Australia Explained: a website by an ex-European for migrants who find themselves in the Wide Brown Land

We’ve caught up with Australia Explained, a website wrangled by Dr Ingeborg van Teeseling, who came here in 2006 from the Netherlands. The site has sections on history, Aussie mavericks, books, films, people, resources and opinions, as well as Ingeborg’s biodata and a comments facility.

The site aims to help newcomers ‘to understand this crazy, infuriating, annoying and fantastic country’. It contains thoughtful writing on a wide range of subjects (Aboriginal land rights, Anzac, architecture, drinking, Eureka, the Great Australian Novel, and so on, though it does fall for the furphy – Australian slang – about the alleged words of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Ingeborg is not Robinson Crusoe – more Australian slang – in that regard, of course.

download (1)Dirk Hartog’s plate, containing an early Dutch impression of Australia, 1616 (WA Museum)

My name is Ingeborg van Teeseling [says Ingeborg]. When I still lived in Holland, everybody could pronounce that. Now people call me “Holly”, because I come from Holland, or they ask me what my Australian name is. That irks me. My name is Ingeborg. Get used to it. In this country, only the Aboriginal people have lived here for many, many tens of thousands of years. The rest of us came here as migrants. Some generations ago, some only recently, like me. We speak over 200 languages, and that is not even counting the Aboriginal tongues. Now Ingeborg is an Australian name, as is Bai, Aaliyah, Emeka and Mark.

Good stuff. Recommended.

David Stephens

19 October 2017

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