The Last Continent - A view from downunder

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The Last Continent - A view from downunder

Postby OZ_Nick » Fri May 12, 2006 1:24 am

Hi there Discworld fans!

After something Auntie Dee Dee said elsewhere I am re-reading The Last Continent (for about the third of fourth time). I thought it might be interesting to explore some of the references that could be missed by those not well acquainted with this wide brown land, even thogh Terry Pratchett quite clearly says it is not a book about Australia...

I'm about a quarter of the way through the book so far. Found a few items of interest, I know there's more later on.


When Rincewind is first encountered in the desert he is digging (grubbing) for - grubs. A few pages later after a brief interlude with the wizards at UU, we see him emerge from the hole with a bark bowl.

It contained... lots of vitamins, valuable protein and essential fats. See? No mention of wriggling at all.

A little later

It tasted like chicken. When you are hungry enough practically anything can.

Now this is a reference to witchetty grubs which in common lore taste like chicken. Anyone who wants to claim that they are a "true Aussie" (which BTW is pronounced Ozzie) claims that the grubs "taste like chicken" - this is how you can tell those who have really tasted them.

In fact they taste nothing like chicken. Raw (live) whitchetties taste woody and cooked ones taste nutty. And yes, I have...


Later when Rincewind first meets the kangaroo Scrappy,

Finally it sprang out of the bushes and landed in front of him.
It brushed its ear with a paw, and gave Rincewind a meaningful look.
It brushed the other ear with the other paw, and wrinkled its nose.


"Something wrong?" said Rincewiind.
"No, that's the kangaroo language. I'm trying it out."
"What, one scratch for 'yes', one for 'no'? That sort of thing?"
The kangaroo scratched its ear, and then remembered itself.
"Yep" it said. It wrinkled its nose.
"And that wrinkling?" said Rincewind.
"Oh, that means 'Come quick, someone's fallen down a deep hole,'" said the kangaroo
"That one gets used a lot?"
"you'd be amazed"

Back in the 1960s a TV series called Skippy the bush kangaroo was made over here. It is a subject of much mirth these days, because everytime the little boy in the series, Sonny, got into a scrape, skippy would go back to the ranger's station for help. These days many commediens have used it as a joke, with skits of some kangaroo scratching its ear and the characters saying something like "What's that Skip? Sonnys fallen down a cliff while he was looking for the animal trafficers and he knows where they are, but we have to go nad get him now or they'll get away?" You get the idea. So over here a kangaroo doing the scratching thing like in the quote is a standing joke that we all understand the reference for.


In another section where the wizards are looking through office of the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography looking for information on EcksEcksEcksEcks where they think Rincewind is, the Archchancellor suggest they look for a book on the continent... (BTW, EcksEcksEcksEcks is a pun on a well known beer here XXXX pronounced "four X" which only Queenslanders drink, His Noodliness only knows why...)

"Says here it's girt by sea," said the Senior Wrangler.
He looked up at their stares.
"This continent EcksEcksEcksEcks," he added pointing at a page.
"Says here, 'Little is know about it save that it is girt by sea.'"

"Girt by sea" is a line from the Australian National Anthem Advance Australia Fair. This line is the cause of much humour by modern day Aussie commedians. "Girt" is not exactly a word in common usage in modern Australia, nor I suspect was it ever. The song was written about the turn of the 20th century and was not made our national anthem until the 1970s. It has always been a controversial song and is loathed and detested by many, but it seems to be gaining some following by the younger generation who have grown up with it. I can't stand it myself, but there you go.


I have noticed as well that the term "no worrie" is used by many Ecksian characters, this is of course a very common Australian phrase, which is used in just about any situation. "Howzit goin', mate?" "No worries, she'll be right" is a pretty typical exchange. It is applicable to any situation whether you,ve just won the lottery right down to the situation where you find yourself trapped by a fallen boulder about to be either stung to death by an inland tiapan (deadly snake), drowned by the rising flood waters or blown up by the stick of gelegnite you lit the fuse on just before the rock fell on your leg, depending on which one happens first - still, no worries, she'll be right!


Anyway, I wonder how many of these would make sense to a non-Australian? Do you think these sorts of little things would get missed? I don't think they are essential to the enjoyment of the book, but they do add a sense of inclusion into the Discworld for Australians.

I will update the list as I progress through the book, maybe it will enhance your enjoyment of it... If not, well, no worries!

Seeya Later.


Ye may knowe mee better as Cap'n Bluenose

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Re: The Last Continent - A view from downunder

Postby beagle » Fri May 12, 2006 3:01 am

OZ_Nick wrote:Back in the 1960s a TV series called Skippy the bush kangaroo was made over here.

Some of us can still sing the title song from that...

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