or… How I learned to stop worrying and embrace my inner “Bogan”.
Having spent a month in Australia, I am hardly qualified to make sweeping generalizations about the country or draw hard conclusions about the fine folks who live here, (but I’ll do it anyway). After all, I’ve driven over 1000 miles through this country, visited no fewer than 10 towns, three islands, and countless café’s. I’ve had over 50 cups of (mostly instant) coffee, seen scores of strange animals that live no where else (cassowaries, echidnas, goannas, kangaroos, wallabies, platypuses/platypi(?)) and watched nearly a combined 30 minutes of Australian sports on television (cricket, rugby and/or Aussie rules football). So, I can give you’re my expert opinion about Aussies. It is this… Aussies are rednecks. Bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool rednecks.
Understand that this is not, in my opinion, a derogatory comment. It is a mere recognition of common ground, a kindredness, if you will, between me and these distant cousins down under. To begin with, traveling in Australia, brings about a strange “unfamiliar familiarity”. Everything seems right – but not quite the same. Obviously, this comes from our common heritage. It is easy enough to travel in Australia. There is no real language barrier. We all speak English – or at least 2 bastardized but recognizable versions of the King’s English. Once you understand a few basic variations and abbreviation rules (aussies love to shorten words and add “y” (i.e brekky, footy, barby, sunny’s, etc.etc.) you are in business. (Ordering coffee here is another matter, which involves more extensive study and an understanding of long black, short white and an infinite number of combinations/variations thereof. I still don’t get it – so I cheat and usually just ask for a latte.)
To my point, when I say Aussie’s are rednecks, I say that claiming to be one myself. If the saying, “it takes one to know one” is true, my redneck credentials are intact. My first car was an International Harvester Scout, back in a day when 4-wheel drive vehicles were not the standard issue for soccer moms and college kids. I grew up in an area where girls drank whiskey from the bottle and school attendance drastically dropped during deer season. Suffice to say, I know about that which I speak.
So how are Aussies’ rednecks? Here are a few examples…
They love trucks and American muscle cars. Modifed pickup/flatbed trucks with raised air-intakes to accommodate flooded roadways and supped-up vintage gas guzzling muscle cars are aplenty – at least once you get North of Brisbane.
They love country music and/or hard rock. This is the country that brought us AC/DC, after all.
They love beer. They love Jack Daniels. And Jim Beam. And from my perspective, most alcohol. This is society that has made “Cheers!” into a common greeting/salutation.
They love being outdoors.
They love tattoos (replace the Dixie flag with the Aussie Union Jack and Southern Cross)
They love to cook outdoors (barbecue, barbie)
They love country roads. Well, to be honest, I am not sure they love them, but they have a lot of them. Almost all the roads in Australia are country roads. This is a HUGE country with lots of space. The “major” highway running north and south on the eastern coast (the more populated side) of Australia is a two-lane road.
They love being barefoot. Now this is a hallmark of hillbillys. It is not unusual to see Aussies barefoot playing sports, or walking down the street in town, or going to the mall.
They love to curse. Aussies cuss frequently, indiscriminately, and quite brilliantly. The accent helps. When I say indiscriminately, I mean adults in front of children, children in front of adults. Last week the saleslady at a target store in Cairns announced over the PA that nerf guns were on sale “Mums and Dads” and they were a “helluva” lot of fun.
They love “turtle man”. A surprising number of Aussies have referenced this show to us. Maybe Kentucky’s second most popular export (after KFC) to Australia. Don’t know what to say about this, except it is very redneck.
All of these characteristics combine to demonstrate that Aussies are rednecks. But the truth is – the thing that makes me feel so connected to Aussies is their total lack of pretense.
This is a culture that has been shaped out of an egoless past (remember the “founding fathers” of this continent were convicts (albeit often for dubious minor charges in England) who arrived a world away in a harsh and humbling environment. They have built a society that cherishes family, embraces the natural beauty and temperate climate of their coasts (and being outdoors), and dropped much of the tradition associated with their English class-system forebears. At least the tradition of separation by class. They apparently had no need for it, and neither do I. The result is a lack of pretense, snobbishness and prudishness that is welcoming and fun.
Aussies have their own term for redneck. It’s “bogan.” So call me a bogan, and I’ll simply say “Cheers, mate.”