YOUNG yet OLD – for starters, while we are one of the youngest declared nations on earth, we inhabit its oldest land form and imbibe a heritage that is recognized as containing the world’s oldest living cultural history;
LARGE yet SMALL – also, while Australia is earth’s largest island it is actually the world’s smallest continent;
FLOOD yet DROUGHT – at the exact same time, a state of emergency can exist for raging floods in one part of the country and debilitating drought in another;
SPACE yet CONGESTED – we have a huge land of 8 million sq km on which to build our homes, yet 85% of us huddle together in the south-east corner of the map and live in urban areas located less than 50 km from the coast and taking up only 0.3% of the land mass;
CHAMPIONS yet UNDERDOG – we love our champions and winning sport teams yet we have a genuine soft spot for the ‘underdog‘ and will support them in every contest;
PROUD yet SUSPICIOUS – we are extremely proud to be Aussies yet we are inherently anti-authority , can’t understand rampant nationalism or patriotism and are suspicious of politician’s motives who promote it zealously;
RESPECT yet ‘BOO’ – we respect and honor our politicians when they are on the world stage yet ‘boo‘ them as a tradition, when they choose to show their face at our sacred sporting events;
VICTORY yet DEFEAT – our armed forced have won many gallant victories in global conflicts, yet we choose to celebrate and honor our greatest defeat – the ANZACs at Gallipoli;
LIKE YOU yet RIB YOU – the more we like you as a mate the more likely we are to put you down or ‘rib’ you, but, if someone who is not a mate does this to you … we will deck him, sorry … clobber him, you know … ‘punch his lights out’;
EXAGGERATE yet UNDERSTATE – we exaggerate by understating or saying nothing. There is always more ‘between the lines’ and left unspoken, than written on the lines or included in the broadcast. On our hottest day you may well hear the question “‘So what’s with this cold snap then?”;
BUSH yet CITY – our identity is indelibly linked with the legends of the bush, yet 90% of us actually live in the cities and have never lived in the bush. Our greatest bush poet, Henry Lawson, wrote most of his work from an office in the city;
MANY yet FEW – we call everyone mate even though we each only have a few. Some commentators reckon that this is because Australians are too lazy to remember names, and ‘mate’ is an easy way out of the dilemma. Others say it’s a public affirmation of the concept of egalitarianism which underpins the Australian way;
SINGLE yet MULTI – we consider Australians a single nationality, yet 20% of us were born overseas and 40% of us have mixed cultural origins;
IMPRESS yet NOT – the way to impress us is to not try to. Australians are born with a ‘bullshit’ meter that detects it immediately upon impact. Acceptance depends entirely on who you are, not on what you have or are about to achieve.
SERIOUS yet LAUGH – while we take ourselves seriously, it is each Aussie’s ‘god-given’ job (or his best mate’s) to describe with great merriment their own stupid acts. However, it is sacrosanct to do likewise for an Aussie outside your group who is ‘down on their luck’ or someone else’s best mate. Aussie humor is not intended to be sarcastic.
DEMOCRACY yet MONARCHY – ‘we the people’ democratically elect our government, yet we accept the fact that the Australian Head of State is a birth determined monarch who lives in another country.
ONE WORD yet TWO MEANINGS – there are double meanings everywhere in our Aussie slang or language. So, you will need to know the context, to know the meaning (i.e. “Blue” can be a color, a fight, a red haired mate, a cattle dog or a mistake; “Cactus” can be a plant or saying you are exhausted just like when you’re “stuffed”, although that term has other sexual implications; “Crook” can be a thief or saying you are not feeling well; “Mickey Mouse” can be a cartoon character or meaning excellent or sometimes frivolous; a “Bastard” could be either another person’s best mate or worst enemy … again, depending on the context
LOSS yet WIN – two remembrance days at either end of the emotional spectrum stop the nation of Australia (1) honoring the loss of 8,000 young Australians on the beaches of Gallipoli on ANZAC day 25th April 1914 and (2) honoring the winner of a 150 year old horse race known as the Melbourne Cup which is run on the first Tuesday in November. Even Mark Twain on a visit to the Melbourne Cup in 1895 could not quite understand the hipe; “Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me”.
DELICACY yet UNEATABLE – our national culinary delicacy and icon (Vegemite) is uneatable to most everyone else. This much craved after food is described as a black and extremely salty spread that was originally created from the dregs of brewers’ yeast from the breweries. Yet it continues to be the staple of the Australian digger serving overseas. They miss so much of home, yet a simple jar of Vegemite can bring an appeasement that few other products could.