Australia is a country that has always been extremely fascinating to those who reside in North America. It couldn’t be farther away from us, and yet we are all so intrigued and eager to visit. I mean, a country with picturesque beaches and hot weather all year round? And a bunch of people surfing all day long? Sign me up!
But, like any country, Australia has a ton of stereotypes that are extremely exaggerated. For one, those who visit are always pre-warned about all of the animals that will likely come after you during your stay, when in reality you probably won’t come across one of them. You probably also think that the kangaroo and koala sightings will be endless, but you’ll probably have to go to a wildlife sanctuary or out into the bush if you want to catch a glimpse of any.
And hey, just because Aussie’s have the ocean as their playground, does not mean that everyone pops out of the womb a pro surfer. And not everyone is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed human straight out of Bondi Rescue. Although, I'm sure they wish that one to be true.
If you have ever visited Australia, or are a resident yourself, then you have probably debunked a majority of these stereotypes already. However, if you are from North America and have yet to travel the hefty 15+ hour flight, then you probably have believed one or two of these to be true at some point in your life.
25 Kangaroos are ridden as a form of transportation
While this one is laughable to Aussies or anyone that has visited the country (or really anyone with common sense), some people overseas actually believe this to be true. It would not only be cruel to ride kangaroos, but they would also put you in your place real quick if you ever tried.
For real, they’ve got strong kicking powers and would kick you straight to China if you got too close, let alone let you jump on the back of them. Definitely wouldn’t recommend.
24 Koalas are found in every tree
Koalas are plentiful if you are visiting a wildlife sanctuary, but not as easy to spot in the wild as they tend to hang out in very specific types of trees that aren’t found everywhere in Australia, especially not right in your backyard.
If you’re lucky enough to spot one, they are probably nestled very high in the tree, sleeping away the day. And since they sleep up to 22 hours a day, they are also very rarely mobile, making them even trickier to spot.
23 Everyone loves Vegemite
Most Aussies you come across will tell you how amazing Vegemite is and they refuse to validate any other opinion. Australians are fed the spread from the time they are a baby, so most love it simply because they grew up with it and don’t know any better. In fact, a study was done in 2014 to reveal that nearly half of Aussies eat Vegemite every single day.
However, there is definitely a chunk of the population that agrees with the rest of the world’s opinion of it being downright wrong.
22 Sydney is the capital of Australia
Probably the most well-known location in Australia is 42 Wallaby Way in the city of Sydney. When you think of Australia, you think of Sydney and the Opera House. While it would make sense that the most widely visited and largest city in the country would be the capital, the capital is actually Canberra, located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory.
Canberra is definitely not a popular tourist stopover or generally a very desirable place to reside, since it is inland away from the coast.
21 You will be eaten by a deadly animal
Yes, Australia is home to some of the deadliest creatures in the world, including poisonous snakes, spiders, octopus, crocodiles, and sharks, but the risks they have on people is largely exaggerated.
You probably won’t come across any of these creatures if you are living in a city, with the chances heightened the more remote places you travel to. If anything, you will come across the occasional spider visiting your apartment, but I promise that walking down the street doesn’t mean a crocodile will emerge from the waters and eat you.
20 And going in the water is dangerous because of sharks
If you’re swimming in the ocean, it’s pretty much a given that there are also sharks looming in the waters along with all the other creatures that live in the ocean. Saying that, there are obviously the occasional shark encounters with humans that are swimming in said ocean.
The good news is that at a lot of popular beaches there are helicopters that patrol the waters for sharks, and an alarm will sound if the water is dangerous. At more remote places, this isn’t the case, however, the risk isn’t as bad as it's portrayed to be.
19 The toilets flush in the opposite direction
Despite popular belief, toilets don’t flush backwards in Australia, or anywhere on the opposite side of the world for that matter. The direction of the flush actually has nothing to do with the geographic location, but with the shape of the basin. Also, there is no correct way for a toilet to flush, so who’s to say who is ‘backward’?
The Coriolis Effect, which is the effect that makes air spin in different directions in different hemispheres, is only applicable to large weather systems.
18 All Aussies are pro surfers
Some of the best surfers in the world are of Australian descent, since the surfing spots are second to none and most people are probably thrown into the ocean at birth, but not everyone is a blonde haired surfer. You’d actually be very surprised to know that only 10% of Australians surf recreationally, while the other 90% clearly could care less about the sport. There are definitely more tourists out surfing than actual locals, as that’s a must-do activity when you’re visiting the land down under.
17 All Aussies are physically fit and tan
While over 80% of the population lives within 50 kilometres of the beach, not everyone is a Baywatch babe. The ‘Aussie’ look is definitely a thing, where people basically wear a bathing suit and flip flops 24/7 and look like they were basically born on the beach. But like any country, there is diversity.
Australia is a pretty diverse place with many immigrants and different lifestyles to go along with that. So no, not everyone fits the ‘Aussie’ look or lives that type of stereotypical beach lifestyle.
16 It’s hot and sunny all year round
Many imagine Australia to be the land of unlimited sunshine and hot weather, however, it is actually home to some pretty diverse weather depending what area you’re in.
The west coast gets the most sunny days per year, Melbourne can get pretty miserable and rainy, and Cairns brings humid heat and tropical storms. It even snows in certain parts of the country and you can actually ski. However, the summer months can be insanely hot, with temperatures reaching between 40-50 degrees Celsius.
15 Australia is small
It’s an island so everything must be close…right? Wrong. The fact that Australia is tucked away beside the large land mass of Asia makes everyone think that it’s this small country and travelling within it is a breeze. In reality, it’s actually similar in size to the U.S., with the east and west coast being a four to five-hour flight apart.
Also, the east coast trip from Sydney up to Cairns (a popular tourist route), is a whopping 27 hours. You will likely have to drive a couple of hours to get anywhere in Australia.
14 The country is made up of complete deserted outback
If you’ve ever seen the Crocodile Dundee or Australia, then you probably have a pretty painted picture of what Australia looks like. And while the way in which those movies portray Australia is true (I mean, it was filmed there), it doesn’t paint the entire picture.
The outback does make up of the majority of the country’s land mass, however the real action happens on the coasts where the majority of the population resides. Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth are all bustling cities where you will find jam-packed beaches in the summer months, lively nightlife, and a whole lot more to offer than the outback.
13 And everyone lives by the beach
Whilst I would imagine most Aussies wish this were true, unless you have a scored a beachfront bargain or are rolling in the big bucks with a seaside villa, you probably don’t have a view of the ocean from your bedroom.
It’s true that a majority of the population live within 50 km of the coast, but that also means that a majority of people are living in normal suburbs like the rest of the world. Or if you’re in a big city, in a condo or apartment complex.
12 The slang is impossible to understand
While the Australian slang may seem impossible to understand, it’s also very easily decodable. Don’t get me wrong, Aussies definitely have their own version of English different from the rest of the world, but it’s not as complicated as you think. A lot of the time the word is simply shortened, even though it may seem completely made up.
For example, ‘arvo’ is the short form of ‘afternoon’, ‘Macca’s’ for McDonald's, and ‘barbie’ for barbecue. And of course, ‘Straya’ for Australia.
11 Food is strictly cooked on the barbie
Ever heard the Aussie saying ‘Just going to throw some shrimp on the barbie’? I would imagine probably once or twice. Aussies definitely love their barbecues, whether that’s a sausage sizzle at home or at the beach on a Saturday afternoon (almost every beach has barbecues for the public to use). But hey, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy cooking indoors ever so often like the rest of the world (especially in the winter). And they’re called prawns, not shrimp.
10 Australian football and rugby are the same
Don’t ever tell an Aussie that you think rugby and Australian footy are the same sport. At first glance, both sports seem very similar, but when you actually watch a game or two you realise how different they really are. They are played with different balls, different shaped fields, different rules, different goals, and a whole different set of fans.
Aussies go nuts over footy (since its solely their sport), while rugby is an international game that the entire world gets on board with.
9 The country has no culture
Sure, Australia is no Thailand where you can’t walk down the street without running into a dozen ancient tombs. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a country that is full of incredible culture and history—you just have to look a little harder.
Melbourne is particularly an amazing city when it comes to the arts, history, music, and culture of the country. You can’t walk ten feet without coming across an art gallery or museum, and pretty much every other city in the country has a national museum worth checking out.
8 Aussies are carnivores
Sure, Australians are known to love their meat. They’ll use any excuse possible to have a sausage sizzle and won’t hesitate to cook up a kangaroo for dinner. However, there is a huge vegan trend exploding all over the country, specifically in cities like Gold Coast and Sydney, where you won’t struggle to find a juice bar or vegan burger stand within a few miles of you. And don’t get me started with acai bowls—those things are everywhere.
7 Crocodile wrestling is a common sport
We’re not all Steve Irwin (even though we wish we were because he was badass). The famous ‘Crocodile Hunter’ was known to wrestle one or two of these creatures in his day, even his children are known to have taken one down. But I can promise you that you wouldn’t want to come across one of these bad boys in real time, as it takes a professional to know how to deal with one. If not, you might as well be considered lunch for the day.
6 Everyone walks around in a bathing suit and flip-flops at all times
Don’t get me wrong, Aussies love their flip-flops (or thongs, as they say, don’t get it twisted), but they also don’t spend 7 days a week at the beach living in a bathing suit.
Wearing flip flops is more of a summer thing, with the rest of the year consisting of wearing all sorts of different footwear. Don’t forget that the Ugg boot brand is Australian, even though they definitely don’t need fur-lined boots at any point in the year (in most of the country anyway).