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You’ve been living in Australia for a while now, but you’re unsure whether you can consider yourself a local. Here are the customs, experiences and traditions to tick off before you can label yourself a true, blue Aussie.
Stretching 344,400 square kilometres, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism. The natural wonder is visible from space and consists of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It’s also home to 1,500 species of fish, as well as mammals, reptiles and birds, and it’s a breath-taking place to snorkel.
Every spring, Australians face off with their feathered frenemy, the magpie, who swoop into pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers in an effort to protect their nestlings. Highly intelligent, these birds are capable of holding grudges against those who torment them. If you see one, cross the road, and find another route.
While Australia Day continues to be a contentious celebration, there’s no denying that the soundtrack to any great Australia Day picnic, pool party or barbecue is radio station triple j’s Hottest 100. Each year, millions of people vote and then tune in to the countdown to learn which song has been voted number one.
The kangaroo is one of the most recognizable symbols of Australia, but you don’t need to visit the bush or even a zoo to see one. The marsupial is found across Australia in a variety of habitats, from Lucky Bay in Esperance, Western Australia, to Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and even occasionally on suburban streets.
A game popularised by the diggers in World War I, Two-up is played with two coins, which are tossed in the air. Each player then gambles on which way the coins will land. The game is illegal in Victoria except on Anzac Day. However, in New South Wales, the game is legalised on other commemorative days, as well.
When an Australian feels snackish on the way home after a big night out, they take a pit stop at McDonald’s, and refuel with fries and burgers. This post-party ritual is known as a Maccas run and is best done in the company of friends.
In Australia, some consider sitting in the back of a cab to be impolite, especially if you’re alone. It’s also likely that the cabbie will strike up conversation. By the end of the journey, you’ll know all about their life, family and how their day’s been.
There are two things Australians love: home renovation and barbecues, which is why no trip to Bunnings Warehouse, Australia’s leading home improvement and hardware shop, is complete without a barbecued snag wrapped in sliced bread.
If you’re friends with an Aussie, they’ve no doubt assigned you a nickname. And if you’re fully integrated into the culture, you’ve probably given one, too. Examples include Davo for David, Shazza for Sharon, Johnno for John and Loz for Lauren. Surnames might also be abbreviated, and it’s not unusual for radio, television or sporting stars to be known by their nicknames.
In addition to nicknames, many other proper nouns with three syllables have a shortened colloquial alternative, but Australian’s abbreviate pretty much everything. For example, Australia might be referred to as “’Straya,” this afternoon is “s’arvo,” and a mosquito is a “mozzie.”
In Australia, the holiday season, or silly season, as it’s called, falls in summer, which means Christmas meals are somewhat sprightlier. Although Christmas hams are also popular, many households will also serve seafood, including prawn cocktails and platters of king, tiger or giant banana prawns.
Australia is an egalitarian society, and our strong concept of mateship means that friends often buy drinks for one another. If you’re at a bar and someone says, “I’ll shout this round,” it means they will pay for this set of drinks. Reciprocation is always appreciated.
In 2014, a study revealed that nearly half of Australians eat Vegemite daily. Rich in B vitamins, it’s best enjoyed when spread thinly onto toasted bread—unlike butter or jam, Vegemite should not be slathered generously. Follow these tips, and you, too, can be a “happy little Vegemite,” as the song states.
Since the 1970s, Australia has had a love affair with Bali, and a reported 1.14 million Aussies visited the island nation in 2016. First-time travellers love the country due to its close proximity to Australia, the friendly nature of the Balinese and the abundance of cheap flights and accommodation deals.
Since the ’80s, one of the most popular coffee orders in Australia is the flat white, made of a shot of espresso and steamed milk. The drink has significantly less foam than a cappuccino, and there’s no chocolate powder.
It’s an unspoken act of etiquette to flash your high beams at other drivers to warn them about unmarked police cars, speed checks and other hazards. Although the practice is illegal in some states, it’s accepted by police in others.
Located in the Northern Territory, Uluru is a World Heritage-listed rock formation that is sacred to Indigenous Australians. The 600-million-year-old monolith extends 348 meters above sea level and an estimated additional six kilometres underground.