ALL IN EFFORTS to keep you fine, foreign visitors from putting your foot in it.
Assume that Australians are all blonde-haired, bronzed, buff beach bunnies.
We’re not. We used to market ourselves like that back in the ’70s and ’80s, but due to the fact that we have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, we’ve spent the last 20-odd years trying to keep everyone well-protected. “Slip, slop, slap” as the ads say. Sure, I would kill for a bronzed complexion, wavy sun-bleached blonde locks, a six-pack you could wash clothes on, biceps that could deflect bullets, and the ability to stand on a surfboard without looking like a dick, but I (and countless other Australians) would rather not die from melanoma.
Throw a shrimp on the barbie.
They’re not shrimp, they’re bloody prawns! Damn you, Paul Hogan! And seeing as how seafood can be pretty damn expensive in this country, we don’t do it very often anyway. If you turn up to a barbecue with a bunch of prawns (especially big tiger prawns) and it isn’t Christmas, know that people will be impressed by the offer but you’ll also be secretly seen as a hoity-toity showoff and will piss everyone off. Sausages and a store-bought salad will be fine.
Buy us a big pint of Fosters lager.
Despite popular belief, Fosters is not our national drink. In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding it on tap anywhere in a regular Australian bar. If you do happen to stumble across it, be aware that it’s there for your benefit as a foreign visitor. The Fosters Group has done an amazing job telling the rest of the world we actually drink it and it tastes great. This is a lie. There’s a very good reason we export it: It tastes like crap wrapped in an aluminium can.
Despite this revelation, beer is an important aspect of Australian life. Which part of the country you find yourself in will dictate the beer you should be drinking. For example, if you’re in Queensland, the safe beer to buy is XXXX. No, that’s not a redaction. It’s actually pronounced “four ex.” You’ll know it by the four big red Xs on the label. One sure way to piss off a Queenslander is to tell them the reason the label has XXXX on it is because Queenslanders aren’t smart enough to spell “beer.”
In New South Wales, the tipple of choice is Tooheys New. Or, for a darker beer, go for a Tooheys Old. If you want to piss off a New South Welshman, tell them Old tastes like a used shoe dipped in dirty water, New is generic and lacks flavor, and then order a XXXX, but not in a “schooner” or a “middy.” No you want it in a “pot.”
Carlton Draught is the drink for Victoria and is the best (barely) of a generic bunch, but let’s be honest: All the beers — XXXX, New, and Carlton Draught — taste the same. Really cold and not much depth of character to them flavorwise. Just never mention this to anyone with an Aussie accent, or you’ll be hated across all levels of society. (They’re still better than American beer.)
Question our devotion to sport.
Or question the ridiculous levels to which Australians promote their sporting heroes. Yes, Aussies love their sport; it’s one reason we have four different football codes in a country of only 22.6 million people. We also love cricket. Five days of sitting around watching a bunch of guys stand around in the summer sun, not doing a hell of a lot, hoping that the cricket ball comes their way. That’s sport-watching nirvana to an Aussie.
Swimming is also big, but don’t mention anything about doping scandals or the fact that the Australian swimming team hasn’t been the same since Ian Thorpe retired the first time. You’ll be met with either a firm “shut your fuckin’ mouth” or a sad shake of the head in agreement. And then there’s tennis, which gets a decent showing. Golf sucks unless you’re drinking while playing a round.
Australian sportsmen can seemingly do no wrong, so don’t suggest othwerwise. Also, never mention that the term “hero,” when describing a sportsperson, is way over the top. Should you, as a foreigner, ever question an Australian’s devotion to and hero-worshipping of these sportsmen, you are treading on very dangerous ground. No facts should be inserted into a conversation about sporting people except for statistics that relate to their prowess on the field or that support an Aussie’s choice of hero.
Correct: “Didn’t he kick 12 field goals to win the match for that club?”
Incorrect: “Didn’t he kick in 12 teeth of a barman who was doing his job and refused to serve him anymore alcohol after he peed all over the lounge in that club?”
Be an arrogant winner.
Australians love the underdog. In fact it’s a borderline national obsession to root for the person least likely to succeed; there’s nothing better to an Aussie than seeing someone beat seemingly impossible odds. Just don’t ever revel in your glory. Nothing will piss off an Australian quicker than someone enjoying his or her success.1 It’s called “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” and it’s a real thing — it even has its own wiki page!
If you ever do get recognized for your success, just graciously say, “Ah, it was nothing…” and quietly start on something else. It doesn’t matter if you just cured cancer or solved world hunger — don’t you go celebrating your achievements or you’ll be seen as a pretentious wanker who’s gotten too far above themselves.2
1 Unless you’re a sporting person, at which point you have carte blanche to do whatever the hell you want.
2 Unless you just won some final game for some team, because that totally justifies you getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Just be sure your celebrating includes excessive drinking, acting like a moral-less dick, and urinating and/or defecating in public. And if anyone questions you about your behavior, you can totally punch them out because you’re a sporting “hero.”
Use your smartphone while walking.
Australia has one of the highest uptakes of new technology of any country in the world. Aussies love their gadgets! Smartphones? Hell yes! They’ll be all over that shit like a sugar junkie in a cotton candy factory. We love our smartphones. But we hate people who use them and try to walk at the same time.
You want to see an Aussie get pissed off to the point they want to punch someone in the back of the head? Watch them get stuck behind someone using their smartphone watching a YouTube video while trying to walk. It’s like getting stuck behind a drunken zombie.
The upside is that it’s these same oblivious people who walk into moving traffic or off train platforms so, given enough time, the population will thin itself out.
Freak out about all the killer animals.
Snakes, spiders, sharks, jellyfish, bees, stingrays, trees, plants, rivers, red kangaroos, the weather, the ocean, platypus, drop bears, hoop snakes… If they aren’t trying to kill you, they’re actively thinking of ways to do so. Your mere presence in the country is pissing off most of the native fauna and flora. But don’t start worrying and freaking out about it, because you’ll just piss off the Aussies.