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Australians Have More Fun

2 313 7915

SYDNEY, Australia — When Mark Twain steamed into Sydney’s harbor in September 1895, journalists peppered him with questions before he had even stepped off the S.S. Warrimoo. “I am going to write a book on Australia,” he proclaimed. “And I think I ought to start now. You always know so much more of a country when you have not seen it than when you have.”

I imagined an exotic menagerie: animals that begin with the letter K frolicking next to shirtless Hemsworths, mostly.

Instead, I found Australia — or rather the teeny, tiny corner of this vast continent that I got the chance to experience this past month — much closer to how David Sedaris once described it: “Canada in a thong.”

It is a place where things just work. The politics are moderate. The economy is roaring (at least for now). The strangers are helpful.

Everyone has health care. Mass shootings are almost unheard-of. And I’d feel comfortable following the five-second rule on a random subway platform.

So far, so Canada.

But you don’t get on a flight across the world just to admire a $19 minimum wage. You come for the thongs.

Australians have more fun. They just do. I guess I should not be surprised by this fact given that this is the place that birthed both Hugh Jackman and Kylie Minogue.

As someone who is naturally suspicious of people who don’t seem to be experiencing some level of existential anxiety during their waking hours, I have watched my temporary neighbors with deep interest. As I prepare to board a flight back to my natural habitat — bitterly cold and over-benzoed Manhattan — here are some of the lessons........

© The New York Times