Everyone knows the partying reputation of those rollicking denizens Down Under -– that upside-down, winter-in-July continent where women are called shielas and men guzzle beer by the case.
But a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet gives more insight into why Australian culture is so laid-back, why the phrase “G’day” is usually the first thing out of people’s mouths.
Well, everyday is a good day Down Under because Australians, as it turns out, smoke more marijuana than anyone else on the planet, according to The Lancet.
Imagine the possible new entries for the Aussie urban dictionary:
“Don’t wallaby that joint, my friend.”
“Welcome to the Great Barrier Reefer.”
“Roll me another joey, will ya mate?”
"Now there’s a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Gettin’ down by the billabong.'"
"What do you mean ‘Why do koalas move so slowly?' "
Actually, it’s not just the Aussies who are partying down with their bad selves. The study reported that New Zealanders join Australians as top worldwide consumers of both pot and amphetamines -– an entirely different version of the Southern Cross.
The study showed that 15% of Aussies and Kiwis ages 15 to 64 used marijuana.
Talk about a walkabout to the back side of beyond.
By comparison, 11% of North Americans in the same age group used the drugs; and only 2.5% in Asia.
The study’s authors said the preponderance of secret out-of-the-way places (read Outback) in both nations meant that it was easier to cultivate the illegal marijuana plants, driving down the price.
In Australia, marijuana is often considered an acceptable form of mental recreation, and several states there have sought to decriminalize small quantities of the drug.
The new Land of Oz –- a place where they’ve figured out how to go from black-and-white to Technicolor in an alternative way.
-- John M. Glionna
Photo: Four drug-free Australian koalas walk along a fence at Dreamworld on Queensland's Gold Coast. Credit: Steve Holland / AP Photo