Your television has been lying to you, as David Whitley explains... 

It’s sunny all the time
On the whole, I’ll take Australian weather over its British counterpart. It’s often lovely. But the idea of perfect sunny days every day is a grotesque myth. Sydney gets more rain than London (although it does tend to come down all at once rather than as constant drizzle). And July and August in the southern cities can be grimly chilly – not helped by many houses not having central heating systems. Oh, and when it is sunny, it can often be brutally humid. Yet you never see Dr Karl saying “Christ on a bike, I’m sweating like Brian Blessed in a library here.” It’s a con, people.

Everyone likes surfing
Surfing is pretty big in Australia, sure. But the idea that everyone, given a spare couple of hours, will grab a board and run into the sea is extremely fanciful. Australia has one of the world’s highest obesity rates, and for every flaxen-haired surf dude are three or four sat on the couch, stuffing their faces with pies.
People say things like “rack off”
They don’t. They swear properly. “Get f***ed” being far more common that “F*** off”. And, frankly, some Australians use swear words like the rest of the world uses commas.

Everyone moves to Darwin eventually
By rights, Darwin should be a booming metropolis on a par with Tokyo or Mexico City, crammed to the gills with former Neighbours characters telling each other to rack off. In reality, very few people move to Darwin unless in a government job, the military or they’re working on a mining project. That’s not to say Darwin’s a dump, though – far from it. After Sydney and Melbourne, I’d say it’s the most engaging, interesting Australian city. There’s a mix of outback, Asia and alternative culture that gives it a distinct character. But most Australians haven’t been there, and would consider the idea of moving to the Northern Territory capital rather weird.
Everybody’s white
Erinsborough and Summer Bay appear to be ghettos for white Australians. And there are some places around the country where this is the case – but they’re usually deathly dull slices of suburbia inhabited by people whose ambitions to learn about the world don’t step beyond their own street. One of Australia’s strengths is that it has absorbed large numbers of immigrants from Europe, the Middle East and – especially – Asia.  It’s what has turned eating out in Australia from steak or schnitzel to a thoroughly internationalist experience. And that’s a huge positive.

Oh yes, and it’s a mistake to think that Aboriginal Australians all live in the desert. Far more live in urban areas – something curiously missing from the soaps.


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by David Whitley



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