Korina Sharpe (from the UK) tries on a pair of Ugg boots at the Ugg boot store in Sydneys Rocks district Photo: James Alcock Neighbours: Izzy announces to Karl that the baby was Gus’s and Karl kicks Izzy out. Photo: Channel 10
Australia was far more popular in 2004 than it is now, according to Google trends.
And while the Ugg boot remains the Australian accessory of choice for fashionistas in the US and the UK, New Zealanders are more interested in moving over the Tasman to find work than in our footwear.
Fairfax Media has compiled the data on search terms related to Australia from 2004 until 2014, from three of our biggest sources of tourism, the US, the UK and New Zealand.
Google trends is an imperfect science but it does give an insight into what people search for when they think of Australia. The figures are not adjusted to reflect population size.
Overall, the UK was more interested in Australia than the US, but New Zealand trumped them both for total number of hits.
All three countries’ interest in Australia peaked in 2004 and has been in steady decline since.
2004 was a big year for Australia for international publicity: Jennifer Hawkins took out the Miss Universe crown and Mary Donaldson became the Crown Princess of Denmark. The devastating Queensland floods of 2011 was the most searched-for Australian news event throughout the decade. This applied to the US, the UK and New Zealand. In the UK, relative to population size, the English, particularly Londoners, were more interested in Australia than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the US, all the love came from Honolulu, Hawaii, with New York City and San Francisco in second and third. The hipster capital of Oregon, Portland, showed that it just wasn’t that interested in searching for Australia.
Over the pond, New Zealanders from Queenstown were the biggest users of Australian search terms, thanks to being inundated by Australian ski enthusiasts every season. They are followed by their northern cousins, Auckland.
So what are they searching for?
UK residents just want to get over here. Flights to Australia make up their most popular search term, closely followed by jobs. But the humble Ugg boot is rising, surging 500% over the decade.
In the entertainment arena, the UK is all about the Australian version of MasterChef.
Australian soap Neighbours comes in a close second, where it is more popular in Scotland than in England.
Home and Away doesn’t rate a mention.
Meanwhile, the US wants to know what time it is Down Under, is more keen on Sydney than Melbourne and, like its colonial founders, loves an Ugg boot.
The World Cup was a big boost for searches relating to Australia in the past year, with Australia v the Netherlands taking out the top spot in both the UK and the US.
Australia’s biggest tourism ad, Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, also struck a chord with US viewers throughout the decade.
In New Zealand, it has all been about jobs in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
“Australian visa” has also been a strong search term – even though Kiwis don’t need to apply for one.
Channel Ten’s The Bachelor was the most popular entertainment-related search term in New Zealand over the past year, up a massive 2950%.
In July, Vice magazine specified search terms such as souvlaki, nude beach and jihad, and looked at how frequently these terms were searched by each state relative to the other Australian states.
Vice found that of the Australian states, Tasmanians were most interested in the apocalypse, South Australians were looking into how to get rich, Western Australians were big fans of pork belly and NSW residents were looking for BYO restaurants more than the rest of the country.
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