Posted on June 19, 2013 by Xavier Toby

What is Australian Culture?

funny-keyboard-flip-flopsIf Australia does have a culture, what is it?

Is it even possible to point at any one something and say, ‘That’s what it means to be Australian.’

I think there are aspects of our culture that are distinctly Australian, but not by themselves. It’s only by putting them alongside other traits that can we get close to defining it.

So, while any definition of culture is ever-changing, this is my best stab at it. My Top 40 of what it means to be ‘Australian’.

No doubt I’ve left things off, or wrong, or just mucked this up entirely. Which is actually point one:

1) Talk yourself down and admit your faults, before anyone else has a chance.

2) Be sceptical of anyone who proclaims how proficient they are. Especially if it’s anything to do with sport or cooking.

3) Have a pair of home thongs, and going out thongs.

4) Know that by thongs I don’t mean underwear.

5) Be far more interested in sport than Australian politics.

6) Be more interested in real estate, shopping, growing grass, leash free dog parks and American politics, than Australian politics.

7) Be as proud of not knowing the national anthem just as much as someone who knows it is.

8) Believing that a four-burner barbecue is an acceptable replacement for a kitchen.

9) Leaving for a camping trip with nothing in your esky other than ice.

10) Despising technology and shopping, but lining up for the new iPhone.

11) Owning only one shirt with sleeves past your elbows.

12) Taking ownership of anything good that’s ever come out of New Zealand, while handing them any Australians who have gone overseas and done poorly. By poorly I mean Peter Andre, who was actually born in England.

13) Believing Russell Crowe is from New Zealand or Australia, depending on the day of the week.

14) Considering salt and vinegar chips to be a meal.

15) Calling them chips not crisps, pants not trousers, jumpers not sweaters, doonas not duvets, eggplant not aubergine and zucchini not courgette.

16) Being OK with dim sims being Chinese food that isn’t from China.

17) Believing that a footballer is a sportsperson who acts like they’ve broken a bone only when they’ve broken a bone. Not a soccer player.

18) Calling it soccer not football, unless it’s the World Cup and we’re still in it.

19) Considering the Ashes something that matters only to the English, until we win them back.

20) Knowing that a root is something at the bottom of plant, and something that never happens if you say it in public.

21) Cooking not just prawns on a barbecue, but anything including toast, soup and deep fried ice-cream. Which is also Chinese but not from China.

22) Often going outside in a singlet and shorts, and carrying an umbrella.

23) When it’s cold outside, putting on several jumpers but still wearing shorts.

24) When speaking, ending every sentence like you’re asking a question.

25) When speaking to a foreigner, claiming that deadly sharks, spiders and snakes are everywhere. In reality knowing they’re not and being as scared of them as everyone else.

26) If Steve Irwin were still alive, you’d vote for him as Prime Minister, but never Bindi Irwin.

27) Knowing a person is Australian not based on their appearance or colour of their skin, but whether or not every sentence they say sounds like a question.

28) Any dish from any country on the planet can be made Australian by adding pineapple. And egg.

29) Living less than thirty minutes from the beach, and always going on holiday to the beach.

30) Starting every anecdote from a holiday outside Australia with, ‘Being away made me really appreciate how good we have it here.’ And meaning it.

31) Accepting that anyone who is an Australian citizen is as Australian as anyone else.

32) Going to a drive-through bottle shop, and still insisting on getting out of your car to give the bloke a hand.

33) Being able to laugh at yourself just as hard as you laugh at anyone else.

34) Having rivalries forged through battles on the sporting field, not actual battles.

35) Believing that insulting friends or family is a sign of respect.

36) Strapping a surfboard, skis or a canoe to the top of your car four times more often than you actually use any of those things.

37) Your boss accepting a day at the races a valid reason for missing a day of work. As well as being hungover, and travelling interstate for a football final.

38) Considering that to ‘reckon’ is a thoughtful process, and not breaking anything.

39) Using a stubby holder for all drinks, including wine and cordial.

40) Any song worth singing along to in a pub involves a guitar, and knowing how to play an air instrument is a skill.

41) If a hand is offered you shake it, if someone needs help you give it, and allowing anyone to believe whatever they like as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

So that’s my top forty (plus one). Of course I could easily do another forty, but I want to know, what do you think I’ve gotten wrong? What have I missed?

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. Follow him (@xaviertoby) on Twitter.