16 things that shock tourists about Australia when they visit


16 things that shock tourists about Australia when they visit

Our chocolate tastes weird, our Christmas is back to front and we’re a nation of prudes – this is how foreign visitors view Australia.

Our chocolate tastes weird, our Christmas is back to front and we’re a nation of prudes. Here’s just a snapshot of what visitors Down Under this when they arrive.

‘They’re actually a nation of prudes’

An American woman on Quora wrote “They are prudes. Kids as young as 5 refuse to get undressed in changing rooms and lock themselves up just to put their swimmers on. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Apparently our chocolate tastes weird

A British traveller who visited Australia was aghast at our chocolate. “Because of the heat they put stabilisers in the chocolate bars to stop them melting on the shelf,” wrote D Kay on Quora. “Only problem is that it doesn’t melt in your mouth the way chocolate should.”

Apparently our chocolate tastes bad?

Apparently our chocolate tastes bad?

The sheer size of the place

Many travellers comment on this element. As D Kay put it (who lived in Australia for three years) wrote on Quora: “You would take off from Sydney to fly to Hong Kong see the land stretch out before the aircraft. You would watch an in-flight movie, then doze for a while, then have a three course meal (plane food), have a sleep, wake up and have a drink and a snack and look out of the window expecting to be flying over the ocean only to see the red desert of the interior as far as the eye can see. Hours later and you are STILL flying over the land down under.”

It’s hot at Christmas

This one reallllly seems to blow people’s minds. As one English traveller wrote on Quora: “Everyone knows that in December in Australia it’s the middle of summer. But there is something eerie about walking round the shops in shorts and T-shirt, the blazing sun on your back, eating an ice cream or sipping an ice cold drink and “Dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh …” or “In the bleak mid winter …” blaring out through the store speaker system”.

Yep … there's no white Christmas Down Under.

Yep … there's no white Christmas Down Under.

‘Hold on a sec and I’ll grab my thongs’

On Reddit one male visitor to Australia was aghast when his female (Aussie) friend asked him to wait for her while she grabbed her thongs. In the US – where he if from – that refers to G-string underwear. They refer to the footwear as flip flops. It’s a lesson he won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Nobody actually drinks Foster’s Lager

It seems some incredible international marketing campaign in the ‘80s convinced everybody overseas that Foster’s was the beer of choice for Australians. And so it surprises many a traveller when they visit and people snigger when someone orders a Foster’s.

Believe it or not … we don't all drink Foster's Lager.

Believe it or not … we don't all drink Foster's Lager.

The amazing ability to shorten words, and just end them with ‘o’

What is pictured here? It’s a servo. Where do you buy any beer other than Foster’s? The bottle-o. What’s the bit that comes after the morning? It’s the arvo. The Australian ability to shorten words and simply chuck an ‘o’ on the end has caused many a visitor to scratch their head.

We take our coffee very, very seriously

Many a poster on travel boards has marvelled at Australia’s dedication to good coffee. As one woman wrote: “Coffee is their second religion. Wherever you go in the big cities and even beyond, it is better than in Italy, due to the TLC put into it by many boutique coffee brewers. Starbucks has miserably failed here for a reason: it’s miserable coffee and the Australians won’t have it.”

That's right … we take our coffee very seriously.

That's right … we take our coffee very seriously.

‘They have snow there?!

Australia has the reputation of being a big brown land, mostly made up of outback, where it’s hot enough to fry an egg on your car bonnet. (True enough). But the fact that we also have alpine regions with enough snow to warrant entire ski seasons was mind-boggling for a number of visitors.

‘Boy oh boy, they can swear’

It didn’t matter whether the traveller from was the US, the UK or further afield, numerous people commented on our ability to drop a swear word. One woman said “when I returned home I had to try really hard to reign my language in again. It really rubbed off on me”.

Boy oh boy we can swear.

Boy oh boy we can swear.

‘They actually choose to sit in the front seat of a cab’

It may not be as common in COVID times, but the habit of many Australians to sit in the front seat of a taxi floored many foreigners. “I think it’s part of their egalitarian attitude” wrote one commenter on Reddit.

Some of our sayings just don’t translate

A woman who had recently emigrated to Australia recalled being invited along to a neighbour’s house for Saturday lunch. When she asked what she could bring, the neighbour said “everyone’s just bringing a plate”. Unfortunately that didn’t translate, and the newbie turned up with an empty plate, thinking that the host didn’t have enough crockery to go around.

It's Australia … you don't have to tip everywhere you go.

It's Australia … you don't have to tip everywhere you go.

Tipping is not expected

Many people – mostly from the US – were amazed by the fact that tipping wasn’t really expected in restaurants, or to staff at hotels. “Apparently waiters are paid a living wage down-under,” wrote one incredulous American.

The amount of water in our toilets

Some travellers got a serious fright when they opened the lid of an Aussie toilet for the first time. “Where has all the water gone??” wrote one visitor, who was clearly used to the American toilet bowls that have at least double the water in them. They were also bamboozled by the half and full flush button option.

That one … I want to BBQ that one.

That one … I want to BBQ that one.

The fact that we eat kangaroo

This really confounded a number of people. One man from the US wrote on Quora “I asked my tour guide what was in his burger and he said kangaroo. I literally had a jaw drop! Come on – who eats their own national animal!? Apparently, the government supports the citizens to eat kangaroo meat – coz, there are no predators for kangaroos on the island. So, to keep the kangaroo population under a certain limit, the government encourages this as, they cannot export as it will become a shame on their own country!”

That we would even consider putting beetroot anywhere near a hamburger

To be fair, this choice divides many Australians too. One visitor from Europe was absolutely aghast at the culinary pairing, writing on Reddit “it was, by far, the strangest food choice I have ever encountered. And to add insult to injury I got beetroot on my shirt.”

Been there, buddy. Welcome to Australia.


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