G'day mate, throw a shrimp on the barbie!
Oh god, did I really just use introduce my blog post like that? Talk about being a stereotypical Australian! But that's okay, because today's post is all about Australia. This Friday, the 26th of January is Australia Day here in Oz, and I thought I'd exploit our national day for blog views, because why not!
There's some things from my childhood that are not only iconic, but seem to be special to Australia, or at least more important to Australians. I've narrowed it down to five important things that I'm sure most of my fellow Aussies can relate to, and that those outside of Australia will be both intrigued and confused by, and possibly know what I'm talking about too.
1. Fairy Bread
You have not lived until you've eaten fairy bread! I honestly feel sorry for those who live outside Australia and have no idea what I'm talking about. It's a staple at kid's birthday parties, and if your mum didn't serve fairy bread at your party, they'd be riots. Don't even bother inviting anyone to your next birthday party because chances are they weren't going to come after not getting fairy bread.
If you're confused about what this bread of fairies is, let me enlighten you about this magical party food. You start with nice fresh white bread, spread it was a nice layer of butter or margarine, and top it off by covering it with 100s & 1000s (the little round sprinkles.) Any divergence from this and it's blasphemy - I don't care if you're parents were healthy and only had grain, wholemeal or rye bread, it's white bread or nothing. And don't even think about using anything other than 100s & 1000s - not those long sprinkles and not even the mix of long sprinkles and 100s & 1000s.
And you what, there'd always be that kid that brought a 100s & 1000s sandwich to school at least once. You were jealous because your mum said fairy bread was only for parties, not for lunch. I'm twenty two and I still love fairy bread. It's definitely not something that only kids like because it's sugar-covered bread - it's actually an Australian delicacy that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age! If you live outside of Australia, you need to try fairy bread - make some and let me know your thoughts!
2. Healthy Harold
If you heard that the Healthy Harold truck was spotted in your town, or you rocked up to school to see it parked there, you knew you were in for an awesome few days. Every primary school student looked forward to Healthy Harold's visit - you got out of class for an hour to get into the back of a windowless truck to learn about drugs & alcohol from a giraffe. No, I'm not kidding.
Learning about the dangers of drugs and alcohol (and I think about body systems in Kinder and those junior years of primary school) had never been so fun. Who knew being taught by a giraffe was what kids needed in their education?! Of course, that fateful day in year six would come when you got to see inside Healthy Harold's house. Well, that's what the younger kids thought, because you'd all tell them that Harold had a heated swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, an Xbox AND PlayStation, a GameBoy and a ginormous flat-screen TV. In reality, you were told that Harold was actually a puppet, even though you all already knew that anyway.
To make the Healthy Harold experience ever better, you could buy Healthy Harold merch! If you were lucky, your parents would give you enough money to get one thing, or if they truly loved you, they'd give you enough to buy a few things. And Healthy Harold merch was hot stuff - pencil cases and stationary sets, bucket hats, yo-yos, plushies, and waterproof watches - you just had to get something otherwise it'd be a whole year until Harold and his merch was back again!
3. Car Cricket
I definitely think this is something truly Australian, and something I don't hear about much now. If you were going on a long roadtrip with the family or even on a bus for a school excursion, car cricket was usually one of the games you'd play to fill in time. Screw playing eye-spy!
When you started the game, you'd designate runs to different vehicles - one run for a car, two for a ute, four for a truck, six for a bus, etc. - and what was out - usually a red car or a Ford/Holden (depending on personal preferences of players). As a country kid, we'd always add a tractor, and even windmills in paddocks. I don't know how this game came about, who came up with the scores and rules, or how it even spread (we weren't Googling this as kids), but everyone played it, sticking with the the basic rules and adding things depending on where they were traveling.
I feel like today car cricket isn't played much with kids - every child and their dog has a phone or tablet or a portable DVD player, so why would they need to play silly car game to fill in time? But kids today are definitely missing out - car cricket was an important roadtrip/excursion game! Although, after a quick Google search, it appears that there's actually a car cricket app!
4. Pen License
Okay, this is probably something done in other countries as well, but it was an important day in your primary school life - the day you could finally graduate from using a stupid pencil and start using a pen! In my school, you'd receive your pen license near the end of Year Four. For the whole year, you'd be trying your hardest to prove to your teacher that you were good enough to use a pen - you were ready for the responsibility of a ball-point!
If you were lucky enough to be one of the first kids in your class to get a pen license, you knew you had made it. At my school, our teacher presented a handful at a time at Friday afternoon's assembly, so you'd come to school on Monday, pen in hand, looking down on all the peasants still using pencils - and yes, I did that when I was in the first batch of five students to get their pen license! You felt so powerful. And don't even think about using a pen in class if you didn't have a pen license - that was illegal without that coveted piece of lamented paper.
Honestly, after you finished the year, it's not like the teachers checked to see if you had a pen license or not. You'd always hear about older siblings who never got a pen license but still used a pen when they moved up a year, so you weren't too worried, but you didn't want to be embarrassed by the fact that you didn't get one. Imagine being that one kid in your year that never got a pen license! But for that term or year, it felt special to be able to go from a pencil to a pen - you felt like you were getting older and more mature, all because of a little pen license.
5. Saturday Disney
If you're parents didn't love you enough to pay for Foxtel and the Disney Channel as a kid, you could only get your Disney fix every Saturday with the aptly named Saturday Disney. Without fail, you'd be out of bed, sitting in front of the TV with your breakfast at 7am ready for your two hour fill of Disney every Saturday. You were treated to some of the iconic Disney shows from the 1990s-2010s - The Emperor's New School, Hannah Montana, Kim Possible, Lilo and Stitch, Lloyd In Space, Phineas & Ferb, That's So Raven, The Proud Family, Sabrina, Wizards of Waverly Place, and so many more.
Living in the Disney House looked like so much fun and you probably dreamed about growing up to be one of the hosts - how cool would that be! Although, the 'Double Dog Dare' every week probably turned you off that idea for a moment - they were weird and crazy and if the host failed, they'd have to eat something disgusting as punishment. No, you really eyed off the prize for the 'Letter of the Week' winner. It was a massive prize pack of toys, games, kids magazine subscriptions and art supplies. Chances are you sent in a letter or piece of art in the hopes of winning, or at least getting an honourable mention, but you'd no doubt end up super jealous of the lucky kid who won - every kid in Australia seemed to be sending in amazing stuff!
When I was watching as a kid, the hosts I remember were Shae Brewster, Sally Stanton, and Daniel Widdowson, but there were sixteen people in total to host the show between 1990 and 2016. Every week, they always has some crazy and fun segment, and it made it look like being a Saturday Disney host was the coolest job ever!
There's definitely more iconic things from Aussie childhood, so feel free to comment below some of ones that were important to you. If you're a fellow Aussie, I hope this post gave you a nice hit of nostalgia, especially if you're a millennial like me. If you're outside Australia, let me know if these are things you also had in your childhood as well!
Now, I'm off to have some fairy bread and find some Saturday Disney clips on YouTube...
See you soon!
See DISCLAIMER for information about Affiliate Links