So, as promised, here is my post about the top ten things you might not know about Australia in no particular order...
10. Our capital is not Sydney, but is in fact a city in between Sydney and Melbourne: Canberra. While many geographically aware individuals no doubt are aware of this I've met and read a lot of comments by foreigners that indicate that Sydney is believed to be our capital and if not Sydney, then Melbourne. Which leads me to wonder if people believe we only have two cities?
9. Australia is an incredibly relaxed place, without the same kind of class structures or formal ideas as elsewhere. It can be totally acceptable to duck into a supermarket in your dressing gown or without shoes on. Wearing shorts in winter, or sandals with socks can be seen as fine. We don't really care. Of course, this leads to stereotypes of us being 'lazier' than the rest of the world. We're not exactly lazy, we just live a more down to earth lifestyle.
8. Speaking of being down to earth, in Australia we have what is known as 'tall poppy syndrome'. Where many other nations tend to fawn over celebrity and success, in Australia we like to see the 'tall poppies' (the celebrities and the rich businessmen) fail. Sure, this is a bit of an indictment on our society, but it is also a reflection of the idea that we value community and mateship more than individual achievement. Our favourite sports are all team sports for that matter!
7. Australian history is often categorised by violence, crime and involvement in the wars. However, the fact that we have 16 sites on the World Heritage list indicate that our history goes far beyond such tragic events. We also have a history that includes bushrangers, gold rushes, bush ballads, poets and enterprise.
6. Unfortunately we have the world's highest rate of gambling. This is another bad habit, since many of us love to get involved in betting on sports or going to the local pub for the machines. This is perhaps why we have such big events as The AFL Grand Final and The Race that Stops a Nation (The Melbourne Cup) - because of all the betting.
5. We are a nation of contradictions. Today we are incredibly multicultural (over 200 languages and people groups) and yet we have had parts of our history which feature great violence and racism. We are a tolerant nation and people, unless you try and impose certain things upon us. The typical Aussie response to any belief system or idea is: 'it's good for you to believe and feel how you want but don't force me to believe it or bring it out in the open to show me.'
4. We truly are the sports capital of the world, but we're also one of the most obese nations in the world, that's another one of those contradictions for you. But in all seriousness, as far as the percentage of people involved in weekly sports go in Australia? We have around 3/4 of our total population who engage in some kind of sporting activity on a regular basis. That's a large percentage considering that we have a total population of around 22 million people.
3. One thing people may not realise about Australia is that it is, geographically, around the size of the United States of America. The one issue is, that in terms of where the rest of the world is, we are also very isolated. And much of our land mass is filled in with a series of harsh, hostile deserts. Some people have adjusted to living in those areas, but most of us cannot... But for all our geography we are a land filled with great natural resources: gold, silver, uranium, opals, good looking Australian people...
2. We have our own particular lingo, well that's not so much of a surprise is it. Of course everyone knows the good 'ol Aussie drawl and our G'day greeting. Not that anyone can get the accent right (I cringed when I watched the guys playing the Aussie roles in Pacific Rim try and do it). Of course what is not so known is that much of our lingo involves shortening and abbreviating as many words as possible. Sandwiches become 'sangas', refrigerator becomes 'fridge', barbecue becomes 'barbie', avocado becomes 'avo', afternoon becomes 'arvo' and so on... Oh and just so everyone knows. We do not 'chuck another shrimp on the barbie' we generally prefer steak or lamb. Or even kangaroo chops.
1. Everything here wants to kill you. Whether you would care to die from the sun's rays (the UV is really bad), the dangerous animals or the environment, there is plenty around here to kill you. Koalas (actually marsupials) are scary things, sure they move slowly but they have claws sharp enough to cut deep if they get annoyed. Kangaroos can gut you with their hind-legs and have done it to several people - but they taste wonderful. Emus are the scariest birds walking around, although Ostriches are kind of bigger and more intimidating because of that. Fortunately you're safe if you stand behind a Kanga or an Emu because they can't walk backwards...it's why they're on our crest. But asides from those animals we also have snakes, spiders, dingoes and then there's the poisonous plants, the bushfire season, the riptides in the ocean, the sharks, the stingrays, the poisonous octopuses and fish, the insects, the sun (again)...