I recently put out a call for Questions about Australia as part of the A – Z Challenge. Gilly of Lucid Gypsy wanted to know about Australian spiders as she has heard you are bound to get bitten if you step foot on our shores. Now let me tell you, Gilly is NOT the timid type. I remember reading about her camel riding adventures. Gilly tells us her pull to Africa will overcome her fears of …. well, Gilly doesn’t say what she fears in Africa, but I imagine a few animals on that continent may be a little scarier than the odd deadly spider or two!
Gilly, I can assure you that although we have some 10,000 species of spiders, most of them are less deadly than snakes, sharks or even the wonderful bee.
When I arrived in Australia in 1974 I was very wary of two things: snakes and spiders. We have no snakes in New Zealand and we had no poisonous spiders to speak of other than the Katipo, a relative of the Redback, found mainly in the North Island. Not having grown up with these creatures I knew I didn’t know one from the other. I just assumed they were ALL deadly until I learnt a bit more.
For those who may be geography challenged, it takes a LONG time to get anywhere from Australia, other than to New Zealand! Yet most Australians travel, unlike some other countries. Look at the map – we are a long way from most other countries!
In the 12 months to June 2010, 6.8 million overseas trips were made by Australians, up from 2.1 million two decades earlier. In per capita terms, this was the equivalent to 31 trips overseas for every 100 Australian residents in 2009-10, up from 12 trips per 100 residents in 1989-90.
Last night Mr O and I were discussing news from back home in Nigeria and the subject of measles came up.
“Measles doesn’t kill anyone”, I blithely announced in my classic first world ignorance.
“Measles kills lots of children in Nigeria”, Mr O responded, looking at me in surprise at my ignorance and the fact we don’t have a measles problem in Australia.
Learning time for us both. Why does a childhood virus kill in one location and not in another? Would our kids be more susceptible if they contracted the virus here, I wondered? Miss O 1 is adament they have all been vaccinated, so that is a relief!
Research time. I remember being a kid – everyone got measles and I didn’t know of anyone who died.
To summarise everything we read, Australia has had one measles related death since 1995. We have been vaccinating since 1971.
One UN report I read spoke of 213,000 children in African countries dying in one year. Vaccination costs $1 per child and has dramatically reduced deaths.
The tone around here has been a bit serious lately, so let’s lighten things up with a bit of Australian music. Australia does have a thriving music industry and a rich music industry history: we have even been known to try to steal New Zealand musicians from time to time. My focus is to share the music, not provide a history lesson: links are provided if more detail is desired!
I am reliant on Youtube for this article and I hope all the clips can been viewed overseas. If any overseas viewers cannot view, please let me know! Also, this article covers a range of musical styles, some of which I don’t particularly enjoy my self but hopefully there is something for everyone!
Last year we lost one of our greatest opera singers, Dame Joan Sutherland. Dame Joan was acclaimed globally as a wonderful soprano and passed in Switzerland at the age of 83.
Aussies have a rep. A couple of reps, actually. A reputation for being laconic (I’m not, but I can be excused for having been born elsewhere) and a reputation for being larrikins. I might have been one of those in my younger days: I am way, way too old to be one now!
I always think the classic example of the Aussie tendancy towards brevity in comparison to other nations is a simple joke I heard years ago and which exists in many different versions on the web. I even found a version today on a church website, describing Jesus. Strange, but true.
American: “This is a manually-operated horticultural earth-turning implement.”
Aussie: “It’s a bloody spade!”
I am NOT picking on our friends, the Americans! However, it never ceases to amaze me how two countries from essentially the same origin (England) ended up so culturally and linguistically different. When I wrote D for Deprecation, I made similar comparisons.
Aussies do tend toward being a laconic lot, big on the use of irony. I once read an interview with an American author who had moved here and she said it took her a good two years to get used to Aussie humour. I have frequently been taken seriously over the internet when I have been joking. We are probably lucky we haven’t started a world war by accident.
My family is no different. My father served in World War II. He returned. Many did not. For our overseas readers, April 25, ANZAC Day is the day we pay special tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for the freedoms we enjoy in Australia and New Zealand. Why April 25? It is the day that marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.
For some reason, perhaps because The Last Post was played at my father’s funeral, I always think of him, in rememberance, on ANZAC Day rather than other days that may personally be more significant such as his birthday or the anniversary of his death.
Five glorious days away from the office. Much needed after I arrived home last night at 10pm. Battling a data model took some time. Although I am out of the office tomorrow, I am still contactable by phone, but at least I can tackle the school shoe and trouser shopping. Mr O Jnr 1′s trousers, purchased last June, are now about 8 centimetres too short. Mr O Jnr 2′s feet have grown – again. Miss O 2 has holes in the knees of her winter uniform (all those flips must be hard on the knees).
The boys want corn rows so I have to find an African hairdresser at short notice – anyone know of a good one in Melbourne?
I had wanted to go to Tasmania and visit my sister over Easter: sadly the budget will just not stretch quite that far yet. Shipping (literally) six of us plus a car across Bass Strait on The Spirit of Tasmania is a little on the expensive side! $1,667 and that is just the day tickets! Sis, we will get there, I promise!
We are in the middle of school holidays in Victoria and of course the kids are bored. Aren’t kids always bored during the holidays?
I remember my school holidays as a child. I would spend hours riding the horse. I spent one holidays tenderly treating the infected paw of a puppy. We eventually gave him to a dairy farmer: he healed sufficiently to be a dairy farm dog but his foot would never be strong enough to herd our sheep and cattle. Read more