Ten Things You Shouldn’t do or say in Australia
Australia is a vast continent with extraordinary wildlife, metropolitan cities, diverse cultures and a myriad of natural wonders to explore and experience. That is not what we want to share though, it is what you shouldn’t say or do. Certain behaviours should be avoided, words to refrain from when travelling down under. Just as important as it is to know what to do and where to go in a country, that is how important it is to know what to abstain from. If you do not want to get into trouble or rub locals the wrong way, check out the top things you should never do or say in Australia.
1. Don’t Climb Uluru
Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock, is in Australia’s Red Center, and a popular tourist attraction. Hundreds of thousands of tourists’ flock to the rock with its phenomenal views from the top. It is like climbing Kilimanjaro, it is a thrilling challenge that is on many adventurer’s bucket list. While the 348-meter climb is not particularly difficult, there have been around 35 deaths and injuries over the years. However, few people are aware that the Anangu locals do not like outsiders and tourists to climb Uluru. The rock has spiritual significance to the locals. There are various sites and activities around the rock’s base that the locals are happy to share, but climbing the sacred monolith is considered disrespectful and offensive.
2. Respect the Surf Etiquette
Australia has a strong surfing culture and here you will have a great opportunity to give the Australian waves a try. When you are a beginner surfer, however, you must be respectful of the local surfers and follow the code of conduct. Never drop into the person’s wave as the person closest to the peak has the right to ride the wave. If you see a line-up of surfers, you must paddle outside the zone and hang onto your board until everyone has had their turn or you might have a bunch of locals turn on you.
3. Don’t Pet the Dingos
Australian dingos are not the average cute pooch you are used to in your own country. They are wild dogs that you could encounter in picnic spots on Fraser Island or in the Northern Territory. Locals and tourists have fed them; therefore, they appear tame and are bold in coming closer to humans. However, they are not domesticated canines and you should never reach out to pet them. Statistically, they are not a threat, but the number of high-profile attacks should be enough warning to you to keep a respectful distance. The same goes for Australian wildlife like koalas, cassowaries and goannas. When you make a list of things NOT to do in Australia, keep it at the top ad forget close-up photos too.
In the 18th and 19th century, Britain deported around 160,000 convicts to Australia. That was during a time when Australia was a penal colony. While it is not necessarily true that most of the locals are descendants of these criminals, around 22% of the locals trace their ancestry to these settlers. At the same time were 98% poor individuals guilty of minor infractions and petty theft. Only 2% of these criminals were guilty of serious crimes like assault or murder. While there are Aussies that are proud of their heritage, most prefer not to be reminded or connected to that history. You certainly won’t endear yourself especially when you are a “Pommie”.
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5. Don’t Litter
In Australia, we mean it when we refer to our slogan, “Don’t be a tosser”. Don’t toss your garbage, ever. You could get a fine as littering is illegal. In many of the states, people report others when they see someone tossing rubbish out car windows too. Australia has an abundance of rubbish bins, which are around for a reason, therefore hold onto your rubbish until you pass a bin.
6. Don’t Be Fooled by the $ Sign
Many people, especially those that are not familiar with the US dollar and the AUD get confused by the $ sign. Both the US and the Australian currency are shown as the same, which fool many people. It is definitely not the same. The Americans are usually at an advantage(as I write this, $1 USD equals $1.47 AUD) Even with this favourable exchange rate, items like accommodations, food, attraction tickets and liquor are more expensive in Australia compared to the USA.
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7. Don’t Wait to be Served at Restaurants
When you go to a fine-dining restaurant will be served however the majority of casual eateries have self-service settings. You will find a table, browse the menu and go forward to a computer or person to place your order. You will receive a stand and number and once your order is ready a runner will bring the order. Do not expect the entire order to come out at once when you place a group order either. Condiments, utensils, water and napkins will typically also be at a self-serve station. At the same time, keep in mind that since Australian wages are high, you are not expected to tip hostesses and servers when you are at a casual eatery, pub or bar. Neither do you have to worry about tipping hospitality staff or taxi drivers.
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8. Limit your Cocktail Intake
The Aussies are a strict nation when it comes to misbehaviour even more so when you are a tourist. The cocktail scene in our country is well worth experiencing as long as you behave appropriately when tipsy. Don’t be surprised when you get kicked out of a cocktail bar or club when you had one too many drinks. In Sydney, you will not be allowed entry when you attempt to enter a club or bar after 1:30 a.m. Moreover, aside from the lusciousness of the cocktails, is it incredibly expensive. A cocktail range between $13 to $15 USD with the hefty alcohol prices.
9. Vegemite is Gross
Never, ever say Vegemite is gross as you will seriously insult the locals. Don’t even dare to compare it to Marmite or Bovril as that would be equally insulting. It is an Australian delicacy and make no mistake that the unofficial national anthem rings, “be a Happy Little Vegemite”. Miley Cyrus even has a vegemite jar tattoo! This delicacy must be eaten properly too as we treat it with respect and like to remind you that less is more. Don’t slather it on like you would jam or butter and never eat it by the spoonful.
10. I don’t like AFL
You might as well pack your bags and go home when you dare to say you hate AFL. While it isn’t a crime, it is best to keep your dislike and opinions to yourself about the national game and major part of the Australian culture. When we try to put the love of AFL in context, the Friday before the Grand Final is a public holiday with a parade and it also has the fourth-highest attendance rate in the world of professional sports.
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It might sound like we are a bunch of snobs with too many dislikes, however, in fact, that is very far from the truth. We have unique characteristics that set us apart from other nationalities. We have a unique twist to English that many find hard to understand at first, not due to the accent but the slang strewn into conversations. We have a great sense of humour combined with a laid-back attitude and love welcoming tourists and newcomers to our awesome country. Come try it for yourself, but please don’t say “slip a shrimp on the barbie”