Pools, Parties and Patios – The Great Aussie Outdoors

Nothing says “Welcome to the big Aussie back yard” quite like a barbecue by the pool for friends and family. Oh, and don’t forget the can of Aerogard!

Australia is a vast, sparsely populated land with plenty of room for the traditional home; complete with large back yard, a Hills Hoist clothesline and all the accessories needed to take advantage of our great weather.

And for most Australians, a house wouldn’t be a home without the traditional shady patio. From chic inner-city terraces to grand outback homesteads, a pergola either encircling the house or attached to one of the walls is an integral part of our cultural landscape.

Pergolas or patios serve a number of extremely worthwhile purposes, which probably explains their popularity. Here are just a couple:

  • Pergolas provide a shady, cool spot to relax during the heat of the day. You will often find pergolas built on to the side of the house which catches the most sunlight, so they act to reflect the harsh sun away from the home.

  • Australia is famous for the ‘great Aussie wave’, or the movement made to swat flies and other flying insects away from our face. That helps explain why many pergolas have lattice work features or are covered by fly screens to keep the annoying creatures away.

  • Aussies love to entertain, so it’s hardly surprising that one of our famous tourist slogans is “Throw another shrimp (replace that with the more acceptable Aussie colloquialism ‘snag’) on the barbie”.

A casual stroll down any suburban street on a Sunday afternoon would undoubtedly uncover at least one in every two households lighting up the barbecue for a Sunday feast. And most of those barbecues will be strategically placed under the pergola to shade the host as he ceremoniously burns the chops and sausages to a crisp.

  • More urbane Australians are opting for an indoor/outdoor environment in their designer homes, which frequently results in an attached pergola which provides a general entertainment/dining area and a focal point for household activities.

  • Nowadays, pergolas are designed as an additional room, with overhead shutters that can be adjusted to either deflect or catch the sun’s rays. Some homeowners design their outdoor patios to be fully enclosed while others prefer to leave this area exposed to the elements – and the cool afternoon breezes that drift in off the ocean.

Throwing a Pergola/Pool Party

A pergola/pool party is an integral part of ‘coming of age’ in Australia.

Whether it was the postage-stamp sized Clarks rubber above-ground pool you waded in as a child or the latest in cutting edge designed pools that mould themselves into the horizon and look like they go on forever; everyone is familiar with the pool/pergola party.

Traditionally, the kids play ‘Marco Polo’ or any pool game that requires frequent, high decibel screaming and shouting, while the adults mill around under the shady pergola to sip from plastic glasses laden with pineapple pieces laced with cheap rum and masquerading as ‘fruit punch’.

Occasionally you may find one adult who is game enough (or in the majority of cases has over-indulged in the fruit punch) to jump into the pool, fully clothed.

However, it should be pointed out that most adults who attend pergola/pool parties arrive with their swimmers carefully concealed under their party outfit in the event they should be unfortunate enough to find themselves unceremoniously tossed in the pool. This tends to occur when too many guests have indulged in too much fruit punch.

What usually follows is a free-for-all, where the guests either take it upon themselves to jump in the pool or are unwittingly thrown in, along with towels, rubber rings in the shape of giant tortoises and any garden furniture that’s not nailed down.

In the majority of cases, you’ll find that once the initial shock has subsided, most guests have a jolly old time splashing around while trying to discover if Aunt Marjorie is really wearing a wig.

Following the frivolity, the sodden guests retire to the safety of the shaded pergola area to try just one more of those delicious fruit punch refreshments and the host’s charcoal grilled steaks and sausages.

And who said they don’t want a pergola or pool in their back yard?