What do people get wrong about Australians?

Given the number and type of questions on Quora, apparently it is very difficult for many overseas to get these things through their heads.

  • Australians are not all of British or Irish origin.
  • Australians are not all descended from convicts, only about 22%. This has no effect on modern crime rates.
  • Melbourne has one of the largest ethnic Greek populations in the world, including Greek cities. Italians are not far behind.
  • The image of Australia is probably 50 years out of date, maybe more.
  • The general crime, murder and road fatality rates per 100,000 persons are lower than in many other countries, including the USA.
  • The country is not swarming with venomous or otherwise dangerous animals. The most dangerous animal in Australia is the common horse.
  • Most Australians would not see a kangaroo from one year's end to the next, and then only while on a road trip. Yes, once in a blue moon a roo does turn up in a suburban street, particularly in outer suburbs, but even residents of small towns may not see one for years at a time.
  • Australians do not all live in farms or "ranches". Australia is one of the most urbanised countries on Earth.
  • Australians are permitted to own firearms, it is just some types of firearms that are banned.
  • Australians are early adopters of new technology. The small NSW town of Tamworth had electric street lighting in 1888 and Brisbane had a telephone exchange within 10 years of the telephone being invented. The first long movie anywhere was made by the Salvation Army on the life of Jesus in 1900. Australia was the world leader in radio astronomy in the 1950s and 1960s. WiFi came from an Australian radio astronomy invention.
  • The central interior is dry because evaporation exceeds rainfall most years and there is not much underground water. It cannot be made to grow crops or trees.
  • Large distances are involved. It is much more than a days' drive from the Sydney Opera House to the Irwin's Australia Zoo and three days from Brisbane to Cairns.
  • Steve Irwin was highly non-typical, and so was "Crocodile Dundee" . Paul Hogan was a bridge painter on the Sydney Harbour Bridge before getting into show business. An urban occupation if there ever was one and he probably never saw a crocodile in the wild.
  • Indians and Chinese are less likely to get racial problems than some other immigrants. Violence against Indians ten years ago was mostly perpetrated by other Indians or other recent immigrants.
  • Four of the six Australian states are much larger than Texas or France.
  • Tipping isn't needed as Australians are paid a living wage because of a binding court judgement before the First World War. Still, it is appreciated if you put a dollar or two in the tip jar.
  • For the same reason, some things in Australia are more expensive than they might be elsewhere.
  • We do not appreciate you telling us that you "love our accent". This sounds like condescension, which will get you nowhere in any country. In Australia, you have the accent. This will be met with an eye-roll or something a lot more rude.
  • Australia is a constitutional monarchy. That means the monarch reigns but does not rule.
  • There is no president, the country is governed by a parliament and cabinet and the prime minsters are elected by the majority party in the parliament, not by popular election. This has the advantage that they can be kicked out if they are duds. Donald Trump would not have lasted three months as PM in Australia or any other Westminster system.
  • Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere. Therefore the seasons are opposite to those of the Northern. I'm amazed and disappointed that this sometimes has to be pointed out. But religious holidays like Christmas, Easter, Ramadan, Diwali are at the same times.
  • Australia does not accept just anyone as an immigrant. Formal qualifications and / or experience are needed. Exceptions are made for dependents and family members, mostly.
  • Aboriginal people are citizens, and yes, they do get birth certificates.
  • There are time zones in Australia.
  • Australian climates range from cool temperate in Tasmania to warm to hot wet or dry tropical in the north.

First, the country isn't actually very deserty all over. It's only in the (mostly) uninhabited middle area.

Second, nobody really says "throw a shrimp on the barbie." I definitely want to start a trend amongst aussies of saying this though.

Third, there's actually not kangaroos hopping around everywhere. (I know right, it's really sad isn't it?)


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