As excited as I was to head to Australia I was also a little bit apprehensive that spending 2.5 months was too much time in the country. After I visited New Zealand, I felt a little bit disappointed. It was an amazing country but I missed the culture difference that usually comes with travel. So I feared that I would feel the same way about Australia and be let down. That has not been the case.
It might be that I’m craving the culture of home or it might be that the Aussies have found a way to make their own wacky culture and language. Every day I discover a new word that Australians use in their language or find out something new about the country. Here are just a few things that I find different from home.
Words different from North America
Crisp Bread = Crackers
Biscuits = Cookies
Lollies = Candy
Capsicum = Bell pepper
Sultana = Raisin
Road Trains = Semi truck
Trading Hours = Hours of Operation
Eftpos = Debit
Lite milk – 2% Milk
Slang Aussie Words & Phrases
On top of some of these different words for everyday items, Aussies have a unique way of talking that includes a lot of slang. They like to shorten pretty much every word in the English language. While a lot of the phrases have caught on in North America and are things I say regularly like coppers (cops), brekky (breakfast), and no worries (it’s okay), a lot of times I just smile and nod because I have no idea what was just said to me by a local.
Mozzies = Mosquitoes
Macas = McDonalds (even the McDonalds ads call it that)
G’Day! How ya going = Hello, how are you?
Brolly = Umbrella
Goon= Boxed wine. Heavily drank by backpackers because it’s cheap.
Servo = Gas Station
Sickie = Sick day from work
Stuffed = Tired or not wanting to bother
Bathers = Swimsuit
Devo = Devastated
Stubbie = Big Beer
Tinnie = Can of beer
Other ways the land down under differs
When it comes to alcohol, a lot seems to be different in Australia. For one, their beer is weak! And I’m not talking United States weak, I’m talking even weaker. Most beers are only 3.5%, you have to search out for a 4.2-4.5% beer and it’s more expensive. Talk about not getting bang for your buck. 😉
Their beer sizes are also really small. Most places serve a schooner. In Canada, schooner means a really big beer, like 320z. Here, it means a really small 10 oz glass. And again, the cost! The schooner costs $6-8 AUD (and in big city bars up to $12).
However, it’s not all bad alcohol wise. A lot of places do allow BYO. That’s bring your own alcohol without corkage fees! Hey-o! Okay, I swear I don’t have a drinking problem, so I’ll move onto other Aussie differences.
For being a first world country Australia really needs to work on their wifi. It’s not widely available and even when you do find some free, it barely works. Luckily phone plans are significantly cheaper than back home so I’m able to get a decent amount of data.
Coffee is a major part of Australian culture which I love. But they do things a little differently. You almost never find filtered coffee, it’s all espresso-based. An espresso is called a short black and an americano a long black. Also, you never find a counter area where you can add your own milk or cream, instead if you want that you order a flat white which is basically a long black with steamed milk.
And there is no Starbucks here…well almost none. In North America, you find a Starbucks on pretty well every corner but Australians are not a fan. They like their craft coffee culture so when Starbucks rolled up and opened up hundreds of stores they simply refused to go which caused almost all of them to shut down. Right now there are only 35 Starbucks in all of Australia, compare that to the 1,460 in Canada or the 13,930 in the U.S.
Vegetable & Fruit Prices
I cannot believe the prices of the fruit and vegetables in this country! I mean they grow them right here and yet they are 3-4X the cost I see in Canada where we import the majority! It makes no sense and certainly makes eating fresh produce and living on a backpacker budget a bit challenging. Unless you happen to camp near a mango tree or coconut tree and scavenge a few from nature.
Just like Europe, all power sockets have little switches beside them to be turned off individually. Not sure if North America just has a safer electrical system or is more reckless in that regards, but we constantly find ourselves having to flick the little switch to get our plugged in appliances to work here. And everywhere has signs to unplug things from outlets when you’re not using them, whereas we leave everything plugged in.
These kinds of differences are one of the things I love most about travelling. And I’m certain I will find even more as I travel throughout Australia.