I fell in love with the Wallabies prior to the realisation that muscular men in rugby shorts will always be a bit of a turn on for me. Despite not always being on the ball with their most recent happenings (see what I did then?), whenever I’m actually sitting there in front of the flat screen, watching the game, they become my passion once again.
When I watched my first game about a decade ago Qantas was the Wallabies’ major sponsor, as they remain today. For those of you who grew up in Australia it would’ve been hard to miss their iconic ads. (You can refresh your memories here.)* I used to get teary just listening to the children singing “I Still Call Australia Home” with the panoramas of our rather baben world flashing across the tv screen. Add Matt Giteau converting a try into the mix and I was on an emotional rollercoaster during every ad break. Yeah. I know. Needless to say that I think that the new Qantas ads are fairly s#!t, but let’s save that critique for another day.
What songs remind you of home and of your nation? For me (child with a predominantly 70s and 80s music education) they are:
Khe Sanh – Cold Chisel (God, I love this song.)
Sounds of Then (This is Australia) – Ganggajang
Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
(Land) Down Under – Men at Work
Great Southern Land – Icehouse
For those of you who don’t live in Australia or those of you who are on holidays in a serious way and don’t know whether we’re still in January or not, it’s Australia Day this weekend. It’s our day. Our national day. Or, alternatively, the public holiday where we all generally go to the beach, beer in hand whilst listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100.
As awesome as that stereotype is, there’s a part of me which feels pressured to celebrate Australia Day in a certain way… and the whole thing has had me asking myself what on earth it actually means to be Australian. What identifies you as an Aussie? How can you be so sure?
- Being born in Australia?
- Holding Australian citizenship?
- Holding an Australian passport?
- Being born of one (or two) Australian parents?
- Living in Australia?
- Being an Indigenous Australian?
- Having an ocker accent?
- Using the words “mate”, “sheila” and “beaut” in your everyday vernacular?
- Only drinking VB?
- Feeling like it’s really summer when you settle in to watch the Boxing Day Test?
- Being able to differentiate between a kangaroo and a wallaby?
- Thinking that the majority of the population was drunk when they cast their vote in last year’s election?
- Knowing that Wagga Wagga is a place and that Woop Woop isn’t?
- Having a deep tan and sun-bleached hair?
- Being able to surf?
- Riding your pet kangaroo to work each day?
- Maintaining that Item 16 is true whenever a tourist asks?
- Salivating at the thought of Vegemite, Tim Tams, pavlovas, Anzac cookies, meat pies, Gaytimes or lamingtons?
- Being Caucasian? Oh, I know it’s not politically correct, but be honest with yourself here, chump.
- Knowing a “barbie” is so much more than a doll?
- Knowing that Sydney is not Australia’s capital?
- Being branded with a Southern Cross tattoo?
- Punching a random person to the ground when you’re out on a Saturday night just for fun?
- Shedding crocodile tears when Steve Irwin died? Bloody sting rays.
- Accepting that you’ll never be able to afford any property, so you’ve resigned yourself to bumming off Centrelink and renting until you die?
- Sleeping under the stars in a swag in the Outback?
- Supporting Your Team through thick and thin?
- Smiling at the phrase “How’s the serenity?”?
- Eating kiwis only because you like the metaphor?
- Knowing you’re home when you smell the waft of eucalyptus leaves?
- Knowing that funnel webs and brown tails are deadly and that koalas aren’t as cuddly as they look?
- Being able to recite the Don’s batting records?
- Only knowing the first verse of “Advance Australia Fair”?
- Knowing in your heart of hearts that “Here’s to Steve! He’s true blue! He’s a piss pot through and through!” is your true anthem?
What is it? What makes you or anyone else Australian? Or differentiates them as not being Australian, for that matter.
See, I don’t know about you, but I don’t fit that stereotype or ideal of what being Australian is. It’s not like I have any particular issues with this kangaroo-shaped cookie cutter (apart from Item 23), but where does that leave me and everyone else who doesn’t have a Southern Cross tattoo emblazoned across their shoulder blade? Does that make us less Australian?
How about our friends who aren’t “white”? So non-PC, Alex. I know it is, but from my perspective, despite living in a city which is home to a multitude of different ethnic groups and races, I question how truly accepting we are of those around us. It disgusts me to admit that I have my own stereotyped prejudices of different ethnic groups within our community. Not many, but a few, nonetheless – and that doesn’t make it any less judgmental, hurtful or unfair towards those people. Perhaps it’s just me, but it feels like we’re multicultural in theory, but not in practice.
Not yet, at least.
Since when did “being Australian” become something we could quantify and measure? (“What do you mean you’ve never watched a game of AFL?! That’s un-Australian!”) And who are any of us to tell the person sitting next to us on the train whether they’re allowed to call this country home?
So, whether you’re cheering along to your favourite song of 2013 on the countdown; sipping a stubbie on the beach; answering calls at work; eating your
fourth second slice of lamington; napping on the couch or just having a regular day; I hope you have a great day on Sunday and that you enjoy your long weekend.
I think I can speak for many of us in saying that, whatever we’re doing come Sunday, we’re pretty bloody lucky. No, Australia isn’t perfect (“border protection” policy, lack of marriage equality and Sydney’s public transport, here’s looking at you!), but I think we can all agree that it’s still pretty f#*king awesome… and, if we want to, we should all be allowed to call this mesmerising continent our home.
* Please note that, yes, I did get teary when I watched this – partly because I had four versions to decide between for the hyperlink and partly just cos.