Australia Day – January 26, 2007

Happy Australia Day!

On January 26, 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and became its first Governor. Australia Day, 26 January, is a national day of celebration where Australians and us wanna-be-Aussies come together to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian.

This makes today a perfect one for me to enlighten you with some observations about life in Oz! This is a unique combination of advice I wish I had heard before we moved, and a few quirks about life “Down Under.” So, grab your Australia-shaped hamburger and a bottle or three of Toohey’s, and just relax -Â There are no dramas here.

#1 – Look right

Let’s start with an easy one: Cars approach from the right, not the left as in North America. The advice of “look right” should be self-explanatory.

#2 – No room for fluffy in the inn

Neither the city councils nor the “body corporate” (that’s a condo board of directors to the rest of us) look fondly upon cats and other pets in rental situations. So if you have a pet, you will almost certainly be forced to look for a detached home.

For those who do not already have a pet, you can always find several thousand of the local favourites to call your own! That’s right, get your fleas here. Many houses have ’em, and you can have some too!Â

(Regular treatment by pest control keeps them away — or try some natural prevention, such as putting basil in the window.)

#3 – Rent/Lease payments on cars and accommodation are priced by the week

Self-explanatory perhaps, but a difficult adjustment for us newbies who are used to thinking in monthly terms. We thought, “Wow, rent is really inexpensive!” But that changed once we realized that key appliances like a fridge aren’t typically included in your rent.

#4 – Brissy

Here’s a little Aussie grammar for you. If you can shorten a regular word by putting “issy” or “ey” on the end, then do it.

One more thing: Steve Irwin notwithstanding, no self-respecting Australian actually says “Crikey!

#5 – One Hundred Points

Get used to the idea that, no matter what you’re doing – from opening a bank account to applying for a rental property – you will be asked for “100 points” of identification.

This means at least one piece of government-issued photo ID with your signature, plus up to 3 additional pieces of identification. Each type of ID carries a different point value depending on the service to which you are applying, so be prepared to show multiple forms of ID.

#6 – “No dramas”

A classic Australian expression, which means something of “no worries,” “no problem,” and/or “you’re welcome.”

It may also be used to offer assistance. For example, “If there any dramas, give me a call and I’ll sort it out.”

#7 – Indooroopilly

The pronunciation of many suburb names in Brisbane bears almost no resemblance to their spelling. The locals will (rightly) laugh out loud at your weak attempt at their pronunciation. It may sound mean-spirited, but you’ll get used to it!

So the correct pronunciation of Indooroopilly – at least, as close as I can get with my Canadian eh! accent – is “Indro pill ee.”

#8 – Wonder bread

The classic Aussie BBQ … perfect for Australia Day! Get your shrimp, sausage, and burgers, all served up on … sliced bread??

What’s up with that? Well, we scoured the grocery stores and managed to find one package of 6 hot dog buns for the low price of $3.91. Don’t even mention about hamburger buns, they just don’t seem to exist here.

The local solution is two slices of white or wholemeal bread, plain and simple. Oh, don’t forget the coleslaw and sweet chili sauce — and lots of it!

#9 – Free TV has the best shows

Australian free-to-air television channels such as Seven are running the new-release North American shows, including this season’s “24” and “Heroes.” The paid digital cable channels, on the other hand, are showing “Murder She Wrote” alongside 5-year old episodes of “ER.” Go figure.

And finally #10 – Sunblock

What can I say? Any country where a red-headed Canadian boy an buy a 1 LITRE jug of SPF-30 sunblock is OK by me.

Hey mate, please pass another Toohey’s from the esky. I’m going for more of that chili sauce!

Later, eh?