Today is Australia Day. Tonight there will be a huge amount of drunken Australians celebrating in this city. Here are three stereotypes about Australians living in London:
1. They see their homeland as some kind of utopia. If home is so perfect, then why are they HERE??
2. They have a collective gang mentality that sees them mix only with their own and contribute nothing to the wider community, adopting the very worst aspects of the /brits abroad' mentality.
3. They label the English as pommie whingers when in fact they are the most whiney, one-eyed set of bad losers (and winners) in the galaxy.
Just to explain, the veracity of these stereotypes might have somethingto do with the fact that the writer spent three years living in Sydney when he was a young chap of 10. He had a wonderful time, but was also subjected to systematic abuse over the failings of the English national cricket team. The scars run deep you know.
Being liberal types who believe in equality and diversity with eye-watering passion, we on the good ship Londonist are not afraid to investigate our own prejudices. Hence we sought out Aussie Londoners who were prepared to answer our shrewd and imaginative questions:
Who are you? Where are you from, how old are you and what do you do?
Michelle Milbrandt. Perth, 26, Remunerator (Payroll)
Arvind Hickman. Sydney. 26. Journalist
Catherine Woods. Wollongong, New South Wales. 26. Journalist
Where do you live?
Why did you come to live in London?
Perth is beautiful but quiet. It's a great place to have a family but there is not a lot to do for a young person. Plus the travelling from London is so easy and affordable.
To experience working overseas and be closer to my girlfriend.
I'd always wanted to live abroad, I was getting a little bored with work and a lot of my friends were over here so it seemed like a good idea.
How long do you think you'll be here?
I have been here four years today. I will be here for four and a half years all up.
I have a 4 year visa and intend to see it through.
I'm not sure... maybe another 2 years? Who knows.
Do you plan to return to Australia?
Yes, beginning of July because as the monkey in Lion King says 'It is time'.
Not in the near future.
In the short-term I'm going back late February for a wedding. I would like to think I'll go back eventually but I don't know when that will be.
What are the things that you like about living in London?
There is something new and exciting to do everyday of the week. It is a fabulous place full of fabulous people.
It's a nice launching pad to see more interesting countries in Europe. Earning pounds. There is always a lot going on, eg football, music, theatre, markets and other things to see. I also love the pub culture.
I like that there is always something to do and always someone to do it with. It's nice being so close to Europe (although I probably don't get out of the UK as much as I should) and there are loads of opportunities career-wise. And I really like the people.
And what are the things that you don't like?
People aren't friendly to each other. I would love to start up a London smile.
The weather is shit. If it's going to be this cold then it should at least snow, how ripped off! Public transport is unreliable, overcrowded, expensive and shocking service. Collecting 1 & 2 pence copper pieces! Everything takes a lot longer to get done over here, eg. lining up for the bank, cop shop, a beer, getting things fixed... Grocery shopping is pathetic and everything is pre-packaged in plastic 10 times over.
The fact that I now spend far too much time at the pub.
Do you have any English friends?
Yes many, and an English housemate.
Mostly my mates at work, I don't really know many other English people.
What would be a typical week for you in terms of your social life?
Pubs & parties mostly. Also dinners, theatre and gigs.
During the week there may be the odd cheeky beer. Friday is always a big night out, firstly with work mates for a beer then kick on somewhere else with other mates to pubs and clubs. Saturday is hangover/recovery/football-watching day. Sunday I might actually do something like go check out the markets, a new area, museum or something else interesting.
During the week, I probably do something with friends on at least two nights. I'm normally busy on Friday and Saturday nights and I normally do something on Sunday as well.
What do you like about Londoners?
Lovely but again let's start to greet each other. What qualities do you see in them and do you regard Londoners as being separate from the English? Sorry to sound like a broken record but the English are friendlier than most Londoners. Unless you know them, then they are fabulous!
I love their sense of humour and sharp wit. Once you get to know them they are very nice people. They are also very tolerant. I also love that there are people from so many interesting cultures living in London.
What qualities do you see in them and do you regard Londoners as being separate from the English? I think Londoners are very worldly and they've always got something to say which I like. I don't see them as being completely separate from the English.
Does England have more or less problems with racism and prejudice than Australia?
I haven't been here for long enough to see much racism. However, I find that Londoners are more segregated by race in the people they choose to hang out with. In the cities back home, different cultures tend to mix a lot.
I think English people are, on the whole, more fully accepting and understanding of people from different backgrounds than Australians.
What can Londoners learn from Australians?
How to cook a BBQ
A work ethic for starters. How to play cricket, in fact how to play almost every sport.
To relax and not be so uptight.
What do you think the Australian community has contributed to London?
Overcrowding??? I think there might be too many of us now!?!?!?! I hope you the English have all grown to love us though.
The Walkabout and Redback (Not sure if these are good contributions?)
What effect do you think the large Aussie community in London has had on the way that Australians and the English understand each other?
Maybe we are sometimes just seen as those horrible Aussie louts?? I think I have realised there isn't much difference between us. Londoners are definitely not what I perceived I thought everyone spoke like the Queen.......ignorant I know.
I think the two countries have always been historically close. I think both cultures tend to get on fairly well and the large Aussie community living here is an example of that.
I'm not sure... I think maybe the English have a better understanding of what it means to be Australian and vice-versa.
Have we become closer or further apart?
Closer. I just double checked with my English mates here at work and they said closer as long as we integrate with English society and not diss England as some Aussies do. They and I hate Australians who come here and put down England the whole time. If you don't like it go back home.
Australians will continue to move away from England as the older generation back home dies out and we become a republic.
How confident are you that it will be another 16 years before the Poms win the Ashes again?
Sorry not a big cricket fan.
Australia is about to go through a massive re-building phase so I wouldn't be surprised if the Ashes is much more closely fought until our new team establishes a stranglehold again.
Supremely confident. At the moment, England is showing no sign of ever having the heart to win the Ashes again.
What kind of reactions from Londoners/the English did you experience in 2003 (losing the rugby World Cup Final) and 2005 (losing the Ashes)?
I was nervous coming to work there was a little ribbing but it was all in good fun. Ever since I got over here we seem to lose everything......maybe it's time to go home.
I was in Oz for the Rugby. For the cricket I think the English took it fairly well. They weren't very confident to begin with, which perhaps says something about the sports psyche over here?
I wasn't in London for the World Cup. Their reaction in 2005 was mostly one of surprise, then utter joy. They weren't too arrogant about the victory but that's not to say there weren't any jibes. I still suffered.
Who really does whinge the most?
Sorry I think it the English.
Are you serious?
The English. By far.
Why is Australia not yet a republic?
Because we all need our visas to come over here :O) Seriously though I think Australia is scared of change. We feel protected under the Queens wings.
Because too many old people with very distinct English roots (those who actually care about the Queen) haven't died out yet. Give it a few years.
Because we're rubbish.
Thank you very much to Michelle, Arvind and Catherine for their time and also thanks to our very own Jo for translating. Ha ha. Just kidding.