If you’re a West Australian bloke, chances are you have more board shorts in your cupboard than underpants. Originally intended as surfwear, “boardies,” as you like to call them, are your go-to item of clothing for just about any occasion. You wear them to go to the pub, jog around the block, at family barbecues, and dinner with the missus. You even have a ‘good’ pair of boardies you keep for special occasions.
You team your boardies with a pair of thongs, which, being Australian, you well know is an item of rubber footwear (and not ladies’ lingerie).
The Sunday session — the West Australian tradition of going to the pub on Sunday afternoon for the sole purpose of turning up to work on Monday with a hangover — is your religious experience. You’ve probably frequented the Sunday session at the Cottesloe Hotel, or OBH, with more regularity than a Catholic nun attends mass. There, you’ve learned a zillion new words for getting drunk. You no longer get “pissed,” you get “maggot,” “paralytic,” “hammered,” and “shitfaced,” and you’ve probably “spewed” in a taxi on the way home.
For the rest of the world it may be the Island of the Gods, but for you Bali is a party island that’s practically in your backyard. It’s where you first got laid, learned to ride a motorcycle, ate more nasi goreng than you care to remember, and surfed some of the best waves of your life. You’ll probably get married to your sweetheart at Mick’s Place on Bingin Beach and take your family on a six-day, all-inclusive package holiday to the Royal Beach Hotel in Seminyak for July school holidays.
The Yanks have Puerto Rico, the Euros Mallorca, but you’ll always have Bali.
After having ‘done’ Bali, you wanted to see the rest of the world, which you did looking out the bus window on a 21-day Contiki tour of Europe. You probably did this after going to university and before getting married. To prove it, there’s a photo of you in boardies and thongs standing in front of every recognisable monument between Lisbon and Prague doing the hang-loose gesture.
Your father did it, your best mates are doing it, and you probably do it too. You know that FIFO stands for “fly-in, fly-out,” and you think nothing is strange about traveling by plane to work on an oil rig, go underground at a gold mine, or drive a bloody big truck around an iron-ore mine site. You think working for four weeks straight and getting two weeks off are perfectly reasonable working conditions.
No matter whether you’re a West Coast Eagles or Fremantle Dockers supporter, Aussie Rules is your football game of choice. If you’re not yelling obscenities in the pissing rain at Patersons Stadium every weekend between February and September, you’re watching your team on a flatscreen with your mates whose names all end in “o”: Gavo, Shawno, Thommo, Davo.
While you’re watching the footie, you’re probably getting through two cartons of beer and eating Mrs Mac’s meat pies and sausage rolls.
Being from the sunny state, with more sunshine than any other place in Australia, you know blue, cloudless skies are the order of most days. While most of the east coast is either drowning in torrential rainfall, burning under yet another bushfire season, or experiencing Melbourne’s usual forecast of four seasons in one day, you’re used to perfect beach days every day between October and April.
How do you recognize a West Australian overseas? Answer: he’s the one that turns up to a party with a portable cooler full of beer. The West Australian habit of BYOB ensures that wherever you go, your esky is your constant companion, and you’re guaranteed a cold beer.
Sydneysiders have the hip nightlife thing going, Melbourne has the arts scene, but you know that the west coast’s beaches, the not-too-shabby surf down south, and the booming economy with high wages is the lifestyle envy of the rest of the continent. Western Australia is where it’s at, and you wouldn’t trade it for the world.