This drew the following comment:
Hi, I'm an American. I was surfing the Internet, trying to learn something about Australia's diverse regions from a cultural perspective as opposed to a merely geographical one. All I turned up was information on Aborigines. Where's the Australian Paul Bunyan? Where's the Johnny Appleseed? Where are the pictures of Eskimos contrasted with lumberjacks, miners, farmers and fishermen? You are right. I almost had to conclude that Australia has no regional flavor at all. (Search for "regional flavor" and you will turn up many websites on wine, but none that pay more than lip service to culture.)I will respond properly on the Regional Living blog, but could not resist a short opening comment here.
I know from my own experience that Australia's regions are different.In fact, they are becoming more so. Why, then, do we not recognise this?
When I first started reading Australian history at school I found it all incredibly dull.
There was lots about convicts, explorers, squatters, the doings of the Sydney and later Sydney/Canberra Governments, very little about the world in which I lived. Here I was reliant on the occasional local newspaper supplement.
I knew that Judith Wright was a local writer, but only because my mother had known her and we knew the family. When I did come to read her earlier poetry as well as books such as Generations of Men I found real resonance. This was my country talking too me.
Later as pursued my reading and research, as I became involved in political and community activities in different parts of Australia, I discovered and came to know and understand to some degree the fascinating nature of regional variation across Australia. Yet somehow this was and continues to be suppressed.
To avoid the charge that I am just beating my usual parochial, regional drum, take Sydney.
Growing up, it was the case that Sydney was different from New England with its multiple regions linked by geography. But even in Sydney there were variations between the Inner, Eastern, Northern and Western Suburbs. As an outsider, I explored and enjoyed those differences.
Today, Sydney is fragmenting into a series of zones or regions that are very different from each other. Increasingly, or so it seems to me, people seem to stick within those zones, rarely moving out unless there is a very specific reason to do so.
Everybody in Sydney knows that this is the case. There is even some recognition of this, as in the popular parodies of the "Westies". My wife and daughters laugh at these. I just cringe. Perhaps I have lost my sense of humour or, perhaps, I wish I had the literary ability to apply the same blow torch to the Eastern Suburbs. Or the Inner West.
This has become a somewhat meandering post. My point is that as we track forward in Australia, we need to recognise and celebrate our differences, not just the official uniform pap served up to us by our thought leaders and their various institutional manifestations.