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Australian Culture and Customs

It is pretty interesting to learn about the Australian culture and customs, the country of pink lakes, unique animals, and the home of over 10,000 beaches.

Australia has a particularly interesting history and it attracts large numbers of tourists every year due to its many attractions, delicious food, and welcoming environment. Australia is known to be the second country in the world to give women the right to vote after New Zealand.

Visiting Australia is quite an impressive experience and although there is a mountain called “Mount Disappointment” out there, you shouldn’t worry, Australia is quite the opposite of disappointment. Just like any other country, Australia, too, has its own unique culture and customs. If you have decided to be part of its impressive education or simply pay this country a visit, we’ve put together a few things you should know about the culture and customs of Australia.

What you should know about the Australian culture and customs:

1. Language

Although there is no official language in Australia, the majority of the population speaks English as a first language. The Australian English, however, differs slightly from British English with regards to the accent and vocabulary. According to statistics, more than 70% of people in Australia speak English at home. In addition, people from more than 200 countries in the world have found their home in Australia, meaning the number of languages spoken in this country is truly diverse. The other languages comprise of Mandarin, Greek, Italian, Cantonese, etc, with Mandarin being the largest non-English spoken dialect.

2. Clothing

When it comes to clothing, you can find all sorts of styles in Australia, for example, modern Australians wear Western clothing but the local style consists of beachwear and bushwear. You will usually find people living near the beach on bathing suits, printed shirts, surf board shorts, and colorful shirts. The bushwear consists of boots, felt hats, moleskin jeans, and oilskin coats, and it came as a result of the harsh conditions in the bush. Hats are usually part of the school children uniform in Australia, and among adults the cabbage palm tree hat is quite popular. In addition, the local Aborigines usually wore little clothing before, combining the likes of jewelry, accessories, headbands, waistbands, belts, and masks. The clothes usually were in concordance with the landscape.

3. Religion

According to statistics, Australia is a religiously diverse nation, where the majority of the population is Christian (52% according to 2016 statistics). In addition, Islam and Buddhism follow right behind. Moreover, around one third of Australians claimed to have no religion. When we compare Australia’s religious makeup, it is evident that the statistics have changed drastically. Back in the year 1966, Christian was the main religion, comprising 88% of the population.

As the major religion in Australia, Christianity encompasses the major denominations the likes of Catholic, Anglican, Uniting Church, Presbyterian and Reformed, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, and Lutheran. Two of the main ones, Anglican and Catholic, make up 36% of the population.

4. National Symbols

The Australian Flag:

The Australian Flag consists of three distinctive elements: the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star, and the Southern Cross.

  • The Union Jack: Positioned in the upper left corner, it represents Australia’s association with Great Britain.
  • The Commonwealth: Positioned just below the Union Jack, it represents the unity of the states.
  • The Southern Cross: Made of five stars, the Southern Cross represents Australia’s geographic location as seen from the southern hemisphere.

Other Symbols:

  • National Colors: The national colors of Australia are green and gold, being also the colors of its national floral emblem – the Golden Wattle.
  • Australian Coat of Arms: The coat of arms consists of a shield containing the badges of the six states alongside the three national symbols, the Golden Wattle, the kangaroo, and the emu.
  • National Anthem: Australia’s national anthem has been “Advance Australia Fair” ever since 19 April 1984.
  • National Day: Australia National Day is on the 26th of January, which is the anniversary of the unfurling of the British Flag at Sydney Cove, 1788.

5. Cuisine

Australian cuisine is pretty unique with a blend of culinary contributions from all around the world. The British colonial period has established an interest in Anglo-Celtic recipes and methods among Australians, and years of history have made Australian cuisine what it is today. Bush tucker in Australia refers to plant and animal foods that are native to the Australian bush the likes of kakadu plums, finger limes, or bush meats the likes of emu, kangaroo, and crocodile. However, although some restaurants do serve emu, kangaroo, or crocodile meat in Australia, it is not a food enjoyed regularly by Australians. Most Australians favor meats like beef, chicken, lamb, or pork. In addition, due to the multicultural population in Australia, you can find a large variety of foods here.

Some of the many unique foods you’ll come to know once you’re in Australia include:

Vegemite: It is a dark brown paste made from vegetables, yeast extract, and spice. People usually eat it with bread or toast and butter. It is also famous in Australia combined with avocado, melted cheese, or tomato. People have contradicting opinions towards Vegemite, but it’s quite popular in Australia.

Tim-Tams: Also known as Australia’s favorite biscuit, Tim-Tams are made of delicious smooth cream layered between two crunchy biscuits and coated in chocolate. Only 2% of Australians have never heard of Tim Tams, and people usually take this sweet treat with coffee or tea. It is definitely an experience in its own!

Lamingtons: This one is an Australian cake made from squares of butter or sponge cake, coated in chocolate sauce and rolled in dried coconut. It is known to be truly delicious and it tastes pretty well accompanied by either tea or coffee.

Meat Pies: Although you might not be used to hearing about meat pies, in Australia this snack is quite popular. For those who are used to having fruit in their pies, the taste of this snack might seem a bit odd at first. Australians love it and you can find the meat pie in every bakery, supermarket, or corner shop.

Fish n’ Chips: Taking into consideration that Australia has some of the best seafood in the world, fresh fish served with salt and lemon might just be one of the best choices.

6. Education

The formal school education in Australia starts from the age of 5 or 6 to 18, with many students proceeding to tertiary education. The vocational and education training system in Australia gives students the needed and essential skills for the job market. In addition, the higher education system comprises both public and private universities, with seven of them being ranked among the top worldwide universities. Australia also welcomes thousands of international students every year, who become part of the diverse community of students in the highly-regarded Australian university campuses.

7. Sports

In Australia there are more than 140 national sporting organisations, and well, Australians are really fond of sport! Australia’s sporting achievements are defined by community-based sport, and it is basically a powerful way of creating social harmony between people. Some of the most famous sports in Australia include netball, NRL, cricket, tennis, AFL, dancing, soccer, basketball, as well as swimming and cycling.

8. Celebrations and Festivals

Australia is quite famous not only for its wildlife, beaches, and landscapes but also for some of the most amazing festivals. Since Australians really love to party, you will know that the festivals they organise shouldn’t be missed.

Here are some of the most popular festivals in Australia:

Adelaide Festival: This festival was first held in the year 2017 and it is now one of the biggest celebrations of art in Australia. The festival places importance on visual arts, dance forms, cabaret, opera, literature, music, and new media. It’s all really astonishing!

Byron Bay Bluesfest: This blues festival is attended by more than five thousand people every year and it’s perfect for music lovers! You can find fast-food places, beer counters, plenty of food courts, and some of the best artists in the blues music industry. All for your enjoyment!

Vivid Sydney Winter Festival: This festival is a mesmerizing event combining creativity, innovation, and technology. This festival gathers light artists, musicians, and impressive people who get to share their art with the people attending the festival. This one is the largest festival in the Southern Hemisphere organized for the 12th year in 2020.

The list of festivals in Australia goes on and on! Be them film, music, or food festivals, Australia has them all.

9. Australian Etiquette

Australians are known to be casual and relaxed, and meeting with them for the first time is also pretty laid back. Simply smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself. Moreover, giving and receiving gifts on special occasions is pretty common in Australia. If you’re invited to dinner at their house, you can bring along a small gift such as a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine. However, like in most cultures, it’s important to be punctual around Australians. Letting the host know you’re going to be late should be a must. With their friendliness and sense of humour, it’s pretty simple to be comfortable around an Australian.