Miriam Margolyes – Almost Australian episode 2

Miriam Margolyes - Almost Australian episode 2

Miriam Margolyes – Almost Australian episode 2: On the second leg of her journey, Miriam is intrigued by the Australian concept of mateship and how Australia is the only country in the world to enshrine this in its culture. Miriam’s first stop is a roadhouse south of Alice Springs, where she meets Spud and his mates. She discovers she has a lot to learn about the concept that she considers very masculine. Spud introduces her to Heather, one of the few women truckers in Australia. Female truckers only make up two per cent of the trucking industry, but Heather assures Miriam she feels she is surrounded by ‘good mates’.



Miriam visits the Country Women’s Association to meet some of Alice Springs’ Aboriginal residents and experience their community initiatives. She also meets Aboriginal elders, who set up the Children’s Ground to pass Arrernte traditions, songs, dances and stories on to the younger generation. Miriam worries that despite Australia’s ideals of mateship, the country still hasn’t found a way to bridge the deep divide that exists between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal citizens.



Arriving in Darwin, Miriam encounters a group of transgender Tiwi islanders, who invite Miriam to a drag night that evening. Miriam discovers a community that is more diverse and inclusive than she could ever have imagined. Miriam muses that, for them, mateship is a very ‘evolved state of affection’. On her last day in Darwin, Miriam is invited to attend a game of Aussie rules. Despite her hesitations, she is soon caught up in the spirit of the game. AFL, Miriam observes, unites Australians of all backgrounds, heritage and colour. It is infused with the spirit of mateship.

Miriam’s travels have given her a new appreciation of the value of mateship as something that reflects the ‘essential decency’ of Australians. But Miriam also wonders whether mateship these days could do with a broader definition, something that celebrates how it can connect us all despite our many differences.


Almost Australian episode 2 – Mateship: An Australian Cultural Idiom


Mateship is a distinct cultural idiom in Australia that encompasses equality, loyalty, and friendship. This concept is deeply ingrained in Australian society and is often considered central to the Australian identity. The term ‘mate’ in Australia denotes a friend, but it’s more than just that. It often implies a sense of shared experience, mutual respect, and unconditional assistance. It is a bond between equal partners or close friends, and it can also be seen as an ideal of comradeship.

Historical Origins of Mateship

The concept of mateship is thought to have originated in the colonial days and has been glorified through various national experiences, such as in war and sport. It’s often depicted in images of young men providing unconditional support for each other amid the harshest of conditions. However, research has shown that this concept extends beyond gender, with women also valuing and practicing the principles of mateship.

Mateship as an Egalitarian Concept

Moreover, mateship is an egalitarian concept, characterized by qualities such as ingenuity, honesty, humor, courage, and compassion. It plays a significant role in how Australians respond to crises, whether they be personal, such as health or financial difficulties, or collective, like natural disasters. In all these situations, the spirit of mateship drives individuals and communities to come together in support of those affected.

Mateship: More than Friendship

Although some people see mateship as being akin to friendship, others consider it a unique relationship that goes beyond the usual understanding of friendship. The concept of mateship is an important aspect both of the conceptions Australian males have of themselves, and of conceptions Australians generally have of their national identity.

Almost Australian episode 2 – Exploring the Core Aspects of the Australian Spirit

A Land Shaped by Resilience

Picture the vast Australian landscape. It’s a rugged terrain, marked by relentless deserts, dense rainforests, and sweeping coastlines. This natural backdrop has nurtured a population known for its resilience. The Australian spirit is synonymous with tenacity, a quality developed over generations of coping with an unpredictable environment.

Take, for instance, the settlers of the 18th century. They transformed a harsh, unfamiliar terrain into habitable land, showing the world the first glimpse of the Australian spirit. Their legacy is still evident in the robust Australian ethos. Resilience isn’t just a buzzword; it’s ingrained in the very fabric of the nation.

Modern Australia continues to embody this resilience. Australians face challenges, whether it be bushfires or economic downturns, with an undaunted spirit and a characteristic “can-do” attitude. This trait is a cornerstone of the Australian spirit.

The Role of Mateship

Another pillar of the Australian spirit is ‘mateship.’ Rooted in the history of the ANZACs, mateship signifies unwavering camaraderie and mutual support. It’s more than just friendship; it’s a deep-seated loyalty that binds Australians together, transcending societal divisions.

The concept of mateship has evolved over time, but its essence remains unchanged. It’s the shared responsibility during bushfires, the solidarity in times of crisis, the unconditional support during personal hardships. It’s the enduring promise of a mate always having your back.

Mateship is a universal language spoken across Australia. From the bustling cities to the far-reaching outback, this cultural norm breathes life into the Australian spirit, shaping the country’s identity in the global arena.

Embracing Multiculturalism

The Australian spirit is also defined by its embrace of multiculturalism. As a nation built by immigrants, Australia is a vibrant mosaic of cultures, each contributing to the country’s rich tapestry. This diversity is a source of national pride, strengthening the Australian spirit.

From celebrating Chinese New Year to enjoying the aromatic flavours of Indian cuisine, Australians take pride in their multicultural heritage. They understand that their differences make them stronger, fostering a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. This multicultural ethos has shaped Australia’s global outlook, promoting harmony, respect, and unity. It’s an integral part of the Australian spirit, reflecting the country’s progress and its vision for the future.

In conclusion, the Australian spirit is a complex amalgamation of resilience, mateship, and multiculturalism. It’s a testament to the country’s rich history and a beacon guiding its future. As we continue to explore its depths, one thing remains clear – the Australian spirit is as vast and varied as the land itself.

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