How do you write about Australia when it doesn't exist?

Because it didn't, in 1814. It was just New South Wales. The people who lived there were mostly British, or identified themselves as belonging to a tribe, not a nation.

It's hard to look at your country through the eyes of a stranger, but that's what I'm trying to do. Australia is a country of such contradictions - stunningly beautiful, but also ugly and deadly.

Take cockatoos, for example. They're beautiful. Just beautiful. Snow-white feathers, beady black eyes and an amazing crest of yellow-gold. Gorgeous.

Until it opens its beak, and out comes the most the second most horrifying noise ever heard. See? Beautiful, but ugly.

What, I hear you asking, is the most horrifying noise ever heard? Any Aussies reading this should easily be able to answer that. I'll give you a clue. It's cute as a card full of buttons. It's furry. It has big, vulnerable eyes. It has sex in your roof.

Awww. Isn't he cute? Until he starts getting his rocks off with his lady friend about two feet from your trying-to-sleep head. Little fucker.

But apart from the animals, what else is there? What else makes Australia Australia?

-bugs (we got lots of bugs)
-sun (getting sunburnt)
-the smell of eucalyptus

What else?

(and no, things like Ken Done tea-towels and Vegemite don't count. We're talking early-nineteenth-century, baby colony type stuff. they didn't even have Strine yet)