Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Spirit of Oz

Okay, it's about time I satisfied your burning curiosity as to where I've been. The answer is, to Australia! A week in Adelaide, a week in Sydney and eight days in Melbourne. In Sydney Jenny and I met the wonderful Kylie and the equally wonderful Helen (again) for a catch-up over a Turkish meal.

So how do I sum up our latest Aussie adventure? Well, how do Aussies compare with the Brits? Some big differences come to mind:

1) They worry about bushfires and are ready to evacuate their homes in a hurry.

2) They worry about water shortages and keep their water use to a minimum.

3) They worry about skin cancer and slap on litres of sunscreen. Which is why they're mostly as pale-skinned as the Brits.

4) They love beaches, barbecues, surfing and swimming. Just as long as the sharks keep their distance.

5) They love anywhere that has ice-cold air-conditioning, though if it's a fashionable restaurant or café steaming heat is no obstacle.

6) White Aussies are taking more interest in aboriginal culture and giving it the same importance as the settlers' culture. Unfortunately many aborigines are rejecting their own culture in favour of alcohol, drugs and child abuse.

7) They take space and sprawling homes for granted, unlike us Brits in our cramped, congested cities. Oz is a big, big country with space galore to spread out in.

8) They're competitive about their cities. Sydney's better than Melbourne. Melbourne's better than Adelaide. Tell you what, guys, every city has its own charms and failings. Why the jockeying for position?

9) Most Aussies are only interested in Oz. Other countries seldom feature in the news unless there's some strong Aussie link. The eurozone crisis seems to have passed them by.

10) They're seriously devoted to wine. There are hundreds of wineries and cellar doors (shops), all bristling with afficionados sampling what's on offer. But how come their home-produced wine is so pricy when they're overflowing with the stuff?

I felt very at home in Oz this time round. Maybe because I've been to all three cities before. Maybe because Aussies are so keen to enjoy themselves - unlike all those British tightarses.

I didn't want to go home. And not just because of the gruelling 20-hour flight. The Spirit of Australia is more than a Qantas catchphrase.


  1. welcome back Nick. You were missed.

    I hope 2012 is healthy and interesting for you and Jenny.

  2. Grannymar - Thanks, and a Happy New Year! I shall catch up with all my favourite blogs very soon....

  3. i tell people i am the anti-aussie!

    i loved meeting you and jenny, you must come again :)

  4. Hi Kylie! It was great to meet you in the flesh after all the blogging and facebooking! I think returning will depend on when I can face that 20-hour flight again!

  5. Speccy - It was fabulous. The only downside is a nasty case of jet lag, which I don't usually suffer from. My body is seriously misbehaving.

  6. Welcome back. I missed your posts. I am very happy that you had a grand time in Australia. Our cricket team is currently there and getting walloped.

    The next outing must be to India. I guarantee a grand time for the two of you.

  7. Ramana - Our friend Kath in Melbourne is a keen cricketer and of course an ardent supporter of the team that walloped you!

    What puts me off India is the widespread poverty. I would be forever conscious of my privileged lifestyle.

  8. I take issue with #9. My friends and I are very interested in what's happening in Europe. And in Asia for that matter.

    How come you were in Sydney and didn't have coffee with me?

  9. Myra - Oh sure, some Aussies are more cosmopolitan and actually want to know what's going on in the rest of the world. And not just the cricket.

    Coffee? I didn't know I was invited. Oh well, on our next visit....

  10. Welcome back!
    I was wondering what you were up to. Glad it was something good.
    Some day I'll make it over that way.

  11. Blackwater - What, you've never been to Oz? You must at the very least go to Sydney, it's an astonishingly beautiful city.

    Still trying to shake off this appalling jet lag....

  12. Okay, I promise not to put on my poverty rags! Will that change your mind?

  13. Ramana - What poverty rags? I thought you were a man of substantial means.

  14. I was wondering where you were, and thought maybe Christmas had got the better of you. Glad you were actually doing something so enjoyable.

    If I ever have money again I will go. Australia is on my must visit asap list, especially since I've got to know so many wonderfully artistic, witty, interested Australians through blogging. Some of my favourite virtual friends are there.

    I suspect the aborigines don't know what their culture is anymore.

    wE hope to go to Sydney in Oct, I look forward inhearing all of your adventures

  16. Eryl - You must definitely go, you won't regret it. An amazing country, despite its awful politics. I fear you're right about the aborigines having lost their culture.

    John - You'll love it! But be warned: Sydney's got very expensive, the exchange rate has slipped dramatically in the Aussies' favour.

  17. Aaaah, Australia! It does sound like a great country. We spent a year in NZ, but I never got the chance to go to Australia. Pity. I'll probably never be so close again.

    Australian wine is expensive there? Wow ... I wonder why? Perhaps they save it all for export.

  18. Aww so nice to see you again Nick. Yep, I think you've got us in a nutshell. Although if you watch SBS news...you'll find it less parochial. It's just the commercial stations that are Aussiecentric. Come back soon!

  19. Jay - A shame you never got to Oz. Yes, why is their wine so expensive when you're buying it right next to the vineyard?

    Baino - Glad my pen-portrait goes down well with an Aussie! We did watch some SBS but didn't notice much difference.

  20. How absolutely wonderful! What a fabulous trip. Glad you both had such a good time.

  21. Liz - It was fantastic. If you ever get a chance to go to Oz, don't hesitate....

  22. Woa! Number six? Expect a visit from the Ministry of Truth and a free sojourn at their (re)educational institution for the criminally bewildered.

    This irony again, I hasten to add...

  23. Hippo - Ooer, I'd better have my bag packed ready for a short spell of confinement....

    I think many aborigines have unfortunately been seduced by the worst aspects of settler culture.