Australia is often thought of as part of the western world, but when you consider the geographical neighborhood: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia, you might begin to wonder just how different it is in Australia really? After all, it is on the other side of the world.
One way to think of it is this: Australia is to the West what Hawaii is to America. On a map, the space between them is vast. But in person the differences are only subtle.
Australia is on par size wise compared to the West. Bigger than all of Europe and as big as the United States, if you don’t count Alaska. However, there’s far fewer Aussies than there are Europeans or Americans. That leaves lots of room down under. And that is important to consider while you travel in Australia. There are not as many major cities to see.
Australia’s flag contains the Union Jack, so unsurprisingly there are some similarities to the United Kingdom, but those similarities make it different than America. For example, in Australia they drive on the left side of the road. When it comes to spelling and slang words Australians use what is usually called “proper English” by everyone not American. For instance, ‘colour’ versus ‘color’, Australians would use the former spelling.
Language differences are probably one of the most obvious difference you are likely to encounter. The Australian accent and use of slang words is often one of the first things that comes to mind. And you are probably thinking right now, “G’day mate!” But that is a stereotype.
A good thing to know is that in restaurants the word “docket” is used instead of “receipt” or “bill.” Slang words are often just shortened or abbreviated words with “o” or “ie” added to the end. The word Aussie is a good example of this. You will pick up on the local and colorful language, just listen!
But what about sports? In America the game is Baseball. In Europe it is Football. But in Australia the game of choice is definitely Cricket. You probably will not figure out all the rules of Cricket during your time in Australia, but it is worth watching a match and drinking a beer. You will be surprised at how expensive the beer is in Sydney, the most expensive city overall.
If you are dependent on having free wifi access know that there is much less connectivity available compared to Western cities. Perhaps, a good way to summarize the differences between Australia and the West in general would be to say that Australia has a bit of the same, but much less of it.
There are not as many major cities save Sydney and Melbourne. There are fewer architecturally stunning or historically important buildings to gawk at. There is arguably only one great museum: Australian War Memorial in Canberra. (Western cities generally have several museums worth noting.) And compared to Europe, Australia has a lot less cultural diversity.
This isn’t to “knock” Australia. It is its own continent for crying out loud! The birds are more exotic, the beaches are great, but beware the bugs are massive. You are probably going to get more mosquito bites than you have ever received.
Hopefully, this post has got you thinking a bit about what to expect when you travel to Australia. It is all the way on the other side of the world, but you probably are not going to suffer from any culture shock. Which is not such a bad thing. Australia has a charm of its own that you’ll need to discover for yourself as with all places.