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Letters from Downunder

The Aussies Are Coming

Submitted by Lindsay, Melbourne Australia!

And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine
I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.

(1/11) A happy new year to everyone in America, especially all who live in that wonderful state of Maryland.

It’s very difficult for someone this far away to get a feel for Emmitsburg and its surroundings, and having never been to your state (sigh) I have to rely on what I read in the News-Journal and some on-line national dailies and weeklies, the jokes on (a.k.a. My Little Sister’s Jokes), and correspondence. But then most of you will not have been to Australia, so you also have to rely on second or third hand reports to get a feel for this great south land. I have, over the months, tried to give some idea of a few things that might be of interest, but it is just not possible to send you the sounds, smells, speech or much of the diversity we have here. But that, dear reader, is about to change.

Australians, in my experience, have always been more adventurous than Americans. We have had to travel overseas to go anywhere but here, and it is estimated that some 50% of our population have, at various times, travelled abroad, many every second year or so - and the rate is increasing. We have been prepared to pay almost double the amounts you folk have needed to for overseas travel, but guess what? Things have changed. You might deplore the state of your economy, but we’re so happy! Our dollar is now worth more than yours. Well, most of the time, and you can guess what an impetus this is to our travel-hungry feet. Our unemployment is so low at present that they’re paying academics to become plumbers, sociologists to take up plastering, and kids that are less than academically inclined are off in the mines and offshore rigs earning more in a week than I do in a month, so poverty-stricken most of us are not.

And where will we be going? Why, to the great wine and beer producing areas, of course. Not that yours is a patch on ours, but it gets too heavy to carry more than a bottle or two with us in the airplane. And we like novelty. New booze is better than new news, even though some of know that the Napa is largely owned by Australians. And we’ll go to the theme parks, the big things like death valley and Yosemite, while one might even venture to Gettysburg. If I hear of this I’ll tell them to be sure and visit Emmitsburg, because we have a thing or two to teach you.

So, here are some facts and figures you may find interesting: 6.15% of Australia is considered to be arable, that is, something can probably be grown on it, possibly with the help of irrigation. (You have 16%) This is approximately 1.2% of the world total, yet we export nearly 3.5% of the total world food. This is achieved by our population, about 22 million, which is 0.33% of the total – and only about 2% of our population is engaged in growing things. In other words, some half million people living on 1.2% of the world’s arable land manage to produce more than three per cent of the total world food production.

It seems astonishing, even to me, that we could achieve something of this order, but it does go to show that we are one of the best ‘can do’ nations on earth. Come to the USA we certainly will, bringing with us our new sense of superiority, as well as our style, language, cockiness, curiosity and even the smells of ordinary Australia. (A note of explanation: We do actually wash at least once a week). But, please ask your security services to go easy on us at the airports. We hate terrorists as much as you do, and while there might be the odd import to our country of the jihad mentality, we’re not that stupid. (I hope). We’ll be bringing our dollar, stronger than yours, (can’t help boasting) we’ll be spending it, and showing you just how strong and resourceful we all are. And what great folk we are. You may find us shy and retiring (not), prone to long silences (not), and deferential (NOT).

Australia, Of Course, is a truly great country, and we are sure going to tell you ALL about it as we protect our booze from the rain you sometimes get. You might even decide to apply for a visa and work permit. You’ll be made very welcome. We cater for all types.

Keep the wine unwatered,


Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker