Last month this continent country celebrated “Australia Day”, based on the anniversary of the first fleet of colonists to descend upon this land. Most people celebrate it with shrimp and large quantities of beer. (If you were paying attention you’d note this sounds awfully similar to how Christmas was celebrated. And every other Australian holiday).
Some people take offense to the holiday, calling it “Invasion Day” and claiming it marks the beginning of the destruction of aboriginal culture. Friends of mine call it “Bogan Day” (roughly translated to “redneck day”), because Perth is overrun with drunken redneck fools (especially on this day). Most of my friends celebrate the day by listening to the fan-voted top 100 songs of the year, aired on a phenomenal radio station called Triple J.
Up at the mine – where I seem to be for all noteworthy days (Christmas, New Years, Birthday, Australia Day, Valentine’s Day… so far) –my coworkers appeared to be drinking more than usual.
“Seal Basher!” they called to me, “Do you know what day it is today?”
“Oh yeah,” I realised, “it’s Australia Day.”
“Nah mate. It’s STRAW-ya day, not Aus-TRAIL-ee-ah day. Learn to speak properly.”
I’m slowly unlearning english.
More on the local culture: Last break I spent an extra week in Perth, attending a Shotfirer’s course for blasting. I rode the train out to suburbia each day to take the class on the outskirts of the city. Perth is fascinating because the bogans/rednecks live right in the city, unlike in North America where rednecks live in small towns away from major cities.
In 5 days of riding the train 45 minutes each way, I saw all manner of shifty characters: A personable panhandler negotiating with me to get a 5-cent coin (Aside: Australians don’t have very creative names for their coins); a man with no shoes; one young man wearing a sombrero-sized bush hat so large it appeared to be swallowing his small head; and the best of all these two young (and likely crystal-meth addicts) waving around $170, absolutely ecstatic. Noticing my slight interest (I glanced in their general direction), they began explaining their fortune:
They had “found” a bicycle in the bushes (“It had disk-brakes. Disk-brakes!!”), and gone to a bike shop for an estimate of value. Finding it was worth over $2000—a fact they continued to repeat to their amazement—they decided to sell it on the street for $200. They were offered $170 and couldn’t believe their luck. The puzzling thing was their continued emphasis about how much the bike was actually worth. All I could do was shake my head, not just because they were thieves, but because they were terrible businessmen.
There are a few more photos on my website. There would have been more photos, from the circus and recent rock climbing respectively. But Cirque du Soleil wouldn’t allow me to use my camera in the show, and the rock was so hot I couldn’t be bothered hanging around taking photos while my shoes (and feet) melted!