Exploring Australia: Specsavers, Sunshine and Sexism

Do you recognise this building?

When I found out I was coming to Australia for two weeks, I was so excited. Australia’s completely the other side of the world to my home in Birmingham. I fantasised about what it would be like: kangaroos hopping round, koalas on every corner, barbecues every night. It would be so different to what I’m used to.
But when I got here, the first thing that struck me was how similar everything was. Getting the bus from the airport, I noticed they drive on the same side of the road as us. When I got to the bus station, the first shop I saw was a WH Smiths. In fact, lots of the shops are the same: Specsavers, Zara, Laura Ashley, Vodafone, Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC. The first night I was here, I was truly adventurous and had tea at Nandos (although it wasn’t as nice as the ones in the UK and they didn’t have my favourite Wild Garlic and Herb sauce) and then went back to the hotel and watched Homes Under the Hammer, Time Team and Coronation Street.

However, walking around the next day, I did start to notice some of the differences. First of all, it was sunny. Living in England, sunshine is a rare and joyous occasion. I threw on my shorts, t-shirt and sunglasses and revelled in how warm and lovely it was. But then I noticed that I was pretty much the only one – everyone else was wearing coats, boots, tights and even scarves! Australia gets much hotter than the UK, so the 23 degrees that I thought was gloriously sunny was an averagely alright day to many Australians. The seasons are also the other way round. Whereas in the UK we are going from Autumn into Winter (not that Summer was much to shout about), in Australia it is spring, with summer just around the corner.


Whenever I go to a different country, I like watching the news. Now, this is easier in Australia, where everyone speaks English. I mean, I’m sure the Romanian news was absolutely enthral long, but I couldn’t understand a word of it. On the news, they show the Houses of Parliament quite often, broadcasting speeches by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and other politicians. In fact, she’s just popped up on the telly again as I’m writing this. And you know what, I think it’s great that there’s a female Prime Minister. I know we had Margaret Thatcher, but that was a loooooooong time ago. I was only just born before she was replaced.

A couple of weeks ago, Julia Gillard made a very compelling speech in parliament about how female politicians are treated by some of the male politicians. The video of the speech became popular on the Internet and has been seen all over the world. Since then, there’s been lots of discussion about it with lots of people supporting Julia and the other female politicians.

Watching the video and the stories about it on the news, I couldn’t help but think that it would never happen in the UK, where parliament is still over dominated by male politicians.

So whilst Australia is similar to the UK in many ways, in parliament everyone seems a lot more switched on to the discrimination women face, which can only be a good thing. I hope one day we’ll see something similar happen in the UK, but it may be a long time coming. In the meantime, I’m going to finish my can of Coke, grab a bar of Cadbury’s and keep exploring Australia! Over and out, my little koalas.


By Sally Anne


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