Bush Love

In retrospect, we had been adequately warned. Days before we arrived at Wooroolin’s Peanut Pullers and Backfatters Ball — an annual Bachelor & Spinsters’ event in rural Queensland — I’d spoken to one of its organisers over the phone. “B&S balls used to be a big thing in rural areas,” Jodie Butcher told me, “so all the single farmers and farmer’s daughters could meet someone. It was a proper sit-down meal in a hall, then you’d have a dance.” When asked exactly how B&S balls had changed, Jodie laughed. “Over time,” she said, “I guess it’s gotten a little bit … feral.”

As such, the invitation for Backfatters featured a sketchy illustration of a giant peanut happily having sex with a pig up the rear. I understood where the committee had gotten ‘peanut-pullers’ from: Wooroolin, a township with a population of roughly 200 people, lies just outside of Kingaroy, and the entire region is known as Australia’s peanut farming capital. ‘Back-fatter’, I discovered, refers to the local piggeries. Jodie told me that a sow at the end of her breeding cycle will become so enormous that locals call them backfatters: “It’s the committee taking the piss — that all we’ve got out here are peanut pullers and backfatters.”

The Benefits of Being Ethnic

For someone who grew up in a Chinese family, I spent an inordinate amount of my childhood wishing I were white. In my mind, being white would mean I’d finally have access to all the stuff Anglo kids took for granted, like roast dinners and matching crockery, as well as forearm hair and eyelids.

I wasn’t the only one. Most non-Anglo kids raised in Australia — whether they’re Sri Lankan or Somalian, Greek or Japanese, Indian or Italian — will have probably resented their racial background at some stage. It manifests in different ways. Think back into your past. Did you ever hurl your dinner plate at your mother, disowning your native cuisine? Perhaps you’ve used bleaching creams on your dark skin, or waxed your hirsute European butt cheeks. Continue reading