The travel paradox
Have you ever experienced that thing where you get home from overseas and Australia seems both excellent – the best country in the world – and worse, a shabby imitation of everything you’ve just seen elsewhere.
Because of Australia’s colonial and early immigration history, a trip to Europe is basically a school excursion back to the mother ship. The glory of the architecture and art, combined with the refinement of culture, is an eye-opener for someone who previously thought Macquarie St in Sydney was pretty special.
It made me realise how poorly we imitate these countries.
Australia is so open. Open skies, higgledy-piggledy buildings, a lack of rules that allows a sense of looseness and freedom.
In Rome, you’d be hard pressed to find a cheap Vietnamese restaurant but in Sydney, you can find pho worthy of Ho Chi Minh himself without venturing too far.
Aperitivo in Milan is a joyful experience that roundly trumps any inner city happy hour I’ve ever been to. People line up at the bar, popping pickles and crisps into their chattering gobs, and knocking back Campari cocktails without missing a beat in their conversations.
Why wouldn’t we try to copy this?
In Sydney, we have bars overlooking our impossibly blue ocean where the beer is frigid and a veil of salt mist hangs in the air.
It’s this difference that makes travel so exciting; this dissonance upon our return home that pushes us to strive for something better.
But what will that better be? How can we create something that encapsulates what it means to be Australian without copying the rest of the world? It’s a challenge worth accepting, and one that I am thinking about.
What do we have in Australia that is 100% our own creation?