Spending a few weeks on the golden beaches of Australia is a dream for most of us. As British skies turn to a drab battleship grey, and rain lashes against the windows, the thought of spending an afternoon in the sun, lazing on the sand, drinking in the famous Australian hospitality seems painfully appealing.
But wait! Before you start applying the factor twenty in anticipation, being a pasty-skinned Brit down under can be a minefield. Luckily, we’ve compiled this failsafe guide to surviving on the mean streets (beaches?) of Oz.
Don’t try talking like a local
You may think you can fly down under armed with some Aussie idioms, and fit right in like a local. Yeah, you’ve ben hanging around with your surf mates, and you’ve picked up a few rad phrases, so you’re good to go, right? Wrong.
Trying to talk like a local will make you stand out like, well, like a pasty Brit on an otherwise bronzed beach. If you start dropping things like “Arvo Skip, my boardies are as mad as a cut snake, ya flamin’ galah ” in a Burnley accent, you’re going to look like even more of a tourist than you already are.
Just take it easy. Language is a bit like becoming a regular in a pub. It takes time to be accepted. Patience is a virtue, ya drongo.
DO SAY: “Hi, do you know where I can buy some sun block from, please?”
DON’T SAY: “G’day blue! Are you and your Sheila taking the ute to the store later, Cobber?”
Everybody’s going surfing, apart from you
Australia is synonymous with surfing. They go together like fish and chips, tea and cake, cricket and boredom. When you head down under, you may be tempted to try your hand at surfing yourself. Our advice is simple: don’t.
At least, don’t unless you’re already really, really shitting good, and know how to behave properly. Start barging your way into the line up, dropping in on other people’s waves, or just generally being an obnoxious tourist, and you’re going to find yourself on the rough end of some famous Australian localism.
DO SAY: “Wow, the surfing here is out of this world. It’s amazing.”
DON’T SAY: “Bells hasn’t got shit on the point break at Rhyl”
Getting high in the mountains
So, you have to hand it to the Aussies, they’ve got the surfing thing sewn up. By now you may be grasping at straws, and hit upon the idea that the northern hemisphere furnishes us with snow capped mountains that become our playground during the winter. “Take that, Australia” you cry patriotically.
But don’t be too hasty. While it’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, our Aussie cousins are enjoying typically mild winters, just cold enough for ski resorts like Perisher, Mount Hotham, and Falls Creek – to name but a few – to fulfil all of your ski and snowboard needs. In fact, Australia is one of the few places when you can have a triple threat day – surfing, snowboarding, and skating, in just one day, just like these guys did.
DO SAY: “I bet you get blue bird days on a weekly basis.”
DON’T SAY: “How come the snow hasn’t all melted and flooded the country?”
Avoid all sport in general
Hell, in Australia, they don’t just have action sports wrapped up. They’re pretty handy at sports across the board. And nothing motivates an Australian to push themselves that extra mile than the chance of beating a milky-skinned Brit.
If you’re on the beach and you see a friendly game of football, rugby, or cricket breaking out, just sit back and enjoy the overly-competitive splendour. Whatever you do, don’t try to join in. You will be destroyed.
“Ah” you counter “in 1987, Wolverhampton Wanderers beat the Melbourne Shrink Wraps 4-0 in a pre season friendly”, or some other historic anomaly. That may well be the case, but no historic scoreline will come to your rescue when Brad from Wagga Wagga is sending your middle stump cart-wheeling down the sand with his infamous googly. Christ, cricket’s weird, isn’t it?
DO SAY: “Join in? I’m afraid not, old bean. I’m still nursing a pulled hammy”
DON’T SAY: “Step aside, Bruce. I’ll give you a hiding for Queen and country!”
Don’t get your fingers burnt at barbecues
Barbeques are an Australian institution. It’s as ingrained in their culture as light drizzle is in ours. If you’ve followed our guide to surviving on the bronzed beaches of Aus, you may find yourself invited to a good old cook-out.
While there, you may find yourself tempted to join in. Maybe even have a little go at cooking yourself. Don’t. Just because you’ve thrown a couple of supermarket bangers on your back garden Barbie on the one day of summer we get, doesn’t mean you’re an expert.
You wouldn’t lead a ceremony of monks in China just because you bought that shitty t-shirt with Buddha on it from Topshop. This is no different. Leave it to the experts, and you may just get away with it.
DO SAY: “Red Snapper? Yes, I’d love some, thank you.”
DON’T SAY: “You’ve burnt the sausages, you cork-hatted fool! No wonder we threw you all out of the country.”