5 Things You’re Getting Wrong About Australia

5 Things You’re Getting Wrong About Australia

Australia, the sixth largest country in the world, boasts an array of remarkable features to take pride in. Along its coastline, bustling metropolises brim with life and energy. Outdoor enthusiasts are spoiled for choice with awe-inspiring natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and the Kimberley, offering endless opportunities for exploration. But it’s the legendary friendliness of Australians that truly sets them apart. However, like any well-traveled destination, Australia has its fair share of myths and stereotypes that have evolved over time. Let’s debunk a few of the most well-known misconceptions about the captivating land Down Under.

The iconic Opera House in Sydney.
The iconic Opera House in Sydney.

1. Everyone says “G’Day, mate”

The phrase “G’day, mate” has become synonymous with Australians and is often associated with the land Down Under in popular culture. However, its usage among locals varies greatly across the country. Australians have a rich vocabulary, and there are other terms that are more commonly used in different regions. For example, “tea” is a term used to refer to dinner or any meal after breakfast. “Bogan” is a term used to describe someone from rural or country areas. “Chockers” is a colloquial expression used to describe a crowded or chaotic situation, such as “the traffic is just chockers.” “Rock up” is a lively way of saying to arrive at a place. “Jumper” is the Australian term for a sweater, and “budgie smugglers” refers to the tiny Speedo swimwear that men wear. These are just a few examples of the diverse and colorful Australian slang that adds to the unique linguistic tapestry of the country.

Check out the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road – a great day trip from Melbourne.
Check out the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road – a great day trip from Melbourne.

2. In Australia, people eat Vegemite for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Vegemite, a yeast-based spread popular in Australia, is known for sparking strong reactions among people. It is often enjoyed as a light spread on buttered toast or crumpets for breakfast. Some people absolutely love Vegemite, while others don’t care for its taste. When visiting Australia, it’s worth giving it a try to see where you stand. However, if it doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, you’re not alone, as there are many Australians who share your sentiment. It’s important to note that Vegemite is not the only yeast-based spread consumed in Australia; they also have other options like Marmite and Promite.

Graffiti Alley in Melbourne.
Graffiti Alley in Melbourne.

3. The koala is a bear and kangaroos roam the streets

The koala and the kangaroo are currently duking it out for the national animal of Australia. Only found Down Under, koalas (misnamed for their bear-like features, particularly their rounded ears) are actually marsupials.

Also read: The Best 5 Attractions & Things to Do in Brisbane

Koalas are often mistaken to be bears – particularly because of their rounded ears.
Koalas are often mistaken to be bears – particularly because of their rounded ears.

Although koalas are limited to a few specific regions in Australia, another iconic marsupial, the kangaroo (along with its relatives, the wallaby and wallaroo), is abundant across the continent. While there is a common misconception that kangaroos roam freely through the streets of Australia, they are typically found in small towns and rural areas, rather than major cities (except for occasional sightings at dawn in certain golf courses and suburban outskirts). To catch a glimpse of kangaroos in their natural habitat, it’s best to venture into the countryside, particularly during the early morning hours.

4. Toilets flush in reverse

The misconception surrounding the direction of toilet flushes in Australia and other Southern Hemisphere countries originated from a natural phenomenon known as the Coriolis effect. This effect influences the deflection of moving objects on the surface of rotating bodies. While it does affect weather patterns, it does not have an impact on the direction of toilet flushes. In reality, the rotation of storms in the Southern Hemisphere (clockwise) and Northern Hemisphere (counterclockwise) is due to this effect. However, when it comes to smaller objects like drains, their rotation is determined by the design chosen by the manufacturer. In the case of toilets, both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the direction of the flush is typically counterclockwise. Therefore, the notion that toilets in Australia flush in the opposite direction is simply a myth.

Hop aboard and sail around the Whitsunday Islands, thousands of kilometres north of Brisbane.
Hop aboard and sail around the Whitsunday Islands, thousands of kilometres north of Brisbane.

5. Everything in Australia will kill you

Australia’s diverse and untamed landscapes, along with its unique wildlife, have fostered an inaccurate perception of the country as a dangerous place for travelers. While it is true that Australia is home to some formidable creatures, the notion that “everything will kill you” is far from the truth.

Yes, Australia boasts saltwater crocodiles that can reach impressive sizes of up to 6 meters (19 feet), as well as venomous spiders, Great White sharks, and Box jellyfish. However, the number of deaths caused by wildlife encounters is remarkably low each year. By exercising a bit of common sense, such as heeding warning signs and avoiding camping near crocodile habitats, the chances of encountering any unpleasant situations with wildlife can be greatly minimized.

In fact, rather than being a cause for concern, Australia’s unique wildlife is one of the country’s captivating features and a compelling reason to visit. With proper awareness and respect for the environment, travelers can explore the remarkable flora and fauna that make Australia a truly extraordinary destination.

Golden hour at Uluru in Australia's Red Centre.
Golden hour at Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre.

Getting There

Working Holiday Guide runs a number of departures in Australia encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.

Also read: 8 Reasons You Should Take A Gap Year In Australia

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