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    The Wide Brown Land & Always carry a stick.

    A witty, fairly accurate and strangely informative essay about Australia.

    The following is by Douglas Adams of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the
    Galaxy" fame.
    "Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of
    the bottom half of the planet. It is recognizable from orbit because
    of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an
    enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs
    which plunge into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is
    simply an accident of geomorphology, but they still call it the "Great
    Australian Bight", proving that not only are they covering up a more
    frightening theory but they can't spell either.

    The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the
    place. Where other landmasses and sovereign lands are classified as
    continent, island or country, Australia is considered all three.
    Typically, it is unique in this.

    The second confusing thing about Australia is the animals. They can be
    divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true
    that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9
    of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most
    poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However, there are few
    snakes, possibly because the spiders have killed them all.

    But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Any visitors should be
    careful to check inside boots (before putting them on), under toilet
    seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is
    very useful for this task.

    The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants.

    A short history: Sometime around 40,000 years ago some people arrived
    in boats from the north. They ate all the available food, and a lot of
    them died. The ones who survived learned respect for the balance of
    nature, man's proper place in the scheme of things, and spiders. They
    settled in and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange

    Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north.
    More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged
    people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in autumn (failing
    to take account of the reversal of the seasons), ate all their food,
    and a lot of them died.

    About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It
    is interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider
    themselves vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since
    they can lie, cheat, steal and litigate (marks of a civilized culture
    they say), whereas all the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being
    left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.

    Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on 'extended
    holiday' and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep,
    caused by the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet,
    where a person can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves
    to the core of their essence, their reasons for being, and the
    necessity of checking inside their boots every morning for fatal
    surprises. They also picked up the most finely tuned sense of irony in
    the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up stories. Be warned.

    There is also the matter of the beaches. Australian beaches are simply
    the nicest and best in the world, although anyone actually venturing
    into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish,
    stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be
    a rock and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill
    just from the pain) and surfboarders. However, watching a beach sunset
    is worth the risk.

    As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst and wombats, you would
    expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly,
    cheerful and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger.
    Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile
    disarmingly and look for a stick. Major engineering feats have been
    performed with sheets of corrugated iron, string and mud.

    Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass
    is greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly
    proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence.
    They call the land "Oz" or "Godzone" (a verbal contraction of "God's


    Don't ever put your hand down a hole for any reason WHATSOEVER.

    The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you
    think it is.

    Always carry a stick.

    Air-conditioning is imperative.

    Do not attempt to use Australian slang unless you are a trained
    linguist and extremely good in a fist fight.

    Wear thick socks.

    Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are
    people nearby

    If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you
    at all times, or you will die. And don't forget a stick.

    Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is
    always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.


    They waddle when they walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount
    vouchers stuffed in their wallet or purse.

    They pronounce Melbourne as "Mel-bin".

    They think it makes perfect sense to decorate highways with large
    fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.

    They think "Woolloomooloo" is a perfectly reasonable name for a place,
    that "Wagga Wagga" can be abbreviated to "Wagga", but "Woy Woy" can't
    be called "Woy".

    Their hamburgers will contain beetroot. Apparently it's a must-have.

    They don't think it's summer until the steering wheel is too hot to

    They believe that all train timetables are works of fiction.

    And they all carry a stick!

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