Despite how ubiquitous Aussies are -- try and travel without tripping over at least one on the hostel floor -- the outside perception of their country hinges on 25-year-old commercials about putting shrimp on the barbie, kangaroos, and scenes from Nicole Kidman's homage dud, Australia. Actually, nobody really saw that last one.
Having recently moved to Australia, I knew bars were referred to as hotels and no one actually drinks Foster's (I have yet to see a place where it's sold). But the Crocodile Dundee persona we've come to know and love has somehow prevailed despite more than 8 million residents spreading the good word abroad last year.
So in an effort to dispel some of those ridiculous stereotypes, here's a list of things to keep in mind on your next visit Down Under.
Entrées are appetizers and mains are entrées
This is important to distinguish when you sit down for a meal. Ordering an entrée means you'll likely end up with a $25 plate of two or three scallops or a small salad. Head straight for the main dishes, my friend.
Everyone is in a gender ambiguous relationship
Aussies universally refer to their significant other as a "partner," making it difficult to separate business partners from, well... pleasure partners? Never refer to your girlfriend or wife by her gender or you'll immediately reveal yourself as a foreigner, and no one wants that.
Credit: Flickr user Rahim Packir Saibo
Coffee is life, the rest is just details
Aussies take their coffee seriously, and we're not just talking Flat Whites. Weekends are often occupied by café hopping, usually at places called Fleetwood Macchiato, Ground Zero (apparently they didn't get the memo) and C U Latte. And if you mention Starbucks, you'd better GTFO.
The Australian bar scene is not as wild as you think
The depiction of derelict Aussies is not entirely true. In fact, Australia didn't even make the top 10 of world's heaviest drinkers. That could be due in part to the gatekeeper role bouncers play. They can deny you entry if they believe you're even slightly inebriated, and sometimes even if you're wearing shorts (which typically denotes that you've been day-drinking). Of course, this differs across the country, but Sydney cracked down on the bar scene earlier this year. A new law prevents anyone from entering a bar after 1.30 a.m., limits last call to 3 a.m., and tightens minimum sentencing for reckless behavior. It's like they're trying to ruin their worldwide reputation for having fun.
Quality television basically doesn't exist
Forget about Netflix. Welcome to a world where The Voice, Master Chef, and the likes of Aussie soap operas like Neighbors dominate primetime television. If you're still resistant, you can opt for shows like A Current Affair (that still exists), or infomercials about the Nutribullet and the iRobot Roomba. But you have to admit, that robot vacuum is pretty cool.
Illegal streaming won't fix that. Broadband is not always unlimited
Relish the fact that you can access free Wi-Fi in most public places like bars and restaurants in the U.S. Not only is free Wi-Fi scant in most cafes, it's limited in Australian homes as well, based on your cable and Internet package. Heed this warning when you're trying to binge-watch shows online, which will not include Netflix, Hulu, or pretty much any viral American comedy show clip. Expect to see "this video is not available in your country" more often than the actual footage you'd want to watch.
Credit: Flickr user Eva Rinaldi
Thong races are not what they sound like
On Australia Day, sandal maker Havaianas sponsors a thong challenge. But this isn't an extended Sisqo video, akin to the Santa Speedo Run in the States. Instead, it involves masses of people racing with giant inflatable flip-flops. That's right; thongs are code for flip-flops in Oz. That makes it way less sexy, right?
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