Introduction to Australia

Friday, June 1st, 2007 at 12:00 am

Australia coastlineIn general, Australia has a very friendly and open culture that is western in influence, drawing mostly from British culture as well as those from indigenous Australians, and the multi-ethnic immigrants that came to the island during the gold rush of 1850s. Recently, culture from United States of America have also found its way into the Australian way of life.

Although people may view Australians as "purely western," they actually have their own perspective on things.

For one, Australians tend to have a fascination towards anything that has to do in defeating the Americans or the Brits (in a non-violent manner, of course). The country celebrated with gusto when "Australia II" yacht won the America’s Cup on 1983, beating the 132-year winning streak of the New York Yacht Club. They also welcomed the news about Jennifer Hawkins’ win in 2004 Miss Universe pageant, with an American (Shandi Finnessey) as first runner-up.

The people of Australia live in an egalitarian society, where they believe in equal treatment and freedom between people and classes. This same society, however, bears mistrust towards those from higher classes and intellect, stereotyping them as presumptuous and attention-seekers. They believe that one’s work or deed is better credential that position, title, or status.

For instance, company presidents often go to meetings in casual attire instead of the corporate get-up Americans would be more accustomed to. This also goes the same in consumer products where people don’t buy iPods or Playstation 3’s the moment they are introduced in the market.

"Mateship," or loyal fraternity, is the central tenet of Australian modern culture. They believe in teamwork rather than being an individual, which may be the reason why aggressive team sports like rugby and basketball are popular here.

Concerns for the environment such as pollution, conservation of coastal area, and thinning of the ozone layer are among Australia’s top interests. Being in a country with a unique wildlife, it does not come as a surprise. This appreciation with nature also goes along with their liking for outdoor sports such as surfing.

Australians read more newspapers than any other citizens in the world. They also spend more money on art products than Americans and even Europeans. This love for the high arts is even observed in small towns with their galleries. Many major cities like Melbourne and Sydney have their own symphony orchestra.

One thing that people who are visiting Australia for the first time do not seem to notice immediately is that Australians tend to tell tall tales. For example, Australians celebrate their birthdays by stripping them naked and covering them with Vegemite, after which they are strapped on a kangaroo and let it bounce away as the guests sing Waltzing Matilda. Some tall tales come from urban legends, while others are just about feeding the people’s "curiosity" about Australia.

Indigenous Australian culture still holds valuable in the hearts of its people. Aboriginals still commemorate their rite of passage by performing walkabouts, or revisiting the sacred path of their ancestors. Oral tradition and spiritual practice is still passed among generations.

Their traditional recreation "marn grook" is the inspiration behind modern Australian Rules Football. Their traditional musical instruments such as the yidaki (didgeridoo) has become the sound of the island.