Image: Poidabro [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Australia eh? It's all sunny and full of animals that can kill you. Spiders too, spiders that can kill you. Well, yes that's all true, but here's some lesser known facts to prepare you for normal life in an Australian city.
1) It gets cold in Australia
Seriously. We have cold winter days here, especially in June and July. Aussies wear coats in winter, just like everyone else. What we don’t have here is central heating, so we just sit at home with no heating whatsoever and huddle up under layers of blankets while we’re watching TV. Some areas of Australia even get snow, enough that there’s a whole region of ski resorts around the Snowy Mountains, just south of Canberra.
2) No-one actually drinks Fosters
All those adverts on TV back home, where blokes in the outback are sitting around swigging cans of Fosters and hanging out with their pet kangaroos? Sorry mate, all just one big marketing con. Australians love a cold beer, but it’ll be a Coopers, James Boag’s, Little Creatures, or any of the legions of other local beers that taste so much better than Fosters.
3) Australia doesn’t have any copper coins
In fact, 1c and 2c coins were withdrawn from circulation back in 1992. It took me weeks to realise this because when I first arrived in Australia there was a copper coin rattling around in my purse, a copper coin which I just assumed was a 1c coin. Nope, it was just a penny that was suddenly a long, long way from home. Pricing in shops is often still down to the cent, but the total value of cash payments is automatically rounded up or down to the nearest 5c.
4) You can’t buy fireworks in Australia
Anywhere. Except for one day a year in the Northern Territory. Only licensed pyrotechnics professionals are allowed to buy and use fireworks. What this does mean is that every big public event, sporting occasion or even just most Saturday evenings in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, will end with a firework display. New Zealand celebrates Bonfire Night on 5th November, but Australia doesn’t.
6) You can’t buy booze in the supermarket
But there is a supermarket devoted to booze. It’s called Dan Murphy’s.
7) Australian English isn’t always very British
In fact, it’s more American at times. Over here we watch movies not films, wear pants not trousers and if you’re in the market for a new home you’ll need to see a real estate agent. Why are they so ‘real’? And another thing I’m pretty sure we’ve inherited from the US - the ad breaks on TV are in all the wrong places. You can’t make a cuppa between one programme (I mean, show) and the next because there’s no break in between!
8) Australian’s love to watch 'the footie’
You’re absolutely right in thinking ‘footie’ must be short for football, but in New South Wales, ‘footie’ means NRL (National Rugby League). In Victoria and Western Australia, ‘footie’ means AFL (Australian Football League), which is the game that you might have heard of as ‘Aussie rules footballs’. Both leagues kick off in March, with grand finals around the end of September. A couple of weeks later the A-League starts, and that’s the football league. Except most people insist on calling it soccer.
9) There’s a huge subculture known as ‘bush doof’ parties
Dance music took a long while to gain popularity in Australia and any music with a repetitive electronic beat was derided as ‘all that doof doof music’. Party people were being judged in the cities so they took the party out to the bush. That means ‘the countryside’, by the way. Nothing to do with pubic hair. ‘Doofing’ is not just about music but also incorporates experimental arts, health and wellbeing, with an ethos of everyone being kind to each other and to the environment.
10) ‘Thongs’ are not a type of underwear
Thongs are flip-flops and they’re not just for the beach. Thongs are standard day-to-day footwear and it’s only really necessary to swap them for something more substantial when you’re in the office or at a wedding. Wearing thongs to the shops, out to lunch, or to any casual social occasion is just plain normal.
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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