Princetown, VIC, Australia. Photo by Binte Zubair, Pexels

Go World Travel is reader-supported and may earn a commission from purchases made through links in this piece.

My country of Australia is both unique and diverse.

Born and bred in Melbourne, Australia to migrant parents (Mum is from Malta and Dad is from Ireland), I am lucky and proud to call Australia my home.

Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip

Here Are 26 Things That You Might Not Know About Australia

1. Australia is an island, a country and a continent. It is the largest island in the world, the sixth-largest country but the smallest continent. Australia is as wide as the distance between London and Moscow.

2. Most of Australia’s exotic fauna cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Examples include koalas, quokkas, platypuses, wombats, emus and kangaroos.

3. The Australian mammals, platypuses and echidnas, are the only two mammals in the world that lay eggs to give birth.

4. Australia is home to 1,500 types of spiders and to 4,000 types of ants.

Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Photo by Ethan Brooke, Pexels

5. Australia has over 750 different reptile species, more than any other country in the world. The saltwater crocodile is an example. It is the largest reptile in the world and one of the oldest creatures to walk the planet. It is also the closest living thing that I have ever seen to a dinosaur. If you are ever in Darwin in the Northern Territory, take a cruise on the Adelaide River and see the crocodiles jump. The power of their jumping and their jaws is eye-popping!

6. There are many deadly creatures in Australia such as 21 of the world’s 25 most venomous snakes, the blue-ringed octopus and the stonefish. Another is the Australian box jellyfish which is considered the most venomous marine animal. I spend a few weeks each year in beautiful Palm Cove, Far North Queensland. If I am there between about October and May, I swim in the protection of the marine stinger net installed each year by the local council.

7. Australians have a vernacular or slang sometimes called “Strine” or “Strayan.” Look out for “bloke” (man) and “sheila” (woman). These terms are sometimes on public toilets (what Australians call restrooms) so it is handy to know which is which!

Also, an entrée is an appetiser; not a main course. (This gets me into trouble every time I travel to the US!!!) Diapers are nappies, pacifiers are dummies, flip flops are thongs. The list is endless!

Oh, and we Australians love to shorten words. Examples include: “arvo” for afternoon, “vego” for vegetarian, “Maccas” for McDonalds and “Aussies” for Australians!

8. In Australia, we drive on the Left side of the road. Also, not all hire cars are Automatic transmission so specify Automatic if that is the type of car that you want.

9. We use a Metric system in Australia so distance is measured in metres and kilometres (1,000 metres in a kilometre) and weight is measured in grams and kilos (1,000 grams in a kilo). A kilometre is 0.621371 of a mile. A kilo equates to 2.20462 pounds.

10. We use the Celsius system for weather temperature. Zero degrees Celsius equals 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Converting the temperature precisely requires a calculator but a simple and reasonably accurate Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion is to double the Celsius figure and add 30.

11. It is compulsory to vote in Australia if you are aged 18 or over. You are fined if you don’t vote. We have to vote at local Council, State Government and Federal (Australian) government elections so that is a lot of voting!

Kangaroo on Road, Australia. Photo by Sabel Blanco, Pexels
Kangaroo on Road, Australia. Photo by Sabel Blanco, Pexels

Election Day is always on a Saturday. The polling booths are usually found at local schools and community centres and they use the day to fundraise. You can buy homemade cakes and goodies and have a “Democracy sausage” – a BBQ sausage wrapped in a slice of bread. It is carnival-like and quite fun!

12. The name “Australia” comes from the Latin word “australis,” meaning southern.

13. It is estimated that Aborigines have lived in Australia for over 60,000 years. Aboriginal Australians are the oldest, continuous culture on Earth.

14. The British colony of New South Wales, Australia, was established in 1788 as a penal colony. After the American War of Independence, Britain was faced with overcrowded prisons and prison ships and no suitable destination to transport their convicts (prisoners). Between 1788 and 1868, about 162,000 convicts were transported from Great Britain and Ireland to various penal colonies in Australia. So, in Australia, most of us descend from convicts or migrants!

15. Australia’s first police force, the Night Watch, comprised 12 of the best-behaved convicts. It was formed by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1789 to control the ever-growing crime rates in Sydney Town.

16. Kangaroos and emus cannot walk backward. They are featured on the Australian coat of arms. The symbolism is progress; that Australia can only move forwards.

17. The largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece can be found in Melbourne, Victoria where I live. The biggest influx occurred post-WWII when thousands of Greeks arrived seeking better economic opportunities.

18. There are more than 10,000 beaches in Australia. If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take around 30 years to see them all.

19. In 1902, Australia was the second country in the world to give women the right to vote. (New Zealand was the first).

Sydney Opera House, Australia. Photo by David Jia, Pexels
Sydney Opera House, Australia. Photo by David Jia, Pexels

20. Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory is a small city of around 472,000 people that sits between Melbourne and Sydney. The site was chosen as the location for Australia’s capital in 1908 as a compromise as both Melbourne and Sydney wanted to be the capital. (The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney is real!)

21. The drive around Australia is epic. There are huge distances between major cities and often there are no towns (nor services) for hundreds of kilometres. The vast majority of Australians, including myself, live on the East Coast in cities.

22. The Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, is the largest coral reef system in the world. It is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and it can be seen from space.

23. K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island), also off the coast of Queensland, is the largest sand island in the world.

24. We Australians grow up with Vegemite – a savoury, thick, dark brown spread made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract. Produced since the early 1920s, the spread is similar in texture to peanut butter. It has a unique taste and is rich in B vitamins. It is often spread on buttered toast and crackers and it is a common sandwich filling. Along with many other Aussie kids, I grew up on Vegemite sandwiches and I still enjoy them today.

25. The Nullarbor Plain, stretching between Norseman in Western Australia and Ceduna in South Australia covers an area of about 77,000 square miles (200,000 square kilometres). It is one of the flattest places on Earth. It is home to the longest, straight road in Australia – the Eyre Highway – which is 90 miles (146 kilometres) long without a bend. Driving across the Nullarbor is on my bucket list.

26. Tipping is entirely voluntary and is not expected in Australia with the exception of restaurants. If a service charge is added to the bill, this replaces any tip. If you choose to tip, the general rule is to add 10% to the bill. Another service where tipping can be found is taxis (cabs in the US). The general rule for taxis is to round up to the nearest $10.

The background to tipping being voluntary is that we have a legislated, minimum wage in Australia – AUD$23.23 (USD$15.61) an hour – plus penalty rates. This means that workers don’t need to rely on tips. As an example, my 20-year-old daughter worked as a waitress on 26 December (a public holiday in Australia) and, with public holiday rates and overtime, she earned over AUD$800 (over USD$500) for a day’s work serving drinks! 

As an illustration of how Australians approach tipping, my favourite cafe is owned by a hospitality chain that owns 25-plus cafes. They have a tipping line on their ordering and payment app. The default tip line is “Yeah nah” (meaning nil!)

I hope that you are now enlightened and not more confused!

Want to know more? Plan a trip to Australia – you’ll love it!

Learn more about How to Speak Australian from author Leonie Jarrett.

Inspire your next adventure with our articles below:

Author Bio: Leonie Jarrett lives mostly in Melbourne, Australia with her Husband of more than 3 decades, her 4 adult children and her 2 Golden Retrievers. Leonie has variously been a lawyer and a business owner. Now that she is semi-retired, Leonie is loving writing about her life and her travels.

Go World Travel Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *