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Letter 58: 5 Things I Love About Australia (and One I Loathe)

May 16, 2018

John Francis Spiteri is the ultimate larrikin, a savant, a satirist and a fool all at the same time. I long for the day when I can cock my head just the way he does and tell someone, as he does in court, “Hey, you’re trying to verbal me, trying to put words in my mouth!”

3. Attica

Ben Shewry’s restaurant in Melbourne is nothing short of a world-class gem. Dinner for two may cost as much as a diamond but it’s the kind of experience that sticks with you like a favorite wedding.

I’ve had many great meals in my life, in many cities and countries. Attica tops the list. Hands down.

4. Understated #Auspol

When I went to interview John Howard, the former prime minister, I ran into him in the elevator, alone, without an entourage.

When I was in Manus reporting on Australia’s offshore detention center there, I ran into Nick McKim, the Greens senator from Tasmania, traveling alone, without staff.

Never could I have imagined such a thing happening in the United States or in many other countries where I’ve worked. The accessibility and willingness to eschew the trappings of power were a welcome sight.

On the other hand, no one in Canberra seems to get along and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly refused our interview requests.