Australian Stereotypes - The 8 Top Aussie Stereotypes Fact-checked and Explained
From dingos attacking babies 🙄 to everything vegemite, there are a lot of Australian stereotypes that have made their way into mainstream culture.
A lot of that has to do with how quirky we truly are as Australians.
But much of it is also about completely misunderstanding some pretty basic things about Australian culture.
So, we thought it would be fun to take the 8 most persistent ones and see where they came from and how true they really are.
Starting with the most ubiquitous offender:
1. Another Shrimp on the Barbie
So let’s start with the obvious: this stereotype is partially true. Many Australians do enjoy barbecuing and many do use the slang term “barbie”. But, you won’t hear many Australians call prawns shrimp.
However, the reason this phrase is so omnipresent when people think about Australia is thanks to none other than Crocodile Dundee himself, Paul Hogan.
Back in the mid-80s, the Australian Tourism Commission… uhm… commissioned a set of ads starring Paul Hogan. In the ads, Paul promises American visitors paradise on earth, complete with pristine beaches, a worry-free experience, and “shrimp on the barbie”.
The reason this tired phrase makes us roll our eyes is mostly that it’s so cringy.
So, next time you think you’ve got just the line that will endear you to your new Aussie acquaintance, maybe go with something else.
2. Foster’s is Australian for Beer
So, yes, Foster’s is an Australian beer. But not a very popular one.
In other words, this one is just plain false.
We can thank the marketing geniuses at Foster’s for this persistent delusion. And, like many Aussie stereotypes we love to hate, this one comes from material aimed at American audiences.
The Foster’s brand was even made by Americans. But that’s neither here nor there.
What’s really Australian for beer? Well, it depends on where you are but you won’t go wrong with asking someone to join you for a frostie at the pub.
And, if you want to make an Australian feel at home, leave the Foster’s on the shelf. You’ll have better luck with Tooheys or Victoria Bitter.
3. Everything in Australia Will Try to Kill You
This is obviously false but the myth persists that Australia is just one big wild desert.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Australia’s natural diversity is only rivaled by its accomplishments in social and urban development.
And, yeah, Australia is home to some of the most dangerous critters in the world. But, it’s also home to some of the most adorable.
Case in point, the quokka:
4. Australians Love Vegemite
This is another one that’s partially true. A lot of Australians do enjoy vegemite (on toast, spread thinly). But maybe just as many don’t like it or eat it.
Image credit: Dale Mastin via Flickr
It’s certainly not as ubiquitous as the stereotype will have you believe. Most Australians who enjoy it do so in moderation and it’s typically eaten at breakfast time.
And, this is really important, no one will judge you if you don’t like it. It’s an acquired taste.
5. Most Australians Are Laid-back Surfer Types
Sure, we enjoy a day at the beach just as much as the next guy or gal. But, not everyone surfs and many people don’t live anywhere near a beach.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re very proud of our natural beauty. And beaches are an important part of that.
It’s just that you’ll be a little disappointed if you expect to see blonde, toned, and tanned specimens walking around on the streets everywhere.
That said, Australia is a surfer’s paradise and a world-recognized surf mecca. So, if you are the laid-surfer type, you’ll have no trouble finding your tribe here.
6. Australians Are Descended From Convicts
Believe it or not, this one is largely true.
It’s a historical fact that many of Australia’s settlements at some point housed penal colonies.
It’s also a historical fact that over 100,000 convicts were shipped to Australia between 1788 and 1868. Modern estimates suggest that about 20% of Australians today are descendants of people who originally came to the continent as convicts.
The cultural and social legacy of those origins profoundly influenced the development of the Australia we know and love today.
Nevertheless, Australia’s dominant characteristic these days is it’s cultural diversity. Australians trace their ancestry to all parts of the world and that’s a big reason why we love Australia so much.
We even observe Harmony Day (March 21st) which is a celebration of unity and diversity.
7. Australia is One Big Desert
While it’s true that the deserts of Australia cover about 18% of the mainland, most people live in the coastal regions.
We even have our own Australian Alps, not to be confused with the Austrian Alps. And, the Australian Alps get more snow on average than the Austrian ones.
Australia is a large country, with a diverse landscape that ranges from the sandy beaches of the east coast to the tropical rainforests of north Queensland and the rugged outback in the centre of the country. But the sheer size of the country (about as big as the US mainland) makes it silly to say that any one characterizes the entire continent.
8. Everything in Australia is Upside Down
Surprising, but 100% true.
Everything in Australia is upside down. It takes a while to adjust but once you’ve lived here for a while everything looks right-side-up again.
Ready To Ride a Kangaroo Into The Sunset
With the information you have now, it will be easy to make friends with Aussies or blend in with the regulars when you come to Australia.
We know that Australians are a diverse bunch and while some of these stereotypes might ring true for some people, they don’t represent everyone Down Under.
The most important thing to remember is that Australians are, overall, a pretty friendly bunch and won’t turn down a good time given half a chance.