I come from the Land Down Under, by Susannah Friis

G’day and thank you so much, Karen, for having me on your blog. I have wanted to come to America for quite some time, I just didn’t know my first trip overseas would be a ‘virtual’ one.

I have thought long and hard about the differences between Australians and Americans.  There are the differences in language that we all know about. For example: you call a g-string, a thong, and we call flip-flops, thongs = hysterical confusion that we love to take advantage of.

You all know we love vegemite (well, most of us; my husband hates it and he is born and bred Aussie); that we play football with no padding; that we have a rather self-deprecating sense of humour and love to make fun of everyone, not least of all ourselves; that our country is vast with wide open spaces and a plethora of white sandy beaches; that we have dangerous animals, snakes and spiders; and that we have kangaroos hopping down our suburban streets. Actually, that last one isn’t strictly true; that only happens sometimes.

So I thought I would talk about the differences of which you may not be aware.

Wheelie bins. These are for what you call, trash. Each week we place the wheelie bins at the kerbside outside our homes and a truck comes along to empty them. Being the creative lot that we are, a few other uses have been developed over the years. Wheelie bins make excellent stumps for street cricket (please tell me you know what cricket is!!). Wheelie bins also occasionally get a bit of action as a mode of transport. Someone who has consumed too much alcohol will be cheerfully careened around the neighbourhood inside a wheelie bin by friends who have also consumed too much alcohol.

We call a kettle for boiling water for tea, a jug, and we also call the resulting drink from the jug, a cuppa and we have it at smoko, even if we don’t smoke.

I am proud to say Australia was the second country in which women won the right to vote and the first to have women stand for election.

There is a common myth that we have an accent. We don’t. The rest of the English speaking world does, though.

We once had a prime minister who held the Guinness Book of Records for drinking the most beer in 11 seconds. Charming.

We eat one of the animals, the kangaroo, that proudly sits as part of our Coat of Arms. The kangaroo was chosen because it cannot go backwards, and our slogan is Advance Australia. I have never tasted roo meat but it is readily available in the butchers or supermarket and is the meat of choice to give to our pet dogs. Do you guys eat the Bald Eagle? No, I didn’t think so. Even I think it’s a bit weird.

You say you are ‘going to the bathroom’, we say we are ‘off to the loo’.

When you buy food and take it back to your house, or it gets delivered, you say it’s ‘take out’, we call it ‘take away’.

We have stubbies of beer and you do not.

Christmas for us is full of swimming in the pool, playing backyard cricket, bbq’s and air conditioning. I would love to one day experience a white, snowy, cold Christmas but I love the heat at Christmas and it would feel strange without it, I suspect.

Our ancestors are convicts. Despite what I have read in doing some research for this post, we are not bothered by that at all. Seriously. We really don’t care. Mention it all you like, we simply won’t be offended. Interesting fact: Australia was founded by convicts; our homicide rate is 1.8. America was founded by mainly religious folk; homicide rate 6.3. So, I guess, we’re happy to have a convict heritage over a religious one.

So what do I love about this country of mine? Nearly everything. I love the people. We are open, friendly, funny and don’t take ourselves too seriously.  I love the places. It’s only when I see footage of the ‘beaches’ in other parts of the world that I truly appreciate our white, sandy shores and rolling blue surf. Our rainforests are beautiful, our outback bush amazing.

I love our freedom; our political system, while not perfect by any means, does a pretty good job. While we do have people living below the poverty line, we don’t have slums, and our unemployment rate is only just over 5%. And everyone can get a fair go if they work hard enough.

I love Australia. I do have a desire to travel and see other cultures, places and ways of life but I suspect that nothing would quite measure up. Australia will always be my home.

So I will leave you with this:

Thanks for having me here, it’s been beaut. Right now I’m chucking a sickie and am off for the arvo. I’m going back o’bourke and taking some bikkies with me. Best use the dunny before I go. It’s been fair dinkum fun to be here; I’ve had a ridgy-didge good time. Well, I best shoot through before Karen spits the dummy. Catch ya later, cobber!

Susannah Friis

Susannah is an aspiring writer who currently owns and runs four community publications with her husband. When not working or writing, it is not uncommon for her children to find her singing and dancing in the kitchen, always off key and out of time. Spending time with family and friends and in the company of good wine makes her happiest. She also likes to look at life sideways and enjoys speculating on the ‘whys’ of how we behave as humans. You can join in the speculation by stopping by her blog at Personally Speaking or follow her writing journey at The Writerly Way. And if you do, don’t forget to say g’day.

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20 Comments

Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

20 responses to “I come from the Land Down Under, by Susannah Friis

  1. Pingback: I come from the land down under | Personally Speaking

  2. Now that the post is up – and since I didn’t ask too many questions because I trust you implicitly – what’s ‘spits the dummy?’ I have to know! I have more questions, but I’ll wait to see if others post them.

  3. Well, g’day, Susannah and Karen! I enjoyed reading this very much. Australians sound like a spunky and humorous people. I promise, the day I become a published writer, I’ll visit and we’ll have that joint book signing. Can we do it on one of your fabulous beaches, while sipping a glass of wine? Hmm, what a pleasant dream. Off I go to write, perhaps with a cuppa. Thank you, Karen, for dreaming up an international blog tour, the virtual travels have added spice to my days.

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tonia Marie. We should start a writers’ week-long workshop in Australia. And we can all camp at Susannah’s!

  5. Karen – ‘spit the dummy’ means get really, really cranky! We use it in quite a friendly way, and it’s not offensive at all 🙂

    Tonia – so glad you enjoyed it. I will definitely take you up on the beach-book-signing…sounds perfect!!

    I am keen for a workshop here – come on over!!!!

  6. Really funny post!!! Enjoyed the wit tremendously! Very nice to meet you, cobber!

  7. Spit the dummy – that’s a good one! I would never get cranky on you. A cobber – a friend or pal? I think we should arrange a writers’ conference Down Under. I could take care of two birds with one stone! So it never gets cold over there?

    • Yes, ‘cobber’ is the same as calling someone ‘mate’ 🙂
      I wouldn’t say it never gets cold. In winter we do get below zero and in the more southern parts there is snow etc. Where I am in, in Queensland, the winter is fairly mild compared to other states but that doesn’t stop us having a log fire of an evening!
      Please do come, everyone! I have plenty of room for you all!

  8. Besides being just plain fun, I found this post to be: hilarious, informative, and inspiring. I’m all for the writer’s workshop down under! Count me in. Great job, as always, Susannah, and thanks for hosting, Karen.

  9. Thnks Karen for sharing Susannah with us. Austrailia is another dream. I found her post inspiring, funny, light and very down to earth. Loved the comment that “our ancestors are convicts, but we don’t care!” Thank you Susannah for sharing your country. Thanks Karen for sharing this series.

  10. So pleased you enjoyed it, Patricia. I have not heard of too many people visiting us and not loving our country, so come on down!

  11. Cricket, Kangaroos and Cobbers come to mind. Thanks for giving us some new insights to your beautiful land. I’d love to make a trip there some day.

  12. Just about everyone I know (in the U.S. anyway) has “Australia” on their list of “Places I want to visit.” I’ve always been intrigued by the country, even more so since your piece, Susannah. And you – as always – a pleasure to work with.

  13. I have it on my long list too Karen. I had an Australian pen pal when I was in elementary school. I love the point about how everyone else has an accent. Thank you both for sharing this.

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