Australia, you’re a hard dame to get a han­dle on – a hodge­podge of in­flu­ences, a land of con­tra­dic­tions. There’s a lot that’s right about you and a hell of a lot we need to work on.

I can’t pin­point what makes me feel Aus­tralian. Be­ing the only mem­ber of my im­me­di­ate fam­ily who was born here, I’ve thought about this a lot and haven’t come up with a de­fin­i­tive an­swer. Is it my ac­cent? How I seam­lessly drop the ‘t’ in twenty for it to be­come tweny? My use of words like whoop whoop, no wor­ries and drongo (no, I am not an old man trapped in a young woman’s body)? Is it mem­o­ries of a child­hood walk­ing bare­foot to the beach, duck-div­ing un­der waves and eat­ing hot chips in the sand? My ob­ses­sion with wom­bats that peaked at the age of nine when I got a life-size stuffed-toy wom­bat that I ap­pro­pri­ately named Bruce? Is it singing the na­tional an­them and fudg­ing the sec­ond verse? Or re­spect­ing this coun­try’s in­dige­nous cul­ture and wish­ing we’d learn more about it in school and ev­ery­day life? Is it my un­ques­tion­able love of vegemite, or a lean­ing to­wards sar­cas­tic, dry hu­mour?

How do you sum up what makes you Aus­tralian, what this coun­try is about? It’s bloody dif­fi­cult. But never one to back away from a chal­lenge, we hope our home­grown is­sue is like a rock skim­ming across the top of a rip­pled, pat­terned sur­face that is a map of Australia. In it we look at our tricky re­la­tion­ship with sharks, the beauty of na­tive flow­ers, birds and wildlife and chat to a bunch of in­ter­est­ing Aus­tralians. There’s co­me­dian Ju­dith Lucy, play­wright and ac­tor Nakkiah Lui, artist Peter Cromer and the bright sparks of the Aus­tralian mu­sic scene, in­clud­ing cover star Isabella Man­fredi of The Prea­tures. En­joy, An­nie and the Yen team

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