10 Things About Australia that Shock First-time Visitors

February 14, 2015

Oi mate why don’t you get on your bordies so we can hit the beach and have a barbie? Think there’s nothing else surprising in Australia besides its over 10,000 beaches and deadly animals? There’s definitely more that you should know about the land down under and its friendly Aussies.

Here are 10 things that can surprise you when in the land of Oz:

1. Short words

Australians –let’s say Aussies – have a unique style in their everyday vocabulary and that’s the way they shorten words. Compared to other English-speaking countries, Australia has the most people that use diminutives. It isn’t just a modern day practice that young Aussies use to reinvent their language, it is a tradition that has its roots back in the 1800s. Some of the these shortened words include: ‘Oz’ for Australia, ‘mobes’ for mobile phones, ‘totes’ for totally, ‘uni’ for university, ‘awks’ for awkward, ‘barbie’ for barbecue, and the list goes on.

2. Tall Poppy Syndrome

Photo Source :My Life Abroad

Photo Source :My Life Abroad

Someone who’s successful will either have these two kinds of people on their backs: the fans and the haters. It seems like Australia has its own term for the latter and they call it having the Tall Poppy Syndrome. There will always be people criticizing the icons that are held up as the ‘model’ that Australians should aspire to be like. People tend to call successful people as ‘tall poppies’ and this envious attitude has been criticized as something that holds back innovation in Australia. Tall Poppy Syndrome can be dated back to the days that Australia was a British penal colony and the sent criminals – being failures in the British society – didn’t like successful people.

3. Vegemite

Photo Source :StephenMitchell

Photo Source :StephenMitchell

Ah the classic Vegemite. If you’re in Australia and someone offers you toast with Vegemite on it, please do take it. The ending will always be a surprise since you’ll either: a) curse the spread and the people around you; or b) take a jar back home. Vegemite is a dark brown food paste made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives. It’s used as a spread for sandwiches and crackers, and also as a filling in pastries. Remember that its taste is not really similar to the mild UK Marmite so don’t think you’ve somehow tried it. If it’s your first time trying the condiment, grab a toast and put a thick layer of butter on it and a thin layer of vegemite as the finale. Take a bite and you’ll be the judge. If you hated it, maybe the other spreads like the Promite or Aussiemite can win your heart. Who knows?

[Want to see more cool things about Australia? Pink lakes, giant cliffs, ultimate bucket-list destinations await you here.]

4. Big Country, Small Population

Australia is known to be the sixth largest nation in the world after Russia, Canada, China, USA, and Brazil. With an estimated land area of 7,692,024 square kilometers, it is in no doubt a large country but it has a relatively small population. 90% of Australians live in only 10% of the continent. Its population almost equals Bangkok’s metropolitan area and 80% of Australians live in the eastern states.

5. Sense of Humour

Photo Source :Rifts in Reality

Photo Source :Rifts in Reality

Australian humour is seen as dry, full of extremes, anti-authoritarian, self-mocking and ironic. They have their own unique sense of humour that outsiders might find unusual or leave them with a question mark on their faces. Humour has been an essential part of the Australian personality that can be traced back to the country’s origin as a colony for convicts. The situations in Australia’s past has created humour as a response to those conditions, making jokes even on tragedies as a way of coping. As an example, the internationally successful Crocodile Dundee found humour in mocking American culture and foreign perceptions of Australians.

6. Mateship

Photo Source :NJ1012

Photo Source :NJ1012

Mateship is a popular Australian character trait and the word ‘mate’ originated from the Convict ships sent to Australia. When authorities had forbidden the convicts to use each other’s names, the convicts began referring each other as ‘mate’ from the word shipmate. Mateship was the proof that Australian sovereignty would reside fully in the Australian people and not in the British monarchy. Now, Australians are believed to behave with humility and not think of themselves as better than their peers. They can even call their friends and strangers as mates. Mateship isn’t just friendship – it’s more than that – and it keeps the country together.

7. Shops Close Early

Photo Source :Dean

Photo Source :Dean

Depending on where you are in Oz, most shops close early and when you say early, it’s often when the clock strikes 5 or 6 PM. Why do they do this?! Looks like Australians aren’t really avid shoppers, unlike the people in other countries. so many shop owners don’t find it necessary to open their shops until midnight. Most of the time, the night scene in Oz includes going to pubs, clubs, camping, spending the night at home, and other social activities that don’t include shopping. However, these shops are opened till late usually every Thursday and there are still night markets around.

8. One of the Deadliest Place on Earth

Photo Source :dilettantiquity

Photo Source :dilettantiquity

Is this a joke? Maybe not, especially when you realize that Oz is home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world. Some of the deadliest animals that can be found in Australia include: box jellyfish, honey bees, bull sharks, saltwater crocodiles, blue-ringed octopus, Sydney funnel web spider, the world’s most toxic snake – the inland taipan, cone snails, bull ants, giant centipedes, lionfish, great white sharks, okay fine we stop right there.

9. Multicultural

Photo Source :ABC

Photo Source :ABC

Originally, Australia hosted different Aboriginal cultures and between 200 and 400 active languages at any one time. The empty continent was soon filled by settlers from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, China and more from different parts of the world. The current percentage of the population that was born overseas is 26% with immigrants coming from Africa, Asia, Oceania, United Kingdom, South America, and Eastern Europe. So expect to meet different people and different cultures in Australia.

10. Barbie Culture

Photo Source :Wolf

Photo Source :Wolf

Barbie, short for barbecue, is Australia’s favorite pastime. Doing the barbie is a serious task and you can’t just know about cooking meat – you better be good at it. From the right cooker to the right choice of meat, every detail should be on point before you can start off the flames and have fun outdoors.

Want to see more cool things about Australia? Pink lakes, giant cliffs, ultimate bucket-list destinations await you here.