The official state welcome at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport is somewhat friendlier than at Singapore. In arrivals you are greeted by “G’Day” banners, female immigration staff call you “mate” and even the sniffer dogs seem amiable.

As part of Inspire’s Big Issue trend presentation I’ve arrived in town with a ‘cheeky pommie powerpoint’ proclaiming Australians to be the ‘fattest people on earth. Evidence is thin on the ground however, with Sydney’s citizens seeming to share New Yorker’s differentiation from their larger cousins inland. The national passion for the great outdoors seems to be winning the calorie battle in Sydney at least, but food is definitely a city wide passion.

Witness the ‘Night Noodle Markets’ that turn Hyde Park into an Asian hawkers style market attracting people in their thousands. This event is part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, mobilising thousands of city dwellers to dine out together under the stars each evening. The most powerful symbol of Australia’s love of the great outdoors is its waterproof currency. Most banknotes are designed to commemorate historic figures; Australia’s legal tender considers the strong possibility that you might be about to go for a swim. This is emblematic of the desire for adventure and exercise, as are the ‘Parkour’ workout stations dotting the scenic running path between Bondi’s and Bronte’s beaches. Outdoor lifestyles create a need for looking good, whether this be through the fitness regimes of Bondi’s preening muscle men or the Fauxthenticity of La Senza’s ‘Take it up 2 Cups’ campaign in the Westfield mall.

Outdoor lifestyles also demand on-the-go access to goods and this is perfectly expressed by the flip flop (Aussies would say “thong”) vending machine coming to Westfield this month. In the same mall, Coca Cola is installing a vending machine that dispenses cans embossed with a friend’s name as part of its ‘share’ campaign – something that marries the national traits of mobility and mateiness.

Sydney also seems to be a city that is particularly ‘on trend’ and this is something that extends beyond the somewhat gentrified hipsterdom of the Surry Hills district to inhabit the mainstream. The city’s longstanding ‘Art and About’ campaign celebrates the notion that culture creates community and happier cities. It’s possible to stumble across installations of birdcages strung across back alleys, but the project also graces the mains streets. Sydney’s citizens were asked to ponder the question ‘what if?’ and their suggestions for ways towards a better urban life have literally been run up the flagpole in a city-wide banner campaign.

What’s more Sydney’s on-trend approach to life appears to be infectious for outsiders. At Mintel’s office a certain Englishman was moved to create a (successful) flash mob wedding proposal, combining a coastal beauty spot, choir singers disguised as tourists and a dash of Al Green. Happy days.

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