Over the 7 weeks we were in Australia there were a few kooky things we picked up on that we found interesting and/or a little odd. Here are some of our favourites.
- Proliferation of road signs.
For whatever reason, in urban/suburban areas in Australia there were a hell of a lot of road signs. It seemed excessive to us. For example on residential streets where there are parking restrictions, there would be a sign telling you the parking rules then another sign beside it with an arrow dictating where the authorised parking started, and then another sign with an arrow dictating where the parking ended a few metres away.
There were also plenty of 'beware wildlife' and 'stay left unless overtaking' along with the odd 'SPEEDING/TIREDNESS KILLS'.
- European-ish junk foods.
Some of the most popular meals in the cities of Australia were weird European-ish dishes - chicken schnitzels were EVERYWHERE. Then there were chicken parmigianas - a bastardised version of the Italian aubergine dish that is essentially a chicken schnitzel with tomato sauce and cheese on it.
- Ice cold beers.
I had heard of this before but hadn't fully realised just how true it was. Aussies like their beer VERY cold. We met a number of people that put their cans or bottles of beer in the FREEZER as the fridge just wasn't cold enough. Aussies really do think that us Brits drink warm beer.
- Central heating just doesn't exist in homes.
In most if not all of the houses we stayed in there were no radiators. This of course makes sense as it's not super cold but, there were times when it would have been welcome. Instead, a lot of homes have a gas pipe that you attach a very retro looking three-bar gas heater to.
- American style mailboxes are more common than letterboxes.
Yeah. Pretty self explanatory really.
- Slang is used a lot in advertisements.
In a lot of adverts - TV and printed - Aussie slang is used, I'm guessing to appeal to the average Bruce and Sheila. For example companies like McDonalds would refer to themselves as 'Maccas' and car brands would use the term 'rego' instead of registration. Another language whimsy we noticed was the use of puns in the names of small businesses. Our all time favourite was a plumber we spotted in Tocumwal - The Turdinator.
- Sports teams have hilarious names.
I'll just leave the names of some of the Australian teams here;
- The Socceroos (men's football)
- The Matildas (women's football)
- The Kookaburras (field hockey)
- The Wallabies (rugby union)
- The Dolphins (swimming)
- The Cockatoos (tennis)
- Foxtel (the Australian name for Sky TV) doesn't have a watershed.
One lazy afternoon while we were watching television at Nick and Nic's house we innocently switched over to Geordie Shore (which the Aussies LOVE by the way) and all of a sudden we heard "SHE'S A FUH-IN COONT!". As it was midday we both were a little shocked to hear such expletives but we later found out that this is the norm unless you set parental controls.
- Political advertisements on TV are just tele-visual shit-slinging matches.
At the time of our stay in Australia the federal and state elections were looming and so political adverts were ubiquitous - on TV, radio, posters and billboards. The television adverts were the best - they were actually quite hilarious. They only lasted up to 10 seconds and were usually just some words against a black screen along with a serious sounding voice-over. Here's an example of what you might hear; "Malcolm Turnbull hates your kids and pays no tax. Sponsored by the labour party of Australia". We never heard any party policies or success stories, only insults to their opponents. A bit like a pantomime you might say.
- Cars are weird.
The majority of vehicles in Australia are automatic. A lot of them also have pull/push handbrakes. Oh and the indicator stick is on the right. Fuckin' weirdos.
- Many bathrooms in oldish houses have a solar lamp that heats the room.
Despite my previous point about there not being any integrated heating system in most Australian houses, in a lot of bathrooms there is a solar lamp in addition to an ordinary light that is intended to heat up the room. We loved in especially on the cold mornings.
- There are two very prevalent diet fads.
Almost everywhere you go in Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide you will see restaurants, cafés, takeaways and even sometimes bars offering gluten-free and/or paleo friendly meals and drinks.
- You cannot get sandwiches/lunch food in supermarkets.
In the likes of Coles, IGA and Woolworths you just can't get a sandwich or pasta-salad or any sort of lunch food - there just isn't a section for it. In fact I'm not entirely sure where you would get a sandwich other than a servo (petrol station).
- You cannot buy alcohol anywhere other than an off-licence.
Unlike the UK you cannot buy alcohol in any old shop. Instead you HAVE to go to a specific alcohol shop (aka a bottle-o). No £3 B&M peach schnapps I'm afraid (upsetting I know).
- The public transport system in Sydney is brilliant.
Like London, Sydney's public transport system is set up around a 'tap-on tap-off' card. It's called an Opal card and not only is it easy to use and top-up, it's also cheap. For us to travel on the train for over 1.5 hrs from Sydney to Narara it only cost us $5 (£2.50). It's not only the cost that's impressive, the frequency is also great and the routes are great. After our long night out on Oxford street we got a night bus back to Coogee (about a half hour journey) at 4am.
I'll finish this post with a video of one of the nifty features on Sydney's trains...