The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by email. This week’s issue is written by Natasha Frost, a reporter in Melbourne.
The Australia Letter recently celebrated its sixth birthday. Over more than 300 issues, we’ve shared the back stories to our reporting trips, offered local recommendations and served up slices of life down under.
Perhaps one of the nicest things about writing this newsletter is hearing from you — Australians in Australia; Australians no longer in Australia; New Zealanders at home or away; and the many Times readers who are curious about another way of life, or who may have had the pleasure of spending time in Australia or New Zealand.
We try to write for you all. (We use American English. Sorry about that.) And you usually let us know what you think we’ve gotten right or where you disagree, often with characteristic Antipodean candor. We read every one of those emails.
Today, we’re turning our gaze inward and calling on you — all of you! — once again, to tell us: What would you like to see more of in this newsletter? Are there stories from Australia and New Zealand that you think the world ought to know about?
For relative newcomers to the Australia Letter, or people who’d like a refresher, some introductions.
Damien Cave, our bureau chief since 2017, is based in Sydney. This newsletter is now primarily written by me — Natasha Frost, in Melbourne — and Yan Zhuang, a reporter in Sydney. Between us, we make up the bureau. Every now and again, you can expect guest spots from other Times contributors from across the region.
Damien has been in Sydney for so long that his children now explain cricket to him and sound Australian. Yan is a longtime Sydneysider who recently returned home from Melbourne. And I grew up in New Zealand and have lived in Melbourne since 2021.
Because Australia and New Zealand are home for us, it can be nice to be reminded of the things about the region that surprise newcomers.
Earlier this year, I met with Matthew Futterman, a sports reporter for The Times, while he was covering the Australian Open. He was struck, he told me, by two things: that no one seems to pay for the tram, and locals appear to take for granted the wealth of clean, beautiful and inexpensive public pools.
My brother-in-law, who has been visiting from Britain for the last month, had a different observation: People in Australia just seem happier than do his friends back home. (For what it’s worth, Australia ranks 12th in the world’s most content countries, while Britain is 19th.)
These reflections stopped me in my tracks. We hope that the newsletter can do something similar for Australians and New Zealanders, and serve as a window on how the world sees you and where you live. We aim to do what many readers have asked of us since we opened the bureau: Add perspective.
Australia and New Zealand are relatively peaceful, stable and wealthy countries. That doesn’t mean that they are uncomplicated or unimportant, or that they don’t have their own share of difficulties. But it does mean that we sometimes get more room for good news — stories about the quirks of Australian English; custom showers for Melbourne’s bats; or a quest to save a rare tortoise, to cite three recent examples.
You can expect more of those in this newsletter. But what else would you like to see? And what have you liked so far?
We know, for example, that you’d like to read more stories from outside of Melbourne and Sydney. We’re working on that, and welcome specific suggestions. But would you like to hear about local books, television, films or other content? Explanations of how we report the stories we do? Q. and A.’s with great Australian thinkers? Or something else altogether?
Ideally, we’d like the Australia Letter to be something you look forward to receiving — the Friday dessert at the end of the working-week meal. For that reason, we try to keep it short and conversational, and save our deep analyses or more rigorous investigations for the stories that ultimately go in the newspaper. (You can subscribe here, if you don’t already.)
Let us know what we’re missing and send your thoughts to [email protected]. And thank you to those who have long read this newsletter, and to those who have just recently signed up. It’s great to have you with us.
Now for the week’s stories.
Australia and New Zealand
Biden Abruptly Cuts Short an Asia-Pacific Visit, to China’s Benefit. A Pacific island nation had gone to great lengths to host the U.S. president. Now a region is left to wonder again about American steadfastness.
Fire at Hostel in New Zealand’s Capital Kills at Least 6. Eleven people were still unaccounted for, an official said.
‘A Bit Spooky’: The New Shark Species With Bright, White Eyes. A newly discovered species of demon catshark is found in the deep waters off Australia.
Around the Times
‘Digital Twin’ of the Titanic Shows the Shipwreck in Stunning Detail. Researchers hope new 3-D images will provide clues about what happened to the ocean liner when it sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.
Study Offers New Twist in How the First Humans Evolved. A new genetic analysis of 290 people suggests that humans emerged at various times and places in Africa.
What Your Therapist Doesn’t Tell You. A dozen counselors on what it’s really like to sit in the other armchair.
After a ‘Kill Shot’ to the Eye, a Wrestler Restarts His Life. Rich Perry was an Olympic hopeful when he sustained a gruesome injury at a training camp in 2018. The question now is whether he can ever fully be himself again.
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