Aussies are pyromaniacs. Australians love lighting fires and are really, really good at it.
At least, that’s the belief of so many international travellers who required the warmth and energy of an amber flame.
“You’re Australian, can you light the fire?” they would ask, normally in a rhetorical tone. It was accepted as done – have Aussie, have fire.
Do Aussies enter the world with a pack of matches in our hands?
Were we born with an innate knowledge of the technique which will guarantee a bright and lasting flame?
Personally, I prefer some scrunched up newspaper, topped by some twigs and the shaved bark of a eucalyptus tree, the strike of a single match and some tender, loving breaths of air to coax the flame to a height and warmth sufficient to add the assembled branches and logs.
Maybe our international friends think we’re all Crocodile Dundee.
Perhaps it’s our contribution to international cuisine which has earned us this reputation. No, not Tim Tams, not Pavlova and not Vegemite, but the great Aussie barbecue, fuelled traditionally by a perfectly curated and balanced flame.
Is this reputation justified?
We certainly have our fair share of bushfires every year; then again, so does California, but I don’t recall the kids from Cali’ being asked to prepare the bonfire – too cool.
How are bonfires and campfires lit when the Aussies depart?
Do our international friends just throw some toxic, flammable gas over a pile of wood and set it alight, or do they sit around an orange witches hat with a torch underneath it and pretend that it’s a fire?
The great irony, of course, is that Australians are usually prohibited from lighting fires in our homeland because of the very real and aforementioned threat of bushfires.
That’s why we have to practice when we’re overseas.