Pop goes the culture...

It's a big planet. Not as big as it used to be, maybe, but I'll do. It's ironic that at the same time information technology makes the virtual world so small, there are still a lot of barriers between different cultures. Perhaps the threat of being sucked into one big, homogenous society triggers a defence mechanism somewhere in the part of our brains labelled "cultural identity".

...Paul Hume...

The day is humid and hazy, with the dusky purples of jacaranda blossom softening the harsh outlines of the city. A lazy day in Sydney...

Australia is one of the emptiest, driest, and (in some parts) hottest lands on earth. The inland region is known as Red Centre (a reference to the colour of the dust), where tracts of sparse grass give way to vast deserts. The far north of Australia lies in the tropics, and is dominated by rain forest and swamp. Good land and superb weather are found along the eastern, southern, and south-western coastal fringes of the continent.

Because Australia is part of the Southern Hemisphere, summer lasts from December to February, and winter from June to August. But in the tropical north, the real distinction is between wet season (December-March) and dry (May-September).

Australia's great contradiction is that this underpopulated country is so urban. Almost everyone lives in a city or large town, with miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles in-between. So many Aussies inhabit the south-east coastal margin that the rest of the country is sometimes treated as expendable. Threatened with Japanese invasion during World War II, Australian strategists considered abandoning everything north and west of the "Brisbane Line," a line stretching from the Queensland capital to Adelaide.

Visiting Australia:

Fancy a little trip to Australia? The weather's not bad, the terrain spectacular, the flora and fauna unique, and apparently the Good Old Days are more alive here than anywhere else. Just watch that the drop bears don't get ya.

Australian Place Names:

The street names may be ordinary, but the names which Aussies give to their towns, rivers, mountains, and deserts are a bizarre mix.

About 70% come from Aboriginal languages. Words like Galgabba, Wallamba, Awaba, Wangi Wangi, Illulaung, Badgingarra, and Yarramalong have their own distinctive music.

Many other place names are of British origin. Some have been borrowed from British locales (Newcastle, Liverpool, Launceston). Others come from the names of officials and royalty during the colonial period (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide).

Misplaced Pride:

A quirk shared by many Australians is the perverse pride they take in the very worst aspects of their country. A visitor will hear the following boasts and many more besides:

"We've got more poisonous snakes than any other bloody country!"

"Our spiders'll kill you quicker than yours will!"

"More people get taken by sharks here than anywhere else!"

"You haven't seen real deserts till you've seen our deserts!"

Baiting The Tourists:

Some Aussies go out of their way to mislead tourists. Americans are considered particularly gullible.

Dingoes: Some like to endow the Australian native dog with an undeserved reputation for savagery and cunning. Careful - a dingo might steal food, small children, or tear open a petrol tank while searching for water, leaving motorists stranded.

Drop bears: Killer koalas fall from trees onto unsuspecting victims. When in the bush, it isn't enough to keep a constant ground watch for spiders and snakes, you must also keep an eye on the trees. To combat these marsupial menaces: carry a spear and cover your face with Vegemite (so that the drop bears will mistake you for an Aborigine), or cover your neck with toothpaste, so that the bears will slip off. (Aussies know that the only threat posed by the terminally sleepy koalas is incontinence).

Leap bears: A rare subspecies of drop bear. While looking down for snakes and spiders and up for drop bears, don't forget to look down again for leap bears.

Inland sea: Because the Australian continent has never been thoroughly explored, wild tales persist about the lost Kindur River, the sea into which it flows, and the Aboriginal cultures which flourish on the shores of that sea.

Aussie Cliched Characters:

The Bushie. The Aussie country bumpkin talks in a flat monotone, veeery sloooooow. Nothing phases him.

The Bushman. Outback survival expert in the mould of Crocodile Dundee. Can cross a desert on the smell of a wet rag.

The Ocker. "Struth mate, me throat's as dry as a dead dingo. Pass us a coupla tinnies, will ya? Have one - get this inta ya! ** BELCH ** That hits the spot! Didja hear about Bruce? Drank himself ta death - what a way ta go! Got any more beer?"

Store Keepers. Milk bar and fruit shop owners are invariably Greek or Italian.

Train Guards and Bus Drivers. Invariably Indian or Pakistani. Often a turbaned Sikh.

Taxi Drivers. Invariably of Southeast Asian origin, with the odd Arab thrown in for local colour.

Trade-Union Leaders. Always Englishmen from London or the Midlands.

Aussie English:

The Australian language could be described as a lazy version of English. It is very common for Australians to shorten names (to extremes in some cases), use acronyms wherever possible, and generally try to say as much as possible using as little sound as possible.

Names get shortened, David could become 'Davo' for example, quite a common type of 'bastardisation'. The Australian dialect is also spoken with intonation and exaggeration on words by raising the pitch, particularly at the end of the word. This tends to make it sound a 'singing' language.

Don’t be alarmed if you don't remember Aussie slang, you'll still be understood (usually). As long as you remember that when people talk about thongs, they actually mean flip flops and not skimpy lingerie, and (if you are English) can put up with being called a Pom, then no worries mate, she’ll be right!


Like the American Indians, Australia's original inhabitants are now a minority in their own country. The aborigines fall into two broad groups: tribal and urban Aborigines. Tribal Aborigines have maintained their traditional lifestyle in the face of a Western World. Their culture is simple in material terms, but rich in myth and philosophy. They feel a spiritual attachment to the land. Unfortunately, their communities are often afflicted with health-care problems, poor education, and unemployment. Urban Aborigines make their home in Australia’s urban sprawl. They have the advantages of increased educational, medical, and employment opportunities, and some have risen to high-stature in business and science. Yet they have also face the rising racism of mainstream Australia. These populations are not static however, and people drift to and from the city quite frequently. Government attitudes towards the Aboriginals vary from indifference to outright hostility. They are a displaced people in their own land.

Adapted from 'The AADA Road Atlas and Survival Guide, Volume Four: Australia'. Being a 'Steve Jackson Games Supplement' ('87).

Sydney 2020

The conversion of outback New South Wales to corporate owned farms has caused a migration to the cites on the coast. Sydney, which once prided itself on being the cultural and economic centre of the nation (Melbourne claimed the same, now both are wrong) is now an over-crowded, over-polluted, decaying city. Its corporate centre is slowly being abandoned. Even the Old Hong Kong and Macao Tongs are relocating overseas. The World Bank regional office is only a five story building on the outskirts of the CBD. A small but well fortified establishment which is little more than a relay point for conveying data to and from the big offices out of the country.

The rich have fled the once fabulously wealthy bayside suburbs of Sydney in favour of the less polluted Gold Coast and Barrier Reef islands of Queensland, now owned by Li H’sen Chang Holdings. The decaying grandeur of the multi-million dollar mansions lining the eroding shores of Sydney Harbour has been appropriated by various criminal elements and even some governmental figures. They screen off the stench of the dying bay with flowering shrubs and ivy covered walls.

Sydney’s outer suburbs, the parts of town closest to the farmlands are filled to overflowing with farmers who have been bought out and pushed off their land. There has been little new construction in the city in the last decade. The government has no money to build public housing and the private investors have moved north or west to where the money is. A recent Red Cross report estimated that over a million of the city’s inhabitants, one-in-five, were living on the streets or in housing unfit for human habitation. The poorer suburbs were compared unfavourably with Calcutta.

>>>>>So, you’ve made it back to Sydney… It was a pleasure to meet Black Dragon, Nightwraith, and The Associate in the flesh, although you never knew it… A good time all round. I’m glad you enjoyed the Satay Club and that islander bar out on the beach on Santosa. All the local brews and the sights… Singapore is my city. I have wandered around the globe, picked up an education, entered the shadows, and washed up in Singapore… I guess life ain’t so bad.<<<<<

- SkullSplitter (18:25:09/5-13-20)

>>>>>I have been covering your tracks over the past few runs... The corp stiffs at NASA and ESA should be tail chasing until they get dumped for over user of their corp accounts... I also have picked up on a rumour that your ‘patron’ has a run going down against the NYPD... Complete with fake police IDs and some major street drek... I will try to get some Chiba ‘ware down your way ASAP.<<<<<

- SkullSplitter (10:19:35/5-14-20)

>>>>>Good morning my friends... Please expect a rigger to turn up at Kingsford Smith airport tonight on the flight from Hong Kong… He is a dwarf, dark and sharp. The Great Shadow is also sending you something special with this guy… Stay hot<<<<<

- RATI Holdings - DVK (10:25:26/5-14-20)

>>>>>Chombatta… I’ve fenced the data from my various runs during the Mercurial Affair… I’ll be sending each of you an equal cut, after my expenses, in cold hard cash via some smugglers and then onto Gary Ottman… Pick up your envelopes from him<<<<<

- SkullSplitter (12:35:29/5-17-20)

>>>>>RATI Holdings is big in the U.K. only. They are in competition with organized crime, and may be criminal themselves to some extent. They have interests and shares spread across the globe, with their biggest investments outside of London in South-East Asia. RATI Holdings also offers some sort of consulting service, details are sketchy at best, but it seems that they will offer advice on criminal activities for a price / cut. I have run the shadows on their behalf more then once. I had no trouble that I didn’t expect.<<<<<

- SkullSplitter (13:41:45/5-26-20)

Lillith (Netrunner Macinta Toshova)