I have always enjoyed the company of Australians. The ones I have met, all over the world, have been extroverted and adventurous. To me, the women from Oz have always found a perhaps hardened, as opposed to soft, place in my heart. Maybe it is their accent or their grit. I credit part of their resiliency to their culture and the continent’s legacy as a formal penal colony that impacted the character of Australian men in particular. I also credit their hot landscape and often harsh geography outside of the coastal areas. These are the places most celebrated in modern Australian filmmaking. They are places of chaos and violence, as seen in films from The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith to Mad Max to The Proposition.
I am now reading the memoir and travel adventure called Tracks, by Australian writer Robyn Davidson. She crossed Australia’s remote western desert with four camels and a dog in 1977 and published the account of her 1,700-mile journey, Tracks, that was turned into a film of the same name in 2013. In her book, she writes about the rough and violent men she met in Alice Springs, where her journey began. This is her summary of how the continent of Australia and its cultural legacy as a penal colony created the contemporary Australian male. The picture she paints is not charming, but as the legacy of Aussie filmmaking would show, she is speaking from real-world experience acknowledged by many before and after her:
“The modern-day manifestation is almost totally devoid of charm. He is biased, bigoted, boring and, above all, brutal. His enjoyments in life are limited to fighting, shooting and drinking. To him, a mate includes anyone who is not a whop, wog, pom, coon, boong, nigger, rice-eye, kyke, chink, Iti, nip, frog, kraut, commie, poofer, slow, wanker, and yes, Sheila, chick or bird.”
I highly recommend her book. But then again, I like camels, deserts, and Australian women.