Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Sounds of Then (This is Australia)

Perth's annual SkyShow was held last night in celebration of Australia Day - the biggest fireworks display for Aussie Day in the country, apparently. It's the one day of the year when Perthites flock to vantage points in King's Park and on the shores of the Swan River in huge numbers, usually toting an esky full of beer and a footy. They arrive at the designated area early in the afternoon, and stake out their spot until the "sky lights up" at 8pm, for a 1/2 hour show. I decided to forego the crowds this year and take advantage of the great view from my office building - not quite the same atmosphere as being one of thousands on the foreshore and smelling the gunpowder as fireworks explode, but no fighting for blanketspace!! And I don't regret my choice, either, reading this today - I suppose it doesn't get more Aussie than drunken yobbos starting brawls on a hot summer's night. In the immortal words of Alf Stewart - flamin' galahs...

Continuing on the Australian theme, I was at a friend's place on Sunday night, and we happened across a program all about that perilous place that is our nation, aptly titled "Don't Go There". I think it was filmed with the sole purpose of scaring off any Brits who are thinking of holidaying in or immigrating to Australia. One particular story on the show described the "hellish" experience of a pommie backpacker who decided he would cycle through Kakadu National Park. Yep, that's right - ride a bike through Kakadu. Sounds like SO MUCH FUN. So he takes off on his bike, and surprise, surprise - he gets a puncture. And while he's mending the tyre, he gets rather thirsty and drinks his entire supply of water. Honestly, I think Australian immigration should do basic intelligence tests on visitors so that idiots like this don't make it into the country!!! The rest of the story described this guy's "extreme annoyance" at having to share his tent with mosquitoes (yes, we have mozzies, get some damn Aerogard!) and his very thirsty and hot ride in seek of water.

There were a couple of genuinely scary creatures mentioned on this show, however - like the Funnel Web spider - thank God we don't get them on this side of the country! They are the most venomous spider in the world, are very aggressive, and are big, black and ugly. But wait, there more - they can survive up to 30 hours submerged in water - just when you thought it was safe to take a dip in your pool.... Eeek!

Speaking of scary Aussie beasties brings to mind that great Aussie icon and hero, our very own croc hunter, Steve Irwin. Even scarier than the crocs is the fact that Stevo is probably one of the best-known Australians internationally...I was appalled to see him on a TV screen in the airport at Honolulu recently, while I was waiting for my flight back to Perth. Yes, folks, people the world wide have seen footage of Steve Irwin holding his newly born baby in one arm, with a croc less than a metre away. Worse still, excerpts of an interview in which Stevie was outraged at the media attention and was defending his actions, in the most ocker accent I've ever heard, were also screened across the globe. Seeing those excerpts, I was acutely embarrassed to be an Australian.

Thank goodness that our international reputation can be salvaged by worthy, fearless and intelligent leaders who insist, despite a lack of any evidence whatsoever, that weapons of mass destruction really do exist and our participation in the Iraq "intervention" really was warranted, and courageously follow in America's heedless footsteps. Aussie Aussie Aussie - oi oi oi!!!

Cringeworthy events and actions aside, I am *generally* proud to be an Aussie...we have done some pretty cool stuff...and most of the time we're not such bad folks...


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