Australia has some things that you can only get Down Under. Vegemite is a successor to Marmite but made in Australia and by an American company. The Wiggles have enjoyed massive fame. Consult Nicole Kidman, Paul Hogan, and Steve Irwin. They are or were (as in Irwin's case) filthy rich and famous.
Paul Hogan was in spotlight as Crocodile Dundee in the 1980's and Irwin took the helm as the Crocodile Hunter in the 1990's. INXS and The Seekers were tremendous success stories which represented Australian culture.
Australia's Culture & History
"Australia thrives on stereotypes when it
promotes itself abroad, using images like kangaroos, convicts and
rapists, and vegemite. If Australia were to publicly admit that the
majority of its population lives in the big cities and leads lives
not a helluva lot different than other English-speaking countries,
would-be tourists would stay at home and grill shrimps on their own
barbecue and buy kangaroo stuffed animals. "
Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
Too bad this is a British copycat and now American owned
What do you expect? Everyone likes to romanticize the past, nations included. As it turns out, the descendents
of the convicts got the last laugh. Today, an estimated 4m Australians are related to deported convicts from the UK. These 4m get to enjoy
cheaper real estate, better value food, and superior weather to
the descendents who remained in Britain. Had their ancestors not been
kicked over to Australia, these descendants would have to endure the UK's cloudy weather and the bureaucracy of the European Union.
Australia's History In A Nutshell
We can't think of a reason to bore anyone to tears. If
you're a history buff, you already know Australia's history in great
detail. If you're not, telling you in great detail would
you leave this web site for another. We will discuss Australia's
history insofar as it affects Australia's culture -- or lack of it, as
highbrows would argue.
The Dutch were the
first European nation here, at around the same time they got to America.
But the British were the ones who did something with the colony and
claimed the eastern half in 1770, just 6 years before the Americans
declared the U.S. independent of Britain.
Australia was initially
settled en masse by penal transplants. The modern day states of
New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and
Western Australian were originally six separate colonies, governed
separately, and only united as one nation when the Constitution of
Australia was adopted by all on January 1, 1901. This brings into
focus the paramount importance of the Australian state capitals -- each
was the head of a colony at one time. Today, 50% (or more)
of an Australian state's population can be found in and around the state
capital. This differs greatly from the United States, where later
states outside the original thirteen were never colonies. In
most U.S. states, the largest city is not the capital of the
state (New York: Albany, not New York City; Washington:
Olympia, not Seattle).
Although Australia compares itself to the United States on
a constant basis and borrowed wholesale the model of its nation's
capital, Canberra, from Washington DC, historically and presently
Australia has more in common with
another British colony, Canada:
countries became one nation under a federation. Canada was first
formed as a federation of four provinces in 1867, only a generation
before Australia was federated.
Neither nation fought for its independence. Both remained puppets
of Great Britain into the twentieth century. Even after Australia
federated in 1901, there was still no such thing as Australian
citizenship until 1948. Canada only officially cut its legal
dependencies on the UK in 1982 with the passage of the Canada Act.
Up until 1965, the Canadian flag was another British variant, like the
Aussie and New Zealand flags remain to this day.
As different as night and day -- or maybe as
different as 7 PM and 8 PM
extremely large nations in terms of land mass, but have sparse
populations to fill those vast lands. Natural resources form a
third of Aussie exports. Minerals and mineral products in Canada
account for over 17% of Canada's exports. Canada also produces a
substantial amount of energy, almost all of it exported to the United
States. Discoveries of oil reserves in Alberta's sands have
increasingly tilted Canada's exports in favor of natural resources.
Both had indigenous groups -- Canada, the Native Americans; Australia,
the Aboriginals -- that had to be subdued for European colonization
Everyday Australians may have their
own derogatory terms to refer to Mother England, but
for the most part, it's all hot air. The Queen
is still the reigning monarch in Australia and her
youthful face appears on Australian coins and the
AUD 5 bill.
Australia, like Canada, suffers from a culture
problem caused by a huge share of the culture being
borrowed from larger, more powerful nations. Both
Australia and Canada
were tremendously influenced by the United Kingdom
and practice its form of government. Canada
had the dual influence of the powerful United States
on its doorstep piping American culture in from the
south. Today, Canada most commonly describes
its culture in terms of how it's not
American, not what makes it distinctly Canadian. Australia, much
further away from the United States, was primarily
influenced by the UK until the end of the Second
World War, though American influence was creeping in
even then. When the UK joined the European
Union in 1971 and shifted its trade to Europe,
Australia became a more common bed partner of the
This is not to say Australia and Canada don't have
their own culture. It's just largely
derivative of the United States and the United
Kingdom. Canada has been socially influenced
by the United Kingdom but economically and
culturally by the United States. Australia, on the
other hand, has a British core, but with American
Australia plays cricket and rugby. They
eat shepherds pies and beans on toast. They
have drinks at pubs. Their main chocolate
brand is Cadburys (but manufactured in Tasmania).
are a few original things, Australian rules football,
for one. And Australia has created some
original snack foods.
Vegemite could be Australia's most famous food, but
before Aussies can seize full credit, it's important
to realize that Vegemite was invented in 1922 after
imports of British-made Marmite to Australia became
unreliable. In 1925, American food behemoth
Kraft took over Vegemite's registration and today
has full control of the product, which has noteffectively caught on in foreign markets unless
it's expat Aussies doing the buying.
export quality culture
The Australian-produced soap opera Neighbours
has made inroads into the UK, New Zealand, and
Irish markets since its inception in 1985, and there
have been a few Australian-produced films, primarily
in the 1980's, that put Australia on the scene
internationally. The Mad Max trilogy and the Crocodile
Dundee films are the ones which spring to mind.
But it's important to note that these films
succeeded on foreign terms. When Mad Max
came out in 1979, the Aussie voices were dubbed
over with American performers at the urging of the
American distributor. The Australian
soundtrack only appeared in the US for the first
time in 2000. Crocodile Dundee's
protagonist was a stereotypical Australian -- never
mind that his personality was a caricature -- but
the setting was American. Steve Irwin,
the Crocodile Hunter, kept international audiences
entertained until his untimely 2006 death by doing
over-the-top antics. Irwin only gained
international attention when North American
television picked up his show.
For the most part, Australian culture doesn't
export. When Aussie and New Zealand actors
have made it abroad, it's rarely for appearing as an
Australian or New Zealander. Russell Crowe,
Toni Collette, Nicole Kidman (American by birth),
and Mel Gibson (American by birth) made it into the
limelight by sounding American. For the
Australian TV awards ceremony, called the Logies,
American TV stars are flown in to do some of the
hosting, as if their presence lends legitimacy to
the ceremony. Music acts are an easier
export. You can't regularly distinguish pop
music by a band's origins. INXS scored big in
the 1980's, but had the press announced they were
American or British, no one would have known the
difference. The Seekers and the Bee Gees were
smash successes but they had to go to the UK to make
things happen. Men At work were big for 2
short years, largely on the success of their
Australian-themed single "Down Under." Once in awhile an act hits the
big time and stays there for years, spurned only from initial success in
Australia, like the kid's group The Wiggles, but
that's just the point. It's once in a long
Australia has some unique aspects. Ever tried vegemite? The Wiggles are an international kids band. Nicole Kidman, Paul Hogan, and Steve Irwin met fame and fortune internationally.
Paul Hogan did it as Crocodile Dundee and Irwin as the Crocodile Hunter. INXS and The Seekers were huge international successes which represented Australian culture.