Aussies are well-known for their relaxed, easy going nature, though there’s a bit more to Australians than just that! So what should you know about Australians before visiting this great beautiful, and massive, country?
Everything you need to know about Australians
1. Australians are Laid-Back, But Not That Much
Australians are known their laid-back and relaxed attitude to life, and this is true to an extent at least. You’ll likely meet quite a few locals who are chilled out, and take the time to enjoy life. This is particularly true in “the bush” – the rural areas of the country and in surfing communities like Byron Bay or Noosa.
However Australia is also a highly developed, modern country, with strong professional, corporate and business sectors. Although the laid-back attitude remains a strong element of the country’s culture, many Australians these days are driven and hard-working with very busy lives, just like you would find in the UK, Europe or the USA.
2. Being Friendly is Important
When an Australian asks “how are you?”, it’s not simply a pleasantry, but a genuine question. What’s more, they’re prepared to have a long conversation with you on the subject. It’s common to refer to people by their first name, even if they don’t know you, including in professional situations.
Visitors from more reserved parts of the world such as the UK and Northern Europe may struggle with this at first, but if you take the time to loosen up and give into the friendly banter, you’ll start to appreciate this aspect of Aussie culture and get more out of your trip.
3. Greetings and Casual Lingo (Language)
Casual forms of address and slang words are common, in both informal and professional situations. You can refer to anyone, male or female, friend or stranger, as “mate”. What’s more the term can be used in various situations, from expressing friendliness (“Mate! So good to see you!”) to actual hostility (“Listen, mate…”).
Australia also has its own set of vocabulary which fits in with this predilection for casual forms of language. Lots of words are shortened with an “o” or an “ee” sound put on the end, so that they roll off the tongue a little easier. Slang is commonly used in conversation across the country and in all levels of society.
- Arvo – afternoon
- Servo – service station/petrol station/gas station
- Bottle-o – bottle shop (store which sells alcohol)
- Derro – derelict/in poor condition
- Lingo – language/vocabulary
- Brekkie – breakfast
- Pokies – poker (gambling) machines
- Maccas – McDonalds restaurants (this one breaks the formula a bit)
4. Australians Have a Unique Sense of Humour
The Australian sense of humour is self-depreciating, cheeky and can be a little dark. Sometimes it can take a little bit of getting used to, especially when a local makes a joke in this vein with a completely straight face, and you’re not sure if they’re joking or not!
This is tied to the Australian sense of identity: Australians have long prided themselves on their “larrikin” spirit which approaches the world with a sense of playfulness. This probably goes back to the country’s convict history, as well as a reaction to dealing with the dangers and challenges of pioneer life.
5. Australians are Tough
Anyone who has ever watched a game of AFL (Australian Football League) will know how tough Aussies are. Growing up in a country where pretty much every animal could kill you, from spiders and snakes to jellyfish, tiny octopuses and even cone shells, you’d have to be!
Not every Australian is a Steve Irwin or Crocodile Dundee, but you may be surprised on occasion that even the modern, city based local will be very relaxed in what you may see as a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, or blasé about illness or injury. You might be told to “suck it up” by the tough locals if you show weakness!
6. Very Few Australians are Farmers and Rangers
You may have a picture of the typical Aussie as a wheat farmer or cattle rancher living on a huge property in the middle of nowhere, toiling in the burning sun day to day. However, 85% of Australians live on the coast and 67% of the total population of the country live in the nation’s eight capital cities.
As these statistics show, there are many more hipsters, corporate employees and urbanites than there are cattle rangers and wheat farmers. On the positive side, this means that as a visitor you can enjoy a vibrant café scene, live music and festivals, amazing wine tastings and some of the best fine dining in the world.
7. Australia is Very Multicultural
In some ways the term “Australian culture” is actually something of a misnomer, as Australia is an incredibly culturally diverse country, with a generations-long history of large waves of immigrants from all over the world, notably the UK, Southern Europe, South East Asia, and most recently Africa.
This means the culture here takes in aspects from all of these different groups of people, which can be seen not only in obvious ways such as the dizzying array of cuisines available, but also aspects such as religion, customs and festivals. Although a minority of the population, the Australian Indigenous peoples also play an incredibly important role in modern Australian culture. As a local or as a visitor it important to respect Australia’s traditional populations.
Author: After graduating in journalism and media, Sophie started working for Stasher, a luggage storage app, as head of content. Sophie loves travelling, has been around Croatia and has also travelled through most of Western and some of Eastern Europe. Sophie’s most important travel accessory is headphones!