Ten Things Folks in the USA Don’t Know About Australia

1. Errol Flynn is Australian (yes, I know he’s dead). How do you guys all manage not to know that? The debauchery, rabble rousing and general larrikinism were all learned in Australia; the Nazism and other vile habits he picked up later. Most likely in London, though Hollywood will have helped. Mel Gibson was born in New York (state not city, thanks Josh) and Russell Crowe in New Zealand. Neither of them are our fault.

2. We don’t have the death penalty and we do have free universal health care. Just like every other first-world country, except the USA.

3. Australia is not nearly as religious as the USA and thank God for that (sorry, couldn’t resist). If you mention that you are an atheist there’s little risk of anyone keeling over in shock. We’ve had prime ministers who were completely open about not believing in god. Weirdo fundamentalist lunatics have no political power or influence in Australia. Unless you include this Queensland sect whose name I can’t remember who claimed they control the prime minister with their powerful mind rays. Maybe they do. It would explain a lot.

4. New Zealand is our Canada and Indonesia our Mexico. And Australia is the same size as mainland USA.

5. Sport is the main religion, and a very well-funded one too. Every medal we won at the Sydney Olympics cost several squillion gazillion Australian dollars. And why not? Who needs better hospitals? Or no child living in poverty? Cricket is the main religion and soap opera in the country. Thank you, Shane Warne. I’m not sure how a country can claim to be civilized without cricket. Or for that matter, without Shane Warne.

6. Australia is as racist/homophobic/sexist/ageist/jingoistic etc. as the USA.

7. How is it that the one thing you all think you know about us is our film actors? All those famous Australian movie stars and directors you’ve heard of—New Zealanders—every last one of them (except Errol Flynn).

8. 99.94% of us live in cities, not in the bush. (Or is that Don Bradman’s career batting average? Whatever.) Australia is the most urbanised country in the world. Forget about the Crocodile Hunter already.

9. Miles Franklin, Tracy Moffat and Howard Florey are Australians. Not that you lot would care. You haven’t heard of them, have you?

10. We do not have cute accents. You are confused. That would be the Irish and Jamaicans, not us.

New York City, 26 August 2003