Friday, August 1, 2008

The Land Down Under? You Mean Where Women Glow And Men Thunder?

This is not Texas upside down. It's Australia.

Everyone who is not from the US knows and is unnecessarily smug about the fact that Americans are a bit short in the area of world geography. We have other priorities. Getting our Starbucks first thing in the morning being of greatest importance.

Earlier today I was speaking with my friend who is from Australia. I'll call her Diane. Mainly I asked Diane if they have states in Australia. How would I know. They don't call it the United States of Australia. We put the word States in our country name so we will have the correct answer at our fingertips in case anyone from another country tries to trip us up.

I didn't know the capital either. (I said Perth, okay? So get it out of your system and we'll move on.) Or exactly how big Australia is. I planned to find these things out before I take a trip there. Which will probably be never because I am still unemployed. My friend, who I will call Diane again, said most people she speaks with are about as bright as I am. She said it much more nicely, but that's what it all boils down to.

The problem lies in that most of America's first hand knowledge of Australia comes from one or more of the following :

Thorn Birds (TV Series)

The Land Down Under by Men At Work (song)

Waltzing Matilda by the Seekers (song)

A Town Called Alice (TV Series)

The Onion's World Atlas

Nicole Kidman Australian Here's a picture of Nicole in Australia

Other than that we have no information. We slept through geography class. Had we not we would have known that the greatest contribution to the world's pantries comes from Australia; Vegemite It's a lovely black sandwich spread. There is even a song to sing while you enjoy a breakfast of Vegemite on toast. Vegemite Song. We don't eat Vegemite in the US because the jars come in 150 Gram and 220 Gram sizes and we don't know what grams are. Except people who do drugs.
I took a poll of 6 people on General Knowledge of Australia - including my waitperson Jason, at Applebees. He was very nice and helpful and met all of our expectations.

First I asked everyone:
Name the first 5 things that come to mind about Australia.
The numbers after an answer indicate multiple responses:

Beaches with assorted dress codes
Funny Accent
Great Barrier Reef
Kangaroos 2
Koalas 2
Opposite Seasons to US
Outback (not the steakhouse)
Penal Colony of Great Britain
Sydney Opera House 3
Steve Irwin 3
Steve Irwin has a zoo somewhere
Tropical Climate
Water in toilet swirls in opposite direction of US (Diane, is this true or not?)

I've provided a picture of a kangaroo for you:

The next question:
What is the Capital of Australia?
Canbarra (correct)
Sydney 3
Perth 1 (this was me, ok?)
Don’t Know 2

Third and last question:
How much of the US can fit in Australia?
1/3 ish
All of the continental US 4 (correct answer)

By this you can see that we were all able to at least come up with some answers.

I asked my son, Jason, to look up Australia in his copy of The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth and provide us with additional historical information about Australia. These are the important dates in Australian History he sent along to me:

1800 English authorities get suspicious when an elderly woman visits the penal colony with 35,000 birthday cakes

1854 The nation develops Australian rules football, a combination of rugby, soccer, and murdering people in cold blood

1911 Canberra is founded and designated as Australia's capital, which is odd because isn't Sydney the capital?

2000 Hosting its first Summer Olympics, the city of Sydney spends all day nervously worrying if any of the other 199 participating nations are going to show up.

2001 Sir Donald Bradman, Australia's most famous cricket player, dies of anonymity.

If you would like more information about Australia, just click here. It's all provided by the CIA. Yes. really.


Sandy said...

Well this was interesting. The only thing I know about Australia is they have poison frogs...My son went there on a senior trip.

And I believe the drinking age is 18...because I know he was drinking.

Fun to read you today.

MuseSwings said...

18 is correct and uhm poison frogs. They have lots of scary things there. Even duckbilled platypus or is it pi are poisonous.
Thanks for popping over!

LL said...

Australia means "putting a shrimp on the babbie" doesn't it? And koalas and kangaroos and the dingo that supposedly stole the baby? (Who really knows).
I have a feeling you'll be going to Australia sooner than you think...possibly even leading tours there?!

LL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MuseSwings said...

I know so much more now that I've gotten input from at least 8 well read people. Hopefully I won't get my tour group lost somewhere in the outback. Thank you for stopping by!

Sweet Repose said...

Lemme know when you go, I'll hitch a ride...we're in the same're unemployed and I'm long do you think it will take us to save...and can I take my didgeridoo...see how many know what that is(I was amazed).


Sweet Repose said...

Just noticed your kangaroo he dead???

I'm still chuckling on that one...

sharon again

MuseSwings said...

He looks an awful lot like a Koala, doesn't he? I think he had a big lunch and he's sleeping it off. Please do bring your digeridoo. We'll need some authentic music. Will it fit in your Matilda? It'll take a while to save, my piggy bank is half I mean it's half full.

Good to see you!

Aunt Jo said...

Vegemite scares me.

why Diane and not Sheila?

I would love to see Oz someday......*sigh*

Esther said...

Oh this is funny!! Have you ever read Bill Bryson's "A Sunburned Country" about Australia? One request: Let's keep Vegemite out of the U.S. - please?!

MuseSwings said...

Esther -I haven't seen vegemite here - I've seen another "mite" can't thing of what it is - maybe muttonemite. That one, as I recall is a deep green rather than black.
Aunt Jo - I wish I had thought of Sheila - Don't tell anyone, but Diane's name is Diane.

Glad you popped over to visit!


Esther said...

I've had the misfortune of trying it once to please an Australian friend. I can't recall eating anything I liked less, and that includes liver! :)

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

“Perth the capital of Australia”! I was almost rolling on the floor laughing…that is until I read the outcome of your little quiz – that people still remember Australia as a penal colony of GB – how very unflattering.

Yes, Steve Irwin has a zoo, or rather his family now. It’s a few kilometers up the road from our place. We were in Port Douglas where Steve’s sting ray documentary was being filmed on the day he died. Had I not cancelled our snorkeling trip we'd have been at the location of the accident when it happened. It was a very sad time.

Lavinia - my other claim to fame(other than being born in Sydney - which should be the capital) is babysitting Mrs Chamberlain's (of dingo fame) other daughter. My sister and I went to school with the Chamberlain boys. I remember them being very naughty at school. That would be understandable I guess, considering the stress on the family at that time.

As for American’s not liking Vegemite, this most painfully demonstrates a lack of appreciation for fine foods. Vegemite is wonderful. You should try it on toast with honey or put a teaspoonful of it in your gravy or soup for that unmistakable vegimitey flavour. You’ll thank me…

An entertaining (and enlightening) post!
Kalianne :-)

MuseSwings said...

Kalianne - my new friend from The Land Downunder! You are so understanding of the American ....what's a better word for ignorance..... Anyway what interesting comments! Babysat for the Chamberlaines! How interesting. That was another thing that someone commented about; "the dingo ate my baby. But I left that one off the list.
I did taste Vegemite when I was very young. I remember liking it but for some reason it dissapeared out of Mom's kitchen never to be seen again. My brother probably buried it out in the back yard somewhere.

Esther said...


Perhaps I should try Vegemite again???

MuseSwings said...

Esther, I think you should! I might keep an eye out for some too. I've seen Marmalite but not Vegemite in the "British" section of the grocery store.

Amy said...

the Wiggles introduced us to aussie-land....just another reason we can't wait to go! :)