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Sydney | Courtesy of Tourism Australia © Garth Oriander
Sydney | Courtesy of Tourism Australia © Garth Oriander

15 Myths About Australia Debunked

Picture of Ellie Griffiths
Updated: 9 February 2017
Travelling to the land down under can be an interesting journey, especially when you are unsure of how to get hold of a kangaroo to travel across the country or are confused as to why an Aussie bartender gives you a weird look when you order Fosters. To help ease those nerves and fulfil your curiosities we have debunked the common myths about Australia.

 

We talk slang that makes no sense at all

Like anywhere in the world, Aussies have their own slang that is embedded into their English. However, unlike the stereotypical Aussies portrayed in Hollywood, we do not use slang such as sheila, dunny and fair dinkum. But, we do like to shorten our words and phrases, such as: barbie (barbeque), Maccas (McDonald’s), Chuck a u-ey (make a U-turn), Woop woop (middle of nowhere), S’arvo (this afternoon), and Bottle-O (bottle / liquor shop).

 

We ride kangaroos to school / work

Kangaroos are just kangaroos. Not another form of transport. As Aussies, we find it hilarious that foreigners believe that everyone has a pet kangaroo and ride them across the country. We secretly love playing along with this whenever we’re asked, but again, it doesn’t happen.

 

‘Look at the cute Koala Bear’

If you have ever said the words koala and bear in the same sentence to any Aussie, you may notice they get rather agitated and angry with you. Simply put, koalas are not bears. They are not related to bears at all. Rather they are marsupials – or a pouched mammal – and more closely related to a kangaroo and a wombat.

 

Koalas can be found in every tree

While we’re on koalas – because who doesn’t love these cuddly marsupials – much like kangaroos, koalas are not found in our backyard, nor do you see them in every tree. In the wild they are actually quite hard to find.

 

All Aussies eat Vegemite for breakfast, lunch and tea

VEGEMITE – our national dish – is common throughout Australia, however, not everyone likes it. Much like Peanut Butter and many other spreads and foods, we have a love / hate relationship with VEGEMITE, and we most certainly do not eat it in every meal; no matter what the theme song says.

 

Sydney is the capital city of Australia. Or is it Melbourne?

Many national events are held in Sydney, and both Sydney and Melbourne are both two hugely popular cities when it comes to tourism. However, Australia’s capital city is in fact Canberra, located in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), home to Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial.

 

One of Australia’s many poisonous and deadly animals will kill you.

Yes, Australia is home to many venomous and deadly creatures such as snakes, crocodiles, jellyfish, sharks, and who could forget our spiders. However, the likelihood of dying from one of our animals is rather unlikely. In Australia, since 1979, nobody has died from a spider bite; there have only been three reported deaths caused by a Blue Ringed Octopus in the last century; there are on average less than two snake deaths per year; in 2015 there were only two reported fatalities due to shark attacks; and since 1883 box jellyfish have only been responsible for 64 deaths.

Just remember, they’re just as scared of us as we are of them – so don’t annoy or scare them and you will live to see another day. Although, don’t be fooled by the drop bears…

 

We love our thongs

This one is true as we do in fact love our thongs, however, when Aussies say thongs we mean flip-flops. Simply put: flip-flops are like undies for your feet, hence thongs. In fact, we love our thongs so much so that every year on Australia Day we bring out our inflatable thongs to relax on down at the beach; and also be a part of the annual world record attempt.

 

Bikinis vs Underwear

Aussies love the beach and the beachwear that comes with it, however unlike many other fellow countries like the UK who wear bathers to sunbathe in the park; we’re sorry but unless there is water close by you are in fact wearing underwear. Our favourite ice-cream brand put together an advert to help explain why you will never see Aussies in bathers (only) away from the water…

 

Aussies drink Fosters – and a lot of it

Yes, Aussies do love to drink – although, we are listed as the 22nd heaviest-drinking country, so we don’t drink as much as you think. However, no Australian will ever voluntarily drink Fosters, and it isn’t an Australian beer, rather only an Australian brand. If you want a taste of what Aussies actually drink, then grab a pint of Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter (VB) or XXXX Gold. You can thank us later.

 

Australia is located in the southern hemisphere. Their toilets must flush in the opposite direction.

We’ve never laughed so hard at this statement. We also know that you have watched The Simpsons episode (1995) that continued this whole myth based on the coriolis effect. Reality check: all toilets across the world flush differently depending on how they were constructed.

 

All Aussies are fit and tan

Typically stereotyped, Aussies are fit and tan, however, in 2015 Australia was listed in the top 30 most obese countries in the world. As for tanned, Australia is exposed to harmful UV radiation, which has resulted in public awareness campaigns on sun cancer, encouraging pale to be the new tan. After all, many Aussies still have the strong British (and other European) genes within them, and as we all know Brits are rather pale!

Surfs up on Aussie TV show Home and Away | © 7 Network

Surfs up on Aussie TV show Home and Away | © 7 Network

 

We like to throw a shrimp on the barbie

Thanks to Crocodile Dundee’s Paul Hogan’s tourist advertisement in 1984, foreigners have since believed that we’ll always ‘slip another shrimp on the barbie for ya’. Wrong. Firstly, we do enjoy barbeques, in fact we live and breathe for a good barbie, no matter the weather. However, there is no such thing as a ‘shrimp’ in Australia. We call them prawns.

 

It’s always summer in Australia

Australia sure knows how to show off when it comes to warm weather, with an average top across the country of 30°C (86°F), but we do see a fall to 15°C (59°F) in the winter. Although each state and territory has various degrees of hot and cold, it is known to snow in the alpine region of Australia – this stretches from New South Wales through to Victoria. The coldest recorded temperature was in 1994 when Charlotte Pass, Snowy Mountains, reached a low of -23°C (-9.4°F). Brrr.

 

Australia is a very small country

Due to the size of Australia on a world map, we seem like a very small, harmless island in the middle of nowhere. The world map, however, only shows the size of the country according to population; and with a population of only 24 million it’s understandable that we seem that way. In reality, we are a massive country covering an area equivalent to 7.692 million km².