You might remember a few weeks back I took you through the perils and pitfalls of Australian life. If you’re still thinking about making the big move Down Under, here are a few more things to be aware of.
1. A BBQ in Oz doesn’t involve ribs or wings or any delicious American style food. It largely consists of beef sausages. They don’t really do pork sausages over there. One thing they do very well, however, are rashers.
2. The Oz attitude to drink and the Irish. Now we’re sailing into controversy. We Irish often like to think that we are beloved of all the nations and peoples of the world, but not so much in Australia. They tend to share quite a British attitude to us; we’re drunken, stupid nuisances. This is of course, a terrible generalisation, and I met plenty of nice people there, but I also experienced one or two incidents that made me go ‘hmmm.’ Recently in Perth, authorities have targeted GAA clubs in an effort to make the Irish calm down when they go out. The main problem is that anything goes in an Irish nightclub/pub and this is very much not the case in Australia. The Aussies have a drink culture, but it’s not as insane as ours, so when you go, be aware of it lest you find yourself in a police station at 5am.
3. As mentioned above, I went to college in Limerick so I was used to encountering a fair few weirdos when out and about. Off the top of my head, here’s some of the people I met in Perth; the drunken woman who told my friend she’d been raped and then proceeded to giggle about how stupid he was when I came on the scene (and then untied my Converse); the lady who accused me and my friend of leaving heroin needles lying on the street; the man who dropped his trousers in McDonalds. The Australian weirdo is a very, very special breed. Be warned!
4. No society is perfect and neither is Australia’s. Despite what you may have seen in Home and Away, where those River Boy scamps are the worst criminals Summer Bay can come up with, Aussies do have their share of societal problems. Even the worse suburbs are nicer than the ones in Ireland, but that doesn’t mean life in Australia is always sunny. Another issue in Aussie society is racism. The Aborigines have had a very tough time from it since the country was colonised 200 years ago, and in Perth at least, you see many of them down and out, and sometimes begging. I’m in no position to judge but the relationship between white Australians and Aborigines always seemed to me to be similar to settled Irish people’s relationship with Travellers. Both groups seem to be greatly discriminated against, which is wrong. However, like in the Travelling community, a minority of Aborigines partake in anti-social behaviour which tarnishes their reputation.
5. For us ladies, Australia is still quite a macho society, and while Murdoch university offered gender studies modules far more advanced than anything we had in Ireland, women in Australia seemed to be not quite as liberated as us. It is not too unusual to be engaged at a young age. Any women thinking of moving to Oz should bear in mind that career opportunities abound in the more traditionally male fields such as construction, mining etc. Unless you have a specific qualification you might find it harder to get work than your male counterparts.
And probably worse of the lot… the average Australian male looks nothing like Romeo, or Heath, or Brax, or the late lamented Heath Ledger. In fact there aren’t very many good looking men in Australia at all, and most of them seemed to employed in the country’s thriving soap opera industry. After six months with the Aussie male, who thinks nothing of walking in and having a conversation with his best friend on the toilet, the charms of the Irishman- shy, shuffling, looking down at his feet until drunk- revealed themselves to me.
Well that’s it. Hopefully, if you’re thinking of moving to Australia, you’re a bit more informed of just what you’re letting yourself in for. And remember, for every venomous spider there’s an adorable koala, the beaches are the most beautiful you will ever see, and the weather not only slays Ireland, it leaves it buried in an underground crypt beneath a nuclear reactor entombed in a mausoleum with a stake through its heart. So if you make the big move down under, enjoy it!
This article appeared on June 13 2012.