What is the "real" Australia?

Apr 11th, 2005, 09:06 AM
  #1  
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What is the "real" Australia?

Pat Woolford posted in a response to a question about whether or not to go to Port Douglas that "PD is very much a tourist resort town and doesn't have much to do with the real Australia." This got me thinking--what, then is the "real" Australia, or the "real" anywhere, for that matter? Since a huge majority of the people in Australia live in cities, then to see the real Australia one has to stay in the city? Since Australia is known for its kangaroos and koalas, one has to see them to see the real Australia? In the present example, PD caters to tourists, yes, but real Australians work there. Would they take offense at Pat's words, or would they be as critical of their home town? In my home town, I do mundane stuff most of the time (i.e. visit my sick mother while my husband does the tax statement; prepare my lesson plans for school, go to the grocery store, hang our at Fodor's Forum, etc.) That is my real life, but I wouldn't do that with an Australian visitor. I'd take them to the tourist places like the Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and Mount Rainier, to experience what makes the Seattle area unique and fun. Isn't that what Port Douglas is, gateway to the GBR and Daintree, unique and special places in Australia? When we were in PD, we watched the Phillips Cup rugby match between NZ and Oz at the Court House with a bunch of Kiwis and Aussies. They were very enthusiastic and yet nice to a couple of clueless Americans. I felt that we were sharing an Australian moment with real people. On our night trip on the Daintree River we saw hundreds of egrets nesting in some trees, glowing white against the darkness. We saw the Southern Cross almost lost in billions of stars that can't be seen from our over-llit town. I felt those were parts of real Australia, experiences we had that were special and unique to your beautiful country. I don't mean to be defensive, I am really wondering if we missed seeing "real" Australia in our enthusiastic enjoyment of places that tourists go to.
Sincerely,
Sally in Seattle

SnRSeattle is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 10:38 AM
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When people I know are coming to the US from overseas, I suggest that although they may want to see some of the big cities, such as New York or LA, that they should also visit some smaller towns to get a better taste for the country as a whole. I think that's sort of the same thing. Often you can get a better feel for a country and it's people if you go outside of the regular tourist stops, ya know?
rapunzll is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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Anyone who like me lives in Canberra has to get used to being constantly informed by a legion of experts that not only do they not live in the "real Australia" (whatever that is) but they don't even inhabit the "real world" (whatever that is).

I think Australians and Americans are alike in having a residual attraction to an image of a past that somehow defined their national image of themselves - the bush, the frontier, a place where solid virtues of self-reliance and community spirit ruled, where men were men and sheep were nervous.

In our case it was always a minority taste, though - from the very beginning city life was what attracted most people, usually for very good reasons. Australia in fact is far more urbanised, and always has been, than the US, because most of the land is marginal for human activity at best, utterly inhospitable at worst. Most of us cluster around the coast for good reason too.

Country towns tend to be romanticised by TV soap operas, and the reality is often much grimmer. Some are best seen from the inside of a speeding car, others may repay a day or two. Real outback towns can be something else, often populated by people who, depending on your viewpoint, are either rugged individualists or would be quickly locked up anywhere else.

It's probably fair to say that whatever it is that makes Australia different may be more obvious in "the bush" than cities, even though you may not get a decent macchiato there. I think that's what people mean when they talk about "the real Australia".
Neil_Oz is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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For me as an Australian the "real Australia" happens when I get a tingle down my spine and a feeling of absolute awe of " where I am and what I am doing", this is something that usually makes me feel that I am one of the luckiest people on earth that I can live/be in such as place. It need not necessarily be in a city it can be anywhere.
If I have been away for any length of time and fly into Sydney just after dawn and look down at the Harbour and the beauty of the place as we fly in - that has been such a time. When I am snorkling on the GBR and find that the fish are as interested in me as I of them - that is such a time. The other day as I was driving home I passed a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos playing and eating and socialising and I stopped the car to count them and they just went on about their play - all 127 of them - that too is such a time. When I get woken up with the sounds of warbling maggies that too is such a time.
This is not to say that I do not have that same feeling if I am in some other country. The grandness of the Grand Canyon, the colours of the Aurora Australis, the Andes, the lake district of Argentina, Petra, and so on and so forth.
I think that when we tend to say the "real Australia" we are talking of what we know and feel is especially Australian to us, what is special and what brings us back from the 4 corners of the Globe and gives us the feeling we are "home".
lizF is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 07:42 PM
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We were lucky and fell into a fair bit of "real" in our time down under. Highlights included meeting john_j, Margo oz, Pat and mike and chasing Alan up and down the Blue Mtns. Also our wonderful time at the Euramo Hotel and the delight of the (oft) flooded Tully River crossing. And of course meeting Dinky , the world famous piano playing and singing dingo of Central Australia. And Neil can now vouch for Dinky's realness.
But can anyone vouch for Neil's? We missed him, one of the regrets of our trip.

AndrewDavid
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Apr 11th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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Australia's incredible diversity is a vital part of its character, so I would agree that all sort of things are the "real" Australia ... from stunning Sydney Harbour in the sunshine to the bustle of authentic Asian food in Chinatown, an outback pub, a perfectly flat road long enough and remote enough to say "last petrol for 300km" or "caution wombats crossing", an AFL match or a tourist resort on the GBR. I don't think spending all your time in Alice Springs or Mt Isa would give you the whole picture any more than spending your whole holiday in a city hotel in Sydney. Real Australians do holiday in PD, therefore I consider it "real".

You should try to experience as broad a range as you can without exhausting yourself - because sitting back with a nice cup of tea is part of the "real" Australia too
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