The good, the bad, and the ugly of Australia and Britain

Putting aside cultural aspects, Australia and Britain are two wildly different countries. One is an arid, impossibly-sized place, home to only twenty-five million people, and the other is a smallish green area that contains almost three times the number of humans. If a prankster alien gleefully beamed you up and dumped you in the center of Australia, you’re facing two weeks of walking through scorching hot desert to get to the nearest major city. There’ll be little water to saturate your sun-charred body, but you’ll make friends with plenty of kangaroos and brown snakes. If you’re lucky, you might even learn how to box. Finding yourself positioned in the center of the UK would probably mean being in a stranger’s living room, with them politely asking why you’re there. You might even get offered a nice cup of tea. Or you’ll get stabbed.

Modern Australians and Brits are similar in a lot of ways. They look remarkably alike for obvious reasons, enjoy booze perhaps a little too much, and have a sense of humour that is utterly moistureless. You’re not really friends with an Australian or a Brit unless they’ve taken the piss out of you at least once. This kind of jesting is an indication of their developing love for you, and should be welcomed with open arms. Sensitive people probably shouldn’t move to either country. If you’re a Londoner moving to Australia, be prepared to have your chimney-sweep accent roasted hourly, with Dick Van Dyk impressions lumbering painfully through the air. There’s just no escaping it. It’s a small fraction of the joy that comes with living among Australia’s people.

Native Australians – Aborigines – are discussed in either an idiotic racist way, or with a tinge of sadness. As has been the case throughout history across many different continents, white folk with advanced technology have treated the natives in the most appalling and morally corrupt way imaginable, inflicting genocide. For those who are ignorant enough to believe that this happened because they were an inferior race (a suprisingly common viewpoint), you might want to consider reading Jared Diamond’s masterpiece, to learn that there’s many different reasons that Europeans are more advanced, none of them due to genetic superiority. As a result of their ancestors’ treatment, many modern Aborigines find themselves on the lower rungs of society, a position that can be difficult to ascend from. This is perhaps the most depressing part of living in Australia. The faces of Britain are much more diverse, and its people more seemingly tolerant of multicuturalism.

Back to literal sunnier topics – Australian cities receive a rough average of 250 days of sunshine per year, with the United Kingdom getting roughly half of that. You might think that this makes Australia a clear winner, but you quickly adapt to the weather after having been there for a while, and it certainly loses its charm when you’re essentially swimming through the streets in a hundred percent humidity, looking like you’ve just exited a wet t-shirt contest. When it comes to rain, Australian cities vary depending on their location. East-coast Brisbane, for example, gets almost exactly the same amount as the UK – around 1150mm. This usually comes in the form of sudden thunderous downpours though, not incessant, depressing drizzle.

Australia is a land where almost everything seems intent on inflicting damage. Seemingly innocuous birds have spike-tipped wings that they use to slice your head open, if you get close enough to their newly-born chicks. Magpies appear to have flown directly out of hell in order to wreak havoc on skittish cyclists, stalking them for literal kilometers while battering their helmets with their sizeable beaks. Stepping out onto your fresh green lawn in springtime should be undertaken with extreme caution, lest you place your vulnerable foot onto a patch of vengeful bindis. If you’re not sure what a bindi is, think of a small golden sphere armed with a hundred of the sharpest spikes on Earth. They could easily pass as torture weapons. Australia boasts some of the most venomous animals in the world, including the devlish box jellyfish, an invertebrate with a poison so powerful that it sends your body into immediate shock. Most people die before reaching shore. Another noteworthy specimen is the Inland Taipan snake, a danger noodle so ferocious that it can kill an adult in about forty-five minutes. Contrast this with the British fox, a cute bundle of orange fluff that is about as harmless as your arthritic, eighty year-old neighbour Ethel. Or consider the red deer, a regal and majestic be-horned mammal that the Brits allow to run around a London parkland. The most dangerous animal you’re likely to face when wandering around Britain is a local with a drug problem.

On the topic of crime, Australian cities seem to feel much safer than British ones, even though the stats don’t show much difference. Perhaps it’s just the dodgier parts of London that are more dangerous, with their endless high-rise, low income council towers. Adorable stilt-balancing Queenslander houses aren’t quite as menacing. The most upsetting thing to emerge out of one of those is a drunken, maroon-clad rugby fan during State of Origin.

Britain is a clear winner when it comes to overseas holidays, with a huge selection of amazing European destinations just a short flight away. It costs your first-born child to fly somewhere far from Australia, which is why so many Aussies opt for the more economical Bali. On the plus side, New Zealand is closer to Australia than anywhere else, and it happens to be one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places on Earth. Just be prepared for a great deal of confusion whenever a Kiwi opens their mouth to talk to you – if one them tells you that they’re skent, it means they haven’t got any money in their bank account, and they’d like you to purchase them a beer.

The diets of Aussies and Brits are fairly similar, with the former probably taking the trophy for deliciousness. You’ll find chicken “parmy” on most pub menus in Australia – a gigantic chicken breast slathered with tomato sauce and cheese. British pubs usually have a shitty chicken curry that almost certainly hasn’t been prepared by an Indian (you’ll need to go to one of the many superb Indian restaurants for a better version). The seafood in Australia is generally magnificent; prawn lovers should rejoice. Britain conjures up the best Sunday roast dinners, undoubtedly one of the greatest meals of all time. It’s mandatory to stuff an entire gravy-covered Yorkshire pudding into your mouth at once.

Each country is charming in its own way – from the rolling verdant hills of the graceful English countryside, to the impeccably golden and endless beaches of Australia, you’d do well to spend an extended amount of time enjoying the delights of both spectacular places.

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