Saturday, 15 July 2017

We really are a weird mob

This piece titled YOU KNOW YOU'RE AUSTRALIAN IF has been around some time but I thought I’d try and explain some of it for my overseas friends.
You believe that stubbies can be either drunk or worn. Stubbies is the term used for a particular style of men’s shorts AND a small bottle of beer.

You're liable to burst out laughing whenever you hear of Americans "rooting" for something. Hmmm this is a bit delicate. I’ll just say it has sexual connotations 

You pronounce Melbourne as 'Mel-bin'.
You believe the 'L' in the word 'Australia' is optional.
These two just come down to our lazy accent

You can translate: 'Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas.' Darren and Sharon played AC/DC music on the way to McDonalds (the hamburger type). Easy!

You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep. The Big Banana out the front of a Gift Shop surrounded by a Banana Plantation near Coffs Harbour NSW was the first of Australia's “Big Things” and set a trend in towns across the country. They are generally related in some way to the tourism industry and promote a local product.

You think 'Woolloomooloo' is a perfectly reasonable name for a place. Why not?

You're secretly proud of our killer wildlife. That’s pretty true for most Australians but none of us really want to meet them.

You believe it makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that's twice as big as its $2 coin. Why not?

You understand that 'Wagga Wagga' can be abbreviated to 'Wagga' but 'Woy Woy' can't be called 'Woy'. Yep, of course.

You believe that cooked-down axle grease makes a good breakfast spread. You've also squeezed it through Vita Wheats to make little Vegemite worms. What Australian child doesn’t love Vegemite worms?

You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian, until they stuff up, at which point they again become Kiwis. Well at one time they did give consideration to becoming a state of Australia. So did Fiji but they didn’t turn up.

Beetroot with your Hamburger... Of course. Of course, it is good for you.

You know that certain words must, by law, be shouted out during any rendition of the Angels' song 'Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again' And "Living next door to Alice".  Usually only during a drinking session.

You believe that the confectionery known as the Wagon Wheel has become smaller with every passing year. Sadly, so have most of our other lollies (candy for my American friends)

You believe that the more you shorten someone's name the more you like them. Yep, it’s a sign of endearment.

Whatever your linguistic skills, you find yourself able to order takeaway fluently in every Asian language. I think Chinese takeaway would have been the first ethnic takeaway food in Australia so we learnt early.

You understand that 'excuse me' can sound rude, While 'scuse me' is always polite. It’s all in the emphasis and inflection.

You know what it's like to swallow a fly, on occasion via your nose. Hmmm, a hazard of living in Australia.

You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle and a seat belt buckle becomes a pretty good branding iron. As lovely as leather is, many people opt for fabric seat covers because leather can get hot too.

Your biggest family argument over the summer concerned the rules for beach cricket. Doesn’t every family have that problem?

You shake your head in horror when companies try to market what they call 'Anzac cookies'. Anzac Biscuits!!! We eat biscuits in Australia not cookies. Oh and Anzac biscuits are very yummy.

You still think of Kylie as 'that girl off Neighbours'. Kylie Minogue started her acting career as a teen character in an Australian soap opera called Neighbours.

When working in a bar, you understand male customers will feel the need to offer an excuse whenever they order low-alcohol beer. It’s a macho thing.

You know how to abbreviate every word, all of which usually end in ‘o’: arvo, combo, garbo, kero, metho, milko, muso, rego, servo, smoko, speedo, righto, goodo etc. Like I said before’ we are a tad lazy with speech.

You know that there is a universal place called "woop woop" located in the middle of matter where you actually are. If a place is a REALLY long way out it is usually described as being ‘at the back of woop woop’.

You know that none of us actually drink Fosters beer, because it tastes like shit. But we let the world think we do. Because we can. Why let the good beer go overseas anyway?

You have some time in your life slept with Aeroguard on in the summer. Maybe even as perfume. Aeroguard is a popular brand of insect repellent to stop those flies and moszzies (sorry mosquitoes) getting in your mouth while sleeping. The popular advertising slogan for the product was another Australian phrase – ‘didyahavagoodweekend’; yes said like that all together.

You've only ever used the words - tops, ripper, sick, mad, rad, sweet - to mean good. And then you place 'bloody' in front of it when you REALLY mean it. Yep

You know that the barbecue is a political arena; the person holding the tongs is always the boss and usually a man. And the women make the Salad. The women also chop the onions, prepare the marinade, set the table and wash up; then congratulate the men on a wonderful meal and thank them for taking over the meal preparation for a day.

You say 'no worries' quite often, whether you realise it or not. It’s reassuring for the person you are talking to and you say it whether something is a bother or not.

You understand what no wucking furries means. Umm yea, just reverse the first letters of the words.

You've drank your milk/tea/coffee/milo through a Tim Tam. The best form of chocolate flavoured straws except they are not straws they are chocolate biscuits.

You own a Bond's chesty. In several different colours. Bonds is a brand of clothing famous for their singlets. The logo was a character called Chest Bond.

You know that some people pronounce Australia like "Straya" and that's ok. Laziness again.

You have a thong tan...not on your arse! Thongs in Australia are what other countries call flip flops.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Razorback NSW Australia

The night was pitch black when the white owl swooped low across the windscreen as the car drove over Razorback. The announcer of death they say of the owl but it is also said they herald good fortune.

Was this a message for the driver or did it portend yet another Razorback legend?

Whatever the message from the owl there is no doubting this stretch of road, once part of the Hume Highway, has seen its share of death, mystery, disaster and conflict.

Aptly named for its steep ascent and narrowness its story begins with harsh convict labour followed by explorers and settlers.

Tales followed of horrific murders, unexplained accidents and notorious bushrangers of the worst kind; of bullock wagons, horse drawn carriages and motor cars mysteriously going over the edge. Was the cause the ‘phantom’ road that appears causing drivers go in that direction or a ghostly aparition that frightened them? Many have heard the ghost of one bullocky hauntingly calling his team in the middle of the night.

Mysteries span the life of the road with horses suddenly being spooked, not stopping until they got to Picton, and cars being nudged as they travelled the road when no other car could be seen.

Many travellers over the mountain will remember the original Anthony Hordens’ oak tree. It mysteriously died when the store collapsed. Local legend tells how the landowner, no longer receiving payment for the use of its image, died of the same poison he used on the tree.

Then there was Ted ''Greendog'' Stevens, a semi-trailer owner-driver who became the face of a nine-day blockade, demanding the abolition of road taxes. Before the construction of the freeway he and other truckies blocked the Hume Highway in 1979. They were joined by more than 2000 other owner-drivers. A monument to their battle stands today on the side of the road.

But, does the mountain also have a healing power? D'harawal legend says if you stand on the mountain with your back to the wind your troubles will be blown away.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fashionable Recollections

My earliest memory of being aware of fashion was in the 1950s. I was about eight years and often stayed overnight at a friend’s house. We shared a bedroom with her older sister who worked in Sydney. I would lay in bed watching her pull dress after dress out of the wardrobe trying to decide what she would wear that day. Even more fascinating was to watch her don layer after layer of petticoats. How I loved those full skirts flounced out with, sometimes, five or six petticoats underneath so the skirt would flare out and spin just right.

My next fashion passion wasn’t until the early 60s. At least I think that was when I fell in love with black heeled boots, tight black pants and overlarge purple jumpers.  I remember girls wearing outfits like this very clearly but strangely my research does not show any photos.

In Australia, in the 1960s, teenagers usually followed one of three groups – surfies, rockers or mods. The surfies were focussed on beach attire. Their life was centred around surfing and the dance of choice was the stomp.

The rockers were mostly motor bike groups (or those who wanted to be tough). They, naturally, wore a lot of leather. I think this is where the purple jumper fashion fitted in and probably the reason my mother would not approved the tight pants and certainly not the heeled boots for a young teenager. Although she did agree to knitting a purple jumper. It just wasn’t sloppy enough for my liking. For those who have never heard of the mods think Emma Peel from the Avengers but I’ll come back to that.

Of course, the fashion for the surfies included blonde hair and many girls would use peroxide to lighten their natural colour. There was only one problem. When the girls went swimming in chlorinated pools their hair would turn green! It was one of the times I was grateful to be a natural blonde.

Back to the mods. They were, to me, the best dressed and Emma Peel was certainly my heroine; not just her character but her fashions. Oh, how I loved mini skirts, long boots, hot pants and then as we moved towards the 1970s culottes, bell bottoms and platform shoes.

Of course mini skirts have been in and out many times since then but I think my generation were more aware of how to stand, sit and bend in them. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that pantyhose only came in and we may have mentally thought we were showing our suspender belts. I remember quite clearly trying to avoid the filing cabinet draw second from the bottom. The top two were fine providing you didn’t have stretch too far back thus raising that hemline a tad too far. The bottom drawer involved squatting down on the ground, knees together of course! But that third drawer! It was too low to bend over and quite uncomfortable to bend the knees just enough to lower your hands but we coped.

There was one other fashion I was passionate about. I always wanted a shimmy dress. The style from the 1920s with rows and rows of fringing. As a teenager I did a pretty good shimmy – I just needed the dress to go with the dance. The photo at the top of this page is the closest I ever got with its fringe hanging over cut outs in the side of the bodice.