What to Expect from Australia

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Your stay in Australia will introduce you to many things. Some will be entirely new to you, while others will remind you of home. It is impossible not to find diversity in a country like Australia since people worldwide make it their home. From a variety of languages to different food items, you are in for a roller coaster ride.

Australian Languages

Before European invaders, native Aborigine people occupied Australia. They spoke different languages that were like no other discovered. Australia was so far away that not many people traveled to that part of the world. In many cases, convicts from Europe were sent to Australia to live their lives in exile.

By the 1850s, people from Ireland and other parts of Britain made their way to Australia. Many were political prisoners in search of new land. Australia, by the end of the 19th century, had three million inhabitants. Before 1950, the population consisted of British and Irish settlers, with a small number from Germany and Italy. With so many English-speaking people, the native languages kept dying in the background. Today, only 2% of Aboriginal people remain, and only a handful can speak the native languages.

Although Australia doesn’t have an official language, English is the first language for about 72% of the entire population, thanks to the settlers. Nowhere else has English been characterized as a “killer language” for its cruel impact on native languages[i]. A small number of people speak Australian creole (Kriol) and Torres Strait Creole. The varieties differ in accent, spellings, grammar, and local register.

English

Australian English is more inclined towards British English with similarities in pronunciation, spellings, and vowel sounds. They use “-ise” instead of the American spellings “-ize.” But there are other exceptions. American form “inquire” is used as opposed to the British’s “enquire.”[ii] At a glance, you will notice that Australian English is an amalgam of American and British English.

Australians’ pronunciation is one of the most prominent features. You will frequently hear them say a bit of rolled “nice” and not a sharp one. As a result, you hear a slight “oi” sound, making it “noice.” Similarly, they stress the cluster of vowels in mono-syllable words like “mate” and “day.”

As for vocabulary, certain words and terms have a different meaning compared to American or British English. Following are some examples of such terms[iii]:

American English Australian English
Parking lot Car Park
Letter Opener Paper Knife
Potluck Dinner Bring-a-Plate
Service Station Gas Station
Sidewalk Footpath
Trash Can Garbage Bin

Native Languages

Native Languages

Around 50,000 people in Australia speak indigenous languages, most of which are dead or about to die. Many languages are spoken only by the elders of a community. Revival programs have been initiated in Australia, which target ethnic pride and the learning of indigenous languages[iv]. Aboriginal people have also started to call themselves “Koori” or “Koorie,” which means “person” instead of the imposed label of “aboriginal.”

Residents of the Torres Strait Islands speak two indigenous language. Inhabitants of this region are called Melanesian people. Their languages are Kalaw Lagaw Ya and Merium Mir. Among these, the Merium Mir is an Australian language while the other is Papuan[v].

After the European contact, pidgins and creoles became macro languages. Pidgins is spoken by Vietnamese, Japanese, Malays, and the native inhabitants of the Torres Strait Islands.

Australian Food

Australia prides itself on a variety of food items. From fine dining experience to local street food, you will get a taste of everything. You will find many dishes different from what you have eaten so far. Some will leave you in awe; others might surprise you in disgust.

All in all, your culinary experience in Australia will be no less of an adventure.

1. Vegemite

Vegemite

Now owned by Americans, vegemite used to be a trademark for Australians. Many people know about it for their utter hatred for it. Vegemite has a paste-like consistency made from various vegetables, yeast, and some spices. Australians eat it as a spread of bread with butter. Beware, though, vegemite’s taste is not for everyone. Many people hate it for its salty after-taste and no sweetness. Australians love to eat it with avocado, cheese, and even tomato.

2. Tim Tam

Tim Tam

Tim Tam is a very famous chocolate biscuit in Australia. It might seem like a snack for children, but there is no going back once you have eaten it. It’s a wafer biscuit coated with a thick layer of chocolate. It pairs perfectly with a nice cup of tea or a glass of hot milk.

Aussies love to eat Tim Tams while traveling or just hanging out with friends[vi].

3. Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuits are made of oats, coconut, and golden syrup. They have a noble background. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought during WWI.

The women would send these biscuits for their men at war. They were cheap to make and would last longer compared to other items. They are delicious and remain crunchy long after baking—just a reminder to never call them cookies, as it might offend some Australians.

4. Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana

This dish probably won’t be new to you, but you will be surprised to find it is common in Australia. It is served in almost every pub in the country, making it a perfect snack after a night of drinking. It consists of a chicken fillet coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried. It is served with a tangy tomato sauce on top, followed by a melted cheese sauce. The whole combination is divine, and it would be a sin not to eat it once a week.

5. Witchetty Grub

Witchetty Grub

Witchetty grub is a wood-eating larva of moths. Native Australians have been eating it for thousands of years. Others may have issues eating it alive, but there is no doubt that it tastes good and contains beneficial nutrients. It is as Australian as anything else you’ll ever find on the land.[vii] Give it a try for a chicken-like taste. Who knows, you might like it.

Australian street food experience is yet another thing that you must try from time to time. It is a fun way to connect with friends or even a date with an adventurous person. While roaming, you will find plenty of options to eat mouth-watering BBQ. Australians love BBQ. They love it so much that they don’t even need any occasion to have a BBQ. It’s like their weekend activity or a favorite pastime.

You will also find a variety of seafood in Australia. Baramundi, John Dory fillets are just a couple, to name a few. British people would love to grab a snack of fish and chips on their way home from work. Not exactly perfect, but Australians can make a decent meal of fish and chips.

Australian Climate

Australian climate drastically varies throughout the country. While it is true that Australia can be hot, it can also get cold in some regions. Australia’s seasons are timed opposite to the rest of the northern hemisphere – December to February is summer while June to August is winter[viii].

After October, the weather will start getting hot and dry. If you are not used to the scorching heat, you will feel the difference in Australia. As said earlier, the weather varies a lot in different cities. Melbourne gets a lot of rain in winters; inland Australia is hot and dry all year. Sydney is sunny all year but can get humid every few months. Adelaide is famous for getting 3 to 5 heatwaves every season. On the other hand, Tasmania has all four distinct seasons.

Up North, you may also get thunderstorms and cyclones during summers. Overall, despite the heat being dominant, you can experience different seasons every year.

Must Visit Places in Australia

Must Visit Places in Australia

Although Australia is the world’s smallest continent, there are many awe-inspiring vacation spots to visit. Choose from the Outback or the Great Barrier Reef, and everywhere in between, you’re sure to find many iconic landmarks.

As you plan your vacation, you will be picking which spots to visit and which sites to see. You consider exploring Australia in a campervan for a year or so if you have the time. If you can’t manage that, take shorter trips to gradually these tourist spots[ix]  off your list. They are considered some of the best sites in Australia that you can’t miss.

1. Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s most popular tourist attraction. It is also one of the world’s seven wonders.

With reefs that stretch 3000 km across Queensland’s coast, it is a diver’s dream. So, whether you’re a casual snorkeler, it’s your first time diving, or you are an avid scuba diver, everyone will find something to do.

Consider a helicopter tour over the reef or book a liveaboard dive boat vacation to visit the reef’s least-dived sites. You can also try diving with a helmet.

2. Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest is another natural wonder found on the continent. It is 180 million years old and covers 1200 square km. Tourists often choose to take a Dreamtime walk with a guide from the Kuku Yalanji Tribe. Other ways to enjoy your visit include paddleboarding across the Mossman River or relaxing at the Silky Oak Lodge.

3. Fraser Island

Fraser Island

The 75-mile-long beach is one of the longest in the world. You will find dunes, tidal pools, shipwrecks, and dingos. Rent a four-wheel-drive truck in Noosa and get ready for one of the wildest rides you’ll ever experience.

You will also find an airport on the Island’s shores and several hotels or resorts right on the beach.

4. Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

Take a drive along the Melbourne coast’s Great Ocean Road to find the remarkable Twelve Apostles.

One of Australia’s most iconic, awe-inspiring spots, you will want to take the Great Ocean Walk to make the experience worthwhile. This walk takes you along the coastal route that you will not see by car. You may also want to consider taking a helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles to see its full beauty.

5. Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

Just off South Australia’s coast, Kangaroo Island is a great place to spend a few days. The Island is a haven for Koalas, Pelicans, Seals, and Kangaroos, as the name implies. You will also find the Birds of Prey rehabilitation center that teaches about the continent’s indigenous birds, and you can watch a show.

Visitors agree the Island’s landscape is gorgeous. The Remarkables — the granite boulders sculpted over 500 million years into unique formations— are something you want to see at sunset. Kangaroo Island is also known for having one of Australia’s best beaches.

6. Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

No vacation in Australia is complete without visiting the Sydney Opera House. It is Australia’s most iconic landmark, and you won’t be disappointed seeing it overlooking the Sydney Skyline at night. Opened in 1973, the arts center is one of the continent’s top tourist attractions.

7. The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

Located merely 50km (32 miles) from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are another popular tourist attraction. The most well-known view of the Blue Mountains is Three Sisters. Visitors also enjoy the Echo Point lookout, which offers breathtaking views of the Three Sisters as they look over the Jamison Valley.

8. The Outback: South, West, North, and East Australia

The Outback: South, West, North, and East Australia

The Outback is Australia’s massive expanse reaching nearly all of its states. If you visit the continent on vacation, don’t miss a trip to the Outback. It is best to take a multi-day trip to get the chance to see the wonders of Australia’s Outback, including Uluru.

Whether looking for rock formations, red sands, or salt lakes, you will surely enjoy your experience. People have settled in the Outback; some homesteaders even raise sheep among emus and kangaroos.

9. Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays Islands are a group of 75 islands laying off Queensland’s coast. Try to spend some time there when you are on your way to visit the Great Barrier Reef. The islands are at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef; you will enjoy the pearly white beaches where the sand whirls effortlessly in the sea-green water.

You can also enjoy many activities like sailing, snorkeling, and relaxing at a luxury resort on the Whitsundays Islands. Another must-see stop is Whitehaven Beach, easily the most popular of the islands.

10. Cable Beach

Cable Beach

Have you seen photos of camels walking at sunset walking in silhouette but didn’t know where the photo was taken? The answer is Cable Beach. This beach may not be the continent’s longest beach, but the 22km length is not something you want to overlook.

Plan a camel ride along the beach during sunset; many tour companies offer these rides. Camels arrived in Australia in the 1800s from India to carry gear overland. Since the interior of the continent is harsh, camels seemed to be better suited than horses. These camels helped shape the continent’s history.

[i] Edgar E. Schneider (2020), “Englishes Around the World: An Introduction” – Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition.

 [ii] Lingoda Team (January 25, 2021), “A guide to Australian English (and everything you need to know about the Aussies).”  Retrieved from https://blog.lingoda.com/en/a-guide-to-australian-english/

[iii] Kelly D, “Differences between American and Australian English.” Retrieved from https://englishlive.ef.com/blog/english-in-the-real-world/differences-american-english-australian-english/

[iv] Jeffrey G. Heath, “Australian Aboriginal languages.” Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Australian-Aboriginal-languages

[v] “Languages of Australia.” Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Australia

[vi] Jeroen Stanff, “Australian Food, the Most Iconic Australian Cuisine.” Retrieved from https://nomadsworld.com/australian-food/

[vii] Thomas Woodgate, CNN (December 18, 2017), “Australian food: 40 dishes locals like to call their own.” Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/australian-food/index.html

[viii] “Weather in Australia.” Retrieved from https://www.australia.com/en/facts-and-planning/weather-in-australia.html

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