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Thread: Australia - through the Eyes of a Visiting American

  1. #1
    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    Australia - through the Eyes of a Visiting American

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Australia - through the Eyes of a Visiting American
    Put away the flags and enjoy your country on Australia Day


    Sometimes it is good to be reminded of the good things, not just the negatives:
    There's a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you're a visiting American, says David Mason.
    More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ''We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have.''
    So here it is - a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.

    1. Health care.
    I know the controversies, but basic national health care is a gift.
    In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy.
    The drug companies dominate politics and advertising.
    Obama is being crucified for taking halting baby steps towards sanity.
    You can't turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements - something I have never yet seen here.
    And your emphasis on prevention - making cigarettes less accessible, for one - is a model.

    2. Food.
    Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities.
    But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.
    Too often in my country an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face.
    The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I've had.
    And don't get me started on coffee.
    In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte.
    I love your ubiquitous bakeries, your hot-cross buns. Shall I go on?

    3. Language.


    How do you do it?
    The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names like magic spells.
    Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet.
    I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives - Vinnie's and Salvos - and absolutely nothing's sacred.
    Everything's an opportunity for word games and everyone's a nickname.
    Lingo makes the world go round.
    It's the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.
    Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked, ''Nothing's the same since 24-7.'' Amen.

    4. Free-to-air TV.
    In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I've ever seen - uncensored.
    In America, you can't get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees.
    In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose.
    In America, you've got 400 channels and nothing to watch.

    5. Small shops.
    Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them.
    Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food.
    Except for geography, it's hard to tell one American town from another.
    The ''take-away'' culture here is wonderful.
    Human encounters are real - stirring happens, stories get told.
    The curries are to die for. And you don't have to tip!

    6. Free camping.
    We used to have this too, and I guess it's still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.
    But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shore and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks.
    I love the ''primitive'' and independent campgrounds, the life out of doors.
    The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains.

    7. Religion.
    In America, it's everywhere - especially where it's not supposed to be, like politics.
    I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.

    8. Roads.
    Peak hour aside, I've found travel on your roads pure heaven.
    My country's ''freeways'' are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses - it's like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti.
    I've taken the Hume without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it's two lanes.
    Ninety minutes south of Batemans Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald's.
    It's blocking a lovely paddock view. Someone should remove it.

    9. Real multiculturalism.
    I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past.
    Recently, too, I spent quality time with Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture and their openness to an Afghan lunch.

    10. Fewer guns.
    You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response.
    America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes.
    Why?
    Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.
    Instead of mateship we have ''It's mine and nobody else's''.
    We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.
    There's more to say - your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches.
    These are just a few blessings that make Australia a rarity.
    Of course, it's not paradise - nowhere is - but I love it here.
    No need to wave flags like Americans and add to the world's windiness.
    Just value what you have and don't give it away.
    David Mason is a US writer and professor, and poet laureate of Colorado.
    Dimal, Thundergod and Sideshowdeb like this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    Some time ago I was on a forum where a few Yanks were complaining about their cost of petrol. Given we were, at the time, paying about $5/Au gallon and they had just gone to $2.80 /US gallon, a few of us Aussies figured they were a bit over-the-top AND our dollar was higher than theirs at the time. The US boys decided to organise a raid on Australia to steal our petrol - not sure of the logic except most of them were ex-military and missing the action I think. Everyone was getting into the fun of planning how they would execute this raid, so I thought I would try to dissuade them.

    So... just in case anyone reads David Mason's Ode to Oz above and thinks this must be Heaven, I'd like to present an Aussie Warning... (by me)

    As an Aussie I'd like, in a friendly manner, to offer a cautionary word or two...

    1. Insects & arachnids - we have a few here to give pause to the bravest souls. Couple of spiders that specialise in large mammalian types, another as big as a plate that likes meat. Got a couple of flies about an inch long that bite like the devil's pitchfork.

    2. Snakes - of the top 13 most poisonous snakes on the planet, we have 12 of them. The King Cobra is about No. 8 I think. The top five are a whole order of magnitude above all others, in toxicity & amount delivered. Tiger snakes like to come hunting if you so much as walk too close. Most of them like to swim.
    We have a snake that like to climb trees & hang around till someone walks near the tree. They can flatten their bodies & glide so from 100ft tree you aren't safe out to about 60ft away.

    3. We have lizards that like to eat the snakes...

    4. Those kookaburras that you hear in jungle sound tracks in movies? The laughing jackass as we call them? They like to pick up poisonous snakes & fly up in the air & drop them. This tends not to please the snakes. Try not to be under one.

    5. Kangaroos - about 4ft tall (the greys) up to about 7ft tall (the reds), claws an inch or more long, head of bone, hind legs able to rip the belly from a rhino. Get a little short tempered when anything gets between them & food. Try not to...

    6. Wombats - short cute little sorts, build from molybdenum steel. If one starts running, DON'T let it hit you. You'll lose the bit it hits. Sherman tanks were designed after them but they couldn't quite get the solidity factor with mere metal.

    7. Koalas - We keep them stoned on eucalyptus because they have muscles of steel to drive 2 inch claws. Australia would be uninhabitable if they ever get straight.

    8. Emus - About the size of an Ostrich but meaner. Like to kick & capable of giving you a new set of ribs - sticking out your back

    9. Cassowary's - Emus are afraid of them, think they're too stroppy.

    10. Magpies - black and white birds, a little smaller than a crow, with lovely carolling song... that they DON'T use to warn you when they are dive-bombing your unprotected head from 30 metres up - something they like to do on any average spring day. A concussion is the least of the results - cracked skulls are common.

    11. You don't need to worry about sharks in the estuary waters. The crocs ate them out...

    And the more observant of you might have noticed I haven't even mentioned Dingoes that like babies - we don't consider them enough of a threat to go on this list.

    When & if you get past all of that, you'll probably reconsider the whole 'raid' idea & figure anything requiring that kind of committment should probably result in you becoming an Aussie.

    That's OK, we've got a few nationalities here - 130+ at last count. We accept almost anyone. *grins* ...that survives...
    Dimal, Thundergod, smokey and 1 others like this.

  3. #3
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    Its not easy to keep a ballanced view,..even for those that travel overseas frequently.
    I have had better, cheaper medical service in other countries than Oz, and i think that unless you are "living" in the system you dont really know what it costs.
    IE; ..only this week, it cost me $119 and two medicare doctors "bulk billing" payments , just to get a renewal for a $20 prescription !
    Thats not mentioning the $900 in dentists fees ( after insurance payments ) also this week.

  4. #4
    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    A funny ditty for the tourists

    Come to Australia - YouTube
    Journeyman likes this.

  5. #5
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    I have spent a lot of time in the bush and have often been bitten by mosquitos, ticks, bull ants and leaches. I have never been attacked by a kangaroo, snake, shark or koala.
    I read in Bobinoz.com that we have bad things like these in Australia:
    Sharks
    Spiders
    Snakes
    Crocodiles
    Deadly sea creatures
    Dangerous sunlight
    Extreme weather conditions
    Rolf Harris
    (Rolf now spends most of his time outside Australia but he still may be bad)

    More than 20 people die each year in Australia from horse riding related accidents. Less than 2 a year die from a snakebite. There is a little over 1 killed by sharks.

    The deadliest of all Australian creatures, responsible for an average of 10 deaths per year, is the European Honey Bee. A bee sting can induce anaphylactic shock in some people.

    About 300 people drown each year mainly on inland waters and nearly 1,400 die from motor vehicle accidents.

    Perhaps instead of culling sharks to save Australian lives we should be reducing the number of cars and horses.

    Barry
    guywhodoesstuff and smokey like this.

  6. #6
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Duncan View Post
    Perhaps instead of culling sharks to save Australian lives we should be reducing the number of cars and horses.
    ...and politicians

  7. #7
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Duncan View Post
    I have spent a lot of time in the bush and have often been bitten by mosquitos, ticks, bull ants and leaches. I have never been attacked by a kangaroo, snake, shark or koala.
    I read in Bobinoz.com that we have bad things like these in Australia:
    • Sharks
    • Spiders
    • Snakes
    • Crocodiles
    • Deadly sea creatures
    • Dangerous sunlight
    • Extreme weather conditions
    • Rolf Harris
    (Rolf now spends most of his time outside Australia but he still may be bad)

    More than 20 people die each year in Australia from horse riding related accidents. Less than 2 a year die from a snakebite. There is a little over 1 killed by sharks.

    The deadliest of all Australian creatures, responsible for an average of 10 deaths per year, is the European Honey Bee. A bee sting can induce anaphylactic shock in some people.

    About 300 people drown each year mainly on inland waters and nearly 1,400 die from motor vehicle accidents.

    Perhaps instead of culling sharks to save Australian lives we should be reducing the number of cars and horses.

    Barry
    Taken directly from Wiki (so it must be true) ;-p

    "Although Australia is ranked the second highest in terms of global shark attacks with 704 unprovoked attacks, it is ranked the highest in terms of shark fatalities, with 202 fatalities.[4] Australia had the most shark attacks in 2008, with 48 attacks Australia wide; 11 of these were fatal. The highest death rate occurred in Western Australia, who has experience 7 fatal attacks in the past three years."

  8. #8
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    My post was humour... it's all I'm saying. le sigh

  9. #9
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    My post was humour... it's all I'm saying. le sigh
    I doubt if anyone missed your humour jouneyman but I think you should have included box jellyfish in your list..and drop bears!

    The deadliest of all Australian creatures, responsible for an average of 10 deaths per year,
    I think you already established the horse as Australia's deadliest creature; twice as many deaths per year as bees. This was acknowledged by Stephen Fry on QI after the panel nominated the usual suspects: snakes, sharks, etc.

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    Average deaths are a problem as different reports use different time spans. Also there are far more injuries than deaths, often very debilitating. You can be injured many times but you can only die once.

    Watch out for the effects of excessive horsepower in your car.

    Drink great coffee and be happy. I still think that Australia is a lucky country.

    Barry

  11. #11
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    I doubt if anyone missed your humour jouneyman but I think you should have included box jellyfish in your list..and drop bears!
    I was just covering the bases as it seemed to draw a serious response...

    And Bunyips.

    And Lawyers.

    And hospitals - easily the deadliest places on earth - more people die in hospitals than any other location.

  12. #12
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Yes indeed, it is a very serious matter . How many are aware of the risk of going to hospital; not only is there the risk of being treated and then dying, there appears to be an increasing risk of not being treated.
    I still think I rate politicians above lawyers on the deadliness aspect (viz WW1, WWII, Viet Nam, Afghanistan). Lawyers tend to leave you lighter in the pocket rather than shorter in the life span.

    Good point about the Bunyip. But are you talking about the creature of aboriginal lore or is there something about the burghers of Bunyip in Victoria that we should be aware of?

  13. #13
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    When I go to the bush the only thing I worry about is how the hell am I going to get a decent coffee?
    smokey likes this.



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