Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Differing Cultures of Regional Australia - Introduction

Note to readers: I am now using this introductory post as an entry point to the various posts that I have written on or around this topic.

Back at the start of June in a comment on one of my posts, an American set out this challenge.

Hi, I'm an American. I was surfing the Internet, trying to learn something about Australia's diverse regions from a cultural perspective as opposed to a merely geographical one. All I turned up was information on Aborigines. Where's the Australian Paul Bunyan? Where's the Johnny Appleseed? Where are the pictures of Eskimos contrasted with lumberjacks, miners, farmers and fishermen? You are right. I almost had to conclude that Australia has no regional flavor at all. (Search for "regional flavor" and you will turn up many websites on wine, but none that pay more than lipservice to culture.)

Now this challenge, one that reflected one of my own complaints about the failure of our regions to present their unique features, actually hurt. Since then I have begun to tease out some of the cultural differences between Australia's regions.

This is no easy task. Australians think of themselves first as Australians. Then they assume that the way they think is in fact simply Australian. In reality, it's not for all areas have their own unique style.

The problem is that to understand and present these differences you actually have to live in an area, submerging yourself in the local culture. Then you have to retain sufficient objectivity to analyse and understand what is in fact local. This is far from easy.

I have neither the time nor the money to travel across Australia submerging myself. But what I can do is to point to some of the more obvious differences, hoping that someone else will come behind to do the more detailed work.

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