I come from the land Downunder

The other day I posted a photo I took from a  plane flying over the snowfields in New South Wales and a comment was made “I didn’t know it snowed in Australia”. This got me thinking to just how little we sometimes know about other countries.
So today I plan on  a little edumacation  for those who wish to know more.
Therefore, in no particular order are some facts about my country, starting with  snow.
1. Yes it does snow in Australia but only in certain parts of the country and generally those areas that are closer to Antartica than where I live. Although it does get bleedin’ cold where I live in sub-tropical Queensland sometimes, the worst we have seen are black frosts. Snow falls on the snowfields of New South Wales (near Canberra) and in the Victorian alps where dedicated ski resorts are located. Snow also falls on the higher points of Tasmania.
It has been known to snow a few hundred kilometres away from us but the snow doesn’t usually last long on the ground.  Some schools have yearly trips for certain grades to see Canberra (the capital) and the nearby New South Wales snow fields however many Australians live their lives without ever seeing snow (or the ocean).
023-copyThis little fellow was built by the Tween and the Son last year at Mt Buller in Victoria.

2. Canberra is the capital of Australia and is the only planned city contained within the country. It was decided upon as a compromise between Sydney and Melbourne and is located about halfway between them. The site was selected and construction began in 1913 after a competition for designs was won by Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. The city has a geometric design of circles, hexagons and triangles and is centred around the landmarks of Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. It also boasts the largest man-made lake in Australia “Lake Burley Griffin”.
048

This photo was taken from the roof of the current parliament house looking toward the Australian War Memorial with old parliament house in the foreground. The roof of parliament house is covered in grass and the Tween actually turned cartwheels on it!

3. Kangaroos don’t actually hop down the streets of any city in Australia unless they are lost or have escaped from a zoo. They are more prevalent in country areas or outlying suburbs of the major cities. We often get wallabies in our front garden but I live in a country town and my housing estate backs onto farmland.
Most ‘roos (that’s what we call them) are pretty scared of traffic and have no road sense which is why large numbers of them litter the edges of country roads as road kill. They can do real damage to a car if they are hit and motorcyclists have been killed after hitting them. The problem is that they jump out onto the road without warning at times. I have had a couple of run-ins with them whilst driving and it’s a scary experience. Kangaroos are prolific and often hunted and yes, we Australians eat the animals (kangaroo and emu) on our Coat of Arms. Roo meat is actually low in fat and quite good for you although it has a rather strong taste. (I’ve never eaten emu so can’t comment).

4. Kangaroos and koalas are not as cute and cuddly as they look and they can inflict injuries. During mating season, I have heard of ‘roos who have attacked people in their own back yards. Although their front paws are tiny, they have powerful hind legs with pretty ugly claws that can inflict serious damage upon a person (or other animal).
Koalas are not bears and they too have claws. Many of the koalas that visitors to the country see are housed in zoos or sanctuaries and are used to human contact. In the wild, they can be quite cantankerous if cornered. My sister in law has a koala living on her block of land (way out in the country). She has sometimes seen it but more often than not, can hear it growl and roar at night.
0195. Australians have a very different sense of humour. They laugh at themselves and they are not afraid to poke fun at others. It’s all done in good fun and there is no malice involved. Unfortunately due to political correctness, many of the quintessential Australian comedies from the 1970’s and early ’80s can no longer be shown on tv because they poke fun at other ethnic groups, religion, sex and other taboo subjects these days. The funny thing is that some of the ethnic groups (e.g. Italians and Greeks) also made shows poking fun at themselves. What can I say? It’s an Australian thing to ‘pull someone’s leg’ and have a bit of fun.

6. The Australian way of life is extremely laid back and the majority of my countrymen have the attitude of ‘she’ll be right mate’. This means that we are generally extremely tolerant and understanding of others. (Unfortunately this trend appears to be disappearing).

7. We drive on the left hand side of the road. This is obviously extremely confusing to many from other countries who visit some of the more popular tourist areas such as the Great Ocean Road where signs like the following are everywhere.
DSCF54898. Australia uses the metric system of measurement. This means that I sometimes have great difficulty in converting recipes and I am incredibly thankful to Google at these times.

9. Australia has a free health care system and free hospitals. This is funded through tax levies. We also have the option of joining health care funds and accessing private health care if we can afford to. I’m not saying either system is perfect and I have been treated under both but it is what it is and I am still alive and somewhat healthy so that’s a bonus.

10. Voting is compulsory in Australia. Once a person turns 18 they are expected to register for voting in their electorate. When it is voting time, your name is crossed off a huge list at the polling booth. Apparently you can be fined for not voting. I personally have never met anyone who has been fined but then I’ve personally never met anyone who hasn’t voted. I have met people who turn up and have their name crossed off and then put in what is called a ‘donkey vote’ that is totally invalid for whatever reason. Turning 18 is a big thing in Australia as it also means you can legally drink alcohol.

11. The national minimum wage for any adult is $16.87 per hour. This amount increases under different awards and according to age in some cases. Tipping is not compulsory although many cafes and restaurants have tip jars on their counters that is shared amongst employees of the establishment. I used to work in a restaurant and I have been tipped on occasion. I was under no obligation to share this nor was it included as part of my wage. It was a nice bonus.
Employees in Australia are also entitled to between 2 and 4 weeks annual leave each year dependent upon whether they are employed in a full-time or part time capacity. This leave is paid with 17.5% leave loading.

12. A person is able to get their driver’s license at the age of 17 years. A learners permit can be given at the age of 15 years and 9 months. The driver must clock up 100 practice driving hours and also take professional driving lessons before taking their test that consists of both theory and practical. Many young drivers fail their tests on more than one occasion before finally getting their driver’s license. They are issued with a provisional license and must display ‘P’ plates on their car for the next two years until they receive their Open license. In the first year, they have red P plates and in the second year they are green.

13. We very rarely throw a ‘shrimp’ on the barbie  we call them prawns anyway). Thanks to tourism advertising in the 1980’s many people overseas believe that this is what we do. Whilst we love a good ‘barbie’ (or bbq) the food cooked is generally sausages (snags), rissoles (meat patties) or steak and served up with salads and an ice cold beer or glass of wine.

14. Most Australians wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a Fosters beer. The most popular beers in Australia are VB, XXXX (Fourex) or Carlton although boutique beers are gaining a big following. Beer can be purchased in cans, stubbies or tallies. If you are in a bar, you can order a pot, a middie or a schooner (depending on which part of the country you are in).

15. Australians speak a different language although it is often disguised as English. We do our shopping in large shopping centres and often snack on lollies (candy) and biscuits (cookies). We love chips – either hot or cold. I guess you’d call them crisps (cold) or fries (hot). We wear our thongs on our feet not on our butt. We love paw paw (papaya) in summer and wear togs or swimmers when we visit the pool or the beach. Most of us will take an esky with cold drinks as well. I’d be ‘spitting chips’ if I got to the beach and realised I’d left my boardies (shorts) at home. There are a great many others that I am sure someone will remind me of but you get my drift right?

So, is there anything I may have forgotten? Or is there anything else you might want to know?
Just ask away and I’ll do the best I can to answer. 🙂
You say Tomato

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87 thoughts on “I come from the land Downunder

  1. Then, there’s our forgotten state, Tasmania, a little (but mighty beautiful) island off the south-east coast of Oz. It was here those poor sods were transported from Mother England to lead a life far from luxury. Tasmania boasts, among other things, the Tasmanian Devil ( a scary little critter), magnificent wilderness and wild oceans, especially on the west coast, and the Bass Strait, between Tassie and the mainland.

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    1. I did mention Tasmania (under snow). But yes, Tasmania can sometimes be forgotten although it is a beautiful part of the country. Oooh, I have a photo of a Tassie Devil somewhere that I will have to find.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a good summary. You missed one of our favorites, pies (and floaters). You’re right on XXXX in Qld but in some other states (like SA) they wouldn’t touch it. On one of our trips to your wonderful country we drove from Port Douglas to Sydney, on the correct side of the road.

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    1. That’s true about the XXXX although I did mention Carlton and VB there as well. lol
      I forgot about meat pies but I think ‘floaters’ might be something only found in South Australia. I love a good pie with peas piled under the top crust though.
      That’s quite a road trip you did. Well done getting from Port Douglas to Sydney in one piece!! 🙂

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    1. Which way are you driving? Are you going along the Great Ocean Road at all? That drive is definitely one worth doing.
      Melbourne is an interesting place to be. I love visiting Melbourne (I was there a couple of months ago) but I don’t know that I could live there. The culture is definitely wonderful though.
      I have only been to Adelaide once but I remember it as a beautiful city. Enjoy yourself. 🙂

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  3. Wow, this is great! So much fun information. Your language is indeed almost a different language, as is ours here in the States. Funny though, England, Australia and America – same language with different dialects and specific meanings for things. No surprise I’ve read that English is the toughest language to learn. I’ll hit ya up if I need an answer on the cultural differences!

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    1. As I said in my post, these things are not without their issues but I must admit that it is a blessing to not have to worry about not having money to pay a doctor when I am sick.
      As to the metric system – I think the whole world would benefit from having a standard system in that respect. Especially now that we are able to access recipes and information from all over the world.

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      1. I agree. Much of the rest of the world outside of the US is on the metric system — and uses Celsius rather than Fahrenheit for temperatures. But Americans can’t figure that out and don’t want to bother learning them or with the math (although metric is really so much more straight forward than our current system here).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In this instance thank goodness for Google for conversions because it makes it so much easier to let someone in the U.S. know what I mean when I am blogging (e.g. temperature and distance) and if I have to convert a recipe. 😉
          But your are right with working it out. 10 milimetres = 1 centimetre, 100 centimetres = 1 metre. It’s all in multiples of 10s and 100s.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I do throw prawns on the barbie all the time, they are delicious that way 🙂 In Victoria, we call them bathers, not swimmers, sometimes they are togs. It’s interesting that colloquialisms differ from State to State (as do the accents), for instance, in NSW it’s common to call dresses ‘frocks’, while in Victoria, we call them dresses. Another one for the international crowd – we ‘barrack’ for a team, rather than ‘root’ for a team. Also distance – international visitors are constantly surprised at just how big this country is – some of them thinking if they are visiting Sydney they can do a day trip in a car to see the Great Barrier Reef or Uluru/Ayers Rock.

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    1. True dear. I had forgotten about ‘bathers’ as opposed to togs or swimmers. I thought I had them all covered but obviously not.
      And yes, the word ‘root’ has an entirely different meaning here in Australia. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The lack of awareness of distance is often a limitation of “city people”. People come to the western part of the USA with no concept of distance between places. Things look close on a map but may be a two day drive away.

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          1. Just thought of another thing our names is yours Karen as is mine Kazza or Kaz.. We add zza to the end of our names ie Dazza for David, Darren or Darryl, Shazza for Sharon etc….. now that’s uniquely Australian!

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Sue- so interesting! I have learned so much about Australia from you and Fozziemom Bev who does have Roos right outside her window in the country! Do accents vary depending upon what part of Australia you are from? (like a London accent vs a Manchester etc) What a great post! 🙂

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    1. I don’t think accents vary much throughout the country but we do have different words for the same item. And for the record, we don’t all speak like the Crocodile Hunter did either! lol
      I do get wallabies and roos outside my window on occasion but they generally graze at night and we can see where they have been the next morning 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sue I’ve noticed Queenslanders say their “e’s” differently – more like an ay sound (my friend will say alephant and I look at her oddly!!. That’s the only way I can pick em’ and sometimes southerners, ie Victorians and South Australians etc call a shopping mall (mal) whereas I use mawl.

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        1. You know, you’re right. When I moved to NSW as a school girl they used to pick on my different pronunciations and I adapted to a sort of meld between the two extremes. I guess I don’t notice accents too much – unless I’m talking to Kiwi or a Pom. 😀

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for this educational, but entertaining post 🙂
    I had often wondered if it snowed anywhere there. It always seems to be hot. Or warm. (For me. I’m used to six months of snow, at least.) And dangerous. It looks beautiful and dangerous. Of course, the only Aussies I’m personally familiar with take stunning natural photos and are lovely people, so I’m a fan!

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    1. I’ve been living in Australia for over 40 years and the most dangerous thing I’ve ever come across is a dangerous driver, which are everywhere. I think it’s warm here too – the two months of winter (I’m at the bottom end of the country where it’s supposedly generally cooler, whereas Sue is at the top end) where it rarely gets to even 11 degrees Celsius do not count, despite the protestations of some who think that is ‘freezing’.

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        1. I’ve never come across a snake in the wild in my life nor a shark – I’ve only ever encountered those things in the Zoo or Aquarium despite having been out in the ocean and the country (camping, no less!).

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            1. We get snakes in our yard and now they are on the move with the warmer weather we are very alert. As to marine life….. Well I watched jaws as a teen so my swimming is on restricted to our pool. lol

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  7. Oh Sue on my way down here to share my thoughts I stopped off at a couple of replies. How wonderful. What a great post, I really liked it and I’m nodding away as I read it. It has brought us all together from all over to discuss which is fabulous. Funny you mention the kangaroos, when we were out at Lost World there were a few and I mention them in an upcoming post briefly but it reiterates what you have said about them. Bonza, rippa post Sue 🙂 !!!

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    1. Bewdy mate. Glad ya liked it.
      For the record I would never approach a roo in the wild. You just have to see some of the photos Laurie Smith posts on his blog of them fighting to engender a bit of respect in you.

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      1. I was in the car looking through the windscreen and we slowed right down because we weren’t sure what it would do and sure enough… across it darted (more than hopped)! Funny today did you see the video with the two roos fighting in a suburban street just across the road was parked a ute! How quintessentially Aussie is that. It might be on ninemsn… might be worth finding for your post! 🙂 Now everyone will think they roam all our streets.

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  8. Love this post because you’ve cleared up many misconceptions I’ve had about Australia! I had a sneaky suspicion that koala bears and kangaroos might not be cute and cuddly — how could they be? But when we buy little stuffed animals, we think the real animals are the same. Also, glad you cleared up that whole “shrimp on the barbie” thing. Whatever you call it, it sounds good to me. I’m sending the link to this post to friends who are going to New Zealand and Australia in February 2015. They’ll love it as I do!

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    1. When we were able to pet a cute Koala at a reserve near Melbourne a couple years ago, the handler was wearing a leather jacket. She told us we could not hold the cute critter. This was because its claws were sharp, and because when it got excited or threatened it urinated (and tortoises and I’m sure other critters do so too). She said we didn’t want to be clawed or pissed on, thus the rule. We concurred. 🙂

      There were roos lounging about an open area and we could carefully approach and feed them. They ate some sort of “Kangaroo Chow” pellets from our hands.

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        1. I have photos of my Son and the Tween posing with a koala a couple of years ago and there are some of me as a child. Maybe I should do a dig around and see what I can find to put in a blog post.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. There are no roos to jump out in front of us on the highways in Florida, but there are deer and they do jump. So far, they have steered clear of us, but it is scary. Learned a lot I didn’t know from this post. Very educational. Thanks!

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  10. I have one question you didn’t answer. Hope you don’t mind — If a person isn’t able to work, is the welfare system any good?

    I have a cousin who lived in Australia for a little over two years. She told me that the koalas can be mean despite how cute they look. Both the koalas and roos are wild animals so I don’t see how they could be all that gentle if they’re going to survive.

    I like the idea of Canberra, a planned city for the capital. Something us Americans should have taken more care with. 😛

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    1. Sorry, but Washington DC was a new and planned city. It did not exist until it was planned as a totally new place to eliminate fighting between Philadelphia and New York. Thus the traffic nightmare with diagonal streets crossing rectangular grids.

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    2. If a person can’t work, yes the welfare system will pay them. HOWEVER (sorry for shouting) dealing with government departments is a huge pita and sometimes it takes an awful lot of fighting for what you need. I’ve just been knocked back and we are not eligible for some things such as the child dental rebate scheme based on our previous year’s income. They do not take into consideration that we have no income whatsoever right now and haven’t for about 4 months.
      There are many in Australia who survive solely on welfare.

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  11. What a great article. And it brought so much feedback. I found #10 and #11 very interesting, In Canada the voting turn out is in the 30-35% range, and it seems to get a lower turnout each year.
    There are so many “working poor” in Canada. Improving the minimum wage would certainly improve the lives of those who try to make ends meet.
    Thanks for writing and sharing! 🙂

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  12. Excellent post Suz.I learned a lot. One question – I recall hearing some years ago that the ‘roos were breeding so fast they were overpopulating in certain areas. Is this still so? i remember thinking – why don’t they just eat them? Which you did mention. i can’t see any species overpopulating when they are edible – cheap protein is too hard to come by. Just open the hunting season and the population goes down.

    People from Europe have a hard time understanding how big Canada is as well. I don’t doubt it is so in Australia. I live in the province of Ontario and it is 1200 miles ( 2000 kms) from one end to the other and that is less than 1/4 the way across Canada diagonally or 1/3 ocean to ocean. So, I can understand the distances in Australia.

    i am sure that ‘roos in town are rare. Seldom do large animals wander into populated areas. We occassionally get moose into the suburbs, but it is rare. They sound like the Eatern Canadian version of your ‘roos when it comes to traffic hazards. They can weigh over a metric tonne and can stand 6-8 feet tall at the shoulder. They are stupid and will run into traffic when confused – often at dusk or at night. They too kill motorcyclists and can kill car drivers as well in a collision.

    Excellent post Suz – thank you very much – I enjoyed it a great deal.

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    1. ‘roo meat is also used in dog food.
      I enjoyed reading your comments about the moose and read that out to my Tween. Thanks for the little education there. The roos are worse at dusk and night as well because that is when they feed having slept most of the day in the shade somewhere.

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  13. Here here! XXXX IS My BEER! I tried ’em all and it’s my fave. The people are wonderful and kind. The koalas are…frankly: B-O-R-I-N-G. Stop it Suz! I wanna go baaaaackkkkk so badly!
    Loved the pics. Love the “strine” speak. Love the ‘bugs’ (prawns). Loved every bit of my limited experience there. Want to go back and see some more of it, to be sure.

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  14. Very enlightening, Sue, especially as I am picking up a guest tomorrow from Australia. She’ll be spending a few days with us as part of her 2-month USA trip. Should be interesting to hear what her observations are of American culture….

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  15. Very interesting lesson there. As a Pom, I often think you guys are far more like us than the Americans who also share our language. For a start you know which side of the road to drive on! I know we have a reputation for whingeing, and some of us do, I work in customer services so I should know, but mostly we are a laid back lot, very good at taking the Mickey out of ourselves. Wish we had your weather though.

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    1. The weather is something I love however I wouldn’t live any further south than where I am now.
      And you are right, the English can take the mickey out of themselves quite well. I love English comedy and grew up watching quite a lot of it.

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  16. This is why I love your blog. I never know quite what to expect, but it will always be time well spent. I actually now set aside time to go through your posts leisurely, so I may not get to them for quite a few days. It is always worth the wait. I have enjoyed learning more about Australia and enjoying the lively conversation your posts generate. If you want to know more about life in the middle of the USA, just let me know. 😉

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    1. Jeanette, you are so terribly sweet to say these things. I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts as I enjoy yours (but don’t always comment). 🙂 Your zentangling skills always leave me gobsmacked.

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  17. You’re a bonza sheeeeela Suze! Aveagoyamug and aveagooweegen….
    p.s. I could never understand Americans, and I was there for 3 months – all those over-emphasised consonants and vowels – urgh – give me a lazy tongued convo any day!!
    p.p.s. However, I was delighted with the different dialects in the U.S.A. But I like that sort of thing. Made for some very interesting pub conversations (or is that a “bar”?)
    xx

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