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Blog // Thoughts
March 29, 2007

Are Aussies The New “Ugly Tourists?”

We are off to Australia on holidays this weekend, so I’ve been surfing the newspapers “down under,” trying to find some topics of conversation. Stumbled upon a very telling piece in the SMH travel blog, entitled “New Yanks and jafas: why no one likes Aussies anymore.” At first, I smelt a faint whiff of rant, […]

We are off to Australia on holidays this weekend, so I’ve been surfing the newspapers “down under,” trying to find some topics of conversation.

Stumbled upon a very telling piece in the SMH travel blog, entitled “New Yanks and jafas: why no one likes Aussies anymore.” At first, I smelt a faint whiff of rant, but this turned out to be a very good piece and the extraordinarily extensive comments that follow are well worth taking the time to read – very revealing.

It’s now over eight years since I left Australia. In that time I’ve lived in three different countries and done a fair share of travelling. There’s no doubt some of the “Australian Diaspora” are intelligent, sophisticated and culturally-aware people who have made the world their home and do their country proud. You get more than a hint of that in the self-relexivity in comment after comment following the blogpost. But those individuals are, sadly, not the whole story.

On the balance I think the sentiments in the SMH blogpost are correct.

When I left Sydney I was under the impression that all the world loved Australia (and Aussies). Certainly 1999-2000 was an interesting time, with the many sporting victories, the Olympics and the Millenium. Culturally every country has it’s “15 minutes” and that was certainly the case for Australia back then.

But since then I’ve had many, many experiences that have made me pause and reconsider. Some have been observations of the behaviour of Australians, but most have been conversations with non-Australians. Maybe, it’s because I’m blessed with not looking or sounding like a typical Aussie, or maybe it’s my circumspect sense of national identity – whatever the case, people don’t tend to assume I’m Australian and feel pretty free to tell what they think of the country and it’s people.

Much like the comments on the SMH blogpost, words like arrogant, rude, disrespectful, loud, racist and aggressive often come up (along with lots of “chip on the shoulder” style allusions).

The point of bringing this up is not to take a broadside at the country, but rather to highlight what is apparent reading through the blogpost – that there is a disparity between the way Australians are sometimes viewed overseas and the way they view themselves. Even more importantly; that there is a gulf between the values Australians tend to cherish and desire for themselves and the way they are perceived. I’m not sure I have a compelling explanation for this, but I do feel like we are seeing a trend of some sort.

It’s my hope that opinion-leaders, educators and especially church leaders in Australia are aware of this and willing to respond constructively.

[tags] Australia, Australian Diaspora [/tags]

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