We've all heard about it: the beautiful beaches, the amazing landscapes, and the wildlife. Indeed, this is how most foreigners see Australia, thinking that the only things they need to put into their luggage when they go here are swimsuits and hiking shoes. But as every one of us knows, a country is not always just about how we see it in films and read in books. Australia is no different, and it’s beyond koalas and giant spiders.
So here are some of the things you should know before you move to Australia:
1. Kangaroos exist, but they’re not everywhere.
While some locals consider kangaroos as pests, you’ll surely find it hard to see a single kangaroo in the city. The iconic creature can be found only in the zoos and in the wild, but you won’t see them hopping around with a cappuccino from Gloria Jean’s.
2. The coffee culture is strong.
Australians take their coffee seriously. Yes, the coffee industry in the country is so big that Starbucks—yes, that American coffee giant—was forced to shut down 70 percent of its operations in 2008 due to fierce competition dominated by local competitors. Add to this Australia’s impeccable palate for good coffee, which makes their local coffee shops a yardstick for coffee perfection amongst many American coffee shop owners.
3. It’s a booze country, too.
Like the Brits, Australians love to drink as well. It’s embedded in their culture. Almost every commercial street has a liquor store, and every restaurant offers a drink to go with your meal. Also, if you’re into the locavore-artisanal-organic thing, the country is replete with locally brewed beers and distilled alcohol.
4. Scenic beaches are for real.
Due to its relatively hot climate, Australian beaches have become the most favourite destinations amongst surfers and beach lovers. While there are local beaches that can be extremely crowded during summer, a big fraction of them remains less congested if not yet undeveloped.
5. It may be a sunburnt country, but snow exists here, too.
Yes, and if you come here in June, you’re likely to experience its lovely winter season. Skiing and snowboarding in the Alpine region through New South Wales and into Victoria are a local favourite, and you may want to experience this as well.
6. Australian weather is a bit surprising.
You’ll think it’s just global warming, but this is how the weather works in this country. Typically, Summer is from December to February; Autumn is from March until May; Winter spans from June through to August and Spring from September until November - but this may vary depending on where you live. Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, is known for having a more tropical climate whereas Melbourne is notorious for having "four seasons in one day."
7. Everybody loves sports.
Aussies love sports, and this means almost every sport in the world. But they have special affection reserved for cricket, football (they have a lot of versions here), especially rugby, and The Cup (The Melbourne Cup), which is an epic horse race held every first Tuesday of November. If you want to be friends with a local, you should at least follow one of these sporting events.
8. Forget American English here.
This is an exaggeration, but really, you need to know that Australian English is unique, especially local slang and how it’s spoken. Australian spelling is closer to British spelling, but in terms of using it the Aussie-way, you still need to spend a lot of time talking to the locals to get the hang (and eventually adopt) of the sexy accent and the local jargon.
9. Tipping is not customary.
Unlike in the UK or the US, Australians aren’t really into tipping. The reason? Perhaps because Australians enjoy the highest minimum wage in the world ($9.54 per hour), which means that that favourite waiter of yours don’t need your extra coins.
10. Australians are friendly, too.
There are tonnes of surveys saying that they’re no longer as friendly as they used to be, but these are just numbers, mate. People are people, and we are basically the same. Perhaps the trick for Australians is that you have to earn their trust first. Just be yourself, and learn to embrace what the locals love and do on a regular day.
And there’s a lot more, like how different their ketchup (tomato sauce) is, or why they love Vegemite or what’s behind this fascination for banana bread. All these you’d understand once you get here, the moment you start living with the locals.
For more questions about moving to Australia, talk to our seasoned migration consultants.