One of the 50 million bloggers from the biggest continent on earth wrote to me to tell me that Australians are "rather greedy".
Australia is the only nation to occupy an entire continent (the sixth biggest continent) and there are only 21 million of us. Therefore, we apparently have "too much space and too much of everything."
Fine, I get his point but what did he want me to do about it? Grab a chainsaw, carve up the island and send him his fair share in the mail? Better still, why doesn't he just hop on a plane and see for himself. It's the only way he is going to get any of whatever it is he thinks we have too much of. The only thing we have too much of are Chinese imports. So just to prove how generous I am, I would be happy to return them all with my love.
Anyway, its true, we do have lots of space but we are also the driest continent on earth and there are parts of Australia that are uninhabitable. We tend to live around the coast line (85% of Australians live within 30 mintues of the beach) which makes us one of the more urbanised countries in the world. We have relied on immigration to round out our numbers for a long time and 25% of our population comes from 140 countries. In the longer term, migration may decrease depending on the impact of global warming.
Apart from our accent, you can't really identify us as Australians. We don't have a certain look and we don't have a national costume. There are certain items of clothing which are part of the Australian stereotypical character but not everyone is a sheep shearer (blue singlet), crocodile hunter (khaki). stockman (moleskins, Akubra hat and Drizabone coat) or a lifesaver (speedos).
We get our children the same way you do. The stork delivers them. First time mothers are getting older with the average age around 31 and fathers 33. The birth rate is falling and we are losing our virginity at younger ages according to the loss of virginity world map (you never knew there was one I bet). I do need to point out that there is a certain trend on this map which indicates that kids in cold countries need to keep their hands busier by knitting ugg boots or something. I am just throwing it out there ...I see a lot of snow on your blogs...
There are around 106 males born to every 100 females. Our most popular names are Jack for boys and Emily, Isabella and Charlotte for girls. The average number of children in each family is 1.86 so you can find a lot of under developed people walking around if you look closely enough.
At various times the Government has enticed us to have more children, with rhetoric such as, have one for you, one for your partner and one for your country. Very patriotic. I didn’t drink the Kool Aid and I only had 'the one'. I like to get it right the first time. Why take any chances?
Around 60% of mothers work in paid employment. Child care presents many issues. Some parents try and bypass childcare worries by using accelerated learning programs, like the Wiggles, to springboard their toddlers straight into university. And the Wiggles are what happens to our good Australian middle aged men, folks. They run round in coloured skivvies, singing children's songs, travelling the world and earning billions.
I went back to work when my daughter was six months old. Other than the pethidine addicted babysitter and the one who locked her in a room, all was well. I wouldn’t do it again though. There is a reason my daughter entered the legal field I'm sure. I have tried to rewrite her childcare history to block out some less than savory memories and I try to ignore any official looking mail she sends me. Does my guilt show, even now?
Australia was the second country to New Zealand, to give women the right to vote. And while men may have regretted that decision ever since, things keep improving on the equality front. Like everywhere, there are still imbalances, but women now raise far more hell and far fewer pansies. And that inpenetrable glass ceiling has a hell of a lot more stiletto marks than I ever thought possible.
However, some things move slowly. For some absurd reason we are not a Republic. We are a constitutional monarchy tied to the apron strings of Britain and the Queen. I find it embarrassing. We have a Prime Minister who is our head of Government. His name is Kevin Rudd and we would call him Kevin if we passed him in the street. He also speaks fluent Chinese which may come in handy when China dominates the world.
It is compulsory for us to vote in government elections. If we don’t, we can be fined. We start voting at 18. The majority of us leave high school around 18 (before going to university or to work). We can legally start drinking alcohol at 18 and we also celebrate our coming of age with big 18th birthday parties. Therefore, being 18 can be problematic, especially for parents.
We can get our drivers licence at 17. That’s if Des didn’t teach you to drive. My first lesson with him was reversing up a hill and it was all backwards from that point on. We drive on the left hand side of the road unless we’ve been drinking which of course is illegal. Our cars are built with the steering wheel and other controls on the right-hand side. Regardless, men are still hopeless back seat drivers and have absolutely no sense of direction for which we women carry all the blame..
It would take us 45.37 hours (and one of those nappies that astronauts wear) to drive from one side of the country to the other (without breaks). Or six hours by plane. So don’t plan any short trips to Australia as it’s too big to see. Maybe that’s why we get a minimum of four weeks holiday every year plus another 10 public holidays. If we only had two weeks leave, the holiday would be over before we arrived at our destination.
And, because Australia's too damn big to cover in one topic, Part 2 will be posted in the next couple of days. Phew, and if you got through all of that, you will get two entries in the Secret Aussie Giveaway which will be drawn on the 26th (no, the giveaway is not going to be an airline ticket but I can't guarantee that it won't be made in China!!)