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Australia Is Surprisingly Not What You Think It Is

As a British expat and Australian resident, I definitely had my beliefs about the land down under before moving to it. In fact, some of those assumptions are why I spent thousands on a permanent visa and moved to Australia in the first place! But if you’ve never visited and your only insight on Aussie life is through watching Neighbours, Steve Irwin or Crocodile Dundee, then the truths about these myths may surprise you.


“It’s Always Hot”

As I’m writing this post in Malaysia, my Sailor is freezing his socks off in Melbourne. It’s not all outback in Australia and many people don’t realise how close its south coast is to Antarctica. This is the reason for much of the ‘4 seasons in one day’ that Melbourne experiences and even the unpredictability of Sydney’s weather.

This explains the penguins on Phillip island, Victoria

Whilst summers in the south are hot, winters are not. Temperatures average below 10 degrees in Melbourne from June-August and it even snows in the Victorian Alps.

It’s snow joke. You can even ski there.

Considering that over 65% of Australians live in Victoria, New South Wales, Tazmania and South Australia, the majority of the population are not wearing thongs (flip-flops) all year round. Although I do think that maybe Neighbours and Home & Away have something to do with this assumption.

“Aussies Wear Cork Hats And Live In The Outback”

In my two years of living in Australia, I haven’t even seen a tourist wear a cork hat. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen the outback either. And unless you hire a camper and visit Uluru, then you probably won’t either.

Australia is actually one of the most urbanised countries in the world. More than 8/10 Aussies (85%) live within 50k of the Australian coastline, with the majority in a city. And with such gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder the middle is largely empty.

Wouldn’t you like to live near one of these?

“It’s filled with deadly Animals That Want To Kill You”

Okay, so there are some pretty awesome animals in Oz that can kill. But the chances of you even seeing one are incredibly rare, particularly if living in a city. And even if you do catch one, the last thing they’d want to do is attack. During my past year in Melbourne, I saw more koalas than spiders.

For some perspective, around 5 people die per year from a deadly animal in Oz. You may be surprised to know that more deaths are caused from falling off a horse, or being stung by a Honey Bee that sets off an anaphylactic shock. In America, over 35’000 die from being shot. I think we know who we really need to be afraid of.

“As A Brit, I Can Get A Job Like ‘That’!”

Do you remember the scene in ‘The Inbetweeners 2’ movie where Neil asks for a job with Dolphins and expects to get it, with zero experience, just because he’s English?

In reality, as well as needing to jump though hurdles to prove that your international qualifications meets Australian standards, finding a job in Australia can be hard work. Particularly if you choose to reside in any of the big cities, then competition is high throughout most professions. Extra merits are surely not awarded if you speak the Queen’s English!

 “Australia’s full of Australians”

If you were shopping in Melbourne on Boxing Day, then you could be tricked into believing you were in Asia. And if you visit some suburbs, you’d be fooled into thinking you were in Greece, Italy or other Euro destinations.

In Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, just less than half of the overall populations is made up of migrants.

And although the stats don’t even touch on the number of second or third-generation migrants, there are heaps of those as well. In Melbourne for example, European settlers have been moving to the region since the early 1900s.

Whilst immigration is pretty high, I love how well they’ve adopted the vibrant Aussie spirit. Many people born overseas have become Australian Citizens and added to the multicultural melting pot that is modern Antipodea.

This community of migrants from the British Isles is still going strong in South Yarra, Melbourne

“Neighbours Is Like, Real Life”

If like me, you’re a Brit who grew up in the 80’s, then chances are you’ve watched either Neighbours or Home And Away religiously after school. It’s amusing now think think how it built up my general perception of what I thought Australia was like- for an example, see point one!

Firstly, Aussies don’t watch neighbours (I think in Oz it’s probably the equivalent to any bad soap opera on Channel 5 in the UK.) Secondly, it’s a soap opera!

Port Douglas in Australia is more Ozzy than Neighbours

“All Aussies Surf.”

Whilst Ozzies love water sports, the surfing label is like saying that all Spaniards ride bulls. Geographically, most people do live near the sea and some like to participate in water related activity, but surf is not the only thing on the menu.

More Australians take to the waters these days for Kiteboarding, SUP, kayaking, sailing or a famous pastime, fishing. Of course, surfing communities do exist, as I’ve come to witness on my travels along the Great Ocean Road. But surfing is only frequented by a small percentage of the population.

Read: The Best Road Trip in Australia: The Great Ocean Road

Kiteboarding at Melbourne’s Brighton Beach

“Modern Australian Food is a Barbecue.”

I actually had this conversation with a well-educated Brit recently who said, “So what is Australian food, just BBQ’s?’ The food I’ve eaten in Australia has been some of the best in my life and I’ve eaten out a lot, in many parts of the world.

I guess I would describe Australian food as eclectic and modern, with influences from all over the globe. It also uses so much delicious local produce with some native ones thrown into the mix- like kangaroo, Barramundi, Lemon Myrtle and Bush Tomatoes.

What I’ve come to observe over my two years living in Australia, is that Aussies seriously appreciate good food. Particularly in its ‘food capital’ Melbourne. For a fun fact, Melbourne has the highest number of restaurants and cafes per capita than any other city in the world. From quality food trucks and Michelin Starred restaurants, to edible art instillations and virtually every cuisine under the sun, A BBQ is just the beginning.

Modern and stylish, just an average dessert in Melbourne


Did or do you have any misconceptions about Australia? Share below!

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