Australia is on most keen travelers’ bucket lists. Despite its very westernized history, it has a culture that is all its own, and one that is frequently exaggerated or misrepresented on TV or in the movies. Paul Hogan and the Crocodile Dundee franchise did a lot for Australian tourism. But unless you are planning to go deep into the outback, they depicted a different world to the cosmopolitan Australia that most visitors will encounter when they arrive in Sydney or Melbourne.
Here, we lift the lid on the reality of Australian culture, with some information and tips that will help you to settle right in when you visit.
A warm welcome is guaranteed, mate
Here’s a cliché from Croc Dundee that is completely true. Australians really do greet one another with “G’day” – the archetypal “G’day, mate” is usually exchanged between men. The closest equivalent in the US would be something like “Hey, buddy.” Don’t feel compelled to follow suit, however, a simple hello or hi is fine in response – “G’day” can sound a little force from non-Australian lips and Aussie interaction is all about being natural.
Australians are generally quite informal. It is normal to be on first-name terms, even with new acquaintances and in business settings, so if the assistant at the car hire desk addresses you by your first name, don’t be surprised or take it the wrong way.
Australia is a cultural melting pot
You might picture Australians as tanned, blond-haired Caucasians. But again, this simply reflects Hollywood’s depiction of Aussies as a nation of archetypal surfers. Many Australians fit this profile due to the mass migration during the 19th and 20th centuries from Europe. But Australia has a wonderful blend of other cultures too. These include First Nation Aboriginals, who were there before anyone else and constitute between three and four percent of the population, so around a million in total.
Over the past 50 years, there has also been significant migration from India to Australia. There is a close bond between the two nations, and even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently joked about the two nations being bound by a love of cricket and curry.
Casino betting is a popular pastime
The cliché goes that Australians will bet on flies crawling up a wall. Someone even wrote a book about it, and statistically, Australians spend almost twice as much on gambling as the second biggest spending nation. Gambling is part of life in Australia, and the most popular type is on pokies. These are what the rest of the world calls slot games and they are immensely popular. In fact, 20 percent of the world’s slot machines are in Australia.
Australians are also a tech-savvy nation, so unsurprisingly, online betting is also catching on. It really took off during the difficult times of 2020/21, when the number of Australians betting online rose by 50 percent within 12 months. Online casinos serving Australia are all based offshore for regulatory reasons. Review sites like https://www.casinoaus.net/real-money-casinos/ help punters choose the best deals.
Australians are mad about sport
While pokies take the top spot for Australian gamblers, sport comes in a close second. It’s fair to say that the traditionally relaxed Aussie attitude is packed away when it comes to sport. Aussie rules football, cricket, and rugby are the most popular sports, and Australians have a win-at-all-costs attitude which means they are not always the most popular team internationally.
Tournaments like The Ashes, where Australia and England compete at cricket for a tiny but precious trophy often get ill-natured on the field of play, and there are few more serious rivalries in world sport. Having said that, when it is all over, Australians tend to be equally gracious in victory or defeat, and will invariably join the opposing team for some friendly drinks.
Barbies and surfboards – the Aussie beach culture
Finally, one of the major cultural stereotypes comes under the microscope. 85 percent of Australians live close to the coast, so given the hot and sunny climate, the beach is of course an important feature of Australian culture. However, that doesn’t mean that all Australians spend their spare time surfing. In fact, only one in ten Australians owns a surfboard!
Beach barbecues, however, are the most popular type of social gathering. If you get invited to one, it is good form to offer to bring something to eat – an offer which will usually be declined. You should also bring a drink contribution that can be shared or pooled with others.