January 26 is Australia Day. Let’s all celebrate by hoisting a can of Fosters!

Of course, the folks down under will probably hoist something other than Fosters. The marketing people might want us Americans to believe that Fosters is the Australian word for beer, but a native Australian recently told me that his compatriots don’t think much of the brew; that’s why they export it.

Australia Day isn’t exactly Cinco de Mayo. Instead of celebrating some glorious victory, Australia Day memorializes the day that eleven British ships landed at New South Wales and unloaded their cargo of more than eight hundred convicts. It seems the jails in England were a bit overcrowded in 1788. so they solved the problem by creating a penal colony.

I think many of us have come to believe that all of Australia was settled by British criminals. To think that way, we naturally have to ignore the Aborigines who didn’t think their land needed to be discovered and colonized. They were as silly as the Native Indians of North America.

New South Wales was just one of numerous colonies in Australia and the criminals were not all of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ variety. Many had been imprisoned for minor offenses or unpaid debts. Their confinement in Australia ended with their sentences and a certain amount of labor. As free men, they decided that staying in Australia to seek their fortune was preferable to returning to their homeland.

All of this makes me kick myself harder for passing up the opportunity to travel to Australia when my English friend was living there several years ago. He gave me an open invitation. All I had to do was come up with the airfare. He would’ve provided us with a place to stay and transportation.

He has since returned to the London area and we have taken up his offer… a couple of times. But we’ve yet to make the trip to Australia.

Another country I would love to visit is Germany. I love German food and beer and I’ve always wanted to drink beer and sing in one of their giant beer halls.

And that reminds me of another imported beer – Becks. I used to work with a German named Horst Mullenbrook (the spelling may be a bit off). I once asked him why he didn’t drink Becks when we stopped for a beer after work.

As I recall, he likened the brew to something that comes out of a horse.

It kind of makes me wonder about other imported products.


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