After 6 years in Australia we have lots of information to share about life down under and we’ll be breaking it up into parts of 3-4 things at a time.
For some of you this information may help you get past any fears or barriers you may have (Like #3 for me, I wish I knew this before we went down) while others may just want to know more about a country that many of us know so little about.
When we went down, we had literally researched NOTHING (except for #3) and had NO idea about what to expect. This blog would have been a great start for research so we hope it finds you well. Let’s get started!
1. Red Desert – Is the Outback in my backyard?
I genuinely thought 90% of Australia was kangaroo hopping, dingo baby stealing red desert and that our backyard in Sydney was going to be a tumbleweed race track.
But I was COMPLETELY wrong.
The Outback refers to the arid red desert centre of Australia but only makes up 18% of the continent. Unless you’re willing to drive 17 hours from coastal Sydney, you’re not going to see the real Outback in everyday life and if visiting, you really need to make specific plans ahead of time to go there.
Uluru/Ayer’s Rock and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory are the most famous central Outback locations for tourists and only a few hours flight from all major cities and allow you to get up close and personal with the more dramatic landscapes of this country. (We’ll touch on more detail of what to do and see in these places and other cities as part of a future adventure tourism series.)
The majority of the country is more temperate ranging to tropical. Most major cities including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are surrounded by beaches, national parks or rolling tropical mountains that you can usually drive or train to in as quick as 30 minutes. So there’s still tons of amazing and diverse landscapes and wildlife to see even if only stopping into Sydney for a short visit. We’ll touch more on wildlife throughout this series.
2. Aussie Lingo – Who/what the hell is a “Fair Dinkum”?
Australian English is an interesting one but in general it could be described as laid back.
First off, there are no Rs in earshot and they really grill North American English for the way we say Barrr and Carrr with prominent Rs.
A general and quite dependable rule, almost every word can be shortened by cutting it half and adding “ie”, “y” or “o” to the end.
Let us demonstrate this and some other examples:
Chrissie Prezzies = Christmas Presents
Arvo = Afternoon
Preso = Presentation
Bevvie = Drink/Beverage
Esky = A Cooler
Mozzies = Mosquitos
A Shoey = Drinking out your shoe (Yes…)
Bottle-O = Bottle Shop
Selfie (Yes this started in Aus) = Taking a photo of yourself
Servo = Gas/Petrol Station
Capsicum = Green/Red Pepper
Thongs = Flip Flops
Macca’s = McDonald’s
Goon = Box Wine
Snag = Sausage
Bogan = Redneck/hillbilly
Prawns = Shrimp (Which ends up proving that no self-respecting Australian will ever say the phrase “throw another shrimp on the barbie”)
Mobile = Cell Phone (This is the number one word that will people will look at you funny for. They will not let you get off with saying “Cell Phone”, not for a second haha. And in coming back to Canada it is the word I most have to make sure I don’t take back because as a Canadian, people will think I sound like a complete Twat haha).
Fair Dinkum? = True or Genuine. The real McCoy I guess?
These are only the TIP of the iceberg. It may take a while to get enough of the lingo to not question every few sentences in a bush party, but man is it fun picking it up!
3. Big Jesus Spiders – HOLY HELL FUCK DAMN CRAP!
But read this because I wish I knew this information before I moved down.
This one is extremely important because for anyone who is even a LITTLE afraid of spiders, you will have an immediately present aversion to Australia.
For me, this topic was literally the only reason I even considered for not going. Like, without a joke, seriously, I angsted the fuck out for weeks over this before hopping on the flight.
But I’ll tell you now, from a guy who unbelievably hates spiders, it is not that bad.
Let me introduce you to three of the most famous culprits.
Australia’s ancestor to the Black Widow. Similar in both black and red patterns and in how poisonous they are.
Most common in the country side but can and has made it around your fruit in the super market.
This thing owns the crown for all animals that result in humans needing to get anti-venom after a bite in Australia. 2,000-10,000 bites happen each year but nobody has died in over 60 years. (WRONG WIKIPEDIA! Turns out it’s not up to date because the first person in forever seems to have died last year…).
Huntsman can be larger in leg span than a large hand. They’re not poisonous and most of the time won’t bite. But whatever. THEY’RE FUCKING HUGE AND FURRY! That ruins me more than poison ever would.
They are also pretty much all over the country. They are extremely common.
Sydney Funnel Web Spiders
This spider, looks like a NIGHTMARE COME TO LIFE. It looks like 2 teeth with legs.
It is aptly named the Sydney Funnel Web because it resides in all surrounding areas around Sydney. Extremely venomous but again nobody has died from this guy in decades. But fun fact, a lot of bites happen from people putting on their shoes or pants…this fact and spider in particular are what almost sent me over the edge going down.
Have I scared the fucking shit out of you yet?? Don’t worry, the following is what I wish I knew before going down because man just reading about these guys on Wikipedia makes you want to end your life.
As long as you’re living centre city in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, you’re pretty much in the clear. In almost 6 years we only saw two huntsman in Sydney, one on the side of a building and a small one in our living room. Once you go out in the country it’s fair game but even then I rarely saw anything except for a redback spider in a barn.
Our first year of road tripping and camping around the east coast you couldn’t put me to bed at night without having to check every. Single. God. Damn. Corner. of the room or tent I was in. And even then I wanted to crawl into a rocking fetal position at the thought of one crawling in in the middle of the night.
But you really don’t have to worry. Just don’t be like my mom and put your face into a nest of Sydney Funnel Webs up in the mountains no matter what the tour guide tells you!
ALRIGHT Spider rant over! Really had to get all the detail of that one over to you guys because if I had known this my first year in Aus would have been far less traumatic.
Until Next Time
Hope you guys will like getting these insights into Australian life as there are lots more to share.
If any requests for info to discuss leave it in the comments!
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Chris and Larry