Saturday, January 10, 2015

Uniquely Australian

Okay, I admit it.  Sometimes I write things in my stories that I know will freak people out.  It’s how I get my fun.

Example:  mentioning crutching in The Shearing Gun. 

For those who haven’t read the book, and are going “What the hell is crutching?” – crutching is a quick shearing of a sheep’s bum.  They’re not taking the whole fleece off, just the bit around the bum where the poo gets stuck on the wool.  If crutching is not done, then the wool gets so matted with dung, the flies breed in it, and maggots will kill your animal.

See – EWWWW.  I’ve just grossed out 80% of readers.

Ding, ding, ding.  Pleasure for Renae! LOL.

Other things I love to mention are things that Australians take for granted, but I know non-Australians are shocked at:  40 degree temperatures (that’s over 100F), driving long distances to get anywhere, the killer wildlife and eating vegemite.

The last two bring me intense pleasure.

Mention spiders and most people run a mile.  I have to admit I’m not a fan of spiders, but if I freaked out every time I saw one, I’d be screaming all day.  Last week Perth had record breaking temperatures of 44 degrees (110F) and all the spiders on my back patio all came out of their webs and hung limply around.  Nightmare alley for anyone with arachnophobia.   I just took note of where they lived and promised to spray them another day. 

I don’t like to kill all the spiders – we’re sharing this world after all – but I have to spray the redbacks, and I get a bit peeved with the webs of the common black house spiders, so they get sprayed when they start to get a bit too many.

Snakes are another one that creeps the readers out.  But most truthfully, most Australians living in suburbs would only see a snake every couple of years.  I live and walk around wetland areas a lot, so my count is a lot higher.  I find snakes beautiful.  But they’re deadly and unpredictable, so I keep a healthy distance from them.

Today I’m off to a crafting party.  I have a friend who sells card making items, and a mutual friend of ours is having a get together where we will learn about some great card making ideas (and hopefully buy some of her stuff).  The funny thing?  The woman who sells crafting items, she’s a snake catcher during the day.  Great combo, right?  “Sure, I’ll come and catch the four-foot tiger snake in your back yard, but by the way, are you interested in these stamps and coloured paper?”

The idea for this blog came from a reader who messaged me this morning and said, “What is vegemite?”  LOL.  I sometimes forget that people are not always educated in the good things in life – and vegemite is GREAT.

It’s one of the first things I ever fed my kids.  I would make some toast and put a thin spread of vegemite on the surface for the kids to chew on.  When I’m sick, I eat vegemite on toast.  And it’s not just me – my husband does too.  It’s comfort food that our mums used to make us when our tummies were not well.  My kids both love the stuff.  The school canteen has vegemite sandwiches on their menu.  The literature we get home from community groups mentions vegemite sandwiches as a great lunch time healthy food.  I’ve seen it used in soups, stews and other cooking.  I’ve heard it can make a good fertiliser for your garden.  It’s recommended during pregnancy.  It’s great for mouth ulcers.  The shops have an entire shelf where you can buy it in five different sized jars, in a squeezy tube and even as a dip with biscuits.  The local baker sells a savoury scroll roll that is bread and vegemite.

And only Australia seems to know about it.

Just like the Brits would view an empty tea canister as a tragedy, so is an empty vegemite jar in an Australian household.

I often look around me, and wonder how to explain Australia to someone who is not familiar with it.  Things that we see as “normal” but take explaining to someone not familiar with it.  So I’ve challenged myself today to find four uniquely Australian things that have happened to me in the last 24 hours that I would have to explain to a non-Australian.

1.  Yesterday I went to the shops, and as I locked up my car, I pulled the sun blinds across the windscreen and placed a baby blanket on the seat.  My seats are leather, and if you’ve ever sat on burning hot leather in shorts, then you know to carry a small towel or blanket around in your car.  Summer + sun + car = severe burns.  Every child is taught this.  The belt buckle is as hot as a branding iron when you get back in the car, and the leather seats will burn your legs.  Precautions are needed to prevent this.

2.  Yesterday I also saw the news headlines where our favourite drug addicted ex-footballer went swimming with crocodiles.  I rolled my eyes and muttered, “Oh, Benny-boy.”  I hoped that the need for adrenaline means he’s clean from the drugs and looking for a high elsewhere.  Nice boy, good looking boy, great footballer?  We love him.  He descends into drugs (or at least the veil is stripped away and we learn he always took drugs) and we love him a little less.  But he can still make news headlines by doing what 99% of Australians would never do – deliberately swim with things that will eat (or at least severely maim) you, just because an old mate dared you.

3.  Yesterday I packed my kids off to the in-laws with a change of clothes, PJs (they’re sleeping over), bathers, hats and thongs.  Thongs people.  The things you wear on your feet????  But yes.  My kids have left me for a cool 30 hours and the only essential items they needed were thongs, bathers and hats.  It’s summer.  My in-laws are within walking distance of the river.  Of course they’re going swimming.

4.  Okay, okay.  I was scrambling around for a fourth uniquely Australian thing and couldn’t really find one, so I was playing around on the computer while I thought about it.  One of my dream-wishes is to buy an electric bike. (The next best seller I write, I’ll buy one! **wink**).  Why would I want an electric bicycle, you ask?  Well, most of my travel is within seven kilometres of my house: school, grocery store, church, friend’s house, large shopping centre, mum’s house.  Sure I can walk to the shops – but how do I get my groceries home?  I have a bike, but up until 3 months ago I had a child who wouldn’t ride her own bike, so everywhere I had to go involved carrying her (and really, I’m not that fit!).  So I’ve fallen in love with the idea of an electric bicycle.  The ones I’ve been looking at are solar charged (and we have plenty of sun in Australia!) and can travel distances of about 40kms before needing to be charged again.

So today I was drooling over some bikes on the internet, and I found a new company who specialises in cargo-carrying bikes.  PERFECT!  They make bikes that can take my groceries, can take a kid on board (it has straps and all), and is electric.  Made in China (what isn’t these days) and used a lot in Europe.

So how is this uniquely Australian?  Well, I was looking through the FAQs on the site and I came across this one: 



Four cartons/cases/slabs of stubbies is easy.
More would be possible if you drink cans, or if you load the cases higher, or if you use the rear luggage rack.
We advise against riding cargo bikes under the influence of any intoxicating substance.

Yes.  I would have to say that only in Australia would a FREQUENTLY ASKED question involve how many beers a bike could carry.  And only in Australia would we consider this not a silly question.  So much so that we answer it and put it on our business website.

**face palm**


  1. My mum used to put a bit of Vegemite on my dummy as a baby. She heard that honey would cause a sweet tooth and wanted to make sure I didn't crave sweets. Lol!

    1. So did it work Sheni? Do you crave sweets?

  2. So glad I asked!!!! Lol you are awesome Renae :-) <3 Theresa

    1. I'm glad you asked too, Teresa. Thanks for the friendship. :)

  3. To be honest I found vegemite just tasted llike marmite and I don't like either. . . . but I love twiglets!