We’re Australians – We’re Messing with You!

We, Australians, are a bunch of tall-tale tellers. Our country lacks water, so its not  entirely our fault. Our humour is drier, arid even. When we recount with a perfectly straight face that time we caught a giant barramundi out of a row boat, which was then taken by a crocodile and then by a great white shark etc., we find travellers, particularly Americans, will be booking flights to some place else before we even get to the red-back spider we overlooked when packing the fishing equipment.

We just know if we drill you with an intense and serious gaze, you will believe we regularly wrestle crocodiles (a past-time of the late Steven Irwin and absolutely no one else) punch sharks (only Mick Fanning does that and we thought it crazy) or suck venom (which is apparently quite stupid because it removes evidence for antidote testing). Let me say though, its not that we hate tourists. We don’t. We are always looking for a new set of visitors to tell our stories to, ones who are less cynical than ourselves.

We find your terror of our wildlife vastly amusing, while simultaneously recognising we are largely to blame for it. We have been known to spontaneously work in concert with each other to boost a story to its absolute peak. When two Australians, who have never met, do so while travelling abroad, they will (even the most citified of them) sychronise into a seamless tale of horror and gore. It’s uncanny. Crocodiles reach legendary proportions, the instances of near-death experiences due to snake bite, spider bite or a combination of both will set you trembling. We enjoy it.

Honestly though, we are amazed by the rumours of Australia’s fiendish animals. Our bear, for example, looks like something you might give your children to help them sleep at night. When we compare the koala to the polar variety or the grizzly or maybe a rampaging troop of baboons or a hippo, a tiger or a lion, basically we think you lot are nuts. And as for sharks, they don’t respect territorial boundaries and can be found anywhere. The fact that we often throw ourselves into the sea off remote beaches or those bordering the local abattoir is our own fault really. It’s hot down here.

Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie

I have a big nature, small human theory. We are a growing population, but at a bit over 24 million perched on 7,692,000 square kilometres, that’s a ton of space to be dealing with. When you take into account our tendency to hug the shoreline (and throw ourselves to the occasional shark), this makes our wilderness areas even larger. You might need to go a long distance in most other countries to run out of people, if ever. In Australia, its different. It’s not much more than a drive to the shop. And while we do live in cities and have become more urbanised over time, we are aware our perceived human environments are eclipsed by the size of the space around them.

Interestingly enough, there is now a breed of Australian who is as terrified of the bush as the rest of the world. They may quiver at every sound when forced to go on some kind of relationship-building adventure trip with the other members of their advertising firm, but don’t think for a moment they will admit that to overseas visitors. They will be in there with the best of the tall-tale tellers, instigators even. Yes, I know its not fair. Rest assured though. It is possible you have seen more of Australia (because you bought the ticket and endured the flight and so are locked in), than many of the locals. It would not be too difficult to call our bluff.

So don’t be put off by us and our stories. For the most part we are harmless. Out-tell us and you will earn our respect. Join us and tremble a little at the enormity and the remoteness of the place. Un-encapsulate yourself from the urban environment and reconnect with a world far greater than us. Rocks, trees, beaches, deserts, rainforests. Tell some seriously tall stories afterwards. It’s big nature, small human.