You'll see Aussie surf brands worn all over Brazil, from the beaches to the gangsters in the favelas just like Quiksilver above. In Australia you’ll find Brazil’s Havaianas on feet from the coast to the bush, on movie stars to the homeless. Despite this, Australians and Brazilians wouldn't usually consider each other all that similar, at least at first thought. But when one travels to the other there are shared traits between us that you can't help but notice.
So are Brazilians and Australians similar? Yes… no… yes! We share cool things in common and then other interesting ones we don’t making us a great match - as travellers, as mates and amigos and if you're lucky maybe something more too. People from across the world pack into planes chasing the sun to our countries for a taste of the postcard life and the laid-back Aussies and fun-loving Brazilians are part of the attraction.
Freshly arrived on a baking hot summer Saturday by Ipanema Beach in Rio three years ago, I truly felt like I was in a home away from home. A middle aged guy in board shorts, Havaianas and a loose singlet walked up the footpath ahead of me, laid-back, chilled, no rush - he could’ve been straight from Australia. Not long after a gorgeous tanned Brazilian brunette in Vans and denim shorts skateboarded effortlessly by me (not the one pictured), unlike anyone I’d ever seen, like the girl of my dreams and the epitome of coolness.
“Same same but different here and I like it a lot,” I thought as my brain burst with serotonin.
Our beautiful beaches typify this. We both have loads of them and love them in equal measure and the "saltwater in our veins", like waves crashing against a rock, has shaped who we are and the way the world looks at us too. Sydney and Rio each have strips of sand just a stone’s throw from the city where the rich and poor come together equally. But besides the smiling faces, sweaty bodies, surfers and people exercising and kicking balls around, a day in Ipanema and Bondi feel totally different.
In Rio the atmosphere is usually loud and bustling, endless venders walk around selling all sorts of things from cold drinks and hot food to cigarettes and sunnies, beers are drunk but nobody’s drunk, everyone uses a canga to lie on and the women often wear bikinis which leave mens jaws in the sand but they'll never go topless.
In Sydney the vibe is more chilled, besides the odd ice cream seller the beach is free from commerce so you have to bring everything, alcohol and smoking are (officially) banned on the sand, beach towels are used and there are often BBQs on the grass behind which families and friends gather around to cook up on beneath the sun.
These differences are subtle and face-slappingly obvious at the same time. A lifetime of one makes you used to its ways, but it’s nothing that stops Aussies and Brazilians sliding into each other’s beach cultures with no worries whatsoever. I love being able to have a guilt-free, legal beer brought to me without getting off my ass in Rio, and I’m sure Brazilians love being able to read a book in peace without being hassled to buy a beer in Sydney.
And with all the beautiful weather around lots of Aussies and Brazilians love to look ripped and fit, this body and health obsessiveness a huge part of the stereotyped images of our idealised lifestyles. Gyms are everywhere, in Rio there are some right on the beach.
These sculpted bodies, and the regular ones too, wouldn't be complete for public display without some art though. Young Brazilians and Aussies really love to get inked, from small words to tattoos covering entire backs, women and men.
We dress pretty similarly too, relaxed, surf, skate and hippie fashions are our default youth styles, that's if the person cares much at all about what they wear which many Aussies and Brazilians don't. As mentioned before, Australian brands like Billabong, RCVA, Rip Curl and Quicksilver are worn all over both countries.
Underneath the skin Brazilians are warm, friendly and fun in a way almost unequalled and I think Aussies are pretty similar but with a dash of British reservedness. We don't glow quite as brightly as the Brazilians, at least that's the way I see it, maybe a Brazilian doesn't. We’re each not shy of having a good time though, any party with Aussies and Brazilians is gonna be a damn good party. We love a laugh and a chat but Brazilians are by far the better-behaved drinkers, I can count the times I've seen overt public drunkenness here on one hand.
And with the weather in a huge part of our countries simply varying between hot and boiling, both of us have developed a love of cheap, cold, tasteless beers for the masses. Australia has VB, Tooheys New, Carlton Draught and XXXX, Brazil has Antarctica, Brahma and Skol - they taste like ass warm, but hit the spot when ice cold. Luckily in Australia our craft beer scene is thriving, Brazil's still has a way to go.
Aussies can’t compare on the dance floor unfortunately. Thanks to their rich samba culture Brazilians are comfortable moving their bodies, without a drop of booze they'll shake and gyrate while most Australians will be as stiff as a surfboard.
We both have cool accents though, people from around the world love to listen to us. The dudes sound laid-back, the women nasally and cute. We've both made our native languages sound even better than they are in England and Portugal, at least if you ask us.
So there you go, even though we're separated by oceans on opposite sides of the Earth with no real deep historical ties, the people of Australia and Brazil are in many ways remarkably similar, but still with exotic twists to keep things interesting between us.
And to finish this post is the song from where I took the Quiksilver screenshot at the start, you couldn't go to a party anywhere in Brazil over the past year without hearing this favela funk anthem Baile de Favela by MC João, enjoy!