Having worked with quite a few Aussies and Kiwis (any UK telco brand/advertising agency is overrun with them) I thought I had a pretty good idea of what a move to the other side of the road would entail.
Friendly, chilled out people? Check.
Overrun with dangerous spiders? Check.
One thing I wasn’t forewarned about was the array of weird cultural idiosyncrasies that Australians have adopted. Here’s a few of the main minefields you might come across when in conversation with your typical Aussie:
1) Everyone really actually truly does say “G’Day!”. Brilliant.
They also say “How you’re going?”, which has to be one of the most nonsensical greetings around. “Errr, I’m going…ok??” perplexed Brits stammer back in reply, wondering if they’re meant to be going somewhere.
Once you’ve passed this introductory battlefield and started conversing, you’ll soon realise that Aussies all have a profound tendency to shorten words. When one shortens one’s vocabulary in the Queen’s English, of course everyone knows one is being ironic. Here, it’s serious.
‘Whatevs’, you say, it’s not like they shorten everything.
2) Everyone in Australia gets a day off for the Queen’s birthday. Although it’s not even on the Queen’s actual birthday.
Us Brits don’t celebrate it, so why do the Aussies?! Clearly an excuse for everyone to enjoy the sunshine.
And whilst on the theme of tenuous public holidays, every year, there’s a horse race in Melbourne. The entire city gets a day off to watch it. If that’s not peculiar enough, the rest of Australia goes to work in full ‘day at the races’ gear: hats an’ all. Then gets absolutely obliterated. Its essentially the equivalent of a Brit getting a day off in honour of the Grand National, and getting all dressed up just to sit in our lounges and watch it. Delightful.
3) If horse racing’s not exciting enough, out and about around Australia you might be lucky enough to get to see one of the ‘Big Things’. That’s right, with capitals. Years ago some forward-thinking chap thought that placing an oversized piece of fruit next to a harbour would attract people to the town (a 43 x 16 ft banana, compensating much?!).
And lo and behold, it worked. There’s now heaps of these Big Things. Prawns, Pineapples, you name it. Who needs Western history when a tourist’s got cultural landmarks such as these to pose next to?!
4) On the subject of big things, I was convinced everyone wore boardies. Not true. It takes a bit of getting used to not to do a double take when a guy in some very tight budgie smugglers strolls/swaggers past along the beach. And mainly because surprisingly few look like the SoCo guy… Whatever’s comfortable.
Words by – GS, Ruth Hatch