How to explain Cold Chisel, the All-Blacks and a pub with no beer while eating lamb

Australia Day is Australia’s celebratory holiday. And even if we look past what Australia Day symbolizes – for those whose families lived in Australia for 40,000 years as opposed to those who barely crack two centuries – there are two main traditions to this holiday.

The first is to, for some reason, enjoy barbecued lamb chops.

The second is to enjoy a cheeky commercial about Australia Day, as produced by a lamb production company.

So this year’s commercial – entitled “Un-Australian” – features people who are accused of not being truly Australian in culture and in community – only to disappear to a nether region of sorts. You can watch the video here, and afterward, this American will attempt to translate. Bear with me, this might involve the consumption of lots of Tim Tams, Victoria Bitters and Vegemite on my part.

Let me see if I can figure out some of the more obscure references.

Not knowing the lyrics to “Khe Sanh” is a reference to the 1973 Cold Chisel singalong anti-Vietnam pub classic. Come on, everybody knows this one. “Left my hart to the sappers’ round Khe Sanh // And I sold my soul with my cigarettes to the black market man…”

And rooting for the All-Blacks to an Australian is like walking into Fenway Park while wearing an Aaron Judge replica uniform. You just don’t do it, bro.

And the quip about a pub without beer … that’s kind of a deep dive, but it’s a reference to one of Australia’s most beloved singers, Slim Dusty, and his track “A Pub With No Beer.”

There’s a couple of obscure references in there as well – that yellow Corvette should actually be a Holden Commodore; references to being a “weak swimmer” when every Sydney boy and girl trains for surf lifesaving on Bondi Beach; you get it if you study hard enough.

But what I’m saying is – these commercials are funny, even if us Americans don’t get all the references and in-jokes. I mean, if I tried, I could probably come up with a few obscure “Un-Australian” jabs, but I’m not sure how well they’d translate back. Let’s see if I can do it, though.

  • “You think Alvin Purple is a children’s movie? Un-Australian!”
  • “Putting your money on St. Kilda for the AFL Premiership this year? Un-Australian!”
  • “You’re rooting for England in The Ashes? Un-Australian!”
  • “Your car isn’t a Ford Falcon B with a V-8 engine, the last of the interceptors? Un-Australian!”
  • “You call that a knife? Un-Australian!”
  • “You were afraid of Aunty Jack because you actually believed she would rip your arms off? Un-Australian!”

Damn it. I tried and I tried, but it didn’t take me to that purgatory place with lamb and a pub, just like in the commercial.

Just another TV commercial that didn’t provide what it offered. Nertz to them.

Oh wait. Nertz to them, mate. 🙂