Today marks the end of an almost 4 month long stint in Sydney. There have been so many times in the past few months when I’ve been grateful for this opportunity. It’s been a fantastic time here and I thought I’d write down a few things I will take away.
“How you going?” and “No dramas.” I love both these characteristically Sydney/Australian phrases. “How you going” is best walking-past-someone-and-being-nice in the hallway phrase I’ve heard. You can walk by saying “Gooooooood” and it’s the perfect response to the question. It’s fitting the Aussies made this minor tweak – they know what it takes to be nice.
“No dramas” is another one of those hallmarks. Why bother with saying “no worries?” Why even use the W word? Keep it simple. Speaking of which..
Simple nicknames, mate. There are very few names that survive in Australia without being shortened into something warm, friendly, and typically ending with ‘y’ or ‘o’. Martin becomes Marty, Thompson becomes Thommo, and even breakfast becomes brekky.
And then there’s mate. Is there a friendlier way to address someone you barely know?
Simple names. While the Aussies don’t control how most people are named, the names they do control reeks of simplicity. Let’s take some examples –
– One of the most gorgeous bridges in the world across Sydney harbour – Harbour bridge
– A gorgeous landmark built for the Opera – The Opera House
– The hills from the great dividing range behind Sydney that have a blue-ish hue – The Blue Mountains
– A beautiful beach 7.5 miles long – The 7 and a half Mile Beach
– The central station – Central
I could go on. They don’t do fancy here. It’s all about simplicity.
Work to live. Live to work. I’ve learnt a lot from the Aussie attitude towards work. As a friend remarked “We work to live. We don’t live to work.” The Aussie focus is on the 3 F’s – family, fitness, and fun. People all over the world pay lip service to work life balance and prioritizing family and happiness.
They live those values down here. It’s not a surprise they consistently show up as one of the happiest countries in the world.
The more you know, the less you need. This is an aboriginal saying that stuck with me. We are all often so taken in by the things we think we “need.” True wisdom comes from a different place…
As I write this, the view outside my window is obscured by thick white fog reminiscent of a gloomy London day (sorry London – I love you too). It’s getting to winter in Australia, lest we forget, opposite to most of the rest of the world. In a way, I’m glad it’s ending this way because leaving this beautiful city on a characteristically sunny summer day would have been hard to take.
I am half way through Bill Bryson’s wonderful and funny account of travels in Australia. Reading it will make you long for a lovely 3 week trip across this beautiful country. I’m looking forward to coming back here many years later and just spending some time here. I’m hopeful that will happen..
This is a terrific country.