The Aussie Way

I have been in Australia a few months now. What have I noticed that’s different from other places? The Land Downunder is unique in several ways. Here are some I have noticed.

The colourful Australian use of English

Jokes about speaking ‘straylian aside, English is the official language of Australia, but not as we know it. It is not only the Aussie accent that confuses non Aussies, but the use of different words. The news reports that someone was ‘bashed’. The cheddar cheese in the supermarket is defined as either being ‘mild’ or ‘tasty’. Then there are phrases like “I was flat out like a lizard drinking” which once you’ve thought about it is a very colourful way of saying “I was busy”. I have noticed Queenslanders especially saying ‘but’ at the end of sentences (where you might say ‘though’) An example might be asking someone to go buy something from the shops and the reply being “I went already this morning but” I keep thinking ‘but what?’

Australian cheese options include ‘mild’ and ‘tasty’

Relaxed attitude

This is a popular stereotype but I have noticed it to be especially true in far Northern Queensland. How laidback is too laidback though? People greet each other, strangers included, with a friendly “G’day, how ya going?” which is all very nice, but there are also people wandering around the city centre and even in the supermarkets, with no shoes on. People don’t point or stare; it seems accepted as normal. The thought of getting my toes mashed by the unforgiving wheels of a supermarket trolley horrifies me but (did you see what I did there?!) I don’t think the town planners (in Cairns at least) are very laidback though, as they seem to have designed the pedestrian crossings of all the wide roads in town to allow you only 8 seconds of ‘green man’ time, to get across the road (which takes 18 seconds to cross at a fairly speedy walking pace).

How much to tip in Australia?

In countries across Europe it is normal to tip waiting staff, taxi drivers, hairdressers and a whole host of other people working in the service industry. In America it is unforgivable Not to. However in Australia customer service can be appalling, largely I think, because tipping is not customary, so there is no incentive to provide good service. I am not ‘bashing’ all waitresses here, I have met some very helpful ones, but I have also met some really rude ones.

Australian Money – notes and coins

TV Downunder

Television programs in Australia are riddled with adverts, which is not unlike TV Broadcasting in other countries, but the adverts are annoyingly frequent throughout the programs, like in America. Aussie TV is often broadcast to it’s own unique schedule too, by which I mean that the program advertised as showing at 8pm often only actually starts at ten or fifteen minutes past 8… I have also noticed that Lethal Weapon has been on A LOT!

What striking differences have you noticed while living abroad?


  • Turkey's For Life

    Ha ha, love that you’ve noticed so many differences in Australia. We always assume English-speaking countries to be the same as the UK. You know Turkey well so you probably know the differences here. The main one we noticed when we came – and it still shocks my ‘Englishness’ sometimes – is the really personal statements or questions said so matter of factly. Comments about your weight and questions about your financial earnings are so taboo in the UK. Here, it’s a free for all. 🙂

  • Steve

    I love the fact that cheese can be categorized as tasty. That would be something that would catch my eye there too. I didn’t know that tipping isn’t the norm in Australia. I have noticed in countries without much tipping that the service is usually not as good.

    One thing that stands out for me of what I saw in a grocery store is seaweed flavored potato chips. This was in Asia. It was so tempting I had to try it. It wasn’t very good.
    My recent post How I Traveled Long Term And Kept My Job Twice

  • Caz Makepeace

    We are a strange bunch down under!! I love our colourful use of language. My husband and I love using our Aussie speak in other countries to say something we know no one else would understand and we don’t want them to either!!
    Have to agree that the service in Australia is appalling. we’ve just come from living in the US for four years and are often left alone at a table wondering just where our waitress is. You see them about once during the course of your meal and have to hunt them down if you want anything else which you’ll receive quite rudely. Makes me kind of miss tipping
    My recent post In Honour of July 4th – 47 Things We Miss About America

  • Lauren

    How about the different pronunciation of words like shallot, schedule and oregano? Oh, and as someone who is also American and lived in Sydney for more than 18 months, I can say with certainty that some of these Aussie phrases will start slipping into your speech before you know it!
    My recent post Social Life Abroad vs. at Home

  • Rocky Travel Blog

    I loved this post. Whenever I read this from a English native speaker I feel somehow relieved. It’s not me failing in understanding what they say. No matter how many times you ask them to repeat the phrase you get it out even more twisted…that’s the aussie sense humour… teasing someone not understanding their way of speaking. But this is also what makes of them so lovely. With the rudeness of the waitresses I cannot agree more, in my experience the rude ones outnumber by far the polite and nice ones. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.
    My recent post Margaret River Wineries

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