It Sticks to yer Shoes

We are all outsiders.

A touch of paranoia is a trait common to us all.

If you’ve never felt alone, unwanted, shunned in your own backyard, then probably you have never stopped to ponder your place in the world.

This nation, barely two hundred years old, comprises entirely foreigners, the majority of whom alive today are – within a generation – recently arrived immigrants.

The traditional custodians of this beautiful ancient gentle paradise, a noble people downtrodden and forgotten in their own home, patiently revere and nurture the spirits and dreamtime that stitch the very fabric of our delicate environment beneath the feet of this noisy irreverent swarm of strangers … who dare to call Australia home.

I extend the warm hand of friendship with a welcoming clasp, as I know you would welcome me, for our journey into an understanding and celebration of the Australian psyche.

Most likely you are a curious stranger, perhaps occasional visitor or intending migrant, and stand gazing from afar hesitating even as your gut feeling is to commit, to ‘take the plunge,’ ‘go for broke,’ and buy that air ticket to launch yourself at a new life in this friendly yet faintly frightening land.

I know why you hesitate. It’s that strange, disturbing dialect, the accent, that greets you from across the vast distances. Australian film and television assails your ears while the nasal nastiness of spoken Aussie-English, confirmed in a passing Down-Under tourist, confirms the unbelievable: a totally mangled version of that finely tuned international tongue – spoken English.

The accent both tantalizes and offends sensibility – as ammonia stings eyes and nose yet finds you clutching the bottle for another sample.

Our diction, delivered with childish enthusiasm overlaying subtly-sinister overtones, an intonation as lulling as the blue Pacific ocean and the shimmering vast inland plains, with ever so slight a hint of prowling predator.

‘Oztralya’ is what ‘Australia’ becomes in our lazy guttural parlance, in which the simplest expression of greeting leaves you fazed between incredulity and aghast.

"Gidday, ‘owya goin’ ter die?" means simply "Hello, how are you going today?" and not demanding to know how you would perish. It’s the universal howdy around the land, as is "Gidday, ‘ow aaar ya?" or perhaps "Gidday mate" if yer a bloke (hence not a sheila).

Live twenty years in Oztralya and you might ‘cotton-on’ to the the oddly bent acoustics but without devout study you will probably never master the plethora of colloquialisms that just keep on coming out of the woodwork. Those bizarre obliquely-obtuse utterings can be utterly baffling utterances. At least with rhyming slang there are loose rules and clues to reverse-engineer meaning, or intent.

And it kinda sticks to yer shoes

What sticks? Mud, excreta?

That is only a metaphor of sentiment. Stay here too long and upon leaving you will feel a tugging of the heart. The ambience of any nation become part of your soul. You get used to its tonal lighting, softening warmth or invigorating freshness, rain-sodden skies or pale desert blues. So too with this ‘sunburnt country.’

My ‘specialty’ (that which makes me and a natural coupling) is a delicate finger on the pulse of this nation’s rust belt. From the smart but inarticulate loners managing sheep stations the size of Texas, to the quietly-invisible souls dwelling in sad little nondescript wood and iron huts in meaningless orphaned villages, and the social outcasts dredging the dumpsters of suburban malls, there is a commonality, a bond, stretching back to incarcerated First Fleet forebears.

Neither immigrants of the twentieth century nor their children will likely be found amongst this sub-class. Typically rural-bound in their slow generational drift down the social scale, the introverted quiet people of inland Ostrillia remain rooted in remoteness and stoic acceptance.

The trait of those British who felt outcast in their own land, that drove them seeking their dreams to the other side of the Earth, is now the albatross about their necks that quietly suffocates them in forgotten realms of this changeling brash, rude upstart of a country that is 21st-century Oztralya.

Like most every country on Earth, Oztralya has two populations. The noisy movers and shakers "it’s all about me" city-slickers – and the quite silent by-no-means-majority who, like fine aggregate of concrete, hold the nation and culture together, seamlessly joining the disparate cultures and wild ideas of entrepreneurial diversity.

There is the A-list and its infrastructure – and everyone else, the ‘filler material.’

As one moves further from the white-hot core of each Oztralyan city – each legend-in-its-own-lunchtime social circus – and though the wannabe wastelands of deep suburbia, you meet finally, in nether desert regions, a true-native population, rooted like Mallee scrub to the land of their birth, adoptance, … or inheritance.

Their eyes turn towards the city and part of them yearns for the glitz – at least a facile, shallow, childish part of them does.

An emergent controlling facet of personality – that binds city folk to their dastardly life style while blinding them to the ugliness of their turbulent futile quest – is dully buried in our regional hero folk and their true selves, that deep serene inner-life, allows them to see the day’s progress on the walk to finality in this profoundly spiritual illahie.