Four Things Everyone Should Know About Australia

by phillipsauve on May 20, 2010

Total Reading Time: 5 Minutes

After two weeks of practicing how to say ‘G’day mate’ in my best Australian accent and listening exclusively to Men at Work’s “Land Down Under”, I felt fully prepared to hug some koalas, wrestle crocodiles, and fight Russell Crowe.

Instead I had to settle for some innovative architecture, kangaroo steaks, a lot of flashy utes (think El Camino), Melbourne’s stellar transit system, Sydney’s beautiful harbor, Australian football (gotta love footy!), and witnessing the march of the world’s smallest penguins.

Here is a short post on a few things about Australia that everyone should know:

  1. Foster’s is Not Australian for Beer
    When you hear the name Foster’s you think of those 25 ounce oil cans and that catchy slogan in a thick Aussie accent (pronunciation tip: Aussie= Ozzie).  Well, it turns out nobody drinks the stuff in Australia.  You’d be hard pressed to find it in a restaurant- it’s just not served.  It’s just as bad in Australia as it is in the United States.  What you have here is an Australian company with a good marketing team, not a good beer.  The Foster’s group is a large company that produces and distributes many different wines, spirits, and beers, including the Foster’s brand we all know.  If you are looking for a good Australian beer, give James Squire a try.
  2. Sydney is Not the Capital
    I think this one would have stumped a lot of people on that show, “Are you smarter than a 5th Grader”.  Many people are surprised that Sydney isn’t the capital of Australia since it’s Australia most famous city (don’t let the Melbournians hear me say this).  The real capital of Australia is Canberra.  It is about four hours southwest of Sydney.  Canberra was chosen as a compromise between Melbourne and Sydney in 1908 (those two never got along).  If Nemo had been swimming to Canberra perhaps it would be more well-known.
  3. Every Australian Does Not Have a Kangaroo For a Pet, and They Don’t Wrestle Crocodiles
    Contrary to popular belief every Australian does not have a kangaroo for a pet.  That’s not to say that no one does, but its not that common.  Actually, wallabies, a smaller version of the kangaroo, tend to be the more popular choice for a cute, cuddly house mate.  The majority of Australians live in urban and suburban areas along the east coast.  Many people do eat kangaroos though.  Kangaroo meat is very lean- it has only about 2% fat, which is far leaner than beef (even the healthier grass-fed beef).  And you may be shocked to hear that Aussies don’t all wrestle crocodiles.  The work of the late Steve Irwin is much more part of the image, as opposed to the daily realities, of life in the land down under.  A side note: saltwater crocodiles, which can be found in northern Australia, are huge!  They are the largest living reptiles, averaging about 5 meters long and 450 kilograms (16 ft & 1000 pounds).  The largest ever measured was over 6 meters and 1200 kilograms (18 ft & 2600 lbs)!! Imagine a beast like that swimming by you.
  4. “Crikey, Throw Another Shrimp on the Barbie!”
    No one says ‘crikey’.  Or ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’.  Actually, Australians would probably call them prawns, not shrimp. For a good explanation about how America came to associate this phrase with Australia check out this Wikipedia explanation. Some people do say ‘G’day mate’, but not as much as you’d expect.

    …and lastly, it’s not a common stereotype about Australians but maybe one thats worth stating:

  5. Everyone Has a Tattoo
    Okay, well probably not everyone, but it did seem that just about everywhere we went people were sporting at least one tattoo.  Of course this can’t be true, can it?  Perhaps it was just coincidence, the warm weather and beach culture, or having lived in the more conservative Japan for the past three years where apart from the yakuza tattoos are pretty uncommon.

    Or, who knows maybe it’s those convict backgrounds…

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