Asia Australia Culture Education Media Sport

Ozzie Observations – Week One – Sydney Morning Herald, Cricket, TV, Asian Australians and Education

I’m completely fascinated by people and cultures everywhere I go – for me it is part of the incredible diversity and equality with which God has endowed humanity. Made in His image we find ways of expressing creativity, beauty and love- in every culture.   Ruined by the Fall, we find ways of distorting and perverting that image – in every culture. Australia is no different.

Over the next few weeks whilst I am on sabbatical in Australia I will try to write a wee piece with my cultural and ecclesiastical observations…both what I observe and what I read and see as to how Australians observe the rest of the world. Obviously my observations are limited and just simply observations.   If you are one of the many Aussies who read this please don’t be upset if I get things wrong (which I will!) and please feel free to enlighten me further in antipodean ways.   For what its worth, apart from conversations and meeting people (by far the best way to get a sense of the culture – my sources include books, Australian TV and radio and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Lets begin with the latter.


Observation 1 – The Sydney Morning Herald is not Independent. I love the fact that their headline claims “Independent. Always.”   But independent of what? Although I really like the newspaper (except on the weekdays it’s a bit thin) I know what its take on most issues is going to be. It is totally dependent on ‘progressive liberalism’ and doesn’t really differ from the party line at all. Independent? I don’t think so.

Observation 2 – Australia, at least in the cities, is moving from being a European to an Asian culture.  I’m sure this is not as strong in the rest of the country as in Sydney and the other major cities…and it may just be that we are staying in a suburb –

Mrs R enjoying one of the finest Indian meals we have ever had – at Dakshin restaurant – Crows Nest- Sydney

Artarmon, Chatswood, – which has a large Asian population (Korean, Japanese and Malaysian as well); but Asian culture is a growing influence in Australian life and not just in the food. I go to write in Chatswood library – when I was there on Friday every single person sitting and working, apart from myself, was Chinese or Korean origin (Mandarin seemed to be the main language and there were plenty of Korean books) – mostly younger people. The only white Australians were a couple who were sitting flicking through magazines. I admired the Asian young people for their diligence and hardwork. I wonder how many Scottish students would leave school and head to the library to do extra work (I should add that the public library facilities here are excellent).

I think the Asians are a great addition to Australia (they are Australians of an Asian origin, just as most whites are Australians of a European origin) and are probably changing it for the better, but there will be a clash of cultures. Saturdays Sydney Morning Herald – had the front page headline “PM signals crackdown on Chinese phone giants”. As President Xi Jinping continues his increasing takeover of all Chinese state institutions, including the media – there will be further conflicts – as he seeks also to control Chinese people and interests overseas – this will have an impact on Australian. I note also that the President of Malaysia has said that the time for Australia joining ASEAN is not yet, it may well come. Although he made clear he still regarded Australia as European rather than Asian.

Observation 3 – Despite the Ashes win Australian cricket is in trouble –  The scandal

Cameron Bancroft

here is that the young Australian bowler, Cameron Bancroft, tampered with the ball in the current test series against South Africa. That has gone on in cricket from time immemorial, but this time the captain Steve Smith confessed that he knew about it beforehand. In other words Australia cheated. This is a scandal that will reverberate.   As Malcolm Turnbull the PM stated: “”I am shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” he said. “It seems beyond belief the Australian cricket team have been involved in cheating.

“After all our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair player. how can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief.”

download-2Observation 4 – Australian TV is rubbish.  Admittedly we only get a few mainline channels in our wee home, but what we have seen so far is not encouraging. It may be hard to believe but it is actually worse than most British TV. Reality TV and crass, unfunny comedy shows seem to be the staple diet, plus reruns of American shows, sport and Graham Norton. (Again I confess there is not a lot we have watched, but this is mainline stuff on at prime time). Shows like ‘Married at First Sight” and “Single in Paradise” are very popular and revealing. But what they reveal about Australian popular culture is pretty depressing – shallow, materialistic and dumbed down. Perhaps the Australia celebrity elites need a doze of Ecclesiastes?!Which is Better? A Party or a Funeral? Ecclesiastes 7

Observation 5 – Education is the same political and religious football in Australia as it is in the UK – perhaps even more. In a recent election in Melbourne the government opposition Labour leader, Bill Shorten wrote to the most senior Catholic – the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, saying that the ALP stood shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic on schooling and offering $250 million extra to Catholic schools. Catholic education Melbourne boss – Stephen Elder, then started a call blitz of 30,000 voters…and Labour won a narrow victory over the Greens in the Batman byelection.   That victory is not being attributed by most commentators to this – but it still leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. From a Christian perspective I don’t think it is a good witness at all. There may be a good reason for the Catholic schools getting more government money, but this looks and smells like political bribery and ultimately it won’t benefit the Catholic church.
Anyway week one over.   Loving being here and very grateful for the opportunity that the Lord has afforded.   Roll on week two….

Is Australia the New Jerusalem?





  1. I was in Australia for a month last year, and totally agree with you about the TV shows! I did not enjoy flipping through the channels to try to find something to watch. New Zealand TV is much better. I was in Ireland and the UK for two and a half months after that, and enjoyed Irish and British television : )

  2. I encourage you to visit Newcastle while you are here if you have time. Just north of Sydney but the pace of life is quite different. Happy to show you round anytime. Interesting to see what an “outsider” thinks of Aussie culture. Enjoy the Blue Mountains this weekend.

      1. Gosford! Not a patch on Newcastle!
        Re your observations on Aussie tv, I totally agree. Most of the reality shows are inane rubbish, almost as embarrassing as the cricket cheating. I survive by watching re runs of Poirot!

  3. Hello David,

    Interesting observations indeed. I’m an Indian living in Australia and a regular reader of your blog.

    I was most interested to see the photo of your wife eating “Asian food “, I zoomed in and what a surprise — it was Indian food! In Australia when the word Asian is used, it is used to refer to the Chinese people!

    I have a strange question arising from the photo you posted – a couple of weeks ago, our daughter moved from Adelaide where we’re based to work with a Law firm in Sydney. She lives in the Crow’s Nest area very close to Dakshin restaurant! Would you be able to recommend a church in that area that you attended? It may seem like a funny request coming from a naturalised Aussie but I’m asking you hoping that you will include some non Anglican suggestions too.

    Thank you.
    Kind regards,
    Sheena (although a Scottish name it’s widely used in India!)

    1. Hi Sheena – Great to hear from you! It would be even nicer to meet you… Although I don’t think I’m going to Adelaide this time. There is a fabulous church near where your daughter is living – it’s called St Thomas’s Anglican and the pastor is Simon Manchester. We are attending there whilst we are in Australia – when I’m not preaching elsewhere. If your daughter would like to meet up with us we would be happy to take her! let me know – my e-mail is

  4. Minor correction. Cameron Bancroft is a batsman not a bowler, although neither got the next 9 months!

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