Australia more than lived up to our expectations. We enjoyed many likenesses to home but did so in a semi-tropical environment with access to pristine beaches. I can’t say we’re missing all the snow and cold Manitoba is experiencing right now although seeing Christmas decorations and hearing Christmas music when the thermometer hovers above 20 degrees is odd for us. I’m thankful, however, to drive a car in late November on roads which aren’t icy and treacherous, especially since I’m on the ‘wrong side of the road’.
From reading local newspapers and watching local news, it’s obvious that Australia and Canada share the same penchant for innocuous political scandal and debate, drawn-out government-led inquiries, the seemingly ineffectual assistance to their aboriginal peoples, and mind-numbing rhetoric from public representatives. Like Canadian news, Australian news highlights issues such as the economy, increasing obesity, management versus union tensions, and the balance between preserving the environment and impeding progressive development. In comparison to countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and, Nepal where fundamentals of popular democracy aren’t in place and where the possibility of uprising and bloodshed is real, the issues considered newsworthy in Canada and Australia are a reflection of the privilege we enjoy.
Canada and Australia also differ from each other. Australia struggles with the never-ending stream of refugees who show up in their waters. Australia enjoys proximity to lucrative Asian markets including the world’s most populous countries. Being near to Asia also affords access to a wider range of holiday destinations, especially those where one’s money goes farthest. Although Canada is host to the moose, beaver, and bear, Australia is home to the unusual duck-billed platypus, the dog-sized and seemingly roadkill-prone wombat, the long-snouted and porcupine-like echidna, the iconic and spring-legged kangaroo and wallaby, and the cute and cuddly and remarkably lazy koala. While the 100th Grey Cup was played back in Canada, the Aussies were focused on their national cricket team’s current quest for the number one ranking in the world. Rugby and Australian rules football are also huge here. What we in Canada call ‘football’ receives some ribbing from Aussies who consider all the padding football players wear something for sissies as compared to the rough and tumble play of rugby. Also, Australians speak English with an accent while we don’t.
Would we go back to Australia? Absolutely! The similarities are comfortable, the differences refreshing.
I guess one expectation our girls had which wasn’t fulfilled is that no cute Australian surfer boys are coming back home with us. I’m okay with that. For now, no worries!