Aussies are a strange breed and we absolutely love them for it. They wear their thongs (flip-flops) with pride, slap shrimp on barbies (technically prawns most of the time), abbreviate and shorten everything, swear a bleep-load, and boast some rather remarkable and diverse (not to mention killer) wildlife.
While we see plenty about the Land Down Under in the news and online, there are countless local traditions, animals, foods, and attractions that are more than noteworthy but are yet to cross the oceans into international awareness territory. Fasten your seatbelts, blokes and sheilas, because we’re boarding the 15+ hour flight to the land of Aus.
10 Tree Kangaroos
Australia is home to a plethora of unique (and deadly) wildlife, but without a doubt, its two most famous furry fellas are the koala and, of course, the boxing kangaroo (it’s on the coat of arms). The best way to explain a tree kangaroo is to take the physical characteristics and moniker of a kanga, then merge it with the sleepy tree-dwelling nature of a koala.
Tree Kangaroos are nowhere near as common as their land-frolicking companions, found almost exclusively in Far North Queensland. Sadly, these little critters are threatened, so we need to pay careful attention to maintaining their habitat moving forward.
9 Kangaroo meat
That’s right, the Australian diet doesn’t only consist of Tim Tams and shrimp on the barbie - Aussies also eat their national animal, kangaroo. We’re not sure if that’s utterly offensive or the most patriotic thing possible, but either way, it’s fair to say that it’s just a little bit odd. Kangaroo meat can be found in Woolies or Coles (Aussie supermarket chains), as well as in pubs and restaurants.
Compared to beef, lamb, and chicken, kangaroo is said to be more gamey and tough to chew, however most people who have given it a go rave about it, despite the higher price tag.
8 Cheesymite Scrolls
They certainly have some strange eating habits in the Land Down Under, and this next item is no exception. We all know about the tar-looking, yeasty, salty, confusingly-why-is-it-even-so-popular Vegemite, and as perplexing as it is, it’s not news to anyone. Something far less internationally famous, yet found within a heartbeat at every corner store bakery, is a beloved Aussie pastry concoction known as a cheesymite scroll.
The name should be pretty self-explanatory - it’s Vegemite and cheese, whipped together and made into a scroll, sort of like an off-brand cinnamon bun. It sounds somewhat ghastly, but don’t knock it ‘till you try it.
7 Fairy Bread
Depending on which country you originate from, this sweet Aussie delicacy is either an elite snack, or it’s incredibly perplexing and just a little bit gross. Australians rave about this stuff while the rest of the world sits back and laughs. For some reason, Fairy Bread has become a staple at kids’ birthday parties all across the country, and it’s always a massive hit.
The thing is, it’s nothing more than cardboard-style white bread, glazed with a layer of butter and then rolled around in Hundreds and Thousands (rainbow sprinkles). It’s as easy to make as it is artificially colored.
6 Goon Sacks
No matter where you find yourself on this big, thirsty planet of ours, you’re never too far away from the opportunity for a glass (or two) of wine. The rest of the world is no stranger to the concept of boxed (or casked) wine, usually incorporated into events and parties, presenting value when bought in bulk. In Australia, however, they do things a little differently.
The box is forgone entirely - it’s all about the ‘goon sack’, or the shiny, wobbly bag that holds the wine. These four or five-liter bags are extremely cheap, setting locals back less than $10. For that reason, the bag is usually thrown around, slapped, hung on a washing line for a game of ‘Goon of Fortune,’ used as a pillow... people drink from it too, of course.
5 Fried eggs in burgers
The concept of a fried egg slammed in between a juicy patty and toasted bun in a burger is far from conventional, and many would declare it’s even sacrilege to the burger god. In the Land Down Under, however, there exists a beloved tradition of fried eggs on burgers that is beginning to cause a ruckus in the international burger scene.
To add insult to injury, in addition to a fried egg, they also slide in a hefty chunk of beetroot, and sometimes a juicy pineapple ring to top it all off. C’mon, Australia, seriously, what on Earth are you thinking?
4 A pink lake
Down in the vast land of Aus, the locals became a little fed up with normality. So what did they do? They poured bucketloads of pink food dye into the perfectly good Lake Hillier. Okay, that’s not entirely true - the lake is pink, but it’s due to a natural process. Scientists aren’t sure of the exact reason how the West Australian lake gets its pink hue (although they’ve ruled out bubblegum), but it’s related to the lake’s microorganisms and how they react with light.
Even though it looks like a tasty strawberry milkshake, it’s recommended not to drink it through a straw (or at all, for that matter).
3 Drop Bears (Supposedly)
From the deadly box jellyfish to the bird-eating spider (yes, a spider big enough to eat a bird) and the plethora of slithering, scaly snakes, there is no shortage when it comes to intimidating and dangerous animals down in the land of Aus.
There is perhaps none more infamous, however, than the vicious, killer drop bear. It’s like a koala, except terrifying. Instead of sleeping for the majority of the day, it’s carefully planning its next attack to leap down from the treetops onto the heads of unaware tourists and slide its razor-sharp claws straight into the jugular. Australians recommend finding a professional guide whenever trekking through the bush, if you want to stay alive, that is. Yes, the Drop Bear doesn't really exist and is a bit of an in-joke among Australians to frighten tourists, but it's such a fantastic story that we've included it here all the same.
2 The Big Banana
Tourists from near and far flock to the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru in the outback, and Melbourne’s decorated laneways and football games, but we can’t quite comprehend how a giant banana hasn’t quickly become the icon of the nation.
Located in Coffs Harbour, the Big Banana is actually part of The Big Banana Fun Park, which offers waterslides, ice skating, mini-golf, and laser tag... with a banana theme throughout, of course. The excessively large fruit is often a welcomed surprise for anyone driving down Australia’s east coast, worthy of at least a selfie or two.
1 The Big Pineapple
If you thought that we were done with the oversized fruits, think again! We haven’t even scratched the surface. The Big Pineapple, located in Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is a heritage-listed site that, believe it or not, once held the title of Australia’s most popular tourist attraction, welcoming over a million visitors annually.
Visitors can actually go inside the fruit before jumping on the Pineapple Train over to the Pineapple Cafe. We are yet to confirm their standing on the pineapple on pizza debate. If that wasn’t enough big fruit, there’s also The Big Mango, The Big Marlin, and The Big Lobster scattered around the nation.