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When I first read about the Baz Luhrmann tourism ads for Australia, I shared Andrew Bolt’s concern that they were both unattractive – ie, not likely to attract visitors to Australia, and that they sent the wrong message about Australia. They sounded dull, even morose.

Of course, I hadn’t seen  them then.

I was watching TV a couple of nights ago when one of those ads came on. It wasn’t immediately clear what it was. I thought it was a station promo for a movie or a new series. And without knowing what it was, Amanda and I both decided that it looked interesting and that we would check the time and turn the TV back on to watch it later. I was astonished when I realised it was an ad inviting people to visit Australia.

OK, so there are no well endowed young ladies bouncing along Bondi Beach. There’s no Paul Hogan throwing another shrimp on the barbie. But Australia is more than buxom blondes, beaches and practical jokers.

As a nation, Australia clings to the edges. There is a vast blankness inside, which can be both scary and liberating. A journey to the geographical heart of Australia lends itself to being a journey of self-discovery – through the vast wrenching dust and hopelessness to the sacred rocks and waterholes. This is part of what it means to be Australian – it is more authentically ‘us’ than the Gold Coast. It is a gift we have to share.

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