Things You Should Know About Australia

by Brooke on July 22, 2010

by Brooke | July 22nd, 2010  

From myths and misconceptions to commonly mistaken facts, there are plenty of things you should know about Australia before taking your first trip. Here are some of the fun bits I’ve put together.

  • According to The Simpsons, the toilets flush in the opposite direction in Australia because they are in the southern hemisphere. Call it naive, but the reasoning behind it – the Coriolis effect – captured the fascination of almost every American youngster, which now leads them to often asking locals if it is true or not. Unfortunately, it is not true (I know, I’ve been keeping track). The Coriolis effect does not affect the direction a toilet flushes as it relies solely on the flushing device itself.
  • Drop bears do not exist! Don’t let the Aussies fool you into thinking otherwise. There is a common tale about the existence of these bears that drop out of trees onto your heads and attack. Sure, there may be a ton of deadly things in Australia, but a drop bear is not one of them. In the same category are the hoop snakes.
  • The money in Australia is not made of paper. It is actually made of a plastic material (polymer) to keep it from getting destroyed or counterfeited so easily. I was originally told that too many Aussies were jumping into the ocean with money in their pockets, which is why they went with plastic, but I don’t know if that statement is true.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Sydney is not the capital of Australia. Canberra, pronounced Can-bra by locals, is the capital, and it is located in the Australia Capital Territory (ACT). Until this past year, Canberra was the place in Australia where it was legal to buy fireworks, which many say was its only fun draw.
  • The legal drinking age is 18 in Australia. This may or may not be of concern to you, perhaps until you go to a pub and realize you are surrounded by people that just turned 18 yesterday and feel incredibly old. Or, if you are 18 and traveling to Australia, party on!
  • Foster’s is NOT the Aussie beer of choice! In fact, you will never see it on menus because it is generally made for export and not local consumption. If you see someone drinking Foster’s, then you can assume they are a tourist.
  • Some Aussies can drink like a fish. Bob Hawke, a former Prime Minister, actually had the record at one time for drinking a 1.7 liter glass of beer in 11 seconds! The current record for the same amount is 5 seconds.
  • Not everyone looks and acts like Crocodile Dundee. It may be one of the few Australian movies that gained popularity abroad, but this rugged, croc-wrestling bloke does not really represent the Aussie people. Less than 10% of people live outside of the main urban areas. It is also of note that Paul Hogan, the main character, is actually a comedian down under!
  • Australia’s national animals are the emu and the kangaroo, which are present on the coat of arms. Australia is the only country in the world to eat their national animals.
  • The national animals mentioned above were actually chosen because they can’t walk backwards. Therefore, the animals were to symbolize a country that was progressing forward into the future.
  • Vegemite is a national staple, but besides contrary belief, not every Australian likes it (I can name a few). It doesn’t mean that you are un-Australian.
  • Koalas, which roam free in the eucalyptus trees, are not actually bears. They carry their young in pouches, which makes them part of the marsupial family.

Any other bits about Australia that you think should be added to this list? Leave a comment below!

Photo credit.

{ 6 comments }

Phill Danze July 22, 2010 at 4:14 am
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An an Aussie I can vouch for all these tid bits; especially the Fosters beer one! We also eat crocodile – but you mainly find it in touristy restaurants along with Emu and Kangaroo.

Another tid bit of info is the the pylons on either side of the Sydney Opera House (called the “coat hanger” by locals) are only aesthetic, they do not actually help support the bridge.

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Annie July 22, 2010 at 9:37 am
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I love this! Common thoughts about Australia, and all were discussed heavily while I was there!

I love that people equate Foster’s to Australia. I had never even heard about it until about one week before my trip a friend bought me one and told me it was Australian so I should try it. I was NOT disappointed to find out that it wasn’t popular in Oz either!! It’s served a lot here in Italy and my boyfriend and I laugh a little every time we see it.

P.S. I think the real reason behind the plastic money is spilled beer protection… no?

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Dina July 24, 2010 at 10:45 pm
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:D I never thought of national animals being eaten by the people, but haha, you are right!

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Laryssa July 25, 2010 at 10:14 pm
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Haha! Great tips!
I learned on my tour of the Parliament House that the emu and kangaroo were selected because they’re the only two animals who can’t walk backwards — so Australia’s government should always be forward-moving. Just another fun fact. ;)

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cheap flights to lagos July 27, 2010 at 9:03 am
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This is informative yet hilarious. I totally enjoyed reading every single line from this article. I’ve been to Australia’s bustling metropolitan Sydney a few years ago. My best friend now lives there. The people are very friendly and the country itself is a wonderful destination.

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yoyo June 7, 2011 at 8:41 am
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cant believe you’d include the drop bears in this. they’re a great tale to tell to any tourist. who’d ruin a bit of fun?

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