Who We Are: A Miscellany of the New Australia

Who We Are: A Miscellany of the New Australia

Who We Are: A Miscellany of the New Australia

Who We Are: A Miscellany of the New Australia

Synopsis

The ultimate miscellany of Australiana - packed with fascinating and humorous facts, ideas and quotations about our attitudes, language, habits, icons, entertainers, passions, flora and fauna.

Excerpt

Every so often a politician or pundit goes on about what ‘the average Australian’ wants, believes, expects and won’t stand for. Every so often a pundit or politician discovers the importance of teaching ‘Australian values’ to recent arrivals or describes some action or group as ‘un-Australian’. These propositions are usually followed by a flurry of questions, and the revelation that the pundits and politicians have no idea what they’re talking about.

We’re here to help. This book is an attempt to provide all the information anybody could need to determine what it means to be a resident of this continent, what might be our national values and whether there is — or ever could be — an average, normal or typical way of living here. in particular, this book tries to explain how, in just fifty years, this country transformed itself from one of the dullest places on the planet to one of the most interesting.

You can tell a lot about a nation from the way it shops, talks, eats, laughs, worships, competes and entertains itself. That’s the kind of detail you’ll find in this book — our favourite movies, our political passions, our inventions, our most popular products, our world records, our changing language and, above all, the kind of people we celebrate and satirise. There’s a bit of history here but this is mainly about the way we are in the first decade of the 21st century — a reality that may be somewhat different from the myths Australians hold about their land.

You’ll find mention of lamingtons, Holden cars, Don Bradman, echidnas, Slim Dusty, funnel-webs and The Man from Snowy River. But you’ll also find tiramisu, Desperate Housewives, chardonnay, Bob Brown, iPods, Miranda Otto and ‘Beds are Burning’ — which may be more relevant to the national identity in 2006.

One of our healthiest national traits is a habit of making fun of ourselves. Australians are uncomfortable with displays of patriotism. They’d rather trim tall poppies than boast about triumphs. So when I say there are a few things in this book that made me feel surprised and proud as I was researching them, please don’t spread it around.

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