This week’s the perfect time to celebrate some of the finest (and the not so fine) trappings of Australia in London
Do you remember the video for Dannii Minogue’s 1993 single This Is It?
The one where poor Julian McMahon was press-ganged into his then-missus’s clip to cavort on a beach in an absolutely ridiculous shirt – lime green with hot pink trim. Grimmer than English food.
Fortunately, Dannii has aged well, re-emerging as an X Factor judge opposite Cheryl Cole.
2. La Clique
Combining elements of circus, magic and burlesque, this cabaret show – for lack of a better word – with Aussie roots has gone from strength to strength since its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004.
Leaving audiences wowed, shocked and mildly offended the world over, it underlines how right Aussies can get it when they take a punt and do something original.
3. Good coffee
Plenty of Aussies never considered themselves coffee snobs – until they moved to London.
Back home if your little high street barista doesn’t know how to make decent coffee, they go out of business.
But in London, its a choice between the soulless mega-chains or gritty swill that tastes like dirty dishwater rinsed through burnt shit.
Fortunately, there are exceptions – and needless to say Aussies are involved.
Check out Kaffeine (Great Titchfield St, W1W 7QJ), Lantana (Charlotte Place, W1T 1SN) and Taylor St Baristas (New St, EC2M 4TP, to name a few Antipodean caffeine hits.
You’ve got to hand it to Frank Lowy – the man knows how to put together a giant shopping centre.
Since he founded the Westfield Group in 1960, the company has amassed assets of more than A$40 billion.
Westfield London, in the expat heartland of Shepherd’s Bush, is the biggest urban shopping centre in Europe, with a retail space equivalent to 30 football pitches.
5. Aussie pubs
You can get an Aussie beer and catch the AFL, NRL or Super 14 live.
And the bartenders don’t stand around primping and pouting while it’s three-deep, unlike the foppish, skinny-jean-wearing emo natives.
The Walkabout and the Redback are the best-known Aussie pubs, although these pubs generously let the odd Saffa, Pom or Kiwi in too. Are we not merciful?
6. Cheap, good Aussie wine
Two great Aussie inventions reliably converge at teenage house-parties: a few casks of wine get pegged onto the Hills Hoist and spun around to play Wheel of Goon.
It’s that kind of innovation which made Australia great.
And in London, whether it’s a nice Cab Sav during the winter months, or a Pinot Grigio when seafood is on the menu, cheap Aussie booze carries the day.
7. Nick Cave
Still churning out quality music some 37 years after his first release with the Birthday Party, Wangaratta’s favourite son, now based in the UK, also wrote the screenplay and score for The Proposition, one of the finest Aussie films of recent times.
Although his novels have been less successful, he gets points for trying, but he loses them for allowing teenage son Jethro to contrive a career as some kind of model-muso banality.
8. Dirty Dancing
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner”.
The immortal line from the 1987 cinema sop-fest Dirty Dancing, starring the late Patrick Swayze, was dusted off and resurrected for an Aussie stage production in 2004.
It was a runaway success, selling 200,000 tickets in six months, prompting the production to come to London, where shows sold out months in advance.
9. Mark Schwarzer
In 2008, the Sydney-born goalkeeper moved to Fulham, after 11 long years in Middlesbrough.
Schwarzer’s form will be a telling factor in how far Australia go at the World Cup.
The secret shames of Aussies in London.
Loud, drunk Aussies on the Tube: After a few beers, some Aussies turn up their Aussieness to 11, especially in public, like they feel they have to “represent”. Put a sock in it, you wanker.
Australian pubs: Sure, it’s nice to have an Aussie oasis, but these joints tend to incubate a myopic approach to London if visited exclusively.
Aussie soaps: It’s one of the great mysteries: why do the Poms, who do TV inordinately better than Aussies, have such a love for our silly soap operas?
Sporting defeats. Australia lost the Ashes and then the Wallabies got rumbled by Scotland. It’s unacceptable, particularly as Aussies make much better winners than the Poms, who get all giggly and flushed from the shock.
Cheesybite: First there was Vegemite. Then they made a cheese-flavoured ‘sequel’ called, bafflingly, iSnack 2.0. They then decided it was crap and changed the name to Cheesybite. Give it up.
Words: Tom Sturrock
Do you reckon we’ve nailed it? Tell us your best and worst of Australia in London below.