1. It’s not always summer in Australia.
It’s amazing how many tourists visit Australia believing that it’s always summer here, though in most parts of the country we actually experience all four seasons. And trust me when I say that winter gets incredibly cold. Scraping ice off the windshield of your car kind of cold. Even if you’re spending time in the Outback, temperatures drop quite substantially overnight.
Though don’t let that turn you off from visiting at this time of year; there are some fabulous places to visit in Australia during winter. Just understand that it’s necessary to travel with a set of warm clothes. Though perhaps this is a well-placed myth to boost retail sales among travelers visiting here!
2. When we say “thong,” we don’t mean a G-string.
Don’t be alarmed when your packing checklist for Australia includes a rubber thong. We’re not talking about skimpy, sexy underwear. We’re talking about summer footwear for the beach. You might call them sandals, flip-flops or jandals. We call them thongs.
Australians wear thongs just about everywhere, whether they’re heading to the beach, to the local shops, or to a mate’s place for a barbecue. Though do note that if you’re headed out for a formal dinner or to a nightclub you may not get in without enclosed shoes.
3. Don’t expect to smoke here like it’s Europe.
Smoking may be a cultural pastime in many countries, but Australia has passed several federal laws which make smoking a lot harder. We’ve banned smoking in government buildings, airports, and on any kind of public transport. All Australian states and territories have banned smoking in vehicles with children, and in most enclosed public spaces. You cannot smoke in enclosed restaurants, and unless you book a room with a balcony, most hotels have done away with their smoking rooms.
On top of that, cigarettes carry ridiculously high taxes. A packet of 25 cigarettes in Australia will cost you between $25-$30 AUD; more than $1 a piece.
4. Please don’t tip.
It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, the price here includes service. If you try to leave extra cash we’re trained to refuse.
Australians are paid an incredibly high minimum wage compared to the rest of the world, and regardless of whether we’re working drive thru at McDonalds, or waiting tables at the Hyatt, pay here is between $20-$25 per hour. Much of the time when you leave a tip, it goes in a jar toward the end-of-year staff Christmas party, though many companies claim the tips for the till and not individual employees.
Also, all taxes are included in the advertised price of everything. If something is advertised as $4.99, that’s exactly what you’ll pay.
5. Kangaroos are actually a pest.
Kangaroos may well be the reason you’re visiting Australia. I get the exotic wildlife draw. But here, they’re viewed as a pest. They rip up gardens and farmland, and make nighttime driving a nightmare.
Please be realistic about the fact that you’re likely to see more as roadkill than you are alive. If you do happen to encounter one on the streets or in a park, remember that they are wild animals who have an incredibly strong kick and very large claws. Keep your distance and photograph with a zoom.
6. We are not uncouth.
Sure, we speak our mind and don’t necessarily care about being politically correct. We laugh at ourselves a lot more than other nations, and we have a tendency to shorten our words. (Say ‘Straya instead of Australia while you’re here). And let’s be honest, the popularity of Crocodile Dundee didn’t exactly help dispel the “uncivilized Australian” typecast.
However the majority of Australians are highly educated, very well read, and high achievers on the international stage. We’re hardly “uncouth.” If anything, call us bogan.