Iconic landmarks, laidback locals, world-class beaches, and exotic wildlife are just some of the reasons why Australia makes it onto the bucket lists of so many travelers.
Some of the country’s main tourist attractions include Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach, Uluru (formerly known by Westerners as “Ayers Rock”), the Blue Mountains National Park and the Margaret River in Western Australia.
But while the “land down under” is famous for all this and more, there are some lesser-known facts about the country that might surprise you, and international statistics experts, world-meters, have provided ten of the most shocking.
It’s Not Always Sunny
Considering its location in the southern hemisphere, you’d be forgiven for assuming the sun always shines in Australia. Sadly, though, this is not the case. The city of Melbourne, for example, is often described by locals as having a four-seasons-in-one-day microclimate.
The good thing about the country’s diverse climate, though, is that there’s always something to do, from snorkeling and sunbathing when the weather is hot to admiring waterfalls as you hike through national parks during the wet season. You can even go skiing in Australia!
The Australian Alps — which straddle the borders of New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory — experience more snowfall than the Swiss Alps, making them a popular skiing and snowboarding destination.
The Majority of Australia Is Deserted
Australia consists mostly of desert. This inhospitable environment means most of its 25 million inhabitants choose to live on the coast, leaving the middle of the country largely — well — deserted.
If you do want to take a road trip through the outback, it’s wise to keep in mind just how vast this country is. With miles-upon miles of nothingness, it can be all too easy to get stranded.
So make sure you have enough gas and always stay with your vehicle if it breaks down so that you have shelter and shade and you are more accessible for the emergency services to find.
To give you an example of just how big this mammoth country is, it takes five hours to fly from Sydney to Perth.
The Great Ocean Road Is a War Memorial
The Great Ocean Road is well-known for its breathtaking views, but you may be surprised to learn that it is also the World’s largest war memorial.
After World War I, returning soldiers built the road as a memorial to those who lost their lives in battle, but it was also designed to connect the isolated communities that run along the coastline.
Arguably, the most iconic landmarks along the Great Ocean Road are The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks that rise up out of the sea for 18 miles.
Most of Australia’s Animal Species Are Endemic
Because Australia’s ecosystem evolved in isolation from the rest of the world, the majority of its creatures can only be found in Australia. This also explains why its animals are so unique. Here are some examples of Australia’s most interesting animals:
- Tasmanian devil
Australia is also home to many dangerous animals. It’s no secret that its snakes, spiders, and jellyfish are the deadliest in the world, but even the cuddly ones can cause serious harm.
Kangaroos, for example, are known to kick, while Tasmanian devils can bite through bone, and even platypus are capable of injecting painful venom into their victims.
Uluru Is Even Bigger than It Looks
You may already know that Uluru is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Australia’s biggest mysteries, but you might be surprised to learn that the world’s largest monolith is even bigger than it first appears.
Not only does it rise 2,800 feet above the ground, but most of its bulk lies underground, and it is thought to be connected to the Olgas, which are located 16 miles away.
Australians Love Abbreviations
English may be the country’s first language, but when you first arrive, you might struggle to understand what people are saying. This is because Australians love to shorten words.
To help you learn the lingo, here are some of the most common Australian slang terms and abbreviations:
|“BYO”||Bring your own drink|
|“Chuck a sickie”||Take a sick day|
|“Cuppa”||Cup of tea|
|“Footy”||Football or rugby|
|“Goon”||Cheap boxed wine|
|“She’ll be right”||It’ll be OK|
|“Shout”||To buy something for someone|
|“Strewth”||An expression of shock or surprise|
|“Stubby”||Bottle of beer|
Asian Food Is Widely Available
Australia embraces Asian culture, which means Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian cuisine is easy to come by, whether you want to dine in or take out. For the most part, Asian food here is delicious — and it’s usually relatively cheap, too.
Despite Australia being a member of the British Commonwealth, Britain now has less of an influence over Australian cuisine. This is largely due to Australia’s high-quality ingredients — like steak — which mean pub and cafe dinners are generally better than they are in other countries.
Alcohol Is Served Differently
In the US, you can buy beer, wine, and liquor from grocery stores, but in Australia, you can only buy alcohol from liquor stores, which are known as bottle-os.
Another thing to be aware of when buying alcohol is that beer is served in different-sized glasses depending on which state you are in.
For example, you’ll be served pots in Queensland and Victoria, glasses in Western Australia and Victoria, and middies in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, and Western Australia. Beer is served in schooners all over Australia.
When in Australia, you may see restaurants advertising “BYO”. This means you can bring in your own alcohol and drink it for a small fee.
Also, it is a common misconception that Foster’s is Australia’s national beer. In fact, Foster’s is rarely drunk in Australia.
Tipping Is Not Mandatory
This might be a difficult one to get used to, but in Australia, you’re not obliged to tip servers, hotel staff, hair stylists, and taxi drivers. Of course, you can if you want to, but it is not expected.
If you do want to tip, anything up to 10 percent is appropriate, which may feel much less than the US standard of 15 to 20 percent, but this is because the minimum wage in Australia is much higher.
You Can Carry Liquids in Your Hand Luggage
Since 9/11, airline passengers have not been allowed to carry liquid, powder, aerosols, and gels in their hand luggage unless they are in 100-milliliter containers.
However, on Australian domestic flights, there are no restrictions on this.
There are many misconceptions about Australia; for example, that it’s sunny all the time or that because it is an English-speaking country, US tourists will be able to understand everything the locals are saying.
But Australia’s idiosyncrasies are what traveling is all about, and it is important that we remember to embrace, respect, and try to understand the cultural differences of the places we visit.