You can tell a lot about a person from their heroes. Adolf Hitler’s hero is said to be Prussian war-mongerer Frederick the Great. Meanwhile one of David Brent’s heroes is “philosopher” Dolly Parton. She’ll deny it of course, but our staff writer’s ultimate hero is none other than Zippy from seminal children’s television show Rainbow (“such great teeth”). For most people, the values they see in their idols are the values they themselves hold dear and Australians are no different. Understand their heroes and you’ll go a long way to understanding the Aussie national psyche.
ACES SIR DONALD BRADMAN Heroics: Cricket legend. Who: Known simply as “The Don”, the former national captain has, by a large margin, the best ever Test batting average in the world (99.94). Bradman is credited with lifting spirits during the Great Depression. Best Moment: Scoring 974 runs in the 1930 Ashes, the highest individual total in any Test series. Loved Because: The country’s greatest sporting legend – and “a good bloke”.
PHAR LAP Heroics: “Australia’s wonder horse”. Who: Also lightened Aussie hearts during the early 1930s Great Depression. Phar Lap won 36 races from his last 41 starts before causing a commotion in North America, winning the coveted Agua Caliente Handicap (1932). A fortnight later he was dead (deliberately poisoned, think many). Phar Lap had an unusually large heart and you’ll still hear the phrase “heart the size of Phar Lap”. Best Moment: The world’s third highest stake-winner at the time of his death. Loved Because: Showed great heart (arf).
STEVE WAUGH Heroics: Cricket captain who showed true “Aussie grit”. Who: Dubbed “Iceman”, he won fans for his gritty performances, a mental toughness which dug Australia out of many holes. Made 168 appearances for Australia with 41 victories as captain – both are records. Best Moment: Unpopular with selectors, he faced the axe during the 2002/03 Ashes. But, with the whole country watching, Waugh scored a defiant century. Seen as the Aussie Battler versus The Man. Loved Because: He’s the classic Aussie Battler.
NED KELLY Heroics: The Aussie Robin Hood. Who: Involved in bank robberies and cattle rustling, Kelly went into hiding with his gang. After killing three policemen, he was captured during a gun battle where he wore homemade armour, including that famous bucket-style helmet (he was shot in the leg), and hanged. Best Moment: Putting that iconic bucket on his head. Loved Because: The Irishman stood up to the bullying English colonials.