Tourists share the biggest culture shocks they discovered in Australia

Tourists have shared the biggest culture shocks they’ve faced in Australia – including ‘weird’ tasting chocolate, eating kangaroo and celebrating Christmas in the heat.

A traveller prompted an amusing discussion in a Quora thread after asking tourists from all walks of life to list the things that ‘surprise foreigners the most’ when visiting the country.

Some of the common issues with the land Down Under included the expensive lifestyle, ‘Australia being a nanny state’, and shortening words for no reason.

Tourists have shared the biggest culture shocks they discovered in Australia - including weird tasting chocolate, eating kangaroo and celebrating a hot Christmas (file image)

Tourists have shared the biggest culture shocks they discovered in Australia – including weird tasting chocolate, eating kangaroo and celebrating a hot Christmas (file image)

NOT LAID BACK

One traveller said she noticed Australians are ‘not really laid back as you think’.

Many agreed with her, saying they initially assumed people were ‘quite the relaxed bunch’ living in a ‘laid back country’.

‘I quickly found out this was not the case,’ one tourist said.

‘Children not allowed to take cookies to school because of high sugar content!? Really!? 

‘What hammered this home was when I nearly got fined for jaywalking in Melbourne. Everyone does this in England, I thought nothing of it. The blank expression on my face and utter disbelief at what the officer was saying, saved me a $100 fine.’

AUSTRALIANS EAT KANGAROO

A tourist, from Portland, Oregon, said he was left mortified when his tour guide told him the most popular meat is kangaroo, known as the national animal of Australia.

‘I remember my tour guide was eating his burger and I asked him which red meat is popular – goat, beef or pork? He mentioned ‘although beef is popular, I like kangaroo patties in my burger’. I literally had a jaw drop,’ the man wrote.

‘Come on – who eats their own national animal?’

A tourist, from Portland, Oregon, said he was left mortified when his tour guide told him the most popular meat is kangaroo, known as the national animal of Australia (file image of marinated kangaroo fillets displayed inside a butcher's shop window in Melbourne)

A tourist, from Portland, Oregon, said he was left mortified when his tour guide told him the most popular meat is kangaroo, known as the national animal of Australia (file image of marinated kangaroo fillets displayed inside a butcher’s shop window in Melbourne)

Tourists share more culture shocks in Australia

THE WEATHER: The sun in Australia is strong. I didn’t respect this at all when I arrived. I neglected to buy decent sunscreen and paid the price with bad sunburn. My skin blistered and peeled off for weeks afterwards. The sun is deadly in Australia, take precautions or you’ll end up redder than a lobster!

AUSTRALIANS SWEAR A LOT: I didn’t realise this until I went round to the house where the girl I was seeing at the time lived. Two of her housemates were Australian and were not shy of blurting expletives out at every opportunity. The use of one word, in particular, struck me. They would call me a ‘good c**t.’ I would never dream of using this word in England. Never mind, as a form of praise for somebody.

BEER SIZES: In England, when you ask for a beer you get a pint. In Australia, you don’t get pints, you get a schooner, which is 3/4 of a pint. Then, if you’re in a state such as Victoria, you might get a pot, which is more or less a 1/2 pint. The worst part about this? The smaller sizes cost more than a pint back in England.

MAGPIES: I was attacked by a magpie in the first month in Australia, had no idea you could be attacked by a bird in the street.

COFFEE: Coffee in Australia is so much better than any of the rubbish they drink in America that it’s almost sad.

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HOT CHRISTMAS

A traveller, from Manchester in the UK, said he was ‘shocked, surprised and amused’ when he experienced a scorching Christmas in Australia.

‘Everyone knows that in December in Australia it’s the middle of summer,’ he said.

‘But there is something eerie about walking round the shops in shorts and T-Shirt, the blazing sun on your back, eating an ice cream or sipping an ice cold drink and ‘Dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh…’ or ‘In the bleak mid winter…’ blaring out through the store speaker system.’

HIGH COST OF LIVING

Most agreed Australia is one of the world’s most expensive countries they’ve visited.

‘To just live a daily life costs a lot more than you would expect,’ one traveller said.

Another tourist, from Singapore, said his family noticed the ‘overpriced’ expenses during their trip around the Gold Coast, Queensland.

‘What was shocking was how overpriced, not just expensive, some things were. It cost almost $300 for family passes that allow for one week’s unlimited bus rides within the Gold Coast area only,’ he said. 

‘Since we didn’t drive, we had no choice but fork out the cash. And that was our first purchase at the airport so you can imagine how horrified I was. Not a great way to start the trip.

‘Apart from the cost of living, Gold Coast was ok. The people were mostly nice and respectful and pretty much the same as those back in my home country. Still, I see no reason for going back, because the overprice does not justify the value it offers.’

NANNY STATE 

Many tourist said they noticed the country has become a ‘nanny state’ full of ‘many rules and regulations’ including the ridiculous lock-out laws and petty fines. 

Sydney was once world-famous for its 24-hour bars, thriving band scene and bustling club parties before nanny state laws destroyed its nightlife.

While others pointed out the strict rules depended on where you travel to or live.

‘The big cities on the east coast have a “locked down” feel with everything banned (kites and soccer balls banned on Sydney beaches springs to mind), picnic permits in parks, prison like fences around schools, warning signs everywhere and quite simply rules for the sake of rules,’ one person wrote in a Reddit thread.

‘Regional areas and the west coast are a lot more relaxed and free.’ 

Another person mentioned how video games are ‘routinely censored or banned’ in Australia for ‘being inappropriate’.

‘Not saying that some games aren’t tasteless, but that’s definitely something that’s been noted overseas,’ the person said.

Sydney was once world-famous for its 24-hour bars, thriving band scene and bustling club parties before nanny state laws destroyed its nightlife (file image of Kings Cross where patrons once partied into the early hours of the morning)

Sydney was once world-famous for its 24-hour bars, thriving band scene and bustling club parties before nanny state laws destroyed its nightlife (file image of Kings Cross where patrons once partied into the early hours of the morning)

WEIRD TASTING CHOCOLATE

One traveller, from Manchester, described Australia’s chocolate as ‘fake’ and weird tasting compared to UK’s version.

‘Because of the heat they put stabilisers in the chocolate bars to stop them melting on the shelf. Only problem is that it doesn’t melt in your mouth the way chocolate should,’ he said.

THE SIZE OF AUSTRALIA 

Many travellers said they already knew how big Australia is but didn’t realise how long it would actually take going from one state to another.

‘Australia is big. I knew Australia was big, I didn’t realise how big,’ one expat, from Chester, UK, wrote. 

‘It’s four hours from Darwin to Adelaide by plane. From the top of the country to the bottom. If I didn’t realise how big Australia was, I did after the flight.’ 

SHORTENING WORDS

Many tourists said they noticed Australians like to shorten their words.  

‘Wherever I went in Australia, the locals had a popular habit of shortening words,’ a UK traveller said. 

‘Afternoon would become “arvo”. Sunglasses would be reduced to “sunnies”. My favourite one? Vegetarian to “veggo” – amazing.’

THONGS 

Flip flops, or what Australians like to call ‘thongs’, are a ‘common sight everywhere’ around the country, one tourist said.

‘Why? Because instead of the thongs that most people think of, in Australia, thongs are worn on your feet. That’s right, flip-flops are known as thongs Down Under,’ he said. 

While the term has long been known as flip flops in Australia, ‘thongs’ refers to an item of ladies underwear in the US. 

THANKSGIVING DOESN’T EXIST

One Australian man said his now-ex wife, who was from North Carolina, was shocked when she realised Thanksgiving doesn’t exist in the country.

‘The ex was adamant that Thanksgiving be celebrated. Our friend hunted high and low for turkey, which is not as common in Australia as the US, and as such, is quite expensive. Don’t even bother with cranberries,’ he said. 

‘It was a good meal… and quite an expensive one when everything was pieced together. The ex, while grateful for the effort, wasn’t 100 per cent pleased.’

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