The Australian borders have opened to citizens. Flights have resumed. Australians can return home after two years without having to quarantine. The Irish living in Australia can return to Ireland without fear of losing their visas. Better yet, parents of Australian residents are now being classified as “immediate family”, which means Irish grannies and grandas are expected to storm the border with bags crammed with Sudocrem, Taytos, Cadbury’s chocolate, curry sauces and miniature hurleys.
All those re-runs of Border Security Australia have come in handy as they prepare to smuggle their loot past customs. Already I pity the poor customs officers going up against a very insistent Irish mammy armed with sensible travelling shoes, 20 unmarked bottles of Calpol and an iron will. It was never going to be a fair match.
Yes, we can lie to Australians about Ireland if they've never been there. They already feel sorry for you because Australian soaps are on your national broadcaster
For some returning Australians, it means taking our government-approved Irish person home for the first time. This means having the “talk”. The talk about what you can and can’t do in Australia. My rules are:
Yes, we can go and visit the Home and Away set. No, you can’t ask everyone about the show – or Neighbours – as a conversational icebreaker. Australians don’t really watch them and will look at you with pity that you still do. Neighbours isn’t even on the main television channel anymore. I’m sorry.
Yes, we can lie to Australians about Ireland if they’ve never been there. They already feel sorry for you because Australian soaps are on your national broadcasting channel. You could probably tell them you don’t have electricity and they’d believe it. Show pictures of you cutting turf and say you have to do that everyday so the wifi works. Australians don’t really watch foreign news. They’re there for the taking.
Australians will also lie to you. Making up sh*te to tell foreigners is a national past-time to the extent that we are constitutionally bound to telling visitors to watch out for “drop bears”. These are bears that drop down from the trees (we are a creative nation). I know that mid-conversation with a foreigner I could point to a complete stranger in the pub and go, “I’m not making them up, ask this bloke”, and without missing a beat the stranger would say, “Bloody drop bears mate, no good.”
No staring at people. I know we do this in Ireland. Particularly when someone walks into a restaurant, cafe or pub just to check if we know them
No, not everything will try to kill you. Just some things. Always bash your shoes together before putting them on and check under the toilet seat for surprise spider visitors. Snakes don’t like us as much as we don’t like them so try and warn them that you’re coming by stomping loudly. I have yet to see a shark so you’re on your own there. Personally the Irish healthcare system scares me more than any animal I’ve come up against. So if you’ve survived 30 years under that you’ll be alright.
No, you can’t ask if this person knows your cousin who spent six months in Coogee in 2002. The entire population of Ireland is smaller than that of Sydney. There are too many people. “Ah go on, you must know him.” I don’t. Sydneysiders are unfriendly b*stards. If I do know someone, it’s for the wrong reason. Once a sweet lady was delighted I recognised her nephew’s name. I didn’t tell her it was because I’d sat through his mention in local court.
No staring at people. I know we do this in Ireland. Particularly when someone walks into a restaurant, cafe or pub just to check if we know them. This is a sign of aggression in Australia. You get a three-second grace period to look away. Anything over that puts you squarely in “what the f*ck are you looking at?” territory.
It’s Mel-burn not Mel-born. It’s Coudj-ee not Coo-gee. I’m still laughing about the man who enthusiastically told me all about “that place that sounds like long fanny something”. Geelong. Pronounced Jel-long not Gee-long. Although, renaming their Aussie Rules team the Long Fanny Cats might generate new sponsorship opportunities.
Police in Australia don't really have a sense of humour. They do have tasers though
No, you can’t go outside without sunscreen. I don’t care if you do it in Spain. There is, as we say in scientific circles, “the big bloody hole in the ozone layer” over the southern hemisphere. You will peel and blister in the Australian sun. Don’t start up with that “I have to burn then I go brown” nonsense. I’ve seen a red-headed friend get sunburn sitting in an office with the window closed and the blind down. It’s brutal.
No, you can’t say or do things under the guise of “just having a bit of craic”. Police in Australia don’t really have a sense of humour. They do have tasers though. The official Department of Foreign Affairs advice for visiting Australia says: “What might pass in Ireland for friendly banter may be interpreted in Australia as a refusal to follow the orders of a police officer.” The oddly specific nature of that sentence indicates that this advice might come from a few lived experiences.
No leaving unwashed plates out or crumbs on the table. If you leave scraps of food out at 10pm and head to bed, your kitchen floor will look like it’s moving with opportunistic cockroaches by midnight.
Yes, you can wear your GAA shorts to the beach. But I draw the line at the jersey.
Meanwhile, Welcome or Welcome Back to some. We missed having you.