JK Rowling has revealed that there are magical schools in the Uganda, Japan, Brazil, and the United States. Including these and Hogwarts there are eleven altogether. JK Rowling has hinted that one also exists in Australia, and because I’m feeling a bit bored today I’ll make some guesses as to what this school looks like.
The Australian school’s name needs to sound regional. It is likely that it could carry a name derived from an Aboriginal language, something not unlike Canberra or Mildura. I’d be particularly happy if school’s name was actually a rude word, like how Moomba apparently means ‘Up your bum!’ On the other hand, the American school is called Ilvermorney, and that doesn’t sound particularly Native American to me. So we could go with any old boring English name, like Kilworth or Templeton or even something really dire like Grumpool. Personally speaking, I’d name an Aussie magic school Woop Woop, which Wikipedia describes as an ‘Australian term meaning far away from anything of interest’ – exactly what wizards would want muggles to think of their schools.
But where, exactly, is Woop Woop? I think I remember reading somewhere that Rowling says that wizard schools are placed far away from anything that would interest a muggle, like in mountainous regions, but in Australia we do things a little differently. And by that I mean that Woop Woop is located in the heart of Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne.
Here is a picture of Woop Woop, which the muggles amongst you will recognise as Coop’s Shot Tower at Melbourne Central. Melbourne Central is this bizarre shopping centre/train station hybrid that challenges all the laws of architecture by containing a tiny brick building within itself. You walk into this futuristic cubey thing, be astounded by the crowds of superfluous people, escalators, a giant clock being humped by two koalas and on the ground floor there’s this brick tower that looks as though it dates from the gold rush…. Don’t tell me that isn’t some Harry Potter shit right there.
But how does a school’s worth of children fit within Coop’s Shot Tower? The answer is so obvious it’s insulting – magic, of course! You remember Diagon Alley, that occult ghetto from Philosopher’s Stone? Woop Woop works on a similar principle, with its internal space somehow unfolding to the point where it can fit all the people it needs… it doesn’t make any sense, did I say magic? And the twenty-five basements under the tower certainly help as well.
Oh, and while I’m describing the school’s physical appearance I should also mention that the clock-humping koalas are also the unofficial Woop Woop guardians. You try and blow up the school or something and those seemingly stoned marsupials will bite your head off like you was a lollipop. I’m sorry, but there IS a War On Terror going on.
What do they teach you at Woop Woop and how does their curriculum differ from that of Hogwarts? The Guardian article suggests that the school’s teachings somewhat reflect their location, so I’m guessing Woop Woop kids excel at weather magic, which they mainly use to direct rain clouds away from muggle farms. And being so flamboyantly occult in the major muggle metropolitan of Melbourne means that they need to be good at invisibility in order to get anywhere without funny looks. Between that and the fact that Australians wizards have been forced to develop anti-mosquito and anti-sunburn shields, nudity is always an option. In some ways, Wizarding Australia is a post-fashion society.
And if you’re an Aussie Harry Potter fan still waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter, it’s time to give up! For Woop Woop sends no letter, nor any warning. What happens is that you’re living your ordinary life, writing for your beloved book blog or staring at Seek.com until it vomits a lucrative editing career, when there’s a tap at your window and you look up and there’s a flying tram there! The Woop Woop Tram (pictured above) is Australia’s answer to the Hogwarts Express. The tram attendants (also pictured above) are the souls of drunk bushrangers who sold their souls to wizards shortly before their execution, and they’ll be the ones to explain the situation to you. They’ll offer to let you into the wizarding world…. and they’ll only do it once!
But it’s now time to talk about wider Aussie wizarding culture! It’s main notable characteristic is how it makes forgetfulness a virtue. Muggleborn children newly recruited into the culture are lovebombed, and encouraged to drink large amounts of forgetfulness potion until they cannot remember their mundane origins. That they are forcibly removed from their families and billeted with foster parents helps with the forgetfulness. With muggleborn and pureblood wizards effectively indistinguishable from eachother, it’s perhaps not surprising that a love for the forgetfulness potion is widespread within Australian occult society. I mean, whenever something bad or shameful happens in Australia these guys just have another chug of their potion and remain convinced that they live in the best nation state on the face of the Earth. This mass forgetting has been going on for so long that magical Australia’s history has been winnowed down to a single event: Anita Zachery’s disastrous 1915 encounter with the Cyclops of Troy. Now please, remember that I am merely describing the cultural milieu in which Woop Woop exists, not judging it. For I know well that choosing to regularly consume large amounts of a liquid famed for its deleterious effect on memory, motor skills and inhibition is a Very Sensible and Adult thing to do.
Anyway, if the previous paragraph was not enough of a clue, Wizarding Australia is only slightly to the left of Lord Voldemort. They sympathize with his motivations and admire his passion, but think him too impatient. The chief question of wizarding societies in all nations is ‘How do we interact with the bloody muggles?’ Judging by Harry Potter, magical humans are defined by a combination of godlike powers and a pathological need for obscurity. This somehow makes equal coexistence with muggles impossible, with hints that witch-hunts are inevitable once muggles know about magic. The people Harry Potter aligns himself with regard muggles with benign condescension while Voldemort’s lot are more straight-forward with their contempt. The culture around Woop Woop is somewhere between those extremes. While they don’t run around lynching muggles, they would regard their extinction as a positive. Really, most of the Woop Woop kids are fine with muggles provided that they remain the butt of their jokes.
What else can I say about the Woop Woop… for some reason they’ve copied all the houses of Hogwarts, except they’ve replaced Hufflepuff with Yahoo Serious. And for fairly obvious reasons, people overseas don’t like to think about this school too much.