‘capital of australia’ in War of the Worlds

cfi 30 June 2005 22

Canberra got a mention in this film, well.. it almost did

At the start of the new Tom Cruise film I just saw, War of the Worlds, the little girl asks him “Whats the capital of Australia?”, and he says something like “I dont know but my brother knows”..

I wonder if this had something to do with Rain Man, when Tom Cruise’s brother Dustin Hoffman in the film said “capital of australia, canberra” when he was talking about getting on a Qantas flight.

Are there any other Hollywood movies that mention Canberra?

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22 Responses to ‘capital of australia’ in War of the Worlds
Chris Chris 1:49 pm 04 Jul 05

The capacity/capabilityof some Aussies to play on the gullibility/ignorance of Americans is immense – someone in Sydney once told a visiting American friend that Kuringai Chase was where the Aboriginals chased kuringais – naturally she asked me what a ‘kuringai’ looked like. Like a koala maybe ?

Maelinar Maelinar 10:19 am 01 Jul 05

MMORPG’s Cinimod ?

I’m active in some as well, it’s a hoot getting Yanks and Poms and the Colonies into the one conversation, it’s like putting Jamie Oliver, George Bush and you into a heated debate..

GGGAinslie GGGAinslie 9:47 am 01 Jul 05

At least the Brits know what’s what. In the very first of the very oldest of the original Dr Who series the ABC screened last year, Canberra got a brief mention. We were negotiating with the Russians as I recall…

Chalker Chalker 8:36 am 01 Jul 05

Very true – I might try quizzing some kids on the USA (or Canada, etc) capitals and see if they say things like New York.
But it would still piss me off if someone not from Australia took issue with my saying our capital is Canberra.

Chalker Chalker 8:32 am 01 Jul 05

Tidbinbilla is right next door, so Canberra is possibly understandable as a reference in that context (I assume you mean the astronaut bit).

I do recall a wonderful study done of American high school students grasp of geography. They were given a map of the world and asked to colour in the USA. A large proportion returned the map completely coloured in.

OpenYourMind OpenYourMind 8:32 am 01 Jul 05

It kind of annoys me Canberrans expect Americans and others to know what the capital of Australia is and then they act all shocked when the guess is Sydney or Melbourne.

From what I’ve seen, these same people often have no knowledge of capital cities of other countries – even countries close by. Australia’s capital is a little tricky to a non-Australian. Other examples are Switzerland, Brazil, Canada, South Africa etc.

someguy someguy 11:01 pm 30 Jun 05

Not quite Hollywood but Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of War Of The Worlds has a NASA guy trying to get a response from Canberra at the end.

seepi seepi 10:46 pm 30 Jun 05

My friend in Denmark once lost a radio prize by answering ‘Canberra’ as the capital of Aust. The annmouncer assured her it was Sydney.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 3:13 pm 30 Jun 05

I just remembered a funny story – more horrific than these because they are from our own kind.

When I was about 8 I attended primary school in northampton (midwest WA 50 odd Km north of Geraldton – Australia).

We had this pop geology quiz and I think one question went along the lines of – ‘ What country starting with C is situated north of the USA and is a part of the North American continent’

My best friend knowing my origins proudly announced “Canberra”….

Thumper Thumper 3:04 pm 30 Jun 05


We used to regail them with stories of roos hopping around in the backyard, snakes that could kill you in ten seconds simply by staring at you, spiders that not only ate birds, but also didn’t mind the cat or dog, sharks the size of buses, getting attacked by rogue emus (which was completely true as I was savaged by an emu once, don’t ask….)

It was cack….

First time I landed in SF I was asked the same thing about language. This great fat woman kept asking me if I understood English.

bulldog bulldog 2:34 pm 30 Jun 05

I attended an American School whilst living overseas and was gobsmacked by some of the things that were done and said. There was a kid of about thirteen at the school who couldn’t grasp the fact that south east asia was not part of the USA.

As for the perception of Australia and Canberra, they had absolutley no idea. The kids at the school couldn’t even have named an Australian city, let alone misinformed you of the capital! the teachers were only a mild improvement…

That being said many a luch break was wiled away telling tall tales of drop bears, hoop snakes and worst of all; bunyips! Worst of all, they believed every word.

Maybe in some bizarre way we the Aussies are responsible for this ignorance…

I doubt it though.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 1:11 pm 30 Jun 05

That is outrageously funny!!!

justbands justbands 12:04 pm 30 Jun 05

A NY cab driver once told me that I spoke very good English for someone from Australia. He couldn’t grasp the concept that Australia was an English speaking nation at all…completely beyond him. Even after telling him over & over gain…he still would say “oh..so like, they teach it in schools or something?”. Unbelievable. The funny thing was, he could BARELY speak “English” himself.

Thumper Thumper 10:55 am 30 Jun 05


Evil child….

Absent Diane Absent Diane 10:41 am 30 Jun 05

No…. but i remember I was in geelong visiting a friend and we caught a taxi somewhere (a bit pissed i might add) and convinced the cabby that we were an ignorant couple from california on a kangaroo hunt….too funny

Thumper Thumper 10:27 am 30 Jun 05

Has anyone ever got the classic seppo line that goes something like this?

‘Have you got kangaroos in Austria?’

wonsworld wonsworld 10:19 am 30 Jun 05

1978 skiing in Vale. When asked where a friend of mine came from (Australia) the reply was “Is that east or west of the Mississippi?”

But under the thread of films, Canberra rates a mention in “The Secret Policeman’s Ball” in the “Top of the Form” sketch. I believe it was along the lines of …

John Cleese: “What’s the capital of Australia?”
Tim Brooke-Taylor: “Pork”
Gryf Rhys-Jones: “Sydney?”
John Cleese: “Wellll…..”
Gryf Rhys-Jones: “Canberra! Canberra!”

Absent Diane Absent Diane 10:07 am 30 Jun 05

You know Im kind of glad the yanks are ignorant of us…. I don’t know why but it just makes me feel good

cinimod cinimod 9:58 am 30 Jun 05

I play online games, with a majority American playerbase, and I have not come across one person who recognised the name Canberra.

Actually the mention of any place in Australia in Hollywood movies is enough to make me notice. For instance the aliens in Independance Day actually sent a ship down to destroy Sydney! Although it should be noted that since we saw the ship destroyed by the Harbor Bridge, they only sent it down here right near the end of the movie when most major cities had already been taken out, so we obviously weren’t a huge priority 😛

Thumper Thumper 8:46 am 30 Jun 05

Believe me, it was a very strange place to live….

The majority of the population didn’t even know where Australia was!

A bit like these days where about 30% (correct me if I’m wrong) of the population don’t know where Iraq is….

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