Australian Culture Night – How to Embrace the Outback from Home
August 6, 2020
Wanderlust Wednesday is back! And this time the series is celebrating cultures from different countries around the world. While international travel is near impossible, at least for us here in the US, it’s time to embrace other cultures at home. For the premiere article in the series, I’m taking you back to my home-away-from-home, Australia. Each piece in this series will show you the food, movies, music, and other cultural aspects that you can embrace right at home. Are you ready to host an Australian culture night?
Setting the Scene for an Australian Culture Night
Australian culture is quite similar to that of the United States. I’ve always thought of it as the upside-down version of the US. The biggest cities are in the southeast instead of the northeast. The hot and humid climate is south and not north. It’s the US flipped!
But one of the major differences is that the culture is much more relaxed. Whereas people in the US live to work, Australians work simply in order to live. It’s a way to earn money to be able to travel and enjoy their time. School breaks are longer. Employees, on average, get more vacation time. So rule number one for Australian culture night? Relax!
Cook some Aussie Food
If you want to have a true Australian dinner, you have two solid choices. First, you could go all out and make a fancy night of it with a lamb roast. It was a common Sunday dinner at my host family’s house. Or you can choose a more casual choice, a meat pie or some sausage on the grill – or as the Aussies say, ‘on the barbie’. It’s a popular choice for dinner down under. Refer to it as a ‘sausage sizzle‘, and you’ll fit right in!
It goes without saying that any true Australian night is incomplete without trying vegemite. Yes, I think it’s awful. I’ve always described it as finely chopped mulch soaked in soy sauce. It’s salty. It smells weird. But it’s an Aussie staple, just like peanut butter and jelly is to Americans. So you have to try it. Butter a piece of toast and spread a very thin layer of vegemite over it. I recommend getting a photo of yourself when you taste it for the first time. It’ll be a memorable moment!
You can be cliché and choose to have a Fosters beer. But to be honest, it’s pretty awful. Aussies barely drink it. If you want an adult beverage, go for an Australian wine. With one of the best wine regions in the world, you really can’t go wrong. And luckily there are Aussie wines easily available at your local liquor store, Yellowtail is a popular choice.
For the kiddos, Milo is a must! Fill a glass with milk, and then add some spoonfuls of the chocolate malt mixture. Think Nesquik, but way better.
There are several Australian desserts you can choose to make at home. Find a recipe online and get creative!
Pavlova – a ‘cake’ made of meringue and topped with fresh fruit. Lamingtons – Made from stale sponge cake, cut into squares and then coated with melted chocolate and coconut flakes. Fairy Bread – buttered bread topped with sprinkles (called ‘hundreds and thousands’ in Australia). Believe it or not, this is a kid’s birthday party staple! Tim Tams – not a recipe for you to make, but purchase. Tim Tams are the chocolate-coated cookie that Aussies love – and you will too.
Got a sweet tooth? Check out any of these Aussie candies: Caramello Koala – what it sounds like: koala-shaped chocolate filled with caramel. Aero – chocolate with pockets of air to make an interesting light texture. I recommend the mint ones! Kinder Bueno – wafer filled with hazelnut cream and coated in chocolate. (My favorite!) Crunchie – honeycomb candy coated in chocolate. Cherry Ripe – cherries and coconut in dark chocolate. Flake – crumbly, flaky chocolate. Perfect for shaving on top of desserts.
Listen to Australian Music
Easily the most famous Australian band, AC/DC is a must to include as the background music of your Aussie night. Kylie Minogue, INXS, and Keith Urban are other popular choices. Or you can dance it out to some pop from Savage Garden or Jet!
For a more traditional and authentic Australian sound, YouTube some didgeridoo music by Aborigine artists. The sound is haunting and beautiful.
Lastly, no Australian shindig is complete without Men At Work‘s Aussie anthem, ‘Down Under’! I’ve been seen rocking out to it in my car… on several ocasions.
Watch an Australian Movie
The best, and most obvious, choice for an Australian-themed movie is definitely Australia. Starring Aussie favorites Hugh Jackman & Nicole Kidman, the film takes place shortly before World War II and follows the couple across the landscape of Australia. One of the things that really makes this film stand out is the fact that it includes Aboriginal culture and characters.
Most people like to own things. You know, land, luggage, other people. Makes them feel secure. But all that can be taken away. And in the end, the only thing you really own is your story. Just tryin’ to live a good one.
Of course, you could always opt for the 80s cult favorite, Crocodile Dundee. But, I have to warn you that it is full of cliché Aussie sayings. Either way, it’s still entertaining.
Tomorrow When the War Began
This one is a personal favorite because I got to see it in the theaters when I lived in Australia. It’s an apocalyptic story of a group of teenagers who unite after their families and town are taken over by a foreign military. An entirely Australian production, it’s another great choice. Plus, Tomorrow When the War Began is currently free for those with Amazon Prime!
Lastly, if horror is more your style, Wolf Creek is the choice for your Australian night. Have you ever worried about traveling in a deserted location only to have your car break down and then get saved by a psychopath? Well that’s the plot of Wolf Creek. Keep the lights on.
Learn the Lingo
Make sure to start your Aussie day with some brekkie, but if you get tired in the arvo, have yourself a cuppa with some bikkies. If you’re heading to the beach, make sure to grab your sunnies and wear your thongs. Throw a jumper in the boot of your car in case you get cold later. By the time you get home, you’ll be knackered.
More Aussie Entertainment
Australia has a fantastic comedy scene. I was lucky enough to attend several events during the Melbourne Comedy Show. Now I can share with you some of my favorite Aussie comedians!
Hamish & Andy – Best friends who have done several radio & tv shows together for over a decade. Their comedy is ridiculously hilarious, and I often get their skits stuck in my head. Their latest project? A podcast of course. Check them out for yourself.
Josh Thomas – Quirky, flamboyant, and in love with his dog. What’s not to love? He made his tv debut in Please Like Me, but now you can see him in the new Freeform hit Everything’s Going to Be Okay – which he created!
Comedy not your thing? No worries, check out some Australian football instead! With all the streaming services for sports these days, it’s not too hard to find a footy match on the tv, especially late at night.
Enjoy Australia… At Home
Now that you have all the pieces to host your own Australian culture night, the only question is when to do it! An obvious choice would be on Australia Day, January 26th, but really any day can be Australia day in your house if you plan it just right.