Vegemite, Australian Troops and Crocodile Hunters…

28 06 2014

Australians are in the consciousness of other people around the world far more than we ought to be in terms of our (relatively) tiny population. Comparing us with many countries such as Belgium, Portugal and Chile, more people know about Kangaroos, didgeridoos and turbo-charged loos than much at all about these aforementioned countries. In part, this may be due to our exotic location, politely referred to as the “arse-end of the world” by one Paul John Keating, who also happened to be our Prime Minister at the time.

So there is a fair degree of mythology about our nation, some which causes a pain in the arse in the arse end of the world, some of which is distinctly to our advantage, allow me to explain. In the 1980s with the rise of the box office dole bludger (as opposed to ‘blockbuster’ in terms of net receipts) “Crocodile Dundee”, Australia became flavour of the decade, at least in the western world. Yes, now we were apparently putting shrimps on the barbie (not the humble ‘sausage’ which still tends to dominate all but inner city ‘not-dog’ vegan soirees) and all wrestling crocodiles outback. Actually, it was not until he 1980s that many Australians even knew we HAD an outback, let alone what was even there, apparently there is some big rock somewhere that is pret-ty darn cool, by the sounds of it.

You see the truth is that over 94% of Australians live in or around cities. Of those, more than 80% solely on the thin eastern coast hemmed in by that bloody big bunch of mountains called, somewhat appropriately “the great dividing range”.Few of us have even seen a crocodile live, let alone wrestled one, but most men in Australia, given a bottle of ‘dutch courage”, duct tape, a hessian bag and a ute full of coaxing mates would be only too pleased to give it a go! In fact, I feel like wrestling a crocodile right now. 🙂

angry crocodile

Steve Irwin certainly helped this cause by appearing to be a typical ‘real-life crocodile hunter’ and gaining worldwide attention for our crocodile hunting (and perhaps taking some of the heat away from a far more popular past-time now deemed politically incorrect of ‘dwarf tossing’ in some of our less-respectable bars). To add to the mythology, he was from Beerwah, yep, EAST of the divide, the Green not the Red. Of course, Aussie males were khaki-clad, Crocodile-wrestlers with a penchant for adventure and the substitution of vulgar vernacular with the relatively benign, “crikey”. Now this only added to the mystique around the sheer courage of such men… if you are ever confronted with a reptile hurtling towards you at full speed who is the weight of a ladened refrigerator and with more teeth than a tardy dentist’s waiting room, I dare you to limit your vocabulary to “crikey”!!!

Which brings us to the real topic of today’s article: Why hasn’t Australia ever been successfully invaded?

Ok, well, in that concession I will rule out the obvious issues of being mostly barely-inhabitable desert, having more flies than is statistically possible to sustain on planet Earth and the fact that Paul John Keating is still alive. You see, we have, literally an abundance of the world’s mineral resources, some spectacular countryside, more beautiful beaches that all the beaches in the rest of the world combined and some of the best food and wine… Well, kinda…I’ll get to that later.

Yet, aside from a few ambitious, or possibly lost,  Japanese submarines in World War II that arguably were here to scout out good real estate deals or sites for successful sushi bars, really, no one has even bothered to have a red-hot go. It is hardly because of our amazing fleet of naval vessels constantly guarding our coastlines. No, there is significantly more chance of seeking the famous white whale, Migaloo, patrolling our coast than any white-uniformed military personnel.

Of course, the secret is spectacularly simple: Vegemite.

Not many people have seriously considered this in understanding the profound lack of interest of nations for invading this land which abounds in nature’s gifts and has some kind of ‘skirt’ of sea (or somesuch!). It lies in this most curious, and in some minds, vile, condiment that has pride of place in most Australian pantries… a jar of black sludge known as VEGEMITE.

Vegemite Jar

Vegemite was famously named out of a hat in a competition in 1923 by sisters Hilda and Laurel Armstrong but fewer people know that Cyril P Callister, commissioned by Fred Walker (the father of food giant, Kraft) actually developed the product in 1922. A scant few of my faithful File:13 readers would be aware, however, that this product is actually made from the yeast products in the sludge at the bottom of brewer’s vats.

Let us just pause and meditate on this for a moment. We are considering the people of a nation who see it as an important cause to employ someone to develop a food source from microorganisms having a (presumably wonderful) party at the bottom of a brewer’s vat and to promote said food to the populace. Well, there is a more fantastic tale than this droll anecdote.. the people of Australia BLOODY LOVE THE STUFF!!!

Just to make entirely sure that you understand the ramifications of this development in our nation’s history, I add, for the sake of a more complete history of the matter, that other nations have indulged in similar dark, salty and  odorous spreads from similar origins. Most famously (and earlier), Marmite from the United Kingdom, enjoyed pride of place in this rather small section of the “gross condiments category” worldwide and some have even labelled it more inedible than Vegemite. New Zealand still has a hankering for Marmite, though they load it with sugar in much the same way that Methadone is administered with Orange Juice, in a vain effort to disguise the gravity of what you are doing to your body. However, here’s the rub: a majority of people in both nations consider the consumption of such condiments abnormal and wouldn’t feed it to their enemies.

Here are some fairly typical reactions of apparently everyday Americans sampling our national treasure:


In contrast, Vegemite is LOVED by the majority of Australians! Now, for those reading this who did not grow up on the stuff and are, perhaps, from overseas, you may have had the opportunity to taste the stuff. If you have, I guarantee that you remember precisely where and when you did and, not only that, but the string of expletives you uttered spitting the stuff out, the exact quantity (and colour) of the vomit that ensued and how many used toilet brushes you went through scouring your tongue for hours to get rid of the vile taste.

Now, think about it. We routinely give this food to our troops. Our troops flippin’ LOVE the stuff. They’ll get those little packets and, in the absence of a nice Vita-Weet, Salada, or even a piece of bread to break up those vile particles of long-dead sozzled micro-organisms, they will LICK THE STUFF STRAIGHT OUT OF THE LITTLE PLASTIC RATION PACKS. Imagine that you are an enemy scout and you see this event, in broad daylight with your binoculars. Imagine that you have also tasted this food in a mad evening of drunken frivolity and ludicrous dares. What impression would you have of these men whom you have the audacity to engage in battle. Yes, that is right. There is NOTHING you could do to these troops that would be worse than they choose to do to themselves. So you turn around and slouch down the wall of your trench, looking heavenward and wondering what the hell you were thinking taking on Australian soldiers.

Indeed, your mind would race with fearsome images of past formidable armies. The horned and winged helmets of the ancient vikings (that mostly only existed in Asterix and the Vikings, but humour me here), the precision and clinical execution of the Roman Army, Hannibal’s famous elephants or perhaps the bright blue woad stained faces (or more fearsome pasty white exposed bottoms) of Celtic hoardes might come to mind. However, nothing would strike fear into the heart of an opposing soldier than seeing an Australian soldier who, presumably, lived off the land in a desert full of flies, wrestling crocodiles in his spare time, able to consume the carbonated cat-piss that is Foster’s Lager and, to make matters worse, revels in the delight of licking vegemite. Yes, young man, you’d better bloody run.

Troops vegemite

Yes, our female soldiers also eat it with gusto. This photo above shows a happy snap taken just prior to this typical consumer of vegemite administering a small portion to an ALLIED soldier. He is in a stable condition in intensive care and is expecting to be discharged in a month or two. Thanks for your prayers and support folks.

So there it is. The US, NATO and possibly China could all learn a few things about defence if they would concentrate their resources and efforts more economically. You see massive economic spending on technology, aircraft and a formidable fleet is all really a waste of time if you’d just get your troops used to eating disgusting stuff (on this count, I’d have my money on the Chinese as the front runners in any particular race to the culinary bottom on this one, particularly with egg-based dishes!).

The benefits to the Australian way of life is quite obvious. None of us has to go anywhere near anything as dangerous as a crocodile, flies aren’t a problem in most places we live and we can continue munching our morning toast with a fine film of black sludge content that we live in the luckiest country on the planet and there is not a damn thing any other nation is going to do about it any time soon! 🙂

Mickovich.. the GenericOracle.