When it comes to hobbies and pastimes, Australians have quite a few of them. One way or another, there’s always something we can do to fill our leisure time in Australia.
Depending on our personalities, each of us has our own ways of enjoying our spare time and time outside of work.
Many Australians are fond of hobbies and pastimes where we don’t have to think or plan too much, at least those of us who are laid-back. Often, we stay indoors when we have spare time on our hands and “take it easy”, as we like to say. A survey in 2011 shows 92% of Australians like to spend their leisure time watching TV and DVD (and more recently Netflix) at home, 2 out of 3 Australians surf the interwebs in their down time and 63% like reading.
The more enthusiastic among us Australians prefer to spend our free time doing things that challenge us. We take up hobbies that let ourselves get lost in worlds we’ve never known. We enjoy the great outdoors: hiking, cycling, camping, admiring wild animals from a distance in the country and more. For instance, younger generation Australians are camping more and over half a million Aussies registered caravans and campervans in 2014.
After all, Australia is a country with fairly warm weather all year round (in metropolitan Melbourne winter temperatures average 13’C/55’F in the day) and so exploring vast Aussie terrains is ideal most part of the year.
Then there are Australians who like to spend their spare time being a part of something, being a part of something bigger together. Sport is almost like a religion in Melbourne. On weekends, stadiums hosting Australian Rules Footy (AFL) games in winter and cricket matches in summer are packed – easily a few million Aussies attend AFL and cricket matches each year Down Under. In Melbourne, there’s not forgetting countless art exhibitions and museums to visit and appreciate, to connect with and let our imaginations wander.
In the areas away from the city in Australia, offices and shops close right on five each day and only a handful of stores open on Sunday. So during time outside of work, what else is there to do but catch up with family and friends at home – hardly anywhere else to go, nothing else to do. Or perhaps go watch a movie in the city together.
It’s a fact that some hobbies and pastimes are more universal than others. We can go anywhere in the world, meet someone and they might have the same hobbies as us. But what we do in our spare time often depends on where we are at and where we want to go in life.
What we did for leisure back in the day was much different. In the early to mid 1900s, boomerang throwing was what Indigenous Australians did. With the passing of Aboriginal elders, this activity has been dying out over the years. But today in the town of La Parouse in the state of New South Wales, there are workshops on the first Sunday of each month teaching visitors this skill, basket weaving and Djaadjawaan dance, keeping traditional pastimes alive.
Often, we complain of not having enough time for our favourite hobbies. A study two years ago found Australians are finding it harder to achieve a work-life balance, working harder to keep their jobs. Maybe work really does demand we put in more hours at the office. Or perhaps it’s poor time management on our part. Or life throwing curveballs at us.
I spend most of my spare time writing. Occasionally I go out exploring the Aussie terrain.Just as we can work too hard, we can play too much and stretch ourselves too thin in our down time. As philosopher Josef Pipier said:
“Leisure is only possible when we are at one with ourselves. We tend to overwork as a means of self-escape, as a way of trying to justify our existence.”
Sometimes, we might take our free time or even hobbies for granted and forget to have fun, leaving us empty inside. For some of us, our hobbies might be what we are passionate about and give us a sense of purpose.
Nevertheless, when it comes to winding down outside of our day-to-day routines, it’s always important to not take this time too seriously altogether. Fact is we win some and we lose some when it comes to play and either way, it’s not the end of the world.
In Australia, there’s a phrase and mantra that goes, “work harder, play harder”. It roughly means: work so we can pay the bills, and play more than we work so we can live life to the fullest.
After all, when it comes to taking things easy, having fun is the most important thing.
What are some of your (country’s) hobbies and pastimes?