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December 28, 2003

24 Aussie Commandments

I got a lovely email over Christmas about the '24 Aussie Commandments'. I drafted an article to post in the new year (with comments on the commandments) and then discovered that one of my blog friends had also published it. So I waited for the thunder to die down before presenting my version:

1. The bigger the hat, the smaller the farm.
I gotta get a bigger hat then 'cause I haven't got a farm. This ranks up there as the Aussie equivalent to the nose vs feet joke in Roxanne.

2. The shorter the nickname, the more they like you.
Unless of course you start with a short name, then it gets longer. See Joe becomes Joey, Steve becomes Stevo. Ultimately you want a handle that has nothing to do with you because then you have a conversation starter - "so why do they call you bluey?". Reminds of the fellow who's mates called him 'Donkey'. They were are a bar and eventually the bar tender said to him: 'so why does your friend call you donkey?'. The bloke replies: 'I dunno but he all.. he all... he all... he always calls be that' (say it out loud).

3. Whether it's the opening of Parliament, or the launch of a new art gallery there is no Australian event that cannot be improved by a sausage sizzle.
Why does this need a comment. At least it is better than the 60s and 70s when all Australian events where improved by the addition of a prawn cocktail (can anyone else remember how to make these?) instead. In case you were wondering, it would probably be advertised as a sausage sizzle but actually be a full on barbie (BBQ).

4. If the guy next to you is swearing like a wharfie he's probably a media billionaire. Or on the other hand, he may be a wharfie.
In either case he will have strong opinions about (a) politics, (b) media ownership rules, (c) media bastards. Both the billionaire and the wharfie will agree on (a) and (c) but have divergent opinions when it comes to (b).

5. There is no food that cannot be improved by the application of tomato sauce.
I think this is less true than the other rules however one of the 'arts' of manhood that requires initiation in young boys is being able to stand at a bar with a pie and sauce in one hand and a beer in the other. You have to finish both without (a) putting either item down and (b) spilling the sauce.

6. On the beach, all Australians hide their keys and wallets by placing them inside their sandshoes. No thief has ever worked this out.
Really security conscious aussies will then hide their shoes under their towel or ask the missus to keep an eye on them.

7. Industrial design knows of no article more useful than the plastic milk crate.
Surely this is a worldwide phenomenon?

8. All our best heroes are losers.
What like Gallipoli, Ned Kelly, .... Hmmm. You may be onto something here. What is important is not that they lost but how they strived.

9. The alpha male in any group is he who takes the barbecue tongs from the hands of the host and blithely begins turning the snags.
Note that the metrosexuals do not qualify here, they are in the kitchen sorting out the salads with the girls. The real men are outside, beer in one hand, discussing the cricket (it is summer, right!) and how to burn the meat, the chicks are doing the salads. Normally the host holds the tongs and there will be a hierarchy in the standing order, circled around the BBQ.

10. It's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to hold.
That's what steering wheel covers are for and also explains why beach parking bays are always facing east (into the rising sun) to ensure that having burned your skin at the beach, you can now burn your palms on the wheel (probably the only part that hasn't already got red skin from the sun).

11. A thong is not a piece of scanty swimwear, as in America, but a fine example of Australian footwear. A group of sheilas wearing black rubber thongs may not be as exciting as you had hoped.
Actually I hadn't learned the other meaning for a long time and when young I remember being accosted by a drunk chick who was leering about 'wanna see my thong?'. I quickly replied that I had a pair at home which gave rise to the strangest looks I have ever seen.

12. It is proper to refer to your best friend as "a total bastard". By contrast, your worst enemy is "a bit of a bastard".
More normally your mate is an 'old bastard' (regardless of age) as in: 'G'day ya old bastard'. What matters here is the tone on which the word bastard is said - jocular (with a grin) or stern (with a spit). Who said Australian was an atonal version of English?

13. Historians believe the widespread use of the word "mate" can be traced to the harsh conditions on the Australian frontier in the 1890s, and the development of a code of mutual aid, or mateship". Alternatively, Australians may just be really hopeless with names.
Probably the latter. I mean what-his-name and you-know-who were talking about this the other day and Bluey (you-know-bluey) and Red reckoned that's why we have nicknames. Whaddya reckon mate?

14. The wise man chooses a partner who is attractive not only to himself, but to the mosquitoes.
I did that (not intentionally). I never get bitten any more when I am out with the missus. The best time of day in summer when I was a kid was AFBM*. You could sit outside in the cool and enjoy the scenery.

15. If it can't be fixed with pantyhose and fencing wire, it's not worth fixing.
Don't forget the chewing gum. My father had a mate who used to keep sticks of gum in the glovebox and on a long trip would pass it around at the start 'just in case' he needed the gum to patch a hole.

16. The most popular and widely praised family in any street is the one that has the swimming pool.
At least in summer ....

17. It's considered better to be down on your luck than up yourself.
Of course. And that would be the difference between the two blokes in number 4.

18. The phrase "we've got a great lifestyle" means everyone in the family drinks too much.
It also means you are as poor as church mice. It is used in the context of "Well I don't earn much but we've got a great lifestyle". Cannot be used by anyone who owns a unit (or better) in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney (or the Northern Beaches for that matter).

19. If invited to a party, you should take cheap red wine and then spend all night drinking the host's beer. (Don't worry, he'll have catered for it).
The host will take that wine to the next party he goes to. What goes around, comes around. Some bottles of red have been travelling between parties for decades.

20. If there's any sort of free event or party within a hundred kilometres, you'd be a mug not to go.
That is 'mug' as in 'silly bastard'. The key word here is 'free' as in 'free beer'. Mind you Australians are known for travelling long distances - normally by car (domestic airfares are expensive).

21. The phrase "a simple picnic" is not known. You should take everything you own. If you don't need to make three trips back to the car, you're not trying.
There is the eskie (see below), the rug (or two), the folding chairs, the tables, the salads (which didn't fit in the eskie), the meat (which didn't fit in the eskie), the beer (some of which didn't fit in the eskie), the bags of ice (for the extra beer), the washtub (for the ice and the extra beer), the kids bikes, the book for the missus to read, the sun umbrella, the aeroguard, mosquito coils, the BBQ (may already be provided at the park but bring your own anyway), a football, a cricket set, sunhats, more sunhats, suncream, after-sun-cream, etc ....

22. Unless ethnic or a Pom, you are not permitted to sit down in your front yard, or on your front porch. Pottering about, gardening or leaning on the fence is acceptable. Just don't sit. That's what back- yards are for.
If you do sit in the front yard, you don't drink beer. That is only done in the back yard.

23. The tarred road always ends just after the house of the local mayor.
Where it ends the road will have been blocked off to make a cul-de-sac to increase the value of the houses at this point. There will be a big 'No Through Road' sign at the previous intersection and some kind of "traffic control" devices (e.g. speed hump, enormous flowerpots, dodgem barriers) to prevent the hoons from yahoo-ing in this part of the street.

24. On picnics, the Esky is always too small, creating a food versus grog battle that can only ever be solved by leaving the food behind.
See above, the food can be carried - just not in the eskie.

* AFBM - After Flies Before Mosquitoes - i.e. dusk. The mossies get active after the sun sets but the flies pack it in a bit earlier.

Posted by Peskie at December 28, 2003 12:00 PM


"Normally the host holds the tongs and there will be a hierarchy in the standing order, circled around the BBQ."

Dont forget the 'Arr...'. Blokes stand around the BBQ, turning the snags (or discussing the best way to turn them), talking about the footy/cricket/AFL (anything sport (except soccer - thats a pansy game)) and grunting (Arr).

A lot can be said with a good Arr...


Posted by: Peskie at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM


Posted by: The Gray Monk at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM

How about them Swans.


Posted by: ozguru at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM

I remember the joy of wearing thongs as a child....back before the word was taken over by the undergarment industry.

Posted by: Da Goddess at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM

Thongs? What became of flip-flops?

Posted by: Ian McCauley at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM

Dunno. Not sure where the term "flip-flops" came from. I have heard Americans and South Africans use it but not Australians (prior to you using here). Anyone else know if it is a regional term?

Posted by: Ozguru (Archive) at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM

What an iriot!
In Australia there is no conscription. The Army, Navy and Airforce have to advertise and entice you to join ("See a Foreign Country! Be shot down by a Foreign Plane!"), or hope that one day people will be stupid enough...

Posted by: Peskie at January 8, 2004 07:01 AM