Aussie ABC: Q is for Quirky
The Aussie sense of humour – ie laconic crossed with off-beat crossed with extreme larrikinism – sometimes manifests itself in unusual, weird and downright bizarre ways. And that means ‘Quirky’!
But … be warned! There’s a fine line between ‘Kitsch’ and ‘Quirky’ – and an even finer one between ‘Quirky’ and ‘Tasteless’!
So I’ll leave you to decide into which category these examples of Aussie Quirkiness fall!
1. Signs and Symbols
Aware that not everyone else speaks either English OR our brand of it, we Aussies have the distinction of putting some of the most incomprehensible graphics in the world on our signs.
This Kanyaka historic site sign (above) in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges has a number of strange and bizarre symbols that mean – what, exactly?? When I asked my readers to identify them in the original blog post (HERE) they came up with a surprising array of responses!
Although sometimes those world class ambiguity skills aren’t used! THIS sign just says it like it is!!
But … when crystal clear meets iconoclastic Aussie attitude, you get something REALLY quirky! Like this sign at the western entrance to Queensland Outback town Isisford!
- What’s the story behind the Isisford sign?
- Have a look at the quirky Aussie travel signs I’ve found!
2. Talking Strine*
While we Aussies generally have no trouble understanding both the US and UK forms of English, our quirky interpretation of some of its finer points – a translation of ‘English’ to ‘Strine’ – means those who’ve learned either the US or the UK version find it difficult to understand us! In fact, they often think we actually ‘talk funny’!
But that’s a minor detail compared to what we’re actually saying. That’s FAR more incomprehensible! Here’s a short test to see how Aussie you REALLY are:
1. Your friend Davo and his girlfriend Shazza are coming to visit. What are their real names?
2. Translate ‘Put another snag on the Barbie’
3. ‘Stubby’, ‘Tinny’, ‘Pot’, ‘Slab’ and ‘Schooner’ are all different ways to order WHAT common beverage? AND for an extra point – how do you keep it cold??
4. ‘How are ya?’ asks your mate. ‘Flat out like a lizard drinking’, you reply. What do you mean?
5. You suspect your boss has a couple of ‘roos loose in the top paddock. What’s wrong with him?
Answers at the bottom of the post!
Check out my guest post about Australian slang HERE!
3. What’s on the Menu?
Where else can you get a food item colloquially known as a ‘rat’s coffin’? Usually served with a dose of ‘dead horse’?? A meat pie with (thanks to our adoption of the British habit for rhyming slang) tomato sauce doesn’t sound anywhere near so interesting, does it?!
So sometimes we serve it on a bed of pea soup and call it a ‘pie floater’.
But then we go one better.
Neither the Kangaroo or Emu are physically able to move backwards, and that’s the quality that landed them on the Australian Coat of Arms! Admirable, yes?
BUT … apparently we’re the only country in the world to kill and eat the wildlife on our national Coat of Arms – and feed them as good Aussie ‘tucker’ to hapless tourists!
When you consider, however, that Australia is home of the AWESOME Tim Tam, I think you’ll agree that balances out all our other food faux pas combined!!
Want MORE? Here’s 40 foods we Aussies call our own (via CNN Travel)
4. A Day at the Races
In a country full of people who love having a wager but with only ~0.029 horses per km²**, we’ve got creative AND quirky with what we race. And bet on!
And that means racing whatever is at hand. Like Cockroaches. Or Camels. And arguably the quirkiest racing creature of all – the Cane Toad!
Despite – or perhaps because of – being an introduced pest with numbers now thought to exceed 200 million, the ugly cane toad has reached cult status downunder. With its very own line of novelty gifts, a documentary about its infamous beginnings in Australia AND Cane Toad World, a celebration of its quirky appeal, its unique qualities have made it popular on the informal sports and racing circuit!
5. Size DOES Matter!
I once read that you know you’re Australian when it seems perfectly normal to wander a landscape littered with enormous representations of everyday objects, most commonly fruit and animals. Yes, Aussie Big Things are in a quirky class of their own!
Yes, the Kangaroo, Koala, Crocodile and even the Aussie Galah are obvious targets.
But whoever thought of the Big Malleefowl? Big Wool Bales?? Or the Big Ned Kelly??? And if you take a look at The Little Book of BIG Aussie Icons you’ll find MY picture of the Big Prawn!
Quirky? More like BEYOND Quirky!
6. Bizarre Buildings
While weird and wacky buildings exist in Aussie urban areas too, why is it that the most ornate, thoughtfully constructed AND intriguing are found in the middle of nowhere?
Maybe it’s the relative lack of building materials, or a yearning for the luxuries of another country, or just a response to the landscape! Whatever the reason behind them, I say these bizarre buildings qualify as Quirky with a capital Q!
Maybe we just need to redefine ‘civilisation’! OR … perhaps we Aussies already have?!?!
7. Aussie Loos with Views!
I’m a loud and proud contributor to the pantheon of Aussie quirkiness with my book ‘Aussie Loos with Views!’ But I wouldn’t have been able to produce such a book without the vast selection of quirky Aussie dunnies all around the country.
My personal pick for the quirkiest of quirky Aussie dunnies is Gunnedah’s amazing Lyrical Loo!
There’s a lot of Australian Scenic Public Toilets on my blog AND more than 60 in my book!
Elevating the humble Aussie Loo to the Dunny of Distinction AND getting a book about them published (thanks to the team at Explore Australia) is Australia at it’s quirkiest!!
And if you want to prove me wrong, just buy my book and tell me EXACTLY where my reasoning is flawed!!
Go on! You KNOW you want to …
See ALL the Scenic Public Toilets I’ve ever featured on my blog!
So does the evidence I’ve shown you prove Australia’s Quirkiness? Or is it all just kitcsh and/or tasteless?? Whatever you think, I’m calling Q for Quirky right here!
See RedzAustralia’s other Aussie ABC posts:
* Strine = just say ‘Australian’ REALLY quickly (ie like a true blue Aussie) and you’ll find it sounds almost like ‘Strine’
Answers to Strine Quiz:
1. Davo = David (or MATE!); Shazza = Sharon (or ‘Luv’ if you can’t remember her name)
2. Put some more Sausages (Snags) on the Barbecue (ie Barbie)
3. Beer; keep it cold by putting it in the Esky!
4. You’re really busy
5. A couple of kangaroos loose in the top paddock = a bit mad!