Beer and barbecues are what Australians supposedly live on, but we may in fact consume more wine, soy sauce, and even books. Bush nationalism remains the default Australian cultural narrative, even now, when Australia rides on minerals conveyors, not on the sheep’s back; when our population is one of the world’s most urbanised and multicultural; and when the closest most Australians get to the wide brown land is a suburban block, a McMansion, the view from a high-rise unit, or a fly-in fly-out job.
The truth is that we do not often look past the balmy light of our own separate villages. And when we do, we are just as likely to look much further, to a ‘real’ city somewhere else. To someone living in the north shore’s bush suburbs, the artificial lakes and dry ovals of Penrith in the west are likely to be less familiar than London. If you live in one of the McMansions on the edges of Windsor where farms used to stretch on either side of the highway, the inner west with its narrow terraces and dog cafes can seem as foreign as Bali