Posted by: Rebecca | April 5, 2012

Australia – not what I thought I’d feel

If you’ve been following my blog from the start, you probably already know what I think of Australia! But aside from the obvious excitement of Formula One, the Great Ocean Road, Sydney harbour, skydiving, the Great Barrier Reef etc, I have two overwhelming feelings about this place…

Passive ignorance

I’d now say that, before I came out here, I was passively ignorant. By this, I mean that I knew plenty of people who’d been to (or “done”) Australia. All said it was amazing. None seemed to have a bad word to say about it. Many had gone back again and a few never come home at all. As a result, people’s views of Australia became somewhat stereotypical and predictable, to the degree that I almost didn’t want to go – it was verging on a cult!

But now I’ve been, I can wholeheartedly appreciate why they felt the way they did. It’s not a cult (!) and it’s only predictable because it lives up to the high expectations set for it by anyone who comes here. So, although four weeks ago people predicted it, and I’d have slated myself for being so predictable; I love Australia. And I want to come back. Anyone who thinks, like I did, that they don’t want to go to Australia and just be yet another advocate for one of the world’s greatest places, is probably just envious of those who’ve been lucky enough to do it. I didn’t think I’d ever do it, but it’s one thing in my life which I’d never change for love nor money. It is the best thing I have ever done. It’s opened my eyes to people, cultures, environments, attitudes and given me the chance to witness and experience some wonderful things.

History – taking it for granted, craving it, and being part of it

The Aussies do take for granted the weather and space they have out here. Yes, the climates differ from state to state, and in some places it’s not really much different to the UK climate, but the abundance of sunshine has a positive affect on people’s attitudes. Think about how happy people in the UK are when the sun comes out – just look at Facebook last week, when temperatures soared; everyone was happy, chatty and planning BBQs. Imagine that positive mentality all year round. That’s perhaps why Aussies are generally more laid back and happy in life? Also, there’s so much space, that people aren’t falling over each other all the time and things feels more airy. The streets are wide and tree-lined, even in the cities; the buses aren’t cramped (so despite it being hot, it’s not smelly and sweaty like the tube); the public transport systems are well planned (except in Sydney!); and things just seem to work.

This said, I think we take for granted the history we have in the UK. One guy in Port Douglas pointed out a cemetery and was proud to say that they had some graves over 100 years old! That’s young by our standards?! There are no old buildings – sure there’s great old-looking architecture, but everything is less than 200 years old. In Port Douglas, no building is more than 25 years old (although this is helped by a few destructive cyclones.) Civic buildings are all built to reflect the old styles elsewhere in the world, but they’re actually very young buildings, cities, cultures etc. I’m sure that, had I seen more of Western Australia, my perceptions could be very different, as the East coast cities seem to have little Aboriginal influence (other than place names, like Wooloomooloo); but from what I saw, it feels very young.

Heather (my aunt in Melbourne) just loves Scotland and I never understood why. Now, having spoken to her and Tony (my uncle), they explained that because everyone is descendant of an immigrant, and probably only a generation or two back, it’s not too hard to plot their family histories in Australia. But beyond that is much harder. I know my family tree back to my great great grandparents (and beyond on my father’s side) but Aussies can rarely see this. So for Heather and Tony, Scotland is their heritage and they love it, because they don’t have this is Australia.

To me, the fact that so many youngsters are choosing to go and live in Australia now seems completely logical – it’s young, vibrant, experimental, evolving and they’re being part of it – they’re making its history.

For me, it’s a question of a long-term or short-term view. I couldn’t see myself settling in Australia, I love England too much! But I’d love to live there. Watch this space, I guess J

ttfn /Boxy xx

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