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Bogans in Canberra

By Steven Bailey - 6 January 2015 27

Steven and Ange - bogans

I’ve had a lot of contact with bogans over the past few weeks, and I love it. After working on the Victorian election, a few visits from extended family throughout the holiday period, and my first visit to Canberra’s Summernats, my exposure to boganism has gone from a medium-rare to burnt-to-the-bloody-sh$t-house. Before I go any further I’d like to distinguish between the fun-loving, piss-taking Aussies, and the ferociously feral, bigoted, and violent wild-life found in half-human form.

I’m wondering whether Canberra harbours a special kind of bogan; a smarter, more fragile, and gentler bogan than in most other parts of Australia. I think we do.

Some years ago when I was a labourer I met a man who, over time, became a good mate. He goes by the name of Piggie, and he was my superior in the work shed. Piggie’s vocabulary is laden with words that begin with the letter ‘F’ and then often followed by words that begin with the letter ‘C’. His face is grog-blossomed bright red, and he once accidentally tore the blouse off of a female police officer… needless to say, he knows what it feels like to be beaten to a pulp. Nearly every day of Piggie’s adult life, he has woken up at a sparrow’s fart, knocked off at 3 or 4, and then drank himself to sleep.

Piggie would test me. He’d make me lift things that I couldn’t, and say things that I wouldn’t. He would shriek obscenities at me, and find joy in trying to ‘crack me’, as the other fellas would put it. I would persevere, and never really let on that I had a much more diverse and rough upbringing than he might have imagined, not until much later anyway. To his frustration, I enjoyed his company. I’d ask him questions about his life until it came to the point where I knew more about him than many of his other workmates who had known him for years.

Everything changed about two-months in when we got talking about music at smoko. I asked him what music was played at his wedding (he’s not married anymore, ‘the grog got too much’, he would say). He said, ‘Ave Maria’, and I just whistled a bit to him in the final minutes of our break. I saw his yellow eyes remembering of a time that was and could have been.

Shortly afterwards he invited me to his ‘after work drinking hole’ to meet his mates. It was there I saw him in his element. I don’t have enough time to write about him but, for instance, he’d tap his mates on the back after they’d lost everything on the pockies and give them a ‘red-back’ (twenty dollars) just so they could get by for the next few days. His mates die in their 50s, 60s, and 70’s. They don’t make it to their 80’s and 90’s like mine will. Many of them will never make it to the pension, and if they lose their jobs they rarely make it back into the workforce. Canberra just doesn’t accommodate for them.

I noticed that Piggie and I were very similar but just in utterly different worlds. We both have an anti-authoritarian stance, and a willingness to speak our minds to the points of our own detriment. We both have strong convictions, yet we both take the piss out of ourselves.

I’d give my life for Piggie, and he’d do the same for me. Piggie is a bogan, and I’m proud of him.

Piggie wouldn’t let me take a photo of him, but he says, ‘they’ll kind of guess anyway, don’t reckon?’ 

www.boganandproud.com

What’s Your opinion?


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27 Responses to
Bogans in Canberra
Antagonist 6:27 pm 07 Jan 15

“I’m wondering whether Canberra harbours a special kind of bogan; a smarter, more fragile, and gentler bogan than in most other parts of Australia. I think we do.”

I think we do have a unique bogan culture in Canberra, but it is hard to articulate exactly what defines our local variety. It is difficult because we have a high population of ‘white trash’ rather than the true ‘bogan’, and it is hard to know exactly where to draw the line when distinguishing between the two. The term ‘bogan’ has been debased so much these days that it means different things to different people, just like our political overlords have debased the word ‘sustainability’. But I digress. My point is that there is a fine line between ‘white trash’ and the true ‘bogan’, and I think it is this grey area that causes so much confusion.

I note the recent rise of the CUB (cashed-up bogan) in contemporary society following the mining boom. Perhaps Canberra bogans have evolved into their own ‘educated bogan’. While some may argue that the addition of an educational qualification will, by definition, exclude one from being a bogan, I would argue the same for the non-dole bludging CUBS that have also turned up in Perth, Kalgoorlie and Mt Isa.

To illustrate this grey area, I will tell you about my ‘friend’ (who may or may not be as smart and good looking as me) who lives in public housing, has a Ford Falcon ute, is on a Centrelink payment, pays Child Support, loves and wears his flannie (flannelette shirt)with great pride, and has tattoos from neck to knuckles. One might immediately pigeon-hole said friend as a ‘bogan’. But NO! The falcon ute is blue (not white), the Centrelink benefit is his Austudy, and he is in the final year of his science degree at university. Is he white trash, or a bogan? And we see this a lot in Canberra.

farnarkler said :

Booners were back in the 80s when a denim jacket with a Metallica/Megadeth/Iron Maiden patch sown on the back was part of the uniform. A pair of desert boots and a packet of Winfield were also pretty common. They’re now accountants and EL1s and 2, married with children and living in the suburbs. They come out of their suburban purgatory for the occasional Def Leppard or Led Zeppelin cover band performance.

This is pretty close to my own experience as an 80s booner, but we thought the guys wearing denim jackets looks like tossers. Enter: the flannie. The outfit was ‘boon boots’ (not quite a true desert boot – more like a work boot without a hard toe-cap), tight faded black jeans, faded black Metallica/Megadeth/Iron Maiden t-shirt worn beneath an unbuttoned flannie. Ear rings also entered the scene – strictly left ear featuring a single stud for beginners, sleeper for bad boys, several sleepers (3 max) for the hard core. Not many of us could grow facial hair, but if we could, we all would have had goatees.

Masquara 5:50 pm 07 Jan 15

Stephen, as you are one of the rural poor, I’m surprised you have never noticed that the squattocracy and the rural bogans have a lot more in common with each other than with the middle class – any middle class, anywhere.

Affirmative Action M 2:17 pm 07 Jan 15

A thoughtful & insightful article clearly above the usual RA product.

I guess bogan means different things to different people. It used to mean ignorant & unsophisticated these days its more about a style & an attitude.

Blen_Carmichael 1:21 pm 07 Jan 15

The definition of bogan is a relative one. “Someone not as sophisticated as moi.”

neanderthalsis 12:57 pm 07 Jan 15

Steven Bailey said :

watto23 said :

Steven Bailey said :

switch said :

What’s going on in the photo?

The keen eye says it was staged as there is no way a bogan would pass out with all that beer left undrunk. Plus neither of you are really dressed like a bogan.

You never know watto! We might have been on our way to a wedding… and that was our third eski.

The matching black thongs (maybe even the elusive double pluggers) lend credibility to that claim.

Steven Bailey 12:26 pm 07 Jan 15

watto23 said :

Steven Bailey said :

switch said :

What’s going on in the photo?

That’s just me and my fiancé Ange having a bit of fun. 😉

The keen eye says it was staged as there is no way a bogan would pass out with all that beer left undrunk. Plus neither of you are really dressed like a bogan.

I don’t have an issue with bogans, however I tend not to know too many because our interests rarely cross paths. There are times I’ll try to educate a bogan about something they won’t read in the murdoch press, just for the challenge 🙂 But they generally are more colourful characters and could easily keep me entertained.

You never know watto! We might have been on our way to a wedding… and that was our third eski.

watto23 9:52 am 07 Jan 15

Steven Bailey said :

switch said :

What’s going on in the photo?

That’s just me and my fiancé Ange having a bit of fun. 😉

The keen eye says it was staged as there is no way a bogan would pass out with all that beer left undrunk. Plus neither of you are really dressed like a bogan.

I don’t have an issue with bogans, however I tend not to know too many because our interests rarely cross paths. There are times I’ll try to educate a bogan about something they won’t read in the murdoch press, just for the challenge 🙂 But they generally are more colourful characters and could easily keep me entertained.

Postalgeek 10:34 pm 06 Jan 15

As far as my understanding goes bogans come in all shades of income level. Bogans like to impose themselves on the landscape, visually and audibly, and abrogate responsibility and sustainability. You can be rough and not a bogan, or cashed up white collar worker and be a huge bogan.

kambahblacksheep 8:35 pm 06 Jan 15

Becmaster78 said :

No bogans in Canberra. We have booners. Never wrote the word much as a teenager so it may be spelt differently. My cousins in Sydney still ask me 25 years later how the booners are every time we speak. They never forgot the weird word from their holidays here.

Thank you! booner is the only tiny fragment of a unique cultural identity Canberrans have. Every time one of my friends outs themselves as a convert to ‘bogan’ (have they just forgotten who they are or has the weight of bad Australian tv and the idiot drivel of triple-j presenters eventually become too much?) I detest them slightly more.

Steven Bailey 8:13 pm 06 Jan 15

switch said :

What’s going on in the photo?

That’s just me and my fiancé Ange having a bit of fun. 😉

liability 8:01 pm 06 Jan 15

Photo is obviously staged. Those beer bottles are still full!

farnarkler 7:49 pm 06 Jan 15

Booners were back in the 80s when a denim jacket with a Metallica/Megadeth/Iron Maiden patch sown on the back was part of the uniform. A pair of desert boots and a packet of Winfield were also pretty common. They’re now accountants and EL1s and 2, married with children and living in the suburbs. They come out of their suburban purgatory for the occasional Def Leppard or Led Zeppelin cover band performance.

chewy14 2:27 pm 06 Jan 15

Becmaster78 said :

No bogans in Canberra. We have booners. Never wrote the word much as a teenager so it may be spelt differently. My cousins in Sydney still ask me 25 years later how the booners are every time we speak. They never forgot the weird word from their holidays here.

I thought that Booners were like Neanderthals and they were made extinct by a new more adaptable species, Homo Bogansis?

Or was it the interbreeding? I can never remember.

switch 2:27 pm 06 Jan 15

What’s going on in the photo?

Becmaster78 1:01 pm 06 Jan 15

No bogans in Canberra. We have booners. Never wrote the word much as a teenager so it may be spelt differently. My cousins in Sydney still ask me 25 years later how the booners are every time we speak. They never forgot the weird word from their holidays here.

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