A bird flew from the mournful left

Climate refugees and Australian aid in the Pacific

Featured in

  • Published 20180501
  • ISBN: 9781925603323
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IF, LIKE ME, you have very few better things to do with your time, you may have noticed the humble Australian white ibis going through an image makeover in the last four years. It has transformed from being considered a nuisance in the city, reviled and despised as a dirty and smelly menace of the commons, to a kind of cult hero – a re-imagining that emerged from meme culture, where ibises are mascots of trashiness, icons of the self-deprecating and ironic humour of aligning oneself with things associated with literal garbage.

In February 2018, the Australian ‘blogservational humour’ site Brown Cardigan posted an Instagram story of an ibis walking along a Sydney sidewalk, accompanied by the first few saccharine lines of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ (‘Making my way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and I’m homebound’). The bird’s long-legged strut and feathers the colour of dirty snow gave it the look of a businessman hustling between meetings. Just a few months earlier, the ibis very nearly topped The Guardian’s 2017 poll for Australia’s favourite bird, with the results announced around the same time some legend started a Kickstarter campaign for an inflatable ibis pool float just in time for summer. Meanwhile, 7 News reported on the trend of Gold Coast schoolies getting as their first tattoos a cartoon of a ciggy-smoking ibis. An ad for the ABC this year had comedian Sam Simmons praising ABC presenter Yumi Stynes as a ‘beautiful ibis sitting on the bin of hope’.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

More from author

Waiting for the sun

ReportageEVEN THOUGH I have been lost in the pop-culture megastores of Tokyo, and touched the bronze horns of the Wall Street bull, I never...

More from this edition

Beyond the pale

EssayMy apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’ Robert Frost, ‘Mending...

The gherkin jar

FictionOUR FOOTSTEPS ECHO as we climb the stairs. My grandma holds my hand. Shhhhh – be quiet! My grandpa is sleeping. The third-floor flat, the heavy wooden...

Re-imagining Parramatta

EssayTHERE ARE JACKHAMMERS everywhere. A new Parramatta is emerging out of the rubble, seeking to make real its tag line: ‘Australia’s next great city’. Thickets...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.