get). Nor do I believe that all British people have terrible dental hygiene, or enjoy wearing effeminate sweater vests.
That being said, I do really want to know why they’re called ‘pants’ and not ‘underpants’, and why everything else (including jeans and trackpants) are referred to as ‘trousers’? Or why I can only get a decent coffee from somewhere Aussie or Kiwi owned? Mysteries abound.
Why does everything in Australia want to kill you?
I mean sure, I’m pretty scared of walking home alone at night, and I’m not super keen on ever getting in a car with strangers, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with living in Australia. As for the animals, well I mean, it’s a pretty harsh climate. Depending on the part, Australia ranges from desert to sub-tropical, tropical and straight up snow in Summer, so our animals have to be pretty resilient. That being said, millions of people live and die in Australia without ever having a dangerous encounter with a snake or a spider: in fact, you’re more likely to die from a honeybee. Shark attacks are completely sensationalised: you are actually at the same risk of death when you participate in a marathon, as you are of death by shark. So just you know, chill out.
Basically, follow a couple of basic survival rules and you’ll be fine.
- Check the insides of boots and slippers (any deep shoe) before you put them on. Spiders like cave-like places to build their nests.
- Similarly, don’t just put your hand in any holes or dark places, or start shifting outdoor items without checking them first. (Outdoor furniture, gardening tools, garage items etc).
- Stay on the paths when walking through bushland and wetlands, with covered shoes on. Carry a long stick with you and gently tap the ground in front of you if you’re walking through grass. The vibrations will scare off any snakes or give them something to latch onto if you hit one by accident.
- Listen to the locals. Swim between the flags, and stay out of the water if everyone else is. We know how to spot dangerous waters and swarms of squishy jellyfish – the other thing that is more like to kill you than any snake or spider. If you hear a horn like alarm, that’s a shark alert – in 27 years of living by the beach, I only ever heard this alarm on TV. Trust me, you’ll be fine.
- Wear sunscreen always, invest in a decent pair of sunnies, drink lots of water – up to 5 litres a day in summer, especially if you’re being active or drinking alcohol – and avoid the sun during peak UV hours.
Speaking of being sunsmart, there is one thing Australians are afraid of: skin cancer. This is my PSA for all my British readers – y’all have a lot of very suspicious moles and I’m worried about you. You spend so much time in the sun trying to make up for the months of darkness, and I never see any of you applying sunscreen!
Don’t be stupid – the Australian sun is much, much stronger than yours.
Aren’t Australians like, super racist?
The first response I wrote to this I ended up deleting after re-reading because it sounded like a bunch of blame shifting. Brits are also incredibly racist, as I’ve seen multiple times in the year I’ve been here. But that doesn’t change the fact that racism is rampant in Australia, and something should be done about it. It was distressingly easy to find those articles, and it’s shit like this that make me pause with shame when people ask me where I’m from. The rise of neanderthals like Trump, Farage and Queensland’s own Pauline Hanson have once again mainstreamed and normalised racism in the Western world and we should all take responsibility for that, and strive to do better.
[When it’s hot] Oh, you must love this kind of weather?
There are plenty of Australian’s who love being hot, but I’m not one of them. I love the sunshine, don’t get me wrong, but the heat? I don’t understand it, this desire to be sweaty and unhappy just while sitting around doing nothing. There is nothing appealing about getting out of the shower and breaking out in a fresh sweat just towelling yourself off. When it’s hot and sticky, flies are attracted to your face, they swarm around it and try to settle on your lips. Your legs stick to chairs, your hair always looks either flat or frizzy as hell, and good luck getting your makeup to sit on your face. The heat is only worth it if you’re by the beach or a pool with a cold drink (preferably alcoholic) and a good book.
The heat sucks. You can always put more clothes on to get warm but there’s only so many layers of clothing you can take off.
[When it’s cold] Oh, you must hate this kind of weather?
Wrong again, amigo! The cold is glorious and bracing and crisp and I couldn’t be happier about bundling up in tights, boots, scarves and jumpers. I love the most when it’s cold but sunny; everything feels so much more peaceful and I am so ready to embrace the day!
Koala’s are pretty aggressive, right?
What? No? Koala’s are asleep like 90% of the time, because all they can digest is gum leaves which are mostly water. They’re more akin to sloths than anything else, and any talk of them being “like bears” is not only biologically inaccurate (they aren’t bears), but it’s a surefire way to fire up any Aussie within earshot: THEY. AREN’T. BEARS.
You know what are aggressive? Kangaroos. And you lunatic tourists are just walking right up to them and feeding them from your hand like they’re puppies or camel.
Why don’t people live in the ‘middle bit’?
This is a totally legitimate question, thank you for asking something interesting. The short answer is, “it’s a desert”. The longer answer is there are a number of indigenous communities found in central Australia, who continue to thrive and live off the land as their ancestors did before white people invaded. Europeans historically tend to settle (steal land) from coastal areas or places near water – hence no big “settled” cities in the ‘middle bit.’
[When Down under comes on the radio] This must be like, your honorary national anthem?
I’ve actually heard this song more times in the year I’ve lived in the UK than I have in my entire life. Brits seem to have a perverse kind of obsession with it that is pretty much only seen in middle-aged dads drunk on XXXX and too much sunshine. OK fine, you’ll be hard pressed to find an Aussie that doesn’t know every word. Yes, after a few drinks it does invoke some weird kind of karaoke level enthusiasm, I’m not necessarily proud of. No, I don’t really like the song, I’ve just become totally immune to it. I imagine it’s how Alabamian’s (Alabamites?) feel about Sweet Home Alabama, or any girl named Monica in the late 90s felt after Mambo No 5 came out.
Did I answer any of your pressing Ask an Aussie questions? Got any more for me?
Hit me up in the comments below and maybe I’ll do a part two!
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