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There is nothing like Australia

New Australian tourism ad - how Australian is it?

Jonathan Green  May 31, 2010

OK, I realise it's just an ad aimed squarely at undecided German vacationers, it's not supposed to be a tidy summation of the total Australian experience.

But, but, but ... why am I still cringing under the desk after watching the new Nothing Like Australia ad? Is this truly my country? A smile, a song and a beery koala? Do the people at Tourism Australia actually live here? Did they just read about it in a book? Maybe they pieced it together from bits of Croc Dundee II.

Haven't seen our new ad? It's pretty much Lara Bingle's "Where the bloody hell are you?" without the what now seems to be redeeming feature of Lara Bingle. I'd have preferred Where the F*** Are You? as a follow up to be honest, presented by that guy who plays Carl Williams.

This new ad was crafted after a competition that sought ordinary Aussie responses to the blonde, surfie, shrimp on the barbie view of the country made famous by so many campaigns past. Enough of all that: what do ordinary Aussies make of their wide brown wonderland Tourism Australia asked. (Or is that arksed?)

Guess what, turns out most Australians think we are a blonde, surfer, shrimp on the barbie kind of place.

Our new popular choice shingle hung out to the vacationing world is a jingoistic jingle, a hum-along straight from Mojo's Up There Cazaly playbook, an ad fit for half time at the grand final or for spruiking a carton of crap fags sometime in 1978.

What is Australia? Seems it's tuneless, cultureless and stuffed with sedated monotremes. It's a beach, a burst of fireworks, a reef waist deep in fish and a cheesy checklist of ethnicity. Why is there a white baby grand piano on the beach? Did the dolphins put it there?

This is not a country, this is a nursery rhyme.

Yes, yes, it's just an ad. These are the qualities of Australia that recommend it to tourists. I know. But there's an uneasy sense, watching this parade of the photogenic, scenic, ethnic and twee, that this is a representation of the country shared by a large body of people who live here too.

This is the Australia of Australia Day and Southern Cross tattoos, an Eta margarine patriotism. A vegemite soul.

These are the sources of national pride and identity: anonymous anti-music, a half dozen species selected for their picturesque qualities, and never mind that hundreds of others struggle to survive or can go hang into extinction. Come visit the few forests preserved for buses and walkers, never mind the swathes levelled for chips. Check out the beaches not shaded by greedy development.

This is cutting to the great truth, that we produce little more than we can convince multi-nationals to dig up and ship off, and have nothing worth visiting beyond a rock, a reef, a bar stacked with drunks and a beach full of camel shit. That's the ad we should have made. Sing along to that.

Which isn't us either of course; isn't our cultured and really quite interesting selves. Our food, our wilderness, our readily accessed sense of vast silence and space. Our street art. Our slowness. Our calm. Our unique geo-social perspective. Our theatre. Our art. We could advertise all that, but the sad thing is it doesn't quite square with our true, lumpen, brash, camel-strewn sense of ourselves.

Maybe we got the ad we deserve.

Watch the the video here:!

New Australian tourism ad - how Australian is it?
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