11 things in life that only Australians understand


Chicken salt: Good luck finding this outside of Australia.

Image: instagram/mattfromadelaide

Ah Australia. You unique beast.

Many visitors and newcomers wander the streets of “the lucky country” in a constantly confused state. There are so many questions: Why aren’t those people wearing footwear? Why does the coffee not taste like water? Why is everyone drunk at midday, and on a Sunday, for heaven’s sake?

To Australians, it’s all a normal part of life Down Under. It’s a place where utter devotion to chicken salt, an obsession with poker machines and boozy long lunches are all part of the furniture.

If you’ve ever wanted a complete list of Aussie quirks, here it is. Because knowledge is power, my friend.

1. Shoes are the devil

Thongs for Christmas. Image: Don Arnold/Getty Images

Because it’s too damn hot, that’s why.

Plus, putting on actual socks, then shoes is an ordeal that many Australians just can’t be bothered with. That is why they wear thongs a.k.a. flip flops whenever they can, while the brave will just pop down to the local shops barefoot. Try pulling that in the middle of London, and you’ll get weird sideways looks, just as the frostbite sets in.

Hating shoes: It’s just one of those inexplicably Australian things.

2. Unquestioned consumption of the flat white

Is it a cappuccino? Is it a latte? No, you dingus, it’s a flat white. It’s punchier thanks to the higher espresso ratio, smaller amount of milk and a velvety micro-foam, which is less heavy than a cappuccino equivalent.

While you’ll see this drink pop up around the world because it’s heaps trendy, even at *shudder* Starbucks, most places are just serving a botched latte.

3. The steak or parmigiana special for $10 at your local pub

You can always count on the steak and chicken schnitzel parmigiana special, which won’t break the bank, to be on the menu at your local pub in Australia.

The steak will be no better than a piece of a rubber, while the schnitzel is drowned in a tomato sauce and plastic cheese combination. Both are worthy of Michelin Stars, if the judges would just open their damn eyes.

4. A Sunday session complete with 10 beers and 12 bottles of wine

Prince Charles knows what’s up. Image: Matt Newton-Pool/Getty Images

In a vain attempt to prolong that weekend feeling, many Aussies congregate at their local pub ideally with a beer garden nice and early on Sunday afternoon to basically get very, very drunk.

Diligent employees will end the night early enough so that they can get up for work on Monday, albeit croakier than usual. Others throw caution to the wind.

5. The ringing and beeping of poker machines. Everywhere.

Image: Moment Editorial/Getty Images

The scourge of the poker machine,affectionallycalled “pokies” by Australians, is something you’d only find incasinos in the rest of the developed world. Not in Australia. In Australia, they’re everywhere. They’re in pubs, clubs, bars. There is no town too small. No person too poor.

The pokies are usually found in a row in a special “gaming room” at the back of a pub, which is populated by pensioners, bored tradies and people looking to take advantage of the free tea, coffee and food they give out to gamblers. Not really a place one would hang out, even for the free food, let’s be honest.

6. The sausage sizzle as a social event

There’s little more to the Australian sausage sizzle than sliced white bread, sausages on a barbecue, plus the choice of tomato or barbecue sauce with the occasional appearance of mustard or grilled onion. Yet they’re so damn good.

Sorry world, a bratswurst or a boerewors can never hold a candle to a slightly-burned supermarket beef sausage in a piece of near-stale white bread.

7. There can never be enough chicken salt on your chips

Who knows what on earth is in chicken salt? Actual sodium? Some chicken extract? MSG?

Whatever it may be, the stuff is likely quite awful for you (it has the word salt in it, remember), but it issomething that’s an unmissable part of the takeaway shop experience in Australia.

The best chicken salt is usually the brightest, most artificial yellow stuff you can find. The best way to consume it is after it forms a fluorescent clump on a chip. The coughing and crying fit is worth the agony for just one taste of the delicious salt.

Americans who don’t have access to chicken salt have already created a recipe for the condiment icon. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to do it justice. The whole crushing up of chicken skin and adding of mushroom powder seems far too natural and wholesome for our liking. More near death experiences, please.

8. Riding in the front seat of a taxi

Image: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

When getting a taxi in Australia, it is common for passengers to ride in the front along with the driver and have a good old chat.

Doing the same in New York or London may get you thrown to the kerb, as it is highly likely the driver will assume you are about to rob them.Come to Australia, a place where the cabbies want to get to know who you are.

9. Shortening words, because saying the whole thing is too much effort

Maccas. Selfie. Arvo. It’s a grand Australian tradition to shorten most things we say, because who can be bothered saying the whole word. That also includes already short names such as David and Sharon becoming Dazza and Shazza, while Mary just becomes Maz. Simple to follow, right?

These shortened words, known as diminutives, are commonly used as an act of endearment and as a way to fit in. Politicians use them for instance, to make themselves sound more approachable to the general public.

While the use of diminutives are not unique to Australia, the sheer amount of them used in the country is pretty staggering: It is estimated that 4,000 of these shortened words are used in everyday Australian language. That’s a lot of z’s and o’s.

10. Throwing a slice of beetroot on a burger

The sight of a burger, stained by the purple hue of beetroot is as Australian as football, meat pies and Holden cars, but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to quite get it.

Take this quote from bigwig American chef David Chang on the country’s burgers in Lucky Peach.

“You know who fucks up burgers more than anyone else in the world? Australians. Australia has no idea what a burger is. They put a fried egg on their burger. They put canned beetroot on it, like a wedge of it. I am not joking you. This is how they eat their burger,” he said.

Australia forgives you for cursing the fried egg, but don’t you dare talk ill of the beetroot on a burger. You will have a whole country after you.

11. Dropping the phrase ‘never dog your mates’ at parties

 Don’t be a dog. Don’t dog your mates. It’s the lowest act you could ever possibly do.

That’s a phrase meaning to not abandon your friends, even though a dog never would, ironically enough.The word “dog” is used to refer to a disloyal person in Australia, used in other phrases such as “dog act” meaning an act of treachery.

Australians have such a phrase because the country espouses “mateship” as one of its highest virtues, which refers to the quality of friendships and loyalty between people, especially in difficult situations.

The history of “mateship” goes back to Australian soldiers fighting in World War I, while the origin of the phrase “don’t dog your mates” isn’t exactly clear but probably started after a night on the cans (translation: after too many beers).

So next time an Australian tries to leave you at a crappy party, just tell them “don’t dog your mates.” The easiest way to make them feel really, really guilty. Ya dog.

 

11 things in life that only Australians understand