It wasn’t that long ago that this big island in the middle of the south pacific that we call home was pretty much a blip on the world radar – a remote colonial outpost known for convicts, snakes and spiders and not for stellar performances of any particular genre on the world stage.
Apart from Crocodile Dundee that is, Australia’s cultural ambassador of the ‘80s? He didn’t really help matters much with regards to the dangerous animal and inhospitable territory type stereotypes. Clearly things had to change!
Then, in the early 1990s, something started to happen. Australia woke up. She rubbed her eyes and shook off the dust and reached for the key to unlock the convict shackles.
A brave new world was to emerge!
In almost every arena of achievement, Australia started to shine. The old institutions of Europe and the movers and shakers in the USA started to turn their heads towards the southern hemisphere for the first time since colonisation.
It didn’t happen overnight, but the ball was rolling – Australian film, literature, art, music, technological innovation, fashion and culinary prowess slowly started to make its mark on the international stage.
In the late 1990s, the phenomenon of “Cool Britannia” occurred – when all things UK became cool. Madonna moved there, Oasis and The Spice Girls reigned supreme. The uber celebrity chefs made their stamp on the culinary world – Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver.
A place that had never really been cool before (apart from punk?) – a national dish of fish and chips with mushy peas, a staid royal family and a depressingly dreary climate …
Somehow something similar is happening on our shores these days. Australia is an outpost no more. Geographical isolation doesn’t impact on digital connectivity. Our actors are infiltrating Hollywood, our food has more than made the culinary world sit up and take notice – umm, hello – Heston Blumenthal moved the Fat Duck to Melbourne for six months!
That was not a random occurrence. World-renowned chefs are now flocking to our shores not just once, but repeatedly – actually any excuse for a visit.
Australia has evolved into a desirable location, a place to be! When you think about it – why wouldn’t you come here these days? Fantastic climate, amazing scenery, friendly locals … And then there is world-class food and wine, awesome produce – an eclectic melting pot of cultures. Remove the long haul flight to get here from virtually anywhere else, and it would pretty much be heaven on earth.
Sure there are flaws – let’s not get political, but at the end of the day if you look back a couple of decades it’s easy to see how far we’ve come and how a real cultural identity is starting to emerge. Embracing our proximity to Asia, our melting pot of cultures, our unique environment and history all helps.
And all we have to do is kick back and wait for the next top international restaurant to pack up its things and set up on our shores …