It's quiz time! You should by now have a pretty good idea what the general Australian psyche is like, so see if you can identify who's talking to whom in the following conversations, all, of course, overheard on a bus. It's the same two people in every instance, just to make it easy. Here we go...
'Of course, you've got to be careful of drop bears: they're everywhere at this time of year.'
'Drop bears? What on earth are they?'
'Well, they're these bears that are distantly related to koalas, and they hang around in trees, sleeping most of the time.'
'What's so dangerous about that?'
'Well, when a drop bear gets hungry, he sits there, up in the tree, looking round for something to eat. And he sits and sits and sits, and waits until some unsuspecting animal wanders under his tree and then – wallop! – he drops down on top of 'em. So if you happen to be walking under a tree when a drop bear's looking for a meal, you're in for a nasty shock.'
'But the worst thing is the claws. Because they have to climb trees, they've got long, sharp claws for gripping bark, and if a drop bear lands on you, the chances are he's going to rip huge gashes down your back. It's not a pleasant way to go; the loss of blood can be enough to kill you, even if he decides not to eat you.'
'Yup, and they just love trees in sleepy suburbs, so watch it when you're walking to the pub, eh.'
'Yeah... thanks man.'
'No worries. Anytime...'
'Of course, you won't be able to open a bank account with an Australian bank.'
'Why not? I've had no problems in places like England.'
'Didn't you know? You can't open a bank account in Australia if you're a woman.'
'What? That's ridiculous!'
'Well, it's the way it is. You can only open a bank account if you're a man. Works really well, too; you can keep a woman in her place when she can't deal with banks.'
'In this day and age, I don't believe it...'
'It's true. Would I lie to you?'
'You know you told me that you guys all ride around on kangaroos in Australia?'
'Yeah. Well, they're easy to park, cheaper than running a car, and they go really fast round town.'
'Yeah, you told me. But there's one thing I don't get.'
'Well, how can you tell if a kangaroo is a police kangaroo, rather than a normal one?'
'Easy. It's got a flashing blue light on it's head.'
'You know Tasmania? The little island off the bottom of Australia?'
'Err... I guess so.'
'You know it's right on the edge of a huge rift in the ocean floor?'
'Well, it is. Anyway, a few years ago it started to break away from the ocean floor, and Tassie's slowly falling into this massive underwater canyon.'
'Yep, and they had to build these two huge chains to attach Tassie to the mainland, so it won't drift off and disappear underwater. Massive buggers they are, with huge anchor points either side of Melbourne.'
'Wow. That's amazing.'
Yes, they're all genuine conversations between serious Aussie wind-up merchants, and gullible tourists, who end up genuinely believing that Aussies ride around on kangaroos, have problems with drop bears, don't let women open bank accounts and chain their island states to the mainland. I kid you not: I nearly fell for the drop bear story in Melbourne (but not quite) and there's plenty more where they come from. Never trust an Australian who grins wickedly all the time...