Australia: Big, Beautiful, Brown and Bland

Those who lose dreaming are lost ~ Australian Aboriginal proverb.

It’s easy to understand the English translation of Aboriginal spiritual life as “The Dreaming” because the Australian environment does have a dreamlike quality.

Recently in a cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand I heard a fellow traveller talking about his trip to Australia and comparing it to his home in California.

The gist of what he said is that arriving in Bondi Beach, Sydney, it reminded him of Santa Monica. People are exercising, looking after themselves, they have a shining glow. After some discussion he generalised that Australians are more relaxed and not so defined by their jobs. They don’t ask “what do you do?” but ask “what do you do for fun?” Also compared to America, Australia looks after the poor and so one can live better on less.


When travelling people always say to me that they would love to go see Australia. I always joke and say don’t bother—it’s full of Australians and a bit bland.

Australia is run, government and business, by navel gazing baby boomers who are bland in thought and deed. The leaders lack imagination but get away with their banality because they are not as corrupt as rulers in other lands. This creates a fairly ordinary society. I remember a few years ago driving up the east coast from Melbourne to Byron Bay and experiencing lots of lovely beaches but town after town of sameness. 2,000km of beautiful blandness.

But I think there is a lot to like about living in Australia. The easy going people and their friendliness, quality universal health care, plus very importantly a well looked after environment. I have noted before that Australia is like Canada but with less politeness and lakes.

Australia has had over 50,000 years of human habitation and just 240 years ago became a prison colony, set up to rid England of undesirables—lots of Irish and Scottish which probably included my ancestors—bless ’em.

It’s now a curious zoo—a big brown land with the populous living on the green margins who are habitually (or at least once were) escaping to far off lands. So essentially, after over 240 years of white settlement, it’s still a prison but a rather nice one with stunning beaches and strange looking flora and fauna.


The environment, while beautiful, is tough and unforgiving and in the past this created very resilient people. That’s changing as Australians, like much of the developed world, get all soft and squidgy where governments have a hand in all things creating a “society owes me” mentality that is being perniciously infected by infantilism.

Hidden beneath Australia’s sunny glow is a hard edge with lots of pent up agro. At first glance it looks free and easy but underneath the veneer of insouciance, the people are pining for their feelings to be unshackled. But there’s not much time or energy for sentiment. Get on with it!

My first visit abroad was to America and I distinctly remember being surprised as to how close people stood to me when talking and how they willingly expressed their feelings. At first it was quite disconcerting—it took some getting used to. In Australia, if you stand too close to someone while chatting they think you’re a weirdo.

Like the rest of the world Australians are often accused of racism. But Australians rarely act on their racism in an aggressive way—it’s more like having a whinge. I am constantly amazed as to how many people I meet are openly disparaging of Asians yet they welcome individuals from the orient with open arms. So ostensibly they don’t really care. They can’t be bothered dealing with all the agro—too much fun to be had.


A truly great thing about Australia, and one that is dear to my heart, is the environment—people actually do care about it and there are laws in place to protect it (not enough in my opinion). Compare that to much of Asia and other parts of the globe which are horridly shitting in their nests. So much so that they scramble to buy property in Australia (and Canada) to escape the oppressive dross, desperate for a slice of what hundreds of years of an enlightenment period can accomplish.

Another great thing is that Australia is not on the world news radar. It’s more of a light-weight curiosity.

So, is Australia a good place to live? Well, yes, increasingly so if all goes well with the world. It’s at a cusp where the orient meets the occident and thus the potential for a massive flowering of energy and creativity.

But something one learns from travelling about for decades is the ever increasing number of people scurrying about on this remarkable planet. The pace of activity is phenomenal. We can’t know, but can possibly portend, that there will be a inflexion point in our biosphere when nature just can’t cleanse itself anymore and the human organism gets into big strife. When that unfolds there may be only a few places worth living. One could be Canada—I think it will have America’s protection (I am not a big believer in the coming collapse of America). Another is New Zealand—nice and isolated—maybe.

As for Australia, if only a fraction of the 3 billion or so people from Asia were forced to move, it’s likely to be swamped. So the best thing to do if you’re Australian—get your kids to learn mandarin. She’ll be right mate!

Categories: Culture

1 reply

  1. One thing that always annoyed me was Stuart Wilde saying Aussies are the most racist people on earth. He just threw it out there like we’re all aligned with Hitler, never understood what he had against Australians.

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