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