The Ocker population in Britain is on the decline, reports the BBC News Magazine. Official statistics (New Zealand isn’t much different, proportionately) and anecdote alike show “they are abandoning the UK in their thousands”.
For the most part, it’s simple economics, say the experts: Australia’s economy has been strong, Britain’s sluggish.
The relative job opportunities and exchange rate no longer reward an extended stay. Changes to visa requirements have also discouraged many.
The most powerful symbol of the change? “Several Australian-themed Walkabout pubs have closed, including the chain’s famous Shepherd’s Bush branch.” That might have something to do with the visitors becoming more discerning, but it’s nevertheless a dramatic shift.
A manager at Fulham’s Aussie-themed Larrik Inn (yes, that’s what it’s called) tells the BBC Magazine: “We’ve now had to ‘de-Australianise’ the venue as there aren’t enough of them out there any more. The eight we used to have behind the bar have all gone, replaced by Brits or Europeans.”
The Australian novelist Kathy Lette, a longtime London resident, also detects a cultural shift.
“Previous generations, Clive James, Germaine Greer etc, felt they had to prove themselves by ‘making it’ in Britain,” she says.
“But no longer. Australians have not only come of age culturally but we’ve also realised we’re actually part of Asia. Young Aussies now tend to want to explore Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan and China, rather than freezing their bits off in a Hackney bedsit.”
And maybe, she suggests, Australians have grown tired of being sniffed at.
“Some Brits … have a condescension chromosome when it comes to Antipodeans. They presume our record collections are criminal, not classical. Young Aussies are perhaps weary of this. You’ll miss us when we’re gone, though.”
See also: More on the “Fat Australian bitch” thing