Welcome to Australia

Imagine you have made the decision to emigrate. Imagine all of your worldly goods are packed in cartons and are on their way. Imagine your plane ticket is in your hand and you have said your goodbyes to all you know and love.

Do you know what to expect in Australia? What is it going to be like? No two people ever have the same experience in Australia. Let me guide you through some of the essentials that you should know.

The place is HUGE!

Its massive. I can’t sugar coat exactly how big the place is. Three million square miles if you want an exact number! Put a map of Europe over the top of a map of Australia and there is still room to spare. Many people think that you can just jump in your car or truck and “hit the outback”. The outback is hours away. Put it this way, you can get on a flight in Brisbane that’s heading to London. Have your inflight meal, a few drinks, watch a movie, have a sleep and you’re still over Australia!

The weather.

The weather is divine. This is dependent on where you live in Australia of course. In Brisbane, it is pretty tropical all year round. Summertime is blessed with high thirty-degree days and mid twenty-degree nights. Melbourne on the other hand is known for “four seasons in one day”. There are also areas of Australia for ski-ing! Yes, we have snow too!

One thing to remember though, wherever you live in Australia, beware of the sun. Summer temperatures have been known to tip 40 degrees. I’m talking melting tarmac roads here!! A very good campaign was launched back in the 80s and it is still used here today – Slip, slop, slap.

Slip on a t-shirt.

Slop on the sun cream.

Slap on a hat.

There is more to life than Australian cities.

90% of all Australians live in or around the cities. However, Australia has so much more to offer. There are at least 500 national parks that are calling out for you. It means stepping out of the comfort of your air conned car but trust me when I say, it is well worth it.

Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. The Three Sisters. Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Lamington National Park, The Great Barrier Reef, Glasshouse Mountains…. Have I convinced you yet

Chocolate tastes weird.  

Due to our climate, an additive is in all chocolate to ensure that it doesn’t melt while sitting on the shelf at your local supermarket. It’s a necessity but it does affect the taste. I have been reliably informed that cooking chocolate in Australia is the closest thing to English tasting chocolate. Of course, there are shops that import British food. However, you will be stung for higher prices obviously due to importation of said product.

Beetroot on a burger.

UK visitors just don’t get this one but to be fair this choice divides many Australians. One visitor from Europe was absolutely aghast at the culinary pairing, and said “it was, by far, the strangest food choice I have ever encountered. Why on earth would you do it? To add insult to injury I got beetroot on my shirt.”

We`ve all been there. I like the beetroot, but one bite of the burger and that slippery stuff does go everywhere!

Christmas.

As a 15-year veteran of living in Australia, I have to say, this is the one and only thing that still gets to me. Christmas should be cold. I should be drinking mulled wine and being curled up next to a radiator with my sweatpants on. It should be snowing, and we should all be indoors keeping warm. So, roll forward to this year in Australia, it’s not even Summer yet and here on a Spring Day at 1130am it is 30 degrees. You can already imagine what Summer is like can’t you!!

I mean, seriously, can you imagine walking through stores decorated for Christmas and blasting out Christmas carols, yet you are dressed in shorts and a singlet! Trust me when I say, it’s weird and I think for me, it always will be.

Fosters is not drunk in Australia!

Great marketing in the 80s convinced everyone that Fosters was the Australian beer of choice. It definitely isn’t. Australians will laugh when you order a Fosters.

We eat Kangaroo, emu and crocodile.

This really gets to people!!! One online review site talks about how a man from the US chatted with his travel guide. He innocently asked my tour guide what was in his burger and he said kangaroo. I literally had a jaw drop! Come on – who eats their own national animal!?

I wonder if the tour guide told him that emu and crocodile are also eaten.

Wildlife.

We have a crazy amount of wildlife here in Australia and an even bigger number of misconceptions so let’s clear some things up for you. There are 2 deadly species of spider in Australia and anti-venom for both. There have been no spider bite deaths since 1979.

Stingrays have only ever killed two people, one of those was Steve Irwin.

Magpies.

Of all the species in Australia, one that is super aggressive is the magpie! It is for 6 weeks every Spring but if I said they are out to get you…that’s an understatement. While they are protecting their young, anything that gets in the way can be divebombed.

I bet you are laughing but these birds target people from up to 80m away! There is even a website devoted to magpie attack hotspots. Cyclist or pedestrian…you literally take your life in your hands.

Everyone has a way of dealing with them. Some use cable ties on their bike helmet. Some use sticks, some use googly eyes, all make you look an idiot but better to look an idiot than have a magpie attack!!

Barbeques.

It’s a rite of passage. So much so, that all over the country, there are communal facilities. They are clean and ready to be used. In some places you can book them if you are having a beach party but in fairness, most times…turn up and use them. You get to know other families as you wait for them to finish so you can use them. An aussie fantasy of barbie on the beach really can be a reality.

 Vegemite.

Vegemite was invented in 1922 as a replacement for Britain’s marmite (which is better by the way!). Vegemite is a vital part of aussie life. If someone tells you that part of the Australian citizenship test is eating a spoonful of vegemite without grimacing, they are having you on.

Learn the slang.

As a general rule, everything becomes shorter. Afternoon = arvo. Ambulance = ambo. U turn = yewy. Fireman = firie. Get it? Keep it short and sweet! There are some others that you need to remember. Flip-flops are thongs – that one usually gets the most laughs. If something is broken, the thing is “cactus”. If you are called a “bogan” or a “drongo” it’s an insult.

Some of our sayings just don’t translate

Someone who had recently emigrated to Australia recalled being invited along to a neighbour’s house for Saturday lunch. When she asked what to bring, the neighbour said, “everyone’s just bringing a plate”. Unfortunately that didn’t translate, and the newbie turned up with an empty plate, thinking that the host didn’t have enough crockery to go around. Bring a plate means bring some food. Its an aussie saying that just doesn’t translate well.

If I were to offer some advice……its simply this. Accept the culture.

Laugh with the jokes. Go and see the Australian sports. Go drink the Aussie beers. Have a barbie on the beach and enjoy life. 

You only get one life and this is not a bad place to live.