Cousin Lucy’s Excessive Wisdom: 6 Things That Changed Your Life As A 90s Aussie Child

The late Nineties to the mid 00s were an amazing time to be alive. We had the Y2K, we had those wacky coloured Apple computers, and we had Beyoncé emerging to light up our lives. I don’t want to be one of those jerks that says “this generation will never have a childhood because of social media and trans fats”, and I also don’t want to lead you down a pointless article consisting only of me reminiscing about the first time I typed the word “lol” – but there were times over the past 10 to 20 years that have shaped us in ways post 2000s kids will ever understand.

1. The Spice Girls breaking up


We can all agree without drama or hyperbole, the Spice Girls were, and remain, the greatest band to ever exist. When the news came Geri Halliwell had left the group, it felt like a family member had died. This news was also very ill timed, as it literally came while I was hosting my Spice Girls-themed tenth birthday party. For a while I refused to believe it, then took out my frustration on a block of chocolate by stabbing it a lot with a knife. That day changed me.

The Spice Girls were THE defining group of our generation. Everyone had a member they always played (Baby Spice, thank you) we all had the CDs, saw the movie, and watched “Spice Girls Live in Istanbul” when it was showed on TV. And I just realised Wannabe came out 20 years ago? Um.

2. 2000 Olympics


Remember when everyone was absolutely obsessed with the Olympics? Ugh, it was inescapable. Those three weird animal mascots were everywhere; they were even Happy Meal toys at one point. Maybe it was Australia finally taking the world’s spotlight, but for a few months in the Year 2000 literally everything was about the Olympics. My school had our own Olympics and we all sang along to that Queen song, “We Will Rock You”, for some reason.

They came and went. Nikki Webster became the country’s biggest star, and Strawberry Kisses remains my favourite car karaoke song. Ian Thorpe and Cathy Freeman were NATIONAL HEROES. To be honest I don’t think I really watched that much of it apart from the opening ceremony, but those games permeated the very being of every Australian.

3. One hit wonders

Does anyone else kinda think there aren’t as many one hit wonders these days? Is it because the music industry has changed with the rise of YouTube or whatever? I don’t know; I am no music scientist. But all I know is, in the 90s, it was the one hit wonders that got the school disco absolutely lit. Personal favourites include:

  • Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men
  • Mambo Number 5 by Lou Bega
  • Steal My Sunshine by Len
  • Crush by Jennifer Page,
  • Baby Got Back by Sir Mixalot

And the dang Macarena. And what about that song “You Get What You Give” by the New Radicals, which feels like its always played on Coles Radio and Old Person FM that plays “the hits”. And that loathsome “She’s So High” by Tal Bachman, boy am I glad we never heard anything more from him. And of course, the ultimate one hit wonder – “Blue” by Eiffel 65. How does that song even exist? I love it.


4. Big Brother and Australian Idol


The first seasons of Big Brother and Australian Idol were so intense. Everyone, and I mean everyone, watched. We debated over our favourite housemates or singers at school and spent our families’ money on phone calls trying to keep them in. In true reality television style, I don’t remember the name of the guy who won Big Brother, but I do remember Sarah Marie (who went on to release “The Bum Dance” or whatever it was called), Blair (who became an actor on Winners & Losers and other Australian dramas), Guy Sebastian (of the former fro) and Shannon Noll (“What About Me”).

When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy this was the beginning of reality TV – something so commonplace and widespread now. Without Big Brother and Aus Idol, there’d be no My Kitchen Rules, no the Block, no X Factor. Kind of makes you wish time travel existed so you could go back and change a few things.

Just kidding, Masterchef is life.

5. MSN Messenger


MSN Messenger was my gateway drug to the Internet. Who else remembers having to wait for the dial up internet to finish its mad screeching and beeping before you could log the fuck in and chat away about kissing and periods and who likes who and whatever junk you talked about as an 11 year-old. Do you remember your first email address? I do, and like a Horcrux, it is a very dark and horrible secret I protect from everyone.

What’s not a secret is how wild MSN messenger was when it first came out – think about it – we basically went from MSN to texting to MySpace and Facebook and smartphones and Twitter and here we are in this crazy world we have now. In many ways, MSN followed the same rules as modern social media: have a cool url, be witty, use emojis. A great example of this is the username my now best friend Katie had when we first “added” each other on MSN. We were twelve, and her screen name was to the effect:

(palm tree emoticon) KǍTȈ€ (palm tree emoticon) (music emotion) It’s the remix to ignition, hot and freash out the kitchen (music emoticon).

The moment I saw it, even though the spelling error annoyed me, I was like, damn bitch, you are cool! And we have been best friends ever since.


6. Steve Irwin dying


You know those events you remember everything about, even years later? You remember where you were, what you were doing, how old you were. Like September 11, or when you read Harry Potter for the first time. I remember exactly where I was when I heard Steve Irwin had been killed by a stingray. I was standing outside the library at my high school when some punk ass kid walked past me, yelling about it for everyone to hear.

Steve Irwin was an Australian hero, entertaining the world with his crazy animal adventures. Fearless and outrageous, Steve cared for and brought attention to the insane creatures native to our great country. My favourite time was when he was on some breakfast program with a giant black python, which started biting his neck. It remained attached to his flesh for a good 15 seconds, before being expertly wound off by Steve, who apologised to the host for the interruption!!! RIP STEVE.

And there we have (some) of the defining moments of our generation. What else do you remember as an Australian child of the nineties? Apart from these, it was mostly Pokemon cards being banned at school and not having to pay bills.

Take us back…


Lucy Wood


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