This is a look at how yours truly sees life both in Australia and our view of the World. It will not be a definitive article, merely observations and news which I feel will improve people’s understanding of what’s happening in Australia politically and how life is lived.
Firstly, a little bio about me. Born and raised in Ireland in an amazing family, I moved to Australia in the middle of the oil crisis in 1974 at age 28. I had a career in IT Change Management which ended when outsourced. However, I’ve had an enjoyable, for the most part, life here with interests in Sailing, Flying and, of course, my darling wife.
Now, about Australia. the first thing to know is that It IS HUGE! You can fit half of the United States into just one State, Western Australia! Yet there are only 23 million people in the entire country, 90% of whom live along the coasts. There are many myths about Australia and the people who populate it. Yes, we have the nastiest snakes, spiders, sharks, jellyfish and even birds who will kill you stone dead in seconds, but you normally don’t find them in the suburbs of our main cities, where most of us live. Yes, there are the Crocodile Dundees out there – somewhere – but you won’t find them in your local bar. The greatest Aussie myth is the concept of ‘mateship’ where your neighbour will drop everything and come to your assistance in a crisis. This may be true in the Outback, but I’ve lived on this street for 9 years and have yet to meet more than a couple of my neighbors.
Enough of that for now. I’m going to try and follow the excellent example of Kalima and pop in some articles which I hope will educate, entertain and amuse. Feel free to comment and I’ll try and get answers to any questions.
Some Facts to compare with life in the USA:
Gas Prices: $AU 1.50 /Ltr = $US 5.83/US GAL!
Milk: $AU 2.00 /Ltr = $US 7.28/US Gal.
House Prices: Astronomical! Sydney and Melbourne are in the Top 10 most expensive places in the world to buy real estate. My 3 bedroom townhouse, 1800 sq feet in a good suburb close (5 miles) to the city Centre is valued at almost a million Dollars! I didn’t pay that 9 years ago!
Food. Very expensive compared to the USA. A porterhouse steak is about $28AUD/Kilo = $US 26.30/kilo = $US 8.00/lb.
Vegetables: don’t even ask!
Eating out for two: Dinner with a bottle of domestic wine for two will set you back at least $AUD160.
Well, here are a few news items which may be of interest:
Bias Alert! this News.com.au is a Fox site!
A little more on the thorn in the side of the GOP-equivalent Government:
It’s not only the US which has to keep the financial wolves to bay:
The Coalition, by the way ,, is the Liberal/National Party Coalition. amusingly, the Liberal Party is actually the Conservatives, like the GOP. Labor Party is like the Democrats.
Could we expect anything more from your Tory what’shisface ?
Australia votes to repeal carbon tax
Sorry, Kalima, no. The great unwashed want more in their pockets from the return of the tax to taxpayers than something useless like saving the planet. Not Australia’s finest hour, I’m afraid
AN OUTSIDER’S VIEW OF AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL.
For those who have never seen Aussie Rules Footie, it’s a delight to behold, for sure. Check some out on YouTube.
The main rules are that there doesn’t appear to be any rules at all.
The game is played with an ovoid ball, like a Gridiron or Rugby ball.
The game is played, not on an oblong pitch, but an Oval. So there are no end zones.
There are FOUR, yes FOUR Goalposts to aim for. The poor Aussies can’t kick worth shit, so need a 20-yard wide scoring area. A ball kicked between the 2 large center posts scores 6 points, but either side to the smaller posts scores only one point.
There are 15 players on each team, with substitutions and interchanges allowed. The poor dears get very tired, you see.
the game is of 4 Quarters of 20 minutes each.
The insanity commences when the Refe…. sorry, Umpire bounces the ball in the midlle of the park and the two teams decend upon it like a flock of seagulls on a hot french fry on Bondi Beach!
I don’t know about you, but in other codes, if you kick a ball high and a teammate or the opposition catches it, you try and get it from them as best you can. But, in Aussie Rules, if someone catches the ball before it bounces, they get a Free KiCK!! It’s called a mark. I reckon that’s a good description of the game in general. It’s all a con!
Scoring is registered by a goal umpire who stands in the middle of the goal and points from the waist. One arm for a single point ( called a behind, for some strange reason) or 2 arms for a goal. At the other end, the other goal umpire frantically waves flags at him. ( some sort of semaphore, I think to work out what they’ll be having at the half time break).
The fan bases of this code are just as feral as Soccer or American Football. You are a fan of one team for life, passed down from your dad. Not ideal of you move from one city to another, but you might end up with at least one useful ear.
Still, it’s a great spectacle and draws as many a 100, 000 fans to a normal weekend game.
Not my cup of tea ( I drink coffee) but very entertaining.
PPO, from your hilarious description, I’d say Monty Python’s Flying Circus could have had a ball with Australian Rules Football.
Oh, wait…I think they did!
Pink as a sincere admirer of Australians and their country, I’m so glad you decided to write about this. My wife would move to Sydney tomorrow if I had a job there, and you never know what the future holds. 😉
I find Aussies to be very grounded and down-to earth, reasonably friendly, but almost self-consciously avoid bragging about themselves or their situation. I also am extremely impressed with how child-friendly Australia seems to be. Kids are welcome everywhere, which is a nice change of pace from some places in the US.
Many of them seem to be quite fond of Americans, though they do seem to view us as slightly dotty, deranged cousins (which may very well be true).
I am aware of healthy right-wing streak that runs through a lot of Aussies, but I never seem to have come across one personally in my travels there.
I do appreciate you electing Rick Perry as Prime Minister so we could avoid having him become President here.
Speaking of Prime Ministers, you had one PM that makes you one of the coolest countries in my book:
Prime Minister Harold Holt swam out to sea in 1967, never to be seen again.
How cool is that for a story?? 🙂
Some speculated he faked his death, some thought it was suicide, some that he was mentally unbalanced, but what an interesting story. Any country that has that happen is a damn interesting one.
Hey Funk, when I moved from Sydney to Melbourne, my husband and I were driving around looking for houses. Well, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a sign. It was…….
The Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre, in the heart of one of Melbourne’s most expensive suburbs, about 50 miles from where he was lost at sea. I don’t know if the Aussies are aware of the irony!
OMG! Hilarious, fergie1. Here it is in living color:
Thank you so much, Funk, for your kind words. Your tale of travelling the East Coast is enlightening, especially about the children, because, like the US, there are predators galore in the Cities. But I suppose, with all the vast spaces out there to grow up in, life in the country must be pretty idyllic for everyone. That is, of course, until the droughts, floods, bushfires and the like come to visit every now and again. That said, there are many, many worse places in the world to live.
PPO: Just got back from the east coast (I’m in love with Maryland for now) and can’t wait to read this, but wanted to share with you one of my “Aussie” adventures (hard to have, considering I won’t fly).
Went to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV decades ago. They featured cowboys from Australia. I was mesmerized! Sir William Gunn (sp) had me crying OUT LOUD when he recited the poem “The Pearl of Them All” (think that was the name) and I became a huge fan of Henry Lawson (“Past Caring”).
One of my most favorite books ever was “In a Sunburned Country”, Bill Bryson’s tome about travels through Australia.
If I ever get over my flying phobia (and I won’t), Australia is truly one of the places I would most love to see.
I come from, left and have returned to, Texas. I am friends with the family from the King Ranch. I love the lifestyle.
Thanks for giving us some global perspective. For years now, all I could focus on was Afghanistan. Nice to turn to the west again. – AB
AB, that is one of my favorite books too. My wife’s best friend is an Aussie and on our last trip down there got to spend a lot of time with her large family in some small towns up and down the east coast. Really loved the people and the country (what I saw of it) Can’t wait to go back again in a few years.
Ever get the feeling you just ran into a deadly spider web? While holding rocks in your hands? Ha!
Well, AB, you’ve certainly opened a window which I love – what we call Bush Poetry here. Henry Lawson, A. B. “Banjo” Patterson, Barcroft Boake all write about the legendary, but now mythical times of Shearers, Cattle drovers, wild horses and the like.
Here is one of Banjo Patterson’s most famous poems set to music. It is still valid todaay, contrasting the frantic dusty city with the wonder and beauty of the simple life in the Outback:
One of my favourites is ‘A Bush Christening”:
there is a book, ‘A Collection of Australian bush Verse: ISBN 1 86282 034.1 which I have and it contains the best of the best.
Hey PPO – just pulled out my brochures and stuff from that Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Geez – that was in 1990. Where did the time go?
There was Ranald Chandler, and Ted Egan, Nerys Evans, Marion Fitzgerald, Bill Gunn and Bruce Forbes Simpson. All were great; I loved Bruce and Nerys and Bill the best. Lovely folks, and the party went on until 4 or 5AM each night.
Thank you for sharing the videos. I went online and found one for Past Caring and then I made the mistake of finding the written version of “The Pearl of Them All” by Henry Ogilvie, which has me sobbing away even as I type. But it’s a sweet hurt, and surrounded by memories of the days I got to spend with some of the cowboy poets of Australia.
Also loved “The Drovers Boy”, and found this video of Ted doing the same. Audio isn’t great, but still love the poem and the Foster phone.
So thanks, PPO. And I’m sure we will share more in the future. – AB
You know how they love to boast that Texas is big? check this out:
‘Anna Creek Station is the world’s largest working cattle station. It is located in the Australian state of South Australia. Its area is roughly 6,000,000 acres (24,000 km2; 9,400 sq mi) which is slightly larger than Israel. It is 1,977,000 acres (8,000 km2; 3,089 sq mi) larger than its nearest rival, Alexandria Station in the country’s Northern Territory and over seven times the size of the United States biggest ranch, King Ranch in Texas, which is 825,000 acres (3,340 km2; 1,289 sq mi)’
Imagine owning a ranch the size of Israel?
Nirek, you asked PPO, how can people afford to live there with prices like that?
Funny you should ask because there was an article just this weekend in The Age newspaper about dealing with that very subject pertaining to the elderly. The article is far too long. But it says that “an increasing number of elderly Austrlalians are supplementing their pensions with a spot of drug distribution”!
One paragraph in particular said that more than a quarter of older Australians struggle financially. The Global AgeWatch Index 2013 ranks the welfare of people over 60. “Australia trails behind Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom overall, and our ranking is diminished by the financial circumstances of our older people, just over a third have an income less than half the country’s median income. It’s little wonder that some are peddling drugs in order to make ends meet.”
One story was of a woman now in her late 60’s who had worked full-time as a nurse in Sydney and now to supplement her income she bakes marijuana cookies which she sells! So it wasn’t as if she hadn’t worked all her life. It’s just not easy.
No where is paradise, but truly the cost of living in Australia is very high. Those with high salaries do just fine.
Nice debut article PPO. I have always wanted to visit Australia. The natural wonders alone would be worth the trip.
I never realized that the country/continent was so big. Maybe one of these days I’ll get down there. Of course, I would like to make the trip in shorter hops.
Have you ever toured the outback?
Many thanks for the compliment, KT. Yes, Australia is huge. For instance, a travel agent friend of mine told me that an American couple wanted to land in Sydney and do a day trip to Ayer’s Rock in the middle of the country. He had to gently explain that the round trip is 9,000km and would take 50 hours driving!
When I first came here, I was gobsmacked at the distances people would drive just for a BBQ! 100 miles was nothing. I have seen a lot of the Outback, but only within Victoria and New South Wales. I’ve never been to any of the huge Deserts here. I have been to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts in Queensland, but never went out to the Barrier Reef. I have seen the unspoilt beauty, several times, of the West Coast of Tasmania. There are beaches there that have never, ever, had the footprint of man on them, including mine, because at the time I was crew on a Racing Yacht on my way to Hobart. So, by all means come and visit. We have the usual schlock like Waterworld and Steve Irwins Australian Zoo, but we also have things like the Platypus, Koala and Tasmanian Devil conservation reserves. If you’re a woodsman at all marvel at the only recently discovered Wollami Pine in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. This pine was known only as a fossil remnant, until a stand, still living, was discovered. there is something for everyone here, for sure.
Hi ppo, said I’d come back but didn’t expect it to take this long, sorry. 😳
Knowing you a little from your time here at The Planet, this tongue-in-cheek piece is exactly how I imagined your first post to be. When we live in a country that is our second or in my case, third home, for a long time, we have every right to make fun of some of the more unflattering and comical aspects of that country, I do it with Japan quite often.
Still, Tokyo was again voted the most expensive city in the world, so I take first dibs on that one, living in a shoe box as I do. 😉
So thanks ppo, it was fun.
You’re very welcome, Kalima, especially for the dibs on Tokyo! I don’t know how long my little post will have legs, but I’ll try and answer any questions anyone has about living here. I can’t promise not to be tongue-in-cheek, as some perceptions are hilarious. So now I’ll saddle up Ol’ Red, the kangaroo and hop down to the supermarket!
I’ve been here over 30 years, ppo, and sometimes the only way to stay sane, is to laugh, and that’s what I do a lot of when things are not so easy to understand or changeable.
Have fun at the super and don’t forget where you park that kangaroo.
Oh Kalima, not only are you sage in so many ways and I’ve always loved your sense of humor, but this had me having a really good chuckle as did PPO! Great banter.
As an aside, having lived in many different contries myself ( as you probably know), I agree so much with you that a large dose of laughing beans is necessary to stay sane in certain circumstances!
Thanks Fergie, I had to laugh because you are one of the few people who understand my often off sense of humour, so I thank you for that. 🙂
Coming here was a great culture shock for me, and once you get used to it there are so many things to laugh at, but never in a bad way. Once in a while, my Japanese family have to laugh too when I explain how I see things, and have never taken it in a bad or insulting way.
As I said to ppo, when you have lived in another country as long as we have, have worked and payed taxes there, been affected by government decisions there, we have earned the right to have an opinion and sometimes laugh about the things that are hard to explain.
Here’s an article from the Australian Broadcasting Company on The benefits to Australia if it were just a bit more American!
Check out the comments!
Australia has an ‘Asylum Seeker Crisis’ at present. That statement is in quotes, because, according to the Government, we don’t. The current GOP government has, in its wisdom, decided that, instead of reporting how many refugees seeking asylum are coming here in rickety boats – only to find they’ve been outsourced to Manus Island and Papua New Guinea detention centres – the Abbott Government refuses to talk about it at all! If you won’t talk about a problem, it doesn’t exist! Wow! What a wonderful Immigration Minister we have. Here’s a few letters to the Editor of the Melbourne Age Newspaper.
Australia is a signatory to the Convention on Refugees, but it doesn’t apply of course if the refugees are desperate, poor and have to bypass the snail-paced, underfunded and undermanned visa application section. The Aussie Government has stated that anyone approaching Australian waters in a boat will not be allowed to step on to Australian Soil. They have even turned round a Sri Lankan boat with refugees that claim to have been tortured and returned them to their torturers.Wonderful Humanity, isn’t it? I must remember that when I do my next Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race!
PPO, I’m late to the party but just wanted to thank you for your good-humored article on the Land of Oz.
I have a dear friend who lives in Australia. She was born in the USA but married an Australian fella and has lived there for over 30 years. So she thinks and feels like a citizen by now.
Like you, she’s very frank about the foibles and quirks of Aussie culture and politics. But she also loves the place and — as far as I know — plans to spend the rest of her days there happily.
High prices and all, she seems to feel that the overall stress level is lower in Australia. I think she may be right.
We always enjoy your input on Vox on Friday evenings, because it’s so refreshing to get a different take on US politics from the eyes of someone outside the country.
So — thanks for the article. Or should I say: “Good on ya, mate!”
Thank you so much, Kes for your encouragement. Yes, I love having a tongue-in-cheek view of all things, both Aussie and in the US.
Australia is quite unique, both geographically and by the makeup of its occupants. We’re now a rainbow nation and hopefully don’t take ourselves too seriously, especially when it comes to our politicians! There’s good and bad everywhere in this world, and, if I may say so, it ain’t half bad here! I’ll hopefully continue to pop bits in as they catch my eye.
An image reflecting how some Americans see Australia…OZ…
Size does matter:
A map for Americans
And by way of backup, a set of images re. the American understanding of the lethal nature of the Aussie environment….
There are some serious pieces that I have read that give me a sense of the layered psyche in your country:
http://aboriginalartandculture.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/the-psychology-of-everyday-australians/ and lastly this list of 10 films from a site that my friends admire http://australiancultureandcustoms.com/10-famous-australian-films-to-gain-insight-into-the-aussie-psyche/
I really appreciate snapshots like these. Mopshell has done a bunch of them at Daily Kos and perhaps will offer them here. I have three friends from down under and their descriptions of life there match up rather precisely with yours and Mopshells.
Thanks for this…do more…it opens the American mind.
Huge thanks, Murph! I think you’re better qualified than I to write about down Under. Yes, I will, if it’s ok, continue to add bits and bobs to this post whenever I find something I think may be of interest. Where did you get that brilliant Australian map?
p.s. The scariest critter is the Dreaded Danii Minogue!
Wow, good on you Murph, and to PPO: you may have been born in Ireland, but you’re dinky die now, and good on YOU, too, for your article and all your additional comments!
Many thanks, NoMan. I’ll never be dinki di, cobber, but I can mix the old bull sayings with the best! Now go stick your head up a dead koala’s bum! 😆
Ah yes, the dulcet tones of an Aussie’s gentle jawing! HaH….I have two good friends from your neck of the woods and their colloquialisms are a wonder.
Crash-hot, PPO! No bludger you, you’ve
given us a quick but fan-bloody-tastic
Captain Cook at Oz — and you’ve left us grinning like a shot fox!
Appreciated. I found the article interesting but the discussion even more so….only a neighborhood blog like the Planet could host such a conversation. Glad I am here and glad you all are here too.
Well pinkpantheroz and Fergie1, sounds like Australia is a truly horrible place which no-one in their right mind would bother to visit let alone want to live there. Its attitude to its natives is inhumane, condescending and thoughtless. Most of the population can’t afford decent housing let alone decent food to eat. Everyone lives only for themselves, no-one would ever help anyone else out, the concept of “mateship” being nothing more than a myth. The government is deeply conservative and verging on the destructive. As pointed out, they can’t even get the names of their political parties right (the Liberal Party being conservatives and not liberal at all). Barry Humphries is summed up with “CRINGE!” and “PPO! AAAGGGHHH!! Shoot me!” The wildlife (including birds) is deadly and though “you normally don’t find them in the suburbs” that infers that you do find them there from time to time so it’s a very dangerous place to be. Presumably they are also culturally vacuous since the best programming they export is trite soap operas.
Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but are all Australians so negative about the country? Certainly I wouldn’t want to go there after reading this.
Mopshell, I think you may have garnered the wrong impression . No, neither I nor most of the population hate Australia. There is very much to love here. May I use the simile that if one were to read of the plight of many Americans, they’d feel the same about the US. We both know this is not true. Australia, like America, is a magnificent place, with many features of the land and culture which are both world-leading and beautiful. We both have flora and fauna unique in the world. We have many Heritage-listed areas of natural and historic beauty. You state, for instance, “sounds like Australia is a truly horrible place which no-one in their right mind would bother to visit let alone want to live there. Its attitude to its natives is inhumane, condescending and thoughtless. Most of the population can’t afford decent housing let alone decent food to eat. Everyone lives only for themselves, no-one would ever help anyone else out, the concept of “mateship” being nothing more than a myth. The government is deeply conservative and destructive.” Now, please change the word ‘Australia’ to ‘The USA’, ‘mateship’ to ‘neighbor’, and see what I mean. Someone who might be contemplating moving to the US would be aghast at the lack of gun safety, the pitiful education standards in local schools, the rampant obesity, the incredibly expensive health insurance, bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and the huge death toll from drugs, murders, crime in general and would want to steer very wide of such a country.
As in the USA, we have lives lived just like all the other industrial and deveolped countries. Most of us in both countries live and work in cities and rarely venture outside city limits, so you’re painting with a very wide brush with your post. I do love Australia, warts, critters and all. 🙂
Sorry, but I saw no “love” for Australia in the article you wrote. My summary was taken directly from your article and comments written by yourself and Fergie1 who, I gather, is another Australian. If this is your expression of “love” for a country, then I have to wonder what you’d write about a country you didn’t like.
Sorry if you feel that way, Mopshell. I feel that your ‘summary’ in no way reflects my feelings for Australia. You’re putting words and thoughts into my writings that are not there. I am just writing about realities of life here, not how I feel about it. Just for the record, I love Australia so much that the day I qualified, I became an Aussie citizen. What boggles my mind is that you have asked me why anyone would live here. Well, you being from Tasmania, from what I’ve read at DK and all, how about an answer?
And I don’t need any okker banalities. Just be yourself and let us all know how YOU feel about your country.
I wouldn’t dream of it. This is your gig, your article, and you’ve delighted everyone here except cantankerous old me. Incidentally, since immigration is a hot issue in America right now, perhaps you could mention Australia’s attitude to immigrants and the government’s attitude to boat people, Australia’s illegal aliens.
I have already noted that your reflections on life in Australia provide an interesting set of snapshots which I think are worth noting.
How about providing the gang at the Planet with a list of your “Aussie” portrait from DK? Heck why not repost one of them here with a list of the others included.
No, I don’t think I will be doing that.
Mopshell: “Do all Australians hate their country so much?” There was no mention of “hate” in my post. Where did you read that? And why would you ask such a question? What I related was news as per the original attached article. You being from Tasmania, I’m sure that you keep up to date with what happens here in Australia political wise and every other wise.
And with respect, I have every right to CRINGE at Barry Humphries or his alter egos. People in every country of the world have different tastes.
All very true of course. Perhaps you could write an article about Australia’s entertainment from your point of view (do please include the Minogue sisters) – I can assure you it will go down very well here. Also, please expand on Medicare as you see it since healthcare is an issue of considerable interest to Americans.
Perhaps you could respond to my question of where you conjured up the “hate” in my post? It would give your post more credibility. I don’t respond to fatuous requests to write about Australian entertainment. It’s quite obvious that we have very different tastes
I’m very well aware that healthcare is of more than considerable interest to Americans and have shared extensively what Australia’s healthcare system offers with my Alumni friends, my work colleagues and other friends and family in America.
If I ever do decide to write such an article here it will be on my timetable and if it’s appropriate in my view.
Please feel free to write your own perspective here anytime since you were born in Australia , but I notice that you seem reluctant to add to the debate other than making assumptions that were out in left field.
Oh, and I’m not a born Australian – but have lived and worked here a long time and yes I do have the paper to say that I am a citizen of this country. I had Australian residency before I even stepped off the plane because no one else could do the job I had at the time and that was granted by the Australian Embassy in the U.S.
Fair comment – “hate” was inappropriate so I’ve changed it.
I can assure you that I will not be posting any articles about Australia here.
PPO, thank you for writing about some of the myths that are associated with Australia and in such an entertaining way. I concur 100%. If it’s OK with you I’ll add a link to an AlJazeera article that was on air just last year. Where the presenter says that MOST people can afford the higher prices, that is certaily not true for thousands of Seniors as well for a large percent of the population. It’s complicated and please don’t think that the majority of people can afford the lifestyle presented in this video!
Also Health Care is NOT entirely free as is the misconception of many. I recently paid $600 for an MRI. There was no rebate from my private (top cover) health insurance provider nor from the Government ‘Medicare’ scheme.
Come and visit folks, but don’t come to live here – two entirely different entities!
You’re very kind, Fergie. Any and all additions to the Australian post are very welcome. I realise now that I’m only skimming the surface of an immense subject, but then again, I’m only skimming myself!
WOW! I never thought I’d get such a response to my first ever blog! Please forgive me if I take a little time to respond to your questions. I’m by no means an expert as such on Australia, but I’ll reply using my own thoughts and some research. So please bear with me.
I found it honest and I found it intriguing.
That makes at least two of us, Murph!
And a good many more- intriguing does not always garner applause, but usually garners reaction…..