The 'Real' Australia
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Whenever people think of Australia, they think of places such as The Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Sydney Opera House, The Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach, or Uluru. While these places are pretty damn incredible, most of Australia is vastly different to these tourist destinations.
I had been approached about writing a blog about Australia, and while I was thinking about my travel experiences to the “Top 10 on TripAdvisor”, it actually made me frustrated that most of the world only sees a VERY small and VERY unrealistic picture of Australia and Australian life.
I’m going to attempt to explain what life is really like in Australia and maybe de-bunk some myths I’ve repeatedly been asked while travelling myself. I currently live in Vancouver, Canada however Brisbane is my real home. Being surrounded by people from North America for the last 12 months is probably the underlying reason for the concept of this blog. In my experience, Australia and Australian stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.
De-bunking Myths About Australian People and Culture
Firstly, Australians don’t ride kangaroos to work. Kangaroos are considered a pest in rural Australia. Farmers can’t stand the buggers and usually shoot them at any given opportunity. Running over a kangaroo with your car is almost a birth-right. And yes, before you ask, I have completed this level on the Australian Game of Life.
Next, we don’t say “G-Day Mate”, we don’t carry knives in our snake-skin boots, and we don’t wear cowboy hats. Well at least I don’t do these things. Brisbane is much like any other metropolis around the world. People drive their cars to work, complain about the traffic, then go home to their partners, their 2.2 children, and a dog. You won’t find many Crocodile-Dundee characters in an Australian city.
Lastly, yes, we are drunk most of the time. It’s true that Australians love a good beer on a hot summer’s day. Day drinking is most definitely a past-time for a huge percentage of the population. I won’t attempt to lie about our culture, it’s completely true that Aussie’s can throw back a drink or two with their mates in the backyard surrounding a barbecue (we put steak on our barbecues though, not shrimp).
Australia is a lot More Than a Harbour Bridge and an Opera House
Bondi Beach isn’t the best beach in Australia. Living in Brisbane means I’m 1 hour from the Sunshine Coast and 1 hour from the Gold Coast (and I’m going to be completely biased and say these are the best beaches in Australia). For me, Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast is the number 1 spot. Bondi Beach and many of the other famous Australian beaches are full of thousands of tourists and quite honestly the sand, the waves, and the atmosphere are sub-par. You’ll find many more amazing beaches across all of the Australian coast line. I urge all travellers to look at more than just Bondi for their beach endeavours.
Another Australian misconception is that it’s hot all year round. While this might be true for some parts of Australia, we actually have a wide variety of climates. We are not usually known for our snow sports, but Australia has a whole bunch of ski resorts that many locals enjoy every year. We’re never going to compete with Canada, Europe or Japan, but we make-do with what we’ve got and enjoy the snow as much as possible during winter months.
Having a wide variety of climates means that we have a wide variety of native animals. Of course we have spiders and snakes but in all the years I’ve lived in Australia, I’ve never seen a venomous spider or snake in my house or in the wild. They’re more commonly found in the outback - so many city goers never come across them. We’re more likely to find carpet pythons and possums in our attics, which are completely harmless, just annoying to remove and relocate.
Australia also has a bunch of camels and penguins - not necessarily the first animals you’d think about when considering Australian wildlife. Camels are found in the outback and I believe we might have one of the largest populations of camels in the world. They’re not necessarily a popular tourist destination, but if you happen to find yourself driving in the outback, you might see one out the window. Penguins are found along the southern coast of Australia and they’ve become a popular tourist destination in summer months. Phillip Island, just off the coast of Victoria is the most popular destination to see the cute Fairy Penguins. It can get quite cold in southern Australia - the next stop is Antartica so it’s the perfect habitat for the little penguins.
Another popular attraction with locals are Saturday markets (although some of them aren’t always on a Saturday). My favourite is Eat Street Market in Brisbane (located adjacent to the Brisbane River). These outdoor pop-up markets are full of food from nearly every culture. Most of them usually also have local craft stalls, homemade nicknacks, funky presents, and a whole bunch of unique items. Most items are locally made from small business owners. But the best thing about these markets are the food. Products are usually made on site, so they’re super fresh. You can’t beat a homemade market-stall juice with your favourite brekkie burger standing in the hot sun at 8am on a Saturday morning. An Aussie’s dream.
Essentially the point of this blog is that Australia has SO much more to offer than “The Top 10”. Not only are we large geographically, but we also have so many climates, so many animals, and so many amazing people. We’re not just a bunch of Crocodile-Dundee’s living in the outback. I cannot recommend visiting Australia enough, but I definitely recommend talking to a local about the best places to visit - don’t just google it. Aussies go to the best beaches, the best parks, and the best mountains - and tourists don’t always get it right.
I guess if you’ve gotten this far into the blog, you’re either my mother OR you’re actually interested in finding out more about Australian people and culture... if this is actually read by anyone, I’m more than happy to de-bunk even more myths about “the land downunder” in future blogs.
Hooroo (Aussie for goodbye) for now!