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Australia Day – Thongs and All

We all know that Australia is a land of sun, surf, sand and sun-kissed beauties, right? And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that such stereotypes aren’t always accurate. And just like an inaccurate stereotype, there is a growing sense that the date chosen for our national day, January 26, is inaccurate and needs to be reviewed.  While that debate rages, this year’s Australia Day post, on StPA, challenges a few of those typical Australian stereotypes.

 Cricket

I refer to writer Ben Groundwater’s article,  wherein he suggests that Australians are so obsessed with the game of cricket that, “all hell will break loose if you so much as go to touch the remote control, for the TV, during cricket season, even though no one really watches it”!

So is it True? Well, Yes and No.8pccricketset._8pc-plastic-kids-cricket-set-bat-ball-kit-3-stumps.jpg

Yes, because there are loads of men, over 40 years of age, who really love “the cricket.” Our local Doctor, is one, for example. He has such an obsession with cricket that we hesitate to make a non-urgent appointment with him, over the summer, lest we keep him from checking the cricket score and current state of play, which he is apt to do between patient consultations.

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And Yes, it is true, because almost every Australian child grows up, whether they like it or not, playing backyard cricket over Christmas. Armed with a tennis ball and a plastic discount store set of ‘stumps,’ (invariably a Christmas gift from their Grandpa), they’re subtlety groomed in the art of this iconic Australian pastime. Sure, it is fun when you are a kid and there is nothing else to do, but not for too long….

cricket

But the answer for me and many others is more likely to be No, and that is because, as I see it, the Cricket-loving fraternity is fast declining, mostly due to the soporific nature of the game.

If you love sport because of the dynamic action, cricket can be excruciatingly slow, even torpid, and it continues that way, for hours, nigh days, on end. For instance, one could read several chapters of a Tolstoy novel during a test match without looking up, and you would not miss anything crucial, such is the lengthy interval between ‘wickets’ or anything mildly riveting. Riveting means a batsman achieving a ‘4’ or a ‘6’ – (for the uninitiated, that is when the ball is hit out to, or over, the boundary fence).

When this does happen, there will be the mandatory slow clap or raucous cheers, some momentary back slapping quickly followed by a return to the sluggish, dare I say, boring, lethargy as the next ball is bowled down the pitch again. Feeling slightly anesthetized by my description? Try watching it for six hours a day!!!

cricket match

And yet, perhaps the groggy pace is the attraction of it, after all. A chance to sleep whilst still maintaining consciousness? There IS a large sector of the population that will admit to hating cricket, it is just that they are either too polite or much less vocal about it. Knowing just how vital the game is to the slightly sensitive Australian ego, it would seem unpatriotic somehow, not to support it.

Ben continues his article:

“The cricket is on, but no one’s watching. The sun is out, but you can’t go swimming. There’s no air-con, but you do have an inflatable paddling pool on the patio.”

Is it True? Yes and No.

Yes – it is hot here, really hot, but more than that, in the Northern half of Australia, it is stiflingly humid. This makes us all feel incredibly unmotivated, sweaty and listless.  Want to go swimming to cool off? The water in the backyard pool is tepid, which doesn’t help. In the tropical areas, there are stingers in the water, some of which are extremely deadly. Inland there is, thankfully, no stingers, just the fresh water crocodiles you have to be on alert for. Eek!

Relief from the heat back in the twentieth century, pre air-con days came from the backyard swimming pool, which could be anything from an inflatable paddling pool to a 15 metre long, chlorinated behemoth. Nowadays, those folk with air-conditioned houses, sit inside with windows shut tight, almost trapped, cocoon-like from the outside elements, whilst the backyard swimming pools, standard household equipment north of Sydney until recent years, lay completely dormant or even redundant. Houses get bigger and yards become small, filled with aesthetic ikebana-like gardens. Things are changing in Australia!

Alternatively, Aussies head to the beach in their cars, to escape the summer heat. Invariably everyone seems to have the same idea, at the same time, which results in in major traffic jams on the highways out of the cities.

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Traffic jams on the highways to the beach, crowded beaches with little adjacent car parking and loads of screaming, unhappy, sunburnt children. Summer in Australia? I am just as happy with Winter in Australia, thank you.

Ben gives us some advice on visiting Australia:

You’ll get sunburnt, even in Tassie

This ain’t no Mediterranean sun. You can’t go out there in factor 10+ bronzer and expect to survive the day. In Australia, you get burnt. If you don’t slip, slop, slap, and constantly reapply, you’ll be hideously toasted by the end of the day. The surprising thing is that this is true for the whole country – especially in Tasmania, our southernmost part.

Is it true? Yes, Absolutely yes.

Always wear a hat, light shirt and Sunscreen – period! Premature wrinkles and skin cancers are not to be taken lightly. A few serious sunburns early in life, can leave you prone to developing cancerous skin lesions, later. Especially if you play cricket in the backyard without sun protection!! Beware!

Aussies love Thongs

Ben’s article moves to the subject of Australia footwear, or lack thereof. Australians really like to wear thongs, if they can’t get away with bare feet. Whilst many Americans will be guffawing silently at this point, Ben and every Aussie knows that thongs are different to the American variety – they are not flip-flops, never ever’ Jandals’, but only ‘Thongs.’ And they belong on your feet and nowhere else!

rubber thongs

“And in summer we’ll wear thongs pretty much everywhere. We’ll wear them to the beach, to barbecues, to the cricket, to the pub, to dinner, and to anywhere else we might happen to end up. It’s a stereotype, and it’s kind of daggy, but it’s true. After all, thongs come in handy – you might need them to kill a cockroach.”

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Daggy but we love them – thongs

Giant Cockroaches? What the….  Is it True?

Yes, absolutely yes. And they are not nice. In fact, they are huge and quite disgusting. Disgusting, really grotesque, but essentially harmless. Harmless unless they crawl over your food or food utensils, of course.  Then you just want to spray the entire house in a cloud of deadly pesticide, to absolutely eradicate the vile creatures from your midst. But you don’t, because, being in Australia, you have the perfect weapon already to hand. For this is exactly the moment when your excellent Aussie footwear, the humble thong, becomes dual purpose!  Just grab that rubber thong and snap that repugnant insect dead. Super flexible with a speedy rebound, the rubber thong is deadly to Australian insects!

Important to note if you wish to blend in with the general Aussie population, is that it’s quite acceptable and sometimes essential, to use expletives such as, ‘Gotcha you little bugger/bastard,’ as you swat that bug! It feels even better when you do!!!

main_australia-cockroach

So, if you are in Australia this Australia Day  swatting bugs, wearing thongs, or even being serenaded by the traditional backyard cricket game, relax and be thankful for the country that is Australia. Prepared first by our Indigenous peoples, and later by British and European settlers, I celebrate each and every Australian. We are what we are, thongs and all. After all, to not celebrate Australia Day is’ just not cricket’, is it?

Happy Australia Day from Amanda at StPA.

– Something to Ponder About

60 thoughts on “Australia Day – Thongs and All”

        1. The small ones are much more tolerable, I think as they look more like a little insect from the garden. The large ones that fly in here are like monsters with large fluttering wings that you can actually hear beating as they fly across the room!!!! Yuk Yuk Yuk…..

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  1. I thought cricket was like small pox: it had been eradicated decades ago and exists now only in black and white or sepia-toned photos. I believe the summers there are excruciatingly hot. The northern portions are close enough to the equator to pull in that tropical heat. Another thing I heard about Australia is that everything is poisonous. It’s even home to the only venomous mammal: the platypus. A few years ago some scientists discovered a new species of seahorse off Australia. I posted on my Facebook page that, understanding Australia and its waters, it’s probably poisonous as well!

    But here’s another fact many people don’t realize: Australia is the only habitable continent with its entire land mass south of the equator. Africa is cut in half by the equator, and the bulk of South America lies below it.

    Try to stay cool and sane, Amanda!

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    1. Fun fact about the equator and Australia, Alejandro!! One I didn’t realize. Maybe that is why we are so different??? Lol!
      And you are right about the venomous creatures although we hardly ever meet any, in the cities. Platypus are secretive creatures and technically not mammals at all, but in a class with the echidna, called monotremes, as they lay eggs. They are a funny mix as they suckle their young. It is only the male that has a poisonous spur on its leg and rarely used.
      I laughed so hard about your description of cricket and smallpox. It should, by rights, be relegated to the dusty shelves of sporting museums but sadly it is still alive and kicking!!
      Have you ever seen a game being played for real?

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    1. Aww! Australia can be really lovely as well, Nancy. I really do find it unbearable in summer though! Favourite month is June or September. June is cool and sunny and September is mild with cool mornings and afternoon. A very short Spring!! What is the best time in Idaho?

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  2. Happy Australia Day Amanda. Hope you and the family had a great one. Haha…we were in our thongs having a BBQ, swatting bugs yesterday!!! Love it. Feeling very grateful and lucky to live in such a wonderful country as ours. Xx

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    1. Hi Lorelle! Glad to hear that you are getting into the spirit! Up until this year, we ALWAYS had the traditional Aussie BBQ on Australia Day. There is so much that we take for granted in Australia and some of us only realize that when we travel to another country. Life is what you make of it! And thongs are Sooo comfortable when it is hot!!!

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  3. As someone uninitiated in the game, I was surprised that this Bollywood film (Lagaan) recommended by an Indian mechanical engineer friend (and cricket fan!) actually held my attention for the whole film:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169102/plotsummary

    An Indian “feel good sports film”…! In America, it would be a different sport, but the “feel good” part would be the same.

    Incidentally, Sorry I missed your national day. Hope you had a great day and didn’t burn too much in the sun!

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    1. Thanks Weggie Boy. I am not such a fan of sports film but it does sound like a great story – positive and uplifting, and I am all for that. My head is imagining a mix of Bollywood and cricket and that definitely sounds interesting!! Thanks for the lead.

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      1. I’m the same way, yet the friend was insistent that it was such a good movie I’d like it. (I like Bollywood movies as a rule, but couldn’t imagine a sports-themed one.)

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  4. Excellent piece on the things that make Australia Australia, Amanda. When I first moved back to Australia, I was amazed at how many people were a fan of the cricket. There were a couple of years where I did watch the game on TV, spending warm summer afternoons that way. Watched enough of it to understand how the different cricket formats worked…and then tuned out because sometimes it really takes a while before something happens in the game. One sport I also find that many Australians have an interested in is tennis, or rather the Australian Open that comes around each year. Many whom I know either watch it on TV or go to the tournament each year.

    Definitely agree that thongs are a great weapon against cockroaches! And really against any bug that comes your way. Thongs may look flimpsy but they can last quite a while. I remember having a pair for five years and was so sad when it finally broke. It served me so well and was comfortable to wear 😀

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    1. Hi Mabel! Happy New Year!! I am so happy that you love thongs too! I get quite attached to certain pairs as well. For some years, I didn’t wear them, and my feet then had to get used to them again…. ( I have to wear orthotic type thongs now). Still useful against bugs, but not as good as the rubber versions!! LOL!! As for the cricket and tennis, it is slightly ironic that so many take part in this sedentary activity of watching others be active!! I think the tennis appeals more to older generations or those who live in Melbourne, of course. When you are living in Queensland and the sun is too fierce or hot for the beach, many people sit inside air con and watch the tennis, as it is the only thing worth watching on daytime television, in January when the high rating TV shows are all in recess.

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      1. Hope your feet has adjusted o the orthotic type thongs now. I remember when I stopped wearing flip flops for a while and started again, my feet felt so uncomfortable. They don’t offer much support for the feet in general, and it takes me a while to adjust back given my other footwear of choice is sport shoes.
        Also agree that most Australians would rather sit down and watch a sport rather than participate! Then again, we are laid back and like to relax, lol. Living here in Melbourne I also think the sun is very fierce, and I am the kind who burns too easily. Can’t stay out under the sun for more than half an hour before I feel so, so hot and need some shade!

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        1. Needing to stay in the shade is a good practice, Mabel. But I am surprised that you find Melbourne heat excessive. My Malaysian friend revels in the humid climate up here. My body, being born in Melbourne, seems to tolerate the dry heat better. And no matter how long I live up here it doesn’t improve. I think the body’s thermostat seems to malfunction with age. How do you feel in a Queensland or Malaysian Summer/ heat?

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          1. Here in Melbourne, it’s dry. I’ve been to Queensland, and the weather there is very much like Malaysia – which I do not mind one bit. When it’s hot and dry in Melbourne, it burns…or at least I do. Quite the opposite of you!

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            1. When it was 41 degrees in Melbourne a few weeks ago, it wasn’t too bad for me but I could feel the intensity of the sun and burnt a little on the top of my back but it was the sort of burn that disappears to a tan the next day, Mabel. But I was out walking for a good few hours. I bought another hat to protect me whilst walking actually because it was hotter than I thought it would be. Guess I am suited to Melbourne’s climate more than Queensland.

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              1. You are right on the intensity of the Melbourne sun. At the end of last year I walked on a warm cloudy day and still got sunburnt. A hat definitely helps and can be the difference in feeling much cooler. Hope you visit Melbourne again soon 🙂

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    1. Spring wind seems to be characteristic of many places around the world, Nancy. I heard folk say that in Tasmania as well. (Far away from Idaho!) If we had “fall” scenery here, that would be very special. Alas, we don’t really have many deciduous trees, owing to our warm winters.

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  5. Great post Amanda, depicting the two sides of looking at things such as the cricket, and the hot summer days. One thing we all seem to agree on is that thongs are pretty good Australian footwear, as well as insect swatters.

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        1. So did I, in the eighties, I have to confess. Those days of the Chapell brothers, Lilley and Thommo…..but I haven’t watched it really since 1979.

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  6. Here are a few other interesting facts about Australia that Amanda and some readers might know:
    • Its name is derived from the term “Terra Australis” (southern land), a name used by European mapmakers as early as the 15th century for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere, or any large piece of land presumed to exist south of what was then the known world.
    • It’s the only country in the world that occupies its own continent.
    • It’s only 1 of 2 “First World” or Developed nations in the Southern Hemisphere. (The other is New Zealand, with Brazil and Chile nearing that goal.)
    • It’s the most sparsely populated developed nation with its roughly 24.13 million people spread over 7,692,024 km (2,969,907 sq. mi.).
    • It’s the most urbanized country on Earth with nearly 60% of its population concentrated in just 5 cities: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Perth is the world’s most isolated large city, lying some 2,131 km (1,324 sq. mi.) from the next large city – Adelaide.
    • It has the most fragile ecological environment of any other developed nation, due mainly to things like overgrazing, water shortages and soil erosion.

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    1. There is enough info in this comment for a whole post on your blog, Alejandro! However I am aware of them all. Water is the most precious and sought after resource here. It is slightly crazy or masochistic to be in agriculture here. And there was a big push for decentralization here which had largely failed as the resource boom slows and country folk drift to the cities. Salinity is also a big problems in the wheat belt and in irrigated areas. But e are slowly cottoning on to the idea of solar power -yay!

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      1. Yes, when the first Europeans arrived, they had their own agricultural / pastoral mindset. Hence, they imported large numbers of cattle and sheep without realizing the Australian environment simply wouldn’t be able to tolerate them long-term. I read somewhere that Australia is mandating showerheads that shut off after only 5 minutes. Is that true? Also, have you begun building desalinization facilities? The U.S. state of California is seriously considering that, which they desperately need.

        I figured you’d know all of that data, Amanda! If you haven’t already, please consider reading Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs & Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.”

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        1. sounds like an ingesting book,have gives Alejandro! It is not just cattle Ann’s sheep but any hoofed creature. Camels, deer, horses as well. Kangaroos and other native fauna don’t have hooves!! The soil is old geologically speaking and fragile. Then there was the rabbits introduced without any natural predator!!!
          Various places have water restrictions but no mandatory time limits on showers. Just on the type of shower heads installed in new homes.
          The salination is in the marginal lands from over grading or cropping. However, about 8 years ago the was talk of a desalination facility to combat the drought. Since then we had flooding rains and the dams are now at full capacity, in this city at least. I think there are several small towns recycling water for drinking purposes.

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  7. Hello Amanda, I saw that you visited Boomdeeadda, thanks so much. I had a great visit here today and giggled along 😀 Until I came to the roach stuff then had to offert my eyes, LOL. You might have heard I’m coming to your gorgeous country soon. I’ll be sure to bring my thongs (never flip-flops). That cracked me up because I wrote a post about that once too. It’s a rhyme of sorts…Ode To Flip Flops https://boomdeeadda.com/2012/09/20/ode-to-flip-flops/
    Cheers Boomdee

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      1. Actually not in Queensland Amanda. We’ll be in New South Wales and only flying home through Brisbane. Perhaps in the future, if we’re lucky to come back, we’ll enjoy another part of your beautiful country 😀 Boomdee

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              1. We sure hope to come back and visit other parts of your beautiful country! Thanks for the invite, I shall put that in my back pocket for another wonderful holiday. Cheers dear!

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  8. Funny! I would gladly swap cockroaches for the lyme-disease-spreading ticks we have everywhere over here in the summer. And I love my thongs 😀 Never get to use them anymore though! I love your blog’s new refreshed look!

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    1. Ooo. Those ticks are nasty, Snow. But we have cattle ticks here too, I guess. I would definitely miss my thongs if I lived in Finland. When you visit a warm place does it takes your feet a couple of days to become accustomed to them again?

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    2. Thanks Snow for the nice comment about the theme change. It was long overdue!!Ooo. Those ticks are nasty, Snow. But we have cattle ticks here too, I guess. I would definitely miss my thongs if I lived in Finland. When you visit a warm place does it takes your feet a couple of days to become accustomed to them again?

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    1. It is not something that I am particularly interested in, as I am not a fan of cheating in any sport. Sportspeople should be much more mindful that they are a role model for youngsters. What happened to the concept of a game for the sake of the game? Too much money in sports appears to lead to corruption. I will take a look at your post.

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