You’ve probably heard the stories about Australia – that it’s an endless desert, full of poisonous animals and locals who speak bizarre, slang-ridden English. Right? Wrong! Read on to find out what the real Australia is all about.
Everything in Australia will kill you
Drop bears, deadly snakes, venomous spiders, man-eating crocodiles and sharks … everything in Australia is just lurking here, ready to bite you. Not true! For starters, drop bears aren’t real, and you’re pretty unlikely to encounter any of the others, especially if you’re living in an urban area. Take precautions when you’re out in the bush, swim at patrolled beaches and – if you travel to the north of Australia – don’t swim if you see crocodile or stinger warning signs. A little bit of common sense goes a long way!
It’s always hot in Australia
This one depends on where you live and what you perceive as hot (or cold!). Australia’s a big country, which means there’s huge variation in climate between the country’s north and south. The far north of Australia enjoys a tropical climate, but further south, things start to cool down a bit. In fact, in Canberra, Melbourne and Ballarat, winter overnight temperatures can drop below zero degrees, and all three cities are close to well-known snowfields like Thredbo, Perisher and Falls Creek. So, before you pack your bags, do some research on the weather in your chosen Australian hometown – it might not be as warm as you think!
Australia is a young country
The First Fleet arrived in Australia in 1788, bringing with it the first British settlers. As a result, Australia is often considered a ‘young’ country – but that’s only (a very short) part of the story. At the time of British settlement, Australia was already home to an Indigenous population who had been here for more than 50,000 years, making them the longest continuous culture on earth. And it’s a fascinating culture, home to beautiful art, an unrivalled knowledge of the natural world, and spiritual beliefs known as the Dreamtime.
Australia is a desert
If you’ve seen movies or TV shows about Australia, they’re often set in ‘the outback’ – a red desert wasteland that stretches as far as the eye can see. As a result, you might think that all of Australia is ‘the outback’, but it’s not. The outback is actually a vast collection of largely (but not totally) uninhabited areas and small towns in Australia’s interior, away from the coast and major cities. But, while people do live in remote outback towns, they’re in a small minority – in reality, the vast majority of Australians (85% +) live within 50 kilometres of the coast.
Australians are impossible to understand when they speak
Okay, so this one is sometimes true. Australians speak with a very broad, flat accent, often running multiple words together rather than saying each one individually – c’mon (come on!), dunno (I don’t know), orright (all right) – and shortening common words to make them faster to say (breakfast = brekky, paramedic = ambo, biscuit = biccy, cuppa = cup of tea). They also use a lot of slang words that can be difficult for speakers of other languages to understand – things like dacks (trousers), dunny (toilet), flat out (busy), chockers (full) and deadset (real/really). So don’t panic if you speak to a local and have no idea what they’re talking about. It might take a few weeks, but you’ll be yarning (talking) like a true-blue (genuine) Aussie in no time.