Things that we've discovered now that we're here.

(Remember that our experience is confined to Adelaide.)

Updated 27/5/02

You pay for everything! Free banking is almost unheard of. Delivery is nearly always extra. A trip to the doctor may cost you $20 or more (depending on how much is covered by Medicare).

TV is free but you are inundated with adverts: about 4 to 5 minutes every 10 minutes or so.

There are 5 TV channels: 3 commercial, one like the BBC (ABC) and a minority interest/foreign language one called SBS.

Your UK TV set or video recorder won't work in Australia. You will get sound but no picture, or picture but no sound, but not both at the same time. Your VHS video tapes will work on Aussie equipment, so your wedding video can still be played! TVs (and I would guess videos) can be modified but I do not know how much that will cost. (I'll try to find out.) (Click here for some info sent to me by Mike Lee who looks like he knows what he is talking about.)

Petrol prices vary wildly across the week, being cheapest on Tuesday or Wednesday and most expensive on Thursday (pay day) and Friday. Even more so just before a public holiday.

Drivers tend to be more selfish than in England: they will rarely let you out or change lanes. You have to take the initiative. But there seems to be less aggression on the roads. Flashing headlights at someone to invite them out of a side road is unlikely to coax them to join the traffic. (They don't know what you mean.)

Many shops close on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, although some remain open, e.g. DIY shops. Most shops will close by 5:30p.m.

Personal cheques are rarely used. Instead your "hole in the wall" card (key card) is swiped at the checkout, you enter your pin and the transaction is complete. Credit cards are as widely accepted as they are in the UK.

Australians are generally a friendly bunch.

The Australian humour is not terribly sophisticated and is often personally directed, but more gently than, say, the Scouse humour. You cannot let that get you down!

It is surprising just how many Australians that you meet that either came from the UK or whose parents or grandparents came over. Even those Aussies that appear to be true blue dinky die.

The place is not overrun by poisonous spiders, although you will come across them from time to time.

The place is not overrun by deadly snakes. I have yet to come across a live one. (I've seen a couple of ex-snakes on the road during a trip to country NSW.) (Update - on 15/12/2001 I saw my first live one crossing the road not far from where we live. That's one in nearly 26 months.)

The work ethic is not significantly different to that in the UK. But some places will have a beer in the "conference room" on a Friday.

Industrial relations are worse than the UK with unions still holding power.

The country is incredibly big. You spend all day driving and you've only covered 11/2inches on the map. You don't appreciate the scale of it until you've been here and driven somewhere. But interstate driving is entirely stress free. A 900 kilometer drive is quite a reasonable one day trip. (9 hours of driving.)

Temperatures are in centigrade. And in the summer 42 degrees is quite common.

Speed and distance is in Kilometers.

Weights are in kilos.

It does rain! Even on public holidays.

You do need a coat and warm clothes in winter, especially if you are in the south east and away from the coast (Canberra, Melbourne, Tasmania, Griffith.).

Car boot sales almost don't exist but garage sales are a constant feature (i.e. one man's car boot sale). But second hand stuff is much more expensive than the car boot prices of the UK. So don't expect to replace your 3-piece suite that you sold for a hundred quid rather than bring it over for less than, say, 300 quid equivalent. Our advice is to bring everything that you can.

Australians drive on the left (most of the time!)

"Root" or "rooting" is a rude expression and equates to the act of two people attempting to expand the population! Where possible the pronunciation is "rowt" as in "my route home takes me past the post office". (I caused a lot of mirth at work over this one!!)

A pint of beer is rarely a pint. Depending on the state, a pint will tend to be a bit more than half a pint. A scooner is the normal measure and is about half a pint. Men and women have the same sized glass.

Australian beer is basically lager, and stronger than UK beers. (Australian "lite" beer will be about 3%, which is at the weak end of UK normal strength.)

Pubs are not like English pubs, unless you happen to find one that has been deliberately built that way, presumably by a Pommie landlord. They are more like working-men's clubs and most have a room full of one arm bandits (poker machines or "pokies") where people who can ill afford it sit and waste their money hoping for a win.

You will spend about a year shaking your underwear before you put them on, in case of spiders!

Much of the population is huddled into half a dozen towns. Eg (in thousands)

Total State

Capital

Total State

Capital

NSW 6,412

Sydney

4,041

QLD 3,512

Brisbane

1,604

VIC 4,712

Melbourne

3,417

SA 1,493

Adelaide

1,093

WA 1,861

Perth

1,364

TAS 470

Hobart

194

NT 193

Darwin

88

ACT 310

Canberra

310

Figures from ABS "2001 Year Book Australia" as at June 1999.

That means you will probably at least start off by living in a fairly densely populated area of this country, complete with neighbours and traffic congestion.

One of your early, necessary purchases will be a (gas) barbie. You will invite people round for a barbie and will get invited yourselves. Quite often a casual visit will turn into a barbie. You would normally expect to take food ("bring a plate" is the term used) and probably some booze. But remember, drink-drive laws are vigorously enforced and are more stringent than the UK. (50 is the alcohol limit here compared to 80 in the UK.) The weather is reliable enough to plan a barbie weeks in advance. Don't forget to get the gas bottle filled up at a service station (it will be empty when you buy it).

4 cylinder cars are "not cool". The minimum for street cred is 6 cylinders and 8 cylinders makes a statement! The engine will probably be 3 to 4 litres. But with petrol prices close to, and sometimes over, a dollar per litre, Australians are now starting to buy smaller cars. Cars are usually automatic and a manual may cost more. Without air conditioning your car will be extremely uncomfortable in the summer.

The sun will burn nastily, even on a cloudy day. Get a wide brimmed hat (anything from $5) and wear it. Sun block is very important especially for the kids. Australians are brought up to respect the sun but skin cancer is on the rise.

The sea is not teeming with sharks, but they are out there. Stick to the patrolled beaches.

Australian houses tend to be on one level and open plan in design. They are also individual, not homogenised like in England.

Even with GST (e.g. VAT), the cost of living is cheaper than in England, but you pay more income tax on your earnings. The cost of a car is a bit more in dollars than you would expect to pay in pounds in England but is noticeably cheaper.

The words to the national anthem - "Advance Australia Fair". - Click here to play the tune.

Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts of beauty rich and rare;
In hist'ry's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant southern cross we'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this common wealth of ours renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine to Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains and let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.

 

This is a wonderful country with an excellent climate and the people are great. I have not one second of regret for our decision.

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