By Ellen Kirkpatrick
It’s been over two years since I left Aussie soil, and so far I haven’t missed it so badly that I’ve wanted to jump on the next Qantas home. But, while there are a few things that have made it across the ocean to the rest of the world (avocado toast and flat whites being the most important ones), there are a few things I miss about Aus that have no equivalent in the UK (or the rest of Europe, really).
- Real beaches.
I mean, it’s not even worth me stating that Aussie beaches are the best. Obviously, they are. But beaches in Europe are really rubbish. Like, despairingly bad. And I’m not just talking the piss-poor beaches in England, either. Even beaches in Spain and Italy are rammed with people, cigarette butts, and have an alarming number of guys trying to sell you sunglasses and fake designer handbags while you lie on the sand. Like, why?
English beaches, of course, are particularly sad, but for some reason, people still go to them? And they delight in this idea of going to the seaside, where the main attraction is usually an arcade, donkey rides, and the most weird rock stick things to break your teeth on? Brits, I know you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel in the beach department, but why don’t you all collectively agree that your beaches are a bit shit and just stop pretending? You’re embarrassing yourselves, here.
- Mangoes, mate.
Yeah, I get it. You guys have mangoes. But you don’t, really. You have these weirdly crunchy pieces of flavourless cubes that come in a Pret fruit pot for £2. For an Aussie who grew up in Queensland – where you buy a crate of mangoes weekly in summer, and usually dissolve into tears when you taste the first one of the season – European mangoes suck. If you ask any Aussie what their favourite fruit is, they’re gonna say a mango, because duh. Brits probably wouldn’t even consider mangoes in their top ten, because they just don’t KNOW! I feel so, so sorry for you. It’s like you’ve never experienced an orgasm. You literally have no idea what you’re missing out on. Please, get yourselves to India, Asia or North Queensland and experience a real mango. Then you’ll know. Oh, I envy you for your first mouthful.
- Complaining when it’s 10 degrees.
There are two types of people in Australia. The people who spend a month wearing nothing but Ugg boots, and eight layers of Merino wool, and the people who refuse to stop wearing shorts and thongs and loudly exclaim everywhere they go, “it’s not even cold, mate.” There’s no in between. But, to be honest, it’s not even cold, mate. A proper winter day in Queensland would maybe get as low as, say, 5 degrees at 4am, and then shoot right back up to a nice sunny 20 degrees by lunch time. But our houses (and bodies) are definitely not built for the cold, and during the length of winter (which is usually less than a month), we like to complain about how fucking cold it is. Which, I’ve learned since living in London and Berlin, is not cold. I mean, in Berlin right now it’s probably colder than it is in my hometown in Australia (and for those not familiar with how the world works, it’s winter in Aus right now).
- Aussie Christmas
It’s just not Christmas without singing ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in 30 degree heat. Gorging on the freshest seafood, the melt-in-your-mouth mangoes and the pavlova (seriously, get away from me with your nasty fruitcake), drinking ice cold beers, sweating in your Santa hat over a barbeque before diving into a pool (or the sea!), getting sunburnt and then falling into a coma after lunch , made worse by your sunburn and hangover. Yup, that’s Christmas. None of this grey slushy “snow”, and mince pies that are aren’t actually mince, and sunset at 3pm. No thanks, England.
Alright, so, a shitty thing about Australia is that you can’t buy your beer or liquor in a grocery store or corner shop. So Europe’s got that one over us. But man, do I miss a good Bottle-O. They’re like a cathedral dedicated to booze. Aisles and aisles of wine from around the world, every spirit you could imagine, and hundreds of liqueurs. Oh, and a huge freezer room full of crates of ice cold beer, ready to go. You can always find a new wine to try, or the exact ingredients you need for your cocktail. Plus, plenty of the Bottle-O’s are drive through, which is handy if you’re picking up heaps of cartons for your party. Man, I miss a proper booze run.
On the subject of retail, I miss my one true love. Kmart. It’s an institution. It’s so universally popular and good that there are literally fan pages dedicated to it. There’s absolutely no equivalent in Europe, which is depressing. It’s kind of like if Primark was a huge department store, I guess. The prices are cheap, but their selection is more thought-out than bargain shops. They sell clothes and shoes, but also furniture, homewares, accessories, electronics, books, toys, beauty products and everything else you could possibly think of. It’s the place you go if you need literally anything in your life, and you always end up walking out with 100 more things that you never knew you needed. Living in London you have to go to Primark, Boots, Ikea, Tesco, Homebase and Amazon to buy everything that you can get all in the one place, in the Mecca that is Kmart.
- Really good quality storms.
This isn’t necessarily an Australia-wide thing, but coming from Queensland, I miss a good afternoon storm. There’s something incredibly cleansing about a storm rolling in, right on time at 5:30pm after a stinker of a day. You can feel it coming in the air, and it changes everything. The thunder and lightning is extreme compared to anything I’ve experienced in the two years I lived in England. And afterwards, everything’s fresher. The air smells cleaner. You’ve stopped sweating. The trees that haven’t been torn down by the storm are glistening from the rain. You just better hope your car was undercover, or you’re going to spend your evening on the phone to your car insurance company.
So that’s 7 things that I miss about Australia. But I guess Europe has something going for it, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed here all this time. Yeah, I guess you’re alright, mate.
You can read more of Ellen’s writing here