Yes, I Love London But Why I’ll Always Call Australia Home


‘No Worries’ should be Australia’s national motto. It’s the first phrase I hear when I boomerang back to Australia from Britain each year for family fun in the sun. This laid-back response from an airport official or taxi driver is so much more than a mere saying, it’s an attitude. In a world plagued with well, a plague, and a gazillion other worries, these two little words exude a welcoming, carefree optimism that warms my cockles and lets me know I’ve come home.

It’s usually followed by a bit of wry banter, because Aussie humour is drier than Prince Andrew’s armpit. We do not suffer from an irony deficiency. Although Australians are skeptical – hell, we have chronic skepticemia, we’re not cynical; we do not think optimism’s an eye disease. And it’s this mix of irony, skepticism and optimism which makes Australia my favourite place on the planet.

In times of stress Aussies tend to fly into a great nonchalance. “Not bad,” is the equivalent of euphoric rapture in other countries. “Not bad at all,” well, you’ve basically won the lottery. Being told by a bloke that you’ve “scrubbed up well” is the equivalent of a Shakespearean love sonnet. It’s almost as complimentary as telling him that you’ve “seen better heads on a beer” – because insults are the ultimate term of endearment Down Under. In short, we’re a frank, friendly, funny, inventive people, chock full of cheeky charm. Apart from that, of course… we’re right ratbags!

The second thing that hits me upon arriving home is the breath-taking beauty of the place. I always head straight for one of Sydney’s many exquisite, golden beaches to wash away the European winter. After a body surf in those fizzing waves, hurtling shoreward like a human hydrofoil, I lie supine on the sand under that big azure sky with its curlicues of creamy clouds. Drenched in a wash of syrupy sunlight, the eucalyptus-scented wind warm as an embrace, makes me beam with such joyous effervescence, passers-by must think I’ve had a B12 shot.

Australia is an ancient wilderness with the most unique and exotic wildlife; Dame Edna was born here after all. The pandemic panic means that ‘flights of fancy’ are the only trips Aussies can take right now. But you don’t have to go overseas to be overawed. There’s so much to explore in our own big, beautiful backyard. Australia is celebrated for our natural wonders – Hugh Jackman’s pectorals and Kylie Minogue’s posterior are globally renowned, after all. But there’s also the Bungle Bungles, so astounding they named them twice; the awe-inspiring majesty of Victoria’s giant limestone Apostles, standing guard along the Great Ocean Road; our iconic geographical belly button, Uluru, which is the ultimate rock star. Zero light pollution in the wilderness frontier of Kakadu and the Kimberley’s means there are more stars popping out than an Oscar’s red carpet; a spectacle only out-dazzled by the kaleidoscopic colours of the Great Barrier Reef. I could go on but will quickly run out of superlatives and be forced to nag Stephen Fry into making an urgent lexiconic airdrop.

The whole country is also chockers with legendary laconic locals, national treasures all… I’m more of a buried treasure myself but delight in unearthing these rough diamonds.

Travel restrictions means this is the first time in 32 years that I may not make it home for Christmas. Oh, for the days when “second wave” simply meant catching another breaker at Bondi. I’m pining so badly for a boogie-board with my three sisters, cackling like kookaburras as we skitter down the face of those perfect waves that I can almost taste the mangos we devour afterwards – it’s more of a mango facial really. This is usually followed by a bush barbie or a night spent lounging at an open air cinema, sharing the stars with squadrons of flying film-buffs, masquerading as fruit bats …

When European pals ask me what Australia’s like, I reply that’s it’s just like Britain, only there are fewer words for cold, wet and miserable. I think England’s real motivation to create an Empire, hitherto overlooked by historians, was the desperate desire for a tan. Any Poms who whinge too much can be directed to take a dip in the rip, otherwise known as the “backpacker’s express” and get whisked straight back to Brighton, which is exactly the advice I suspect Indigenous Australians wish they’d given the first fleeters…

But it’s that Aboriginal love of country combined with cockney humour, celtic derring-do and the immigrant’s desire to Give It A Go, that’s alchemised into the spirit of Australia. It’s the constant brag of Aussies that we never brag, but I wish it were not the case so that I could boast, hand on homesick heart, that we really are the luckiest people in the world.

So, tell me your favourite things about your home country….Let’s inject a bit of joy into the day. Speaking of joy, ladies, need I say more about the photo below?

The snap at the top is from last Christmas, surfing at Cronulla with my three sisters, Jenny, Liz, Cara; daughter Georgie and clever, fun and fabulous nieces, Cassie and Maddy. And you wonder why I’m homesick…

p.s. With flights to Oz full and the impossibility of quarantining for two weeks with my autistic son in a pokey hotel room, I’m currently looking for a lone yachtsman with a penchant for funny feminists and a homing instinct for Botany Bay. Any takers?…

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