Tuesday 10 July 2018

Things I've Learned During Three Weeks in Australia

Although Australia is pretty similar to the UK in a lot of ways, I've come across a fair few things so far that have surprised / amused / confused me, and here they are. 

Book Nooks

In many shopping centres you will see a 'book nook'; put simply, this is a book exchange system where you leave a book behind and take a book. I love this idea as it means that once you've finished with a book you can get rid of it, but get something new to read at the same time. In theory I'll never have to buy another paperback again!


I am finding it difficult to get my head around the change here in Aus, as the coin sizes don't correlate to the value of the coins, and seem pretty backwards. For instance, the smallest coin is about the size of a 5p and is actually a $2 coin. I was just about to ready to chuck all my $2 coins into a charity box until someone kindly pointed out that they were worth quite a bit!

Something I can't quite get used to is that when you buy something, the amount will be rounded up. For instance if something comes to $23.47, you'll be charged $23.50. This saves all the irritating small change that seems to gather, but it's an odd concept to get used to.

'Pay Pass' - At home we have contactless card, but here it's called 'pay pass' and you will be asked if you want to 'pay pass'. Confusing at first if you don't realise what it is! Also, you can tap and pay for much larger amounts, which is pretty dangerous when it feels like every time you tap you're not actually spending any money!

The Lingo

I already knew that Australians like to abbreviate everything, but I have now realised that they like to abbreviate everything. Going to the petrol station? The 'servo'. Need a cool-box? It's an 'esky'. Want to buy some alcohol? Get yourself down to the 'bottle-o'. Work as a skilled labourer? You're a 'tradie'. Most shockingly for me was when I went into a chemist to get some toiletries, asked the sales assistant where to find a few things, and she had to ask me a few times what I was saying!


Cider is my drink of choice, and I drink it in pints. Here in Victoria, you can't always get a pint. You'll either get a pot (half-pint), a schooner (in between a pot and pint) or a pint. Go to Queensland, and you'll get a middy instead of a pot, and you'll also get a schmiddy or a pony. The worst thing about drinking in Australia however, is that a pint is around $10 (GBP5.58), which pains me greatly. 

Friendly People

Everyone here is so damn friendly. Everywhere you go, whether it's a bar, shop, restaurant, or public transport, you'll get a friendly greeting and genuine warmth. Sometimes it's a lot, especially when you want to go somewhere like Priceline (the equivalent of Superdrug) and someone approaches you to ask you if you need help. I'm the kind of person that needs to be left to browse, so sometimes the over-enthusiastic offers of help are too much!

Hard Rubbish

One of the most surprising things I have learned about in the last week or so, is 'hard rubbish'. Now this really is quite a sight! Apparently every six months or so, the council comes around with a truck and picks up any 'hard' rubbish that people leave out on the streets. This is your bulky rubbish that you would ordinarily take to a dump or put in a skip, such as furniture, beds, electrics, garden furniture, and so on. People leave it outside their houses and other people come and help themselves (supposedly there are laws against this, but that doesn't stop people). The picture above is the remains of a hard rubbish week - I walked along one road where there was so much junk I could barely walk along the pavement!

Op Shops

What we call charity shops, are 'op' shops here. Again, another abbreviation, standing for 'opportunity shops'. They are a really big thing here and there are actually proper stores for op shops. People even make a thing of going 'op shopping'. 

Everyone Ubers

I have used Uber at home maybe once in my entire life, but here everyone uses some form of Uber. There are various different taxi apps (Ola, Taxify, Didi, Uber), and each offers discount codes, especially if you share the codes with friends. So by swapping codes with other people, you both gain discounts and can get super cheap travels. Sometimes Ubers work out cheaper than public transport, and it's a great system when you want to get home from a night out. I've found that alternating between the various Uber apps ensures that I can get the cheapest journey. 

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