8 Really Important Things I Observed About Australia

Standing kangaroos fighting on grass

Bacon / Ham

Slices of ham on a chopping board

Bacon looks like cooked ham in Australia, which is confusing and dangerous because it means that you’re that much closer to food poisoning, and death. Even more galling is the fact that bacon is placed next to ready-to-eat hams in the deli section of supermarkets like some kind of sick joke. Australians are born with a special type of discerning eye that is able to spot the difference; the rest of us are playing gastric distress roulette.

The deli section also houses continental cheeses/olives/antipasto etc – nothing too weird there – but if you walk a couple of aisles over you will literally find ALL of this stuff AGAIN. This must be because all Australians suffer from crippling addictions to cheese boards, dips and hummus (ubiquitous accompaniments to any social gathering) so I guess this must serve as a back-up aisle should they run out at the deli.

Sportswear, health and fitness

Women doing mat exercises

Sportswear isn’t just worn to play sports in. You can also wear your lycra garb to dinner, to lunch, to work, to expensive bars (as long as it says ‘Lululemon’ on it) to weddings, to funerals (maybe). In Sydney, some may argue that the sportswear trend is only observed by the preened and beautiful residents of the Eastern suburbs, but I’ve seen a homeless man in yoga pants going through a bin in the city centre.

I would wear my sportswear to the shops so that people would immediately be able to see that I was a fit and healthy Pilates teacher (I’ve done Pilates twice in my life and on both occasions I couldn’t walk for a week afterwards). Because, unlike London where hedonism is still cool (sometimes), or Paris where it’s still chic to smoke, in Sydney you are on the top rung of the social status ladder if you are a mindful, vegan, yoga-teaching, jewellery-making surfer who loves ‘the great outdoors’, ‘adventure’ and talking about your and other people’s souls. If your idea of adventure is getting completely trashed in a pub on a Friday then you’re probably a piece of shit.

Birds

An Australia crow sitting on a tree branch

If morning birdsong in the UK is the dulcet, delicate melodies of Laura Marling, then morning birdsong in Australia is Slipknot. In residential areas at 5am a crying and retching child comes to your window, oh no wait that’s not a crying retching child, that’s an Australian crow. Why do they sound like that? Who the fuck knows. And magpies aren’t cute in Australia: they dive bomb at you and try to peck your eyes out. Not only is this actually true (unlike the dropbears), but it’s a genuine problem: there are warning signs everywhere, cyclists have to wear visors and it’s referred to as ‘swooping season’.

Bus drivers

Australian public tram in city centre

The bus is approaching and you don’t have money on your travel card? You were too busy stalking strangers on social media and missed your stop? You’re an idiot who got on a bus that doesn’t stop anywhere near your house? WELL NO WORRIES because bus drivers are GOOD PEOPLE in Australia. They will (and they did): let you on anyway / let you off as soon as you’ve realised / stop as close to your house as they can, to help you out. The London bus-driver-workbot-jobsworths would: turf you off immediately / deliberately drive two stops further on / drive you to the end of the line without letting you off ‘because it’s unsafe to pull over’.

Uber

Man's hand on car steering wheel

Uber drivers in Aus are just some guy and his car. It’s just Sam who’s 17 and passed his test yesterday giving you a lift on his way back from school for pocket money. It’s not necessarily anyone’s full time job. Which is why it’s deemed rude to sit in the back and not talk to the driver. Apparently it’s a known fact that the English do this, which I would say is fair, unless of course it’s after 10pm on a Saturday when not only do we talk (shout) to the driver, but we cajole him into joining the Toto Africa singalong.

Milk

Black and white dairy cow with horns in a field

Milk is one of the hardest things to get your head around in Australia. Fact. It’s all too easy to go to the shop for a pint of milk and come out with clotted cream. This is because THERE ARE 5000000 DIFFERENT MILK BRANDS. The simple red/green/blue cap system of the UK gives way to multiple branded cartons with colourful graphics advertising abstract concepts like ‘A2 proteins’ and claiming the inclusion of ‘Omega 3s’ (I thought that was a FISH thing???) instead of giving you the only information you truly give a shit about: is it full, half or zero fat milk? Or is it clotted fucking cream? HOW DO AUSTRALIANS KNOW? Did I miss a mandatory milk tutorial somewhere? Sometimes you will never find out and you have to cut your losses and opt for nut milk. Oh and, even if you’re lucky enough to find the milk you want, your troubles don’t end there – it will probably only be available in a 50 pint monster-carton when you only need it for tea over the next couple of days.

Kebabs

Man shaving meat off a kebab cone

Kebabs aren’t shameful in Aus. Eating a kebab in the middle of the day, sober, doesn’t cause people to stop in their tracks and judge you as someone of a lower socioeconomic status. (I once ate a kebab in London before 5pm on a Tuesday and a woman looked like she was about to call the police.) Some Australian friends have tried to insist that kebabs are still confined to the post-night-out snack category, but I’ve witnessed kebab shops open MIDWEEK at MIDDAY ready to serve the well-healed office workers of the CBD. It’s the stuff of science fiction. In London it is illegal (probably) for kebab shops to open before everyone is completely shitfaced. The shop lights go on and the sign is flipped to ‘open’ only as the first drinker is clocked falling out of the bar, slack-jawed, muttering and drooling, to begin his (or her)(just kidding lol, his) hunt for garlicky shaved meat off a stick.

Hotels / Pubs

An old building with Australian Hotel sign

WHICH IS IT? A PUB OR AN ACTUAL HOTEL? It’s one thing that pubs are known as ‘hotels’ in Australia, but why then are hotels still known as hotels? HOW ARE YOU MEANT TO KNOW WHAT IS ACTUALLY A HOTEL AND WHAT IS A PRETEND HOTEL? Because I am almost 100% certain that if you tried to actually stay over at any drinking establishment the bouncers would lose their shit. Very difficult when you have family staying from overseas who say ‘oh I think we’ve found somewhere nice to stay – it’s called the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel?’ ….That is NOT a place for your or any family to stay in.

One thought on “8 Really Important Things I Observed About Australia

  1. Very amusing and so true. Can I also mention the look of dread when a Brit enters a pub in Oz and appears to be somewhat “refreshed” – in Melbourne this resulted in very deferential treatment! What are they worried about?

    Like

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