THE MEANING OF OZ - All you need to know!

Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:43 pm
The meaning of Oz
January 22, 2005/the AGE


Definitions of a nation entwine myth and reality. But what if there is more than one meaning to the words or phrases we use to define ourselves? Warwick McFadyen offers some alternative meanings for the experience of being Australian.

ABORIGINES: the first home owners. Their life expectancy is 20 years less than that of other Australians. Few non-Aborigines would see this at first-hand, however, because few have anything to do with them. Their life and culture is a mystery to most, which is why at first they were killed with bullets and strong beliefs and now are the subject of praise in art galleries and of pusillanimity in relating to them as equals.

ABC: the national broadcaster, continually boxed around the ears by the hand that feeds it.

ADELAIDE: as befits the city of churches, it is still aspiring.

ALLIES: a group, most commonly of countries and businessmen, in which the common denominator of all is the vested interest of each.

ANZAC: one leg of the tripod - the others being "mateship" and "fair go" - on which the national camera sits and takes snapshots of the country's soul. Is dragged out more and more frequently to be used for advertising shots.

APOLOGY: Once simple in meaning (to wit, "I'm sorry such and such occurred"), it now has taken on more shades of meaning than a rainbow caught in a shredding machine.

ARTS: a minor sport played by both elite and amateur athletes, most of whom are unknown to the public.

ASSIMILATION: a three-stage process: 1. absorption; 2. conversion; 3. resemblance. Most often referred to in an ethnic sense and generally thought to be a good thing except when race riots occur. Then it's a bad thing and, looking back, should never have been attempted.

AUSTRALIAN NATIVES: plants, animals and humans indigenous to this continent, the survival of many of them being threatened.

AUSTRALIAN RULES: a game played among various tribes, the aim being for one tribe to kick a ball through tall sticks more times than the other tribe.

BACK OF BEYOND: a mythical region out of reach of city dwellers. From this great nothingness long shadows are cast to the coastline.

BASTARD: a term of endearment, a term of rage, a term of disgust. To a lesser extent, a term of illegitimacy.

BATTLER: the perfect specimen of Australiana. Displays attributes admired but not envied, such as poverty, working-class background and the tendency to go up against circumstances beyond his or her control.

BEACH: the yellow ribbon that wraps the nation in an ill-founded sense of equality

BILL OF RIGHTS: unnecessary for the citizenry who, because they enjoy unrivalled sunshine, surf and sport, are deemed already to have the good life.

BONDI: Australia seen from space.

BRADMAN: Sir Donald. A Test batsman who fell 0.06 short of perfection.

BRISBANE: the country town that grew up to become Brisbane.

BRONZED AUSSIE: the ideal man or woman, until skin cancer kicks in.

CANBERRA: the national capital, home to politicians and media. Once was a sheep paddock. Still is.

CELEBRITY: the hollow vessel on the sea of mediocrity. Andy Warhol was wrong about how long each vessel would stay float: 15 minutes now seems like an eternity.

COMMONWEALTH: a $100 concept for a $10 reality, which owes its existence to the common link of fealty to a distant monarch. A rare example of a non-sequitur contained within one word.

CONSTITUTION: a document unknown to most Australians.

CONVICT: the first settler who, transported for stealing a sheep, helped to build a nation that lived off its back. The convict strain, once denied, is now celebrated.

CRICKET: a game between two tribes, in which one tries to hit three sticks with a ball while the other tribe tries to hit the ball away from said sticks with another stick.

CRINGE: the crumpled cardigan at the bottom of the cupboard.

CULTURE: the cupboard, the inside of which is perceived differently by whoever opens its doors. Australia has many cultures: there's the footy cupboard, the beach cupboard, the low cupboard and the high cupboard.

DARWIN: too far away to matter (see also Perth). A feeling reciprocated by its residents towards the rest of the country.

DESERT: three-quarters of the continent. Sometimes invoked as a metaphor for the state of public debate.

DIGGER: once a man, now a myth.

DINGO: a dog, nothing more nor less.

DROVER'S DOG: the real leader of a mob of sheep.

DOWN UNDER: a more accurate definition of the perception of Australia from abroad than most imagine.

ELECTIONS: the process by which the great unwashed are promised a bar of soap every three years if they will vote for the giver of said soap. Characterised in Australia by battles between the party of purity and the party of cleanliness.

ELITE: this being an egalitarian society there are, of course, none known by this term, except for the sports elite, the cultural elite and the class elite. The members of these groups can be identified by their ability to cross-pollinate with each other.

EUREKA: the place where the Southern Cross fell to earth.

FAIR GO: a pillar of granite in the coruscating air of Australian speech. A fair go is the ultimate Australian ideal. At least that's the belief. In reality the fair go works on a sliding scale - the more you have, the fairer the go you will get.

FIRST FLEET: eleven ships, 780 thieves, a couple of hundred sailors and marines. Its arrival at Sydney Cove is sometimes described as the founding of a nation, but see also "Gallipoli".

FLAG: as symbols go, it's unsurpassable. Australians have fought for their flag, marched under it, competed for it, performed for it, even sacrificed themselves for it. And that's just the one with the gloved kangaroo on it.

FOREIGN AID: a reflex action when the hammer of a natural disaster in the Third World hits the reposing knee of the First World.

GALLIPOLI: once a region of geography, now a region of iconography. Referred to as the birthplace of the nation for the way in which our soldiers faced death.

GIRT: quite possibly the stupidest word to appear in any country's national anthem. It doesn't roll off the tongue and doesn't inspire emotion. It clunks. It also is possibly the only word in the world that, while sung countless times, is never spoken.

GOVERNOR-GENERAL: neither a governor nor a general, the G-G is the old school tie that binds the country to its colonial past. Worn around the neck of the body politic.

HERO: falls into several categories: Sports hero - who, by playing in a chosen field, wins!

National hero - who, by actions in any field, wins!

Tragic hero - who by actions in any field, loses in an approved way.

Child hero - who by actions in any field wins or loses, in an approved way.

HOBART: last Australian city before the South Pole.

HOME: every man and woman's castle, also known as the Great Australian Dream. It is not to be confused with the Great American Dream, which is to become rich and famous beyond one's wildest dreams. The dream home is both a real estate agent's cliche and a state of mind.

ICON: anything that has lasted longer than 30 days in the public eye. After such time it then qualifies for the status of legend. An icon may be flesh or stone, but the bloodless variety will never know how much we love it.

IDEAL: the space between two actions or two thoughts. It can be left open or filled. There are several categories.

Political ideal: The easiest one to throw away. A political ideal is best served to the public in small doses, the better to be absorbed into the system.

Social ideal: The heartbreaker. Based on the premise that all people care about their fellow human beings. Often sinks under the weight of its own expectations.

Ethical ideal: In its purest form, the holy grail of human behaviour. Rarely sighted. However, in condensed forms it may survive mixed with a twist of forlorn pragmatism.

Universal ideal: Extinct.

IDOL: if only everyone could be one.

INTEREST RATES: the most-watched thermometer in the nation. Once in the realm of science fiction as a form of crowd control, it has become, like numerous sci-fi visions, a reality. Higher rates are considered a threat to our entire way of life, and that being so, the thermometer is rightly regarded as the measure of all things.

JACKAROO: the shortened form of an exclamation from one farmhand to another as in "Strewth Jack, a roo just jumped into the sheep dip." The initial observation has transmogrified into a description of anyone who worked with animals west of the Great Divide.

KANGAROO: hopping epitome of the nation. With the emu, props up the national coat of arms. Boxer, friend, pest and dinner.

KELLY, NED: the giant of our sleep, the great symbol of us against them, the outsider who lives within us. The armoured man we hanged then worshipped.

LABOUR: the part of life's equation that, if you are on the lower rungs of the ladder, neither adds up to fairness nor equals just rewards.

LABOR PARTY: a garment in search of a brand.

LACONIC: the ability to give an air of deep thought by saying nothing.

LAND RIGHTS: principle of land ownership that changes meaning according to who is invoking it.

LEFT-WING: that side of the playing field on which the bones of utopians lie scattered. Rapidly becoming archaic in meaning, although it is still used as a term of disgust in certain quarters, without having to be qualified.

LIBERAL: with a small "l" is a pejorative term to describe those who are ignorant of the world of commerce and place too much hope in the ideas of dead philosophers.

LIBERAL PARTY: a grouping of men and women who believe in sitting at the right hand of God and mammon.

LITERATURE: a minority sport. A few world-class players occasionally elevate the game in the public's eyes before it recedes again to club fixtures.

LOSING: we don't like it, but when it happens it happens heroically, especially in international arenas.

LUCKY COUNTRY: the coin that broke the bank. Lands differently for each person who tosses it.

MATE: the redemption principle at work: that is, if only we were all mates the sins of the world could be forgiven.

MATESHIP: the second leg of the tripod (see Anzac); the relationship between two or more people in which the good of one is the good of all.

MELBOURNE: the world's most liveable city, inhabited by the world's most enthusiastic and magnanimous sports fans, and by the world's greatest lovers of culture. Lives by a bay.

MELBOURNE CUP: the horse race that stops a nation, seriously.

MULTICULTURALISM: the theory that one street may contain 20 different nationalities, all calling each other mate.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: its paucity in embracing the spirit of the people is matched by its melodic shortcomings. A cow has more song in its moo.

OPERA: another minority sport. Dresses beyond its means.

OUTBACK: the eternal horizon, the unknown arc of the mind, the shimmering heat haze, the necklace of stars. All the city is not.

PARLIAMENT: the beer hall of democracy, in which the biggest drinkers are those most intoxicated by power.

PERTH: Inhabitants see the rest of Australia as a distant blur called the Eastern States.

PHAR LAP: an adopted son who became the country's greatest hero. Struck down in his prime.

POETRY: yet another minority sport, never to be shown on television and never to be known by anything but "I love a sunburnt country" and something about a man from Snowy River.

POVERTY: there are three types: intellectual, moral and bread and butter. In each case marked by going to the cupboard and finding it bare.

PROMISE: once a measure of integrity, a promise is now divided politically into core and non-core, presumably to mask the contempt for the people expressed in bare-faced lies.

QUARTER-ACRE: once the geographical marker to the Great Australian Dream. Now subdivided into smaller allotments without gardens.

RECONCILIATION: the shining star in the night sky that everyone can see but few realise has already died, even though its light still travels to us.

REFUGEE: member of a criminal class, always guilty until proven innocent. Not one of us.

RELIGION: otherwise known as sport and gambling. Australia is the only country to have taken secularity to a higher plane.

REPUBLIC: the pair of shoes many admire but none can be bothered wearing.

RIGHT-WING: the unerring belief that all things were sculpted from the same rock, and hence should have the same face - the eyes of my God, the complexion from my sun, the tongue from my culture.

SPORT: life and death, love and hate, the major league of human endeavour and reward.

STOLEN GENERATION: stern morality's theft of childhood.

SUBURBIA: a forest of brick and tile, under which spreading canopy the creatures of the forest hunt and play.

SYDNEY: the opposite of Melbourne. Lives by the sea.

SWAGMAN: decamped a long time ago, which is probably just as well for jolly he would not be now.

TERRA AUSTRALIS: the very old Australia and the very new Australia.

TERRA NULLIUS: the doctrine of an occupying force for whom the occupied equalled zero. And, as every school child knows, nothing times anything still equals nothing.

TREATIES: we don't like them unless they deliver trade benefits or a big brother's protection.

TWO-UP: alleged national past-time actually practised once a year, for old times' sake.

UNDERDOG: everyone's favourite, minted from the same material as battler.

ULURU: a very large attempt at reconciliation.

VANQUISHED: (see Aborigines)

WALTZING MATILDA: the national anthem you have when you're not having a national anthem. Loved as the Australian symbol of all that is scallywaggish in the national spirit.

WHITE AUSTRALIA: the policy of racist exclusion we had when we were young. We're older now.

WORLD STAGE: the podium on which we might perform one day, when we're a little bigger.

XENOPHOBIA: we don't have any phobias.

YARRALUMLA: a rest home for tired beliefs and principles.

ZAC: the little coin that didn't stand a chance.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 58 • Views: 354,452 • Replies: 4,916

Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:45 pm
So, anything else you need to know?

Any clarification needed?

Just ask! We'll enlighten you! :wink:
0 Replies
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:47 pm
I'd like some more information on zac, please.
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:49 pm

And trenchant and clever.

Now - here is a real question - why is chucking in cricket something which causes such a pother?
0 Replies
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:53 pm
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
I'd like some more information on zac, please.

Gus, we were gonna call a coin a "zac" once. It wasn't a goer!
We even considered calling the $ a "royal" when we did the big change-over. Went down like a ton of bricks! Laughing
0 Replies
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:55 pm
Jingoes! You would have thought an old bludger like me would have known that.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2005 07:55 pm
dlowan wrote:
Now - here is a real question - why is chucking in cricket something which causes such a pother?

No idea, Deb! Confused
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 05:51 am
Advanced Australians
January 22, 2005/SMH
Nicole Kidman, Steve Irwin, Cate Blanchett, Ian Thorpe, Jennifer Hawkins and Russell Crowe.[size=7][/size]

David Dale nominates the country's genuine idols - the top 50 who, for better or worse, really matter to the world.

... To determine if an Australian mattered, we had to be confident the world would be different without them.

Of course, "different without them" is not the same as "worse without them". Having an impact on the world does not necessarily mean improving it. Some of our choices aren't universally perceived as angels - or even as Jimmy Stewarts. In person, they might seem arrogant, driven, ruthless, obsessive or strange. To matter, you need strength of personality, so you shouldn't expect to be voted Miss Congeniality.

And what does "Australian" mean? We could hardly be narrow with that definition, since most inhabitants of this country come from Somewhere Else, or aspire to go there. We decided an Australian could be anybody who spent their formative years here or chose to settle here. Citizenship was not essential. But being alive was.

The list that emerged when we applied those definitions shows how international Australians have retained their talent to amuse, provoke and energise. There are plenty of larrikins among our 50, along with a few stickybeaks, show-offs, tricksters, bullies and do-gooders.

Here are 50 names for you to debate. Please remember: this is not a list of national heroes, living treasures or great Australians (though some on it deserve to be in all three categories). It's just a bunch of Aussies who - for better or worse - have made the world a different place.

First, let's zip through a few of the runners-up, the almost-made-its, the Australians who matter, but not quite enough to reach the final 50. They'll form the reserve team for next year if some of the mainstreamers drop out of contention: Helen Caldicott; Harry Seidler; Tim Flannery; Peter Carey; Justin Morley and David Friend (who took Puppetry of the Penis around the world); and Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch (who sold the satirical guidebooks Molvania and Phaic Tan to America).

Now for the main game.

They challenge us to think in new ways

Simon Chesterman, executive director, Institute for International Law and Justice at New York University. Born in Melbourne, 1972; lives in New York.

Trained in law at Melbourne and Oxford universities, he worked with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yugoslavia and now advises the United Nations on helping countries make the transition from dictatorship to democracy. The title of Chesterman's best-known book reveals his priorities: Just War or Just Peace? Humanitarian Intervention and International Law.

Paul Davies, professor of natural philosophy, Macquarie University. Born in London, 1946; lives in Sydney.

His efforts to reconcile science and faith have been translated around the globe, notably in The Mind of God, God and the New Physics, The Edge of Infinity, The Cosmic Blueprint, Are We Alone? and How to Build a Time Machine.

Germaine Greer, author and teacher. Born in Melbourne, 1939; lives in England.

She launched modern feminism with The Female Eunuch in 1968, and a bunch of other theories about human relationships since then.

Her efforts to engage the conscience of her countrymen, whom Greer described as "too relaxed to give a damn", caused John Howard to call her "elitist" and "condescending". Her genius for constant surprise showed up again this month with an appearance on Britain's Celebrity Big Brother.

John Pilger, journalist. Born in Sydney, 1939; lives in London.

In print and on film he exposes the machinations of multinationals and the hypocrisy of governments. Some of Pilger's fans wish he could combine his investigative skills with the sense of humour of Michael Moore.

Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at the Centre for Human Values, Princeton University. Born in Melbourne, 1946; lives in New Jersey.

His application of philosophy to modern life, expressed in such books as Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, Animal Rights and Human Obligations and The President of Good and Evil, leads him to support abortion, animal liberation and euthanasia - positions which alienate many of the people much of the time.

They seek and share new knowledge

Peter Doherty, professor of pediatrics, University of Tennessee. Born in Brisbane, 1940; lives in Memphis.

Originally trained as a vet, Doherty began studying how the human body's immune system reacts to viruses and cancers and won a Nobel prize for medicine in 1996 for "discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell-mediated immune defence".

Barry Marshall, medical researcher, University of Western Australia. Born in Kalgoorlie, 1951; lives in Perth.

While investigating the cause of stomach ulcers with pathologist Robin Warren in the mid-1980s, Marshall defeated sceptics by swallowing a culture of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, giving himself gastritis, then curing it with antibiotics. Their discoveries have transformed the way most ulcers are tested and treated.

Robert May, president of the Royal Society. Born in Sydney, 1936; lives in London.

After studying theoretical physics at Sydney University and mathematical biology at Oxford, he became chief scientific adviser to the British Government. May's international awards have been for "pioneering research in theoretical analysis of the dynamics of populations, communities and ecosystems", with impact on AIDS, biodiversity and global warming.

William McBride, gynaecologist. Born in Sydney, 1927; lives in Sydney.

Allegations that he took ethical shortcuts in his later research do not diminish McBride's discovery in the 1960s that the morning sickness drug thalidomide caused deformities in babies.

Gustav Nossal, adviser to the World Health Organisation on eradicating childhood diseases. Born in Vienna, 1931; lives in Melbourne.

After 30 years' directing medical research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Nossal summarised his work by saying: "Well, I spent my life studying the white cells of little rats and mice, trying to figure out how those white cells make the precious antibody molecules that keep you free of disease. That's about it." He now chairs the $A1.4 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Program for immunising children in poor nations.

Kennedy Shortridge, emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong. Born in Mt Isa, 1941; lives in Hong Kong.

His research is credited with averting an influenza pandemic in 1997. He was a strong advocate of the urgent destruction of poultry to stop the spread of the deadly new respiratory virus. "We can't prove it, of course, but an untold number of lives was probably saved," Shortridge says. "In a way, in Hong Kong we are a sentinel post."

Allan Snyder, Peter Karmel professor of science and the mind at the Australian National University. Born in Philadelphia, 1942; lives in Canberra and Sydney.

Snyder's research on how light travels along optical fibres is central to modern telecommunications technology. He also founded the Centre for the Mind at the ANU to investigate the talents of autistic savants and the potential of the human brain.

Fiona Stanley, chief executive, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, Perth. Born in Sydney, 1946; lives in Perth.

Stanley's investigations into the causes and prevention of birth defects and neurological disorders led her to become a lobbyist on behalf of underprivileged children. "As an epidemiologist - someone who studies the patterns and causes of disease in our community - I know that many of our most effective health solutions are not in the realms of high-tech equipment or newly formulated drugs, but at the community level."

They push others to go further

Layne Beachley, surfer. Born in Sydney, 1972; lives in Hawaii.

Winning the women's world surfing championships six times makes her the most successful Australian surfer in history. She describes herself as "the most competitive human being on the planet". Beachley has set up a foundation to help other girls compete in sport.

Louise Sauvage, wheelchair racer. Born in Perth, 1974; lives in Sydney.

World wheelchair racing great, winning gold or silver at five Olympic or Paralympic games and the Boston Marathon four times, Sauvage says her motto is: "You never know what you can achieve until you try."

Ian Thorpe, swimmer. Born in Sydney, 1982; lives in Sydney.

Thorpe holds the world records in 200-, 400- and 800-metre freestyle and is a role model for metrosexuality.

Shane Warne, cricketer. Born in Melbourne, 1969; lives in Melbourne.

His personal habits may not set the best example, but every boy in India knows Warne's skill with spin has given him more Test wickets than any bowler in history.

They save lives and ways of life

John Fawcett, international projects director for the John Fawcett Foundation. Born in Perth, 1932; lives in Bali.

A former ceramics teacher, Fawcett went to Bali to recover from a back injury and began building clinics to treat children with diseases of the eyes, palate and chest. More than 20,000 patients a year are helped by his foundation, chaired by another Australian, Graeme Robertson (who runs Indonesia's biggest coal producer and would be on this list if it were 100).

Rowan Gillies, president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). Born in Sydney, 1971; travels to crisis spots around the world.

As a medical student, Gillies helped victims of the attempted genocide in Burundi and Tanzania, then worked as a field doctor in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Liberia. He says he's lucky: "I could go home to Australia next week and I have family and friends who would support me. These people have lost their families and their ability to cope."

Catherine Hamlin, executive director of Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Ethiopia. Born in Sydney, 1924; lives in Addis Ababa.

Hamlin has spent the past 44 years performing and teaching surgery that has helped 24,000 African women injured while giving birth.

Mahboba Rawi, founder of the aid agency Mahboba's Promise. Born in Kabul, 1965; lives in Sydney.

After escaping Afghanistan as a refugee, Rawi returns regularly to build orphanages, schools and hospitals that feed, clothe and educate women and children.

James Wolfensohn, retiring later this year after a decade as president of the World Bank. Born in Sydney, 1933; lives in New York.

In 10 years running the World Bank, Wolfensohn made an enemy of George Bush and a priority of reducing debt in poor countries.

They keep economies ticking over

Geoffrey Bible, recently-retired chief executive of Philip Morris International. Born in Sydney, 1937; lives in New York.

Nicknamed "the Crocodile Dundee of the tobacco industry" because of his combative approach to opponents of smoking, he helped broker the compensation deal whereby the industry was supposed to pay $US200 billion ($265 billion) to its American victims. He said in 1998: "I'm unclear in my own mind whether anyone dies of cigarette smoking-related diseases."

Douglas Daft, recently-retired chief executive of Coca-Cola. Born in Cessnock, 1943; lives in Atlanta.

A former maths teacher, he became boss of the world's biggest soft-drink company in 2000, then cut a fifth of its workforce and decentralised its operations to regional centres around the world. "People don't buy drinks globally," he has said. "You can't pander to similarities between people; you have to find the differences."

Rod Eddington, chief executive of British Airways and board member of News Corporation. Born in Perth, 1950; lives in London.

An engineer, university lecturer and former boss of Ansett and Cathay Pacific airlines, he has restructured BA's workforce, sold out of BA's $1.1 billion stake in Qantas, and now says: "I am an Aussie and, like most Aussies, ultimately I want to come home."

Frank Lowy, executive chairman, Westfield Holdings. Born in former Czechoslovakia, 1930; lives in Sydney.

When you walk into a shopping centre in Australia, New Zealand, the United States or Britain, the chances are Lowy owns it.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation. Born in Melbourne, 1931; lives in New York.

Murdoch controls print and electronic media on most continents. Film scholar David Thomson observed that Murdoch "seems unabashedly cheerful and moderately happy despite every superstition in the culture that wealth and ownership make a psychic wound".

Kerry Packer, chairman of Consolidated Press Holdings. Born in Sydney, 1937; lives in Sydney.

Australia's richest man revolutionised the way world cricket was packaged, bought casinos in Asia, the United States and Britain and is investing $300 million in Indian telecommunications companies. "There is a lot more that young Indian entrepreneurs can do if they are given the money. They have the idea, and I would just like to help them realise it."

They give the world an impression of itself

Robert Hughes, writer. Born in Sydney, 1938; lives in New York.

So what if he annoys and is annoyed by Australians? Through Time magazine and such books as Culture of Complaint, American Visions, Nothing if Not Critical and The Shock of the New, Hughes has become the most influential art critic in the English language and one of the most influential social commentators in America.

Clive James, writer. Born in Sydney, 1939; lives in London.

His success as a British talk-show host proves you don't need looks when you have Aussie wit.

Thomas Keneally, writer. Born in Sydney, 1935; lives in Sydney.

He won Britain's Booker Prize for Schindler's Ark, which allowed Steven Spielberg to make the Holocaust movie Schindler's List and win an Oscar.

Jill Ker Conway, writer. Born in Hillston, NSW, 1934; lives in Boston.

Famous for autobiographical books starting with The Road from Coorain, and for her imaginative running of Smith College, America's largest university for women, Ker Conway became chairman of Lend Lease and presided over the two worst years in the company's financial history.

David Nunan, professor of applied linguistics, University of Hong Kong. Born in Broken Hill, 1952; lives in Hong Kong.

Teaching in Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Cambodia, Nunan developed theories that have been hugely influential in the spread of English through Asia. Teachers and students in Japan, South Korea and China buy more than a million copies of his textbooks every year.

Robert Thomson, editor of The Times newspaper. Born in Echuca, Victoria, 1961; lives in London.

"The Thunderer" may not be what it was in the 19th century, especially now it's turned tabloid, but its editor still wields power in British society.

They stimulate the world's imagination

Cate Blanchett, actor. Born in Melbourne, 1969; lives in Brighton, England.

She shows we've got class. Leonardo DiCaprio was being complimentary (at least to her) when he called Blanchett "the Meryl Streep of our time".

Russell Crowe, actor. Born in New Zealand, 1964; lives in Sydney.

An Oscar for Gladiator and a reputation for aggression get him constant work.

Mel Gibson, actor/producer. Born in New York, 1956; lives in Los Angeles.

He was a NIDA-trained action star before he won an Oscar for Braveheart. Since the success of The Passion of the Christ, Gibson and his Australian business partner, Bruce Davey, are the most powerful independent filmmakers in the world.

Reg Grundy, producer. Born in Sydney, 1923; lives in Bermuda.

After giving us Sale of the Century, The Restless Years, Prisoner and Neighbours, he built an international empire of dramas and game shows, at one point having 210 programs on air in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States.

Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Universe. Born in Newcastle, 1984; travels the world.

In six months she won't matter a bit, but right now, Hawkins shows the world an image of wholesomeness we hope is typically Aussie.

Rolf Harris. Born in Perth, 1930; lives in London.

Before Kylie's buttocks and Elle's breasts, Rolf's extra leg carried our image to the northern hemisphere.

Paul Hogan, comedian. Born in Lightning Ridge, 1939; lives in Los Angeles.

We've gone off him, but Over There, he's still the only Aussie everyone's heard of.

Barry Humphries, comedian. Born in Melbourne, 1934; lives in London.

From suburban satirist in the '50s to the toast of Broadway in the noughties; who'd have thought an old dame would have so much blood in her?

Steve Irwin, crocodile taunter. Born in Melbourne, 1962; lives in Queensland.

Feeding a crocodile with a baby on his arm made the world wonder if he could really be as dumb as he acts, and made us nostalgic for Dundee.

Hugh Jackman, actor. Born in Sydney, 1968; lives in Los Angeles.

He got a Tony award for his Broadway portrayal of an Australian less influential than himself, then continuing roles as amnesic lycanthropes in Van Helsing and the X-Men series and, most recently, a contract with Disney to make musical films that may earn him the title "the Fred Astaire of the 21st century".

Nicole Kidman, actor. Born in Hawaii, 1967; lives in Los Angeles.

It was tempting to leave her out, just for mischief, but an Oscar, a United Nations ambassadorship and the ability to earn $19 million a movie make her essential.

Anthony LaPaglia, actor. Born in Adelaide, 1959; lives in Los Angeles.

It's not his New York stage awards that put him in this list. It's the fact that Hollywood would be lost without a trace of him to play the poifect Italian-American cop or crook.

Kylie Minogue, singer. Born in Melbourne, 1968; lives in London. Dance clubs would be dead without her.

Geoffrey Rush, actor. Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, 1951; lives in Sydney.

An Oscar for Shine is a good start, but millions of children around the world are waiting to see how Captain Barbosa reappears in Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Joan Sutherland, retired soprano. Born in Sydney, 1926; lives in Switzerland.

Enough with the pop artists: her adventures singing Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris, Alcina in Venice and The Tales of Hoffmann in New York showed Australia's mastery of high art.

Peter Weir, director. Born in Sydney, 1944; lives in Sydney.

He has the eye every other director envies, as displayed in Picnic At Hanging Rock, Gallipoli, Witness, Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show and Master and Commander. Starting small on the far side of the world, Weir remains an inspiration to future filmmakers.

Agree? Disagree? Know of some other Australians who matter more to the world? You can email David Dale, the author of our global relevance list, at [email protected] and offer your thoughts. Please provide your name, address and a daytime phone number. Spectrum plans to use the response from readers in a follow-up article in a few weeks.

0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:00 am
Map from above shows Australia is a very flat place
By Richard Macey
January 22, 2005/the Australian

Colour coding relates to topographic height, with dark green at lower elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest points.

It looks familiar, but it is no ordinary map.

It is part of the most detailed topographic map of the world ever made, according the US space agency NASA .

For 11 days in February 2000 the space shuttle Endeavour circled the world, using a sophisticated radar to chart all the land between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south, and 80 per cent of the Earth's land was mapped with a resolution of 90 metres.

"Because of persistent cloud cover, many of the Pacific islands had previously been very poorly mapped, if at all," NASA said.

After more than four years' work, the final topographic maps, covering Australia, New Zealand and more than 1000 Pacific, Indian and Atlantic ocean islands have been released.

NASA noted that Australia was the flattest continent in the world. "Its low average elevation (300 metres) is caused by its position near the centre of a tectonic plate, where there are no volcanic or other geologic forces of the type that raise the topography of other continents.

"Prominent features of Australia include the Lake Eyre Basin, the darker green region visible in the centre-right. At 16 metres below sea level, this depression is one of the largest inland drainage systems in the world, covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres.

"The crescent-shaped uniform green region in the south, just left of centre, is the Nullarbor Plain, a low-lying limestone plateau, which is so flat that the Trans-Australian railway runs through it in a straight line for more than 483 kilometres."

Colour coding used in the map "is directly related to topographic height, with green at the lower elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest elevations".

Michael Kobrick, a NASA mission project scientist, said Endeavour's mapping flight was "among the most significant science missions the shuttle has ever performed, and it's probably the most significant mapping mission of any single type, ever".

"Many of these islands have never had their topography mapped. Their low topography makes them vulnerable to tidal effects, storm surges and long-term, sea-level rise.

"Knowing exactly where rising waters will go is vital to mitigating the effects of future disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami."

0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:05 am
Great map!!!
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Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:28 am
Forget the castle, it's not nearly big enough
By David Dale
January 22, 2005/SMH

Australians have lost touch with reality. We are building ourselves palaces to live in but producing no children to fill them.

The 2005 Year Book Australia, published yesterday by the Bureau of Statistics, shows that between 1984 and 2003 the size of the average Australian home grew by 37 per cent - from 150 square metres to 206 square metres. In the same period the average household size fell from 3.1 people to 2.6 people.

As the divorce rate soars and men die before their wives, the fastest-growing household type is the single person living alone, expected to rise from a quarter of all households now to a third by 2026.

Couples with children now form only 47 per cent of families, compared with 54 per cent in 1991, and the bureau projects that by 2011 the most common family type in Australia will be couples without children. So it looks like sheer madness to keep adding extra rooms.

Nevertheless, three-quarters of Australian homes have three or more bedrooms, which means that most bedrooms in this country are permanently empty.

"Nearly a fifth of three-bedroom dwellings had only one person living in them," the bureau reports, while 38 per cent of three-bedroom homes contain only two residents. "Over time, the typical house in Australia has evolved from having three bedrooms, one bathroom and separate living areas into a more open plan, including a fourth bedroom and ensuite facilities. Popular extras, such as rumpus rooms, walk-in wardrobes, walk-in kitchen pantries and the like may add to the size of modern homes."

The bureau says NSW had the largest average floor area of new houses built in 2003, 245 square metres, compared with 178 square metres in Tasmania. The year book also shows:

 Consoles have replaced skateboards: A study of children's leisure activities found 28 per cent of boys say they engage in skateboarding or rollerblading, compared with 36 per cent in 2000, but 82 per cent play electronic or computer games, compared with 79 per cent in 2000, while 61 per cent of girls take part in art and craft activities, compared with 55 per cent in 2000.

Probably by coincidence, youth suicide is down - from 19.3 per 100,000 people aged 15-24 in 1997 to 11.8 per 100,000 now.

 Wine booms: While other rural industries were knocked around by the drought (the number of sheep dropped from 138 million in 1993 to 99 million in 2003), the production of grapes doubled over the decade, from 544,487 to 1.3 million tonnes.

We now drink 402 million litres of locally made wine a year, compared with 312 million litres in 1993, and 17 million litres of imported wine (8 million) and we export 519 million litres, compared with 103 million. Our favourite whites are chardonnay and semillon, and our favourite reds are shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.

 Pollution spreads: Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide and methane, have increased by 4.5 per cent since the early '90s. About 81 per cent of adults say they never use public transport. But 95 per cent of households recycle waste.

 Living together: About 75 per cent of couples now cohabit before marriage, compared with 16 per cent in 1975, and "in 2001, de facto partners represented 12 per cent of all persons living as socially married (up from 8 per cent in 1991)," says the bureau. "The 2001 census identified 11,000 male same-sex couples and 9000 female same-sex couples."
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:36 am
I would like to see a photo of a vegamite refinery
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:37 am

But why?
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:47 am
I worked in exploration at the Tookoonooka, and they told metthat all the petroleum in Australia goes into making vegamite. So I just wanted to see how they turn petroleum into this wonderful product. Thats all
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:54 am
It appears to be a national secret.

I can find no images.....
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:57 am
Ah, I see. You could be right, you know, farmerman. I've searched a few Vegemite internet sites & not one photograph showing how they make the stuff! Hmmm.
Whatever it's made of, I like it! Great on toast! Very Happy
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 06:59 am
dlowan wrote:
It appears to be a national secret.

I can find no images.....

See, farmerman!
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 07:10 am
My theory is that they strip all the volatiles and low BP stuff. Whats left is the vegemite fraction.
I dont really need the recipe. gday.
I should quit dawdling on a2k and instead getting busy to bring in firewood, we are bracing for a big snowstorm. Almost any minute it will start and Im screwing around .
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 07:16 am
It's an acquired taste, farmerman. You gave up too easily, obviously! You don't know what you're missing.

And g'day back to you! Very Happy
0 Replies
Reply Sat 22 Jan, 2005 07:29 am
..Couples with children now form only 47 per cent of families, compared with 54 per cent in 1991, and the bureau projects that by 2011 the most common family type in Australia will be couples without children. So it looks like sheer madness to keep adding extra rooms.

Nevertheless, three-quarters of Australian homes have three or more bedrooms, which means that most bedrooms in this country are permanently empty

Hmmm, I've been wondering about this bigger & bigger home/fewer residents thing. Whole brand new, sprawling suburbs full of these humongous houses taking up almost the whole block. Strange. Is it just an Oz (suburban) thing, I wonder ...?
0 Replies

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