Kangaroos, emus, the 6 states of Australia + territories + federation, Golden Wattles and Waratah Flowers, Black Opal gems, and the Southern Cross constellation are among the important symbols that appear regularly in Australian iconography and culture.
While in Canberra for Fulbright orientation, we went to the Australian War Memorial. It's a beautiful museum and memorial site, commemorating a lot of history but particularly focused on WWI and the ill-fated (for the Allied troops) Gallipoli Campaign ("Gah-lip-o-lee" [NOT "gal-i-pole-ey"]). I was not familiar with this history, which was shocking to the Australians with me on this tour, as they said Gallipoli is "most" of what they are taught about the history of armed conflict and especially WWI. I thought it was interesting to reflect on these differences in perspective and how history is taught. Notably, there is an Australian miniseries (7 episodes) on Netflix right now about Gallipoli that is worth watching (more info below).
For a formal orentation to Fulbright, we travelled to Canberra for a few days, Australia's capital city and the seat of its federal government. We went for an hours-long hike to try to find kangaroos and were so excited to see a couple in the distance on our soggy hike. Then, upon boarding our train back to Sydney that day, we saw several kangaroos much closer than on the hike, including a baby, and two big ones that started duking it out!
In my first few days in Australia, I noticed that some of the men were wearing a style of boot I hadn't seen before: an ankle-high leather boots with elastic sides on the inner and outer ankle portion. As I started paying attention, I realized that essentially ALL of the men were wearing these boots - including people wearing professional suits, construction workers, and people in casual clothes. And now that I've paid more attention, I see variation on these boots for women too - including what seems to be high fashion. These boots are EVERYWHERE, and they have their roots in the Jackaroo / Jillaroo culture of Australia (essentially Australia's cowboys).
A day full of adventure! Including a train strike; car accident in our taxi; testing negative for Covid (again); swimming at Coogee Beach with 3-continent friends; trying potato scallops with chicken salt; drinking schooners of Furphy and Hahns; a welcome package with vegemite squeezy, Tim Tams, "shapes" crackers, and boogie boards; and crashing for 12+ hours.
Tess M.S. Neal
Sharing my sabbatical adventure in Australia with my partner and our two young boys. We are staying in Sydney for 4 months on a Fulbright Scholar Award.