Despite Australia and North America sharing a similar culture, there are hundreds of misconceptions people have of Australia. We chose some of our favourites that may actually be believable.
1. The animals are dangerous
While Australia has its fair share of danger, the fame (or should I say infamy?) of the wildlife is exaggerated. About four people die a year by dangerous animals. To put this into perspective, 300 people die a year of drowning. Skipping Australia because of dangerous wildlife is like skipping Disney World because of the alligators. The popularity of equating Australia with danger spawned the made up “Drop Bear“. A large, carnivorous koala that inhabits treetops and drops on prey below. They are said to target tourists. You can sense the amusement local Aussies got making that up. If your interested in REAL zoology the University of New England and Deakin University offer highly touted courses.
2. “Down Under” by Men at Work is the National Anthem
Who doesn’t love a good old vegemite sandwich? Apparently many Australians (and maybe a few Americans!). But the Men at Work song is about as synonymous with Australia as Born in the USA is to America. The real National Anthem is to the tune of “Advance Australia Fair“. That isn’t to say they haven’t adopted “Down Under” as an Unofficial Anthem. Men at Work played live during the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. And many Aussie football clubs the favourite as an anthem.
3. Aussies would love to “throwing a shrimp on the barbie” for you
Australians love a good barbie. But Australians do not call it shrimp. What Americans call “shrimp” the rest of the world calls “prawns”. The famous term actually originated in the tourist ad above featuring Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee). The rest is true. If you’re in the mood for a good barbie, try some culinary suggestions here.
4. Australians are rugged bushmen
Speaking of Crocodile Dundee, not everyone Down Under spends their time in remote Outback bars arguing over who has the bigger knife. Blame Hollywood execs, ad execs (Foster’s is NOT Australian for beer), RM Williams, or even the late and beloved Steve Irwin. The perception of the rugged lifestyle comes from the first European settlers who described a harsh terrain. Yet only about three per cent of the population live in the Outback. Why not experience the red centre for yourself?
5. When Australians are not wrestling crocs they’re surfing
The laidback atmosphere of Australia is well founded. Over 90% of the Australian population lives near the coast. They love the beach. But their culture isn’t defined by “beach bumming” as Americans refer. Most of the population live in large urban areas with highly competitive jobs. Low unemployment and an efficient economy (12th in GDP per capita) define the economically influential nation. This means a surfer in a suit may be a more accurate perception. Check out the guide on landing an Australian internship while you’re there.
6. Every mammal is a marsupial
"I'm a wallaby. Not a kangaroo."
Close. About 70% of the world’s 300+ species of marsupial call Australia (and nearby islands) home. This is due to the landlocked nature of the region. Australia’s marsupial roster spans more than just kangaroos and koalas. America’s favourite Australian import is none other than a wallaby named Rocko.
7. Toilets flow the other way
Maybe it was The Simpsons that perpetuated this. Many believe the Coriolis effect in the Southern Hemisphere makes them go backwards. But the most important misconception can finally be clear: They actually flow down instead of around due to the low water levels of Australian toilets. The University of Queensland offers an advanced water management program. But that doesn’t answer your question? You’ll have to find out for yourself!