Local traditions and culture in Australia

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    THE "CWA"

    by balhannah Written Oct 5, 2013

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    Now, if your not from Australia and are visiting some country towns, then your sure to come across a building painted in white and blue, with CWA written in capital letters.

    The letters stand for "COUNTRY WOMENS ASSOCIATION."

    This Association is run by women whose aim is to improve the conditions for women and children and make life better for families, especially those living in rural and remote Australia.
    Living in country Australia can be quite lonely, especially when the husband is working long hours or away from home, so this is a nice outlet for the young and old women of the town and surrounding area to come together.
    Whilst chatting, they could be learning arts & crafts, drama, music, public speaking, cooking, floral art, how to use computers and more.

    It is not all fun though, in times of emergencies such as drought and floods, these women bake and help out.
    In the cities, the CWA has residences available for country people to use. This is great, as usually it is too far to return home at the end of the day. It means these folks can be close to their loved ones who are in Hospital, or can use the residence as accommodation for students or just to have a holiday.

    The work done by the ladies of the CWA all over Australia is exceptional!

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    SEE GALAHS IN THE WILD

    by balhannah Written Oct 4, 2013

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    The Galah or Rose Breasted Parrot, is a very pretty pink & grey Australasian Parrot, found in every state of Australia.

    Galahs have adapted very well to European settlement, so you really don't have to go to outback Australia to see them in the wild. In the parks around Australia, you will often find them, as you will find them in my backyard feeding on certain grasses!

    Away from the cities is where you will find the most Galahs, often hundreds in a flock found on the roadsides scavenging seeds that have fallen from the trucks as they take their grain to the Silo's. Goondiwindi is a good place to see hundreds of them, including many other Parrots that love the seed of cereal crops. Galahs naturally feed on grasses, herbs, seeds, nuts, berries, roots, green shoots and leaf buds, now with European settlement, they enjoy the cereal better! Not good news for the Farmers!
    Of course they need a drink, so check out the Dam walls and Cattle Troughs, either early morning or late afternoon.
    Galahs are kept as pets and can live till 80 years of age. They can imitate the human voice with the male Galah being the better talker.

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    SUGAR CANE FARMING & JOB'S.

    by balhannah Written Aug 25, 2013

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    Want to see Sugar Cane being grown and harvested, then you will have to travel along Australia’s eastern coastline, from Mossman in far north Queensland to Grafton in northern New South Wales.
    In this area are approx 4400 cane farms that supply the cane to 24 mills. Approximately 95% of Australian sugar produced comes from Queensland with the balance from Northern New South Wales.
    As you may have guessed, the Sugar Cane industry is very important to Australia. It is good to know the Sugar mills are self-sufficient in energy, burning the sugar processing by-product bagasse, [green energy] to generate electricity and steam for factory operations.

    Travelling in these areas you will see that sugar cane grows very tall, and that in Spring, some are in flower. The Cane takes approx. 16mths to grow before being harvested between June and December each year by self-propelled harvesting machines. After harvesting, the stubble left behind grows new shoots, producing a "ratoon" crop. Two or three ratoon crops can be grown before the land is rested.
    This is a very busy time of the year, with many sugar cane trains heading to the Mill's, and lots of semi-trailers on the roads too!

    Of interest to Backpackers, is that jobs are available, so I have included the website below.

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    TIPPING IN AUSTRALIA

    by balhannah Updated Aug 24, 2013

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    Tipping is seen as a foreign custom AND generally is NOT DONE in Australia.

    It is up to you if you decide to. If you want to tip, just round up to the next full $.
    You may wish to add a tip to restaurant bills if the service has been especially good, even although this is not necessary. You may also like to tell the taxi drivers or waiters " to keep the change", especially if the difference is small.

    Some cafés have "tip jars" for loose change at the counter, but putting coins in the jar is the exception rather than the rule. It is not liked by the majority of Aussies.

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    SOME KOALA FACTS

    by balhannah Updated Aug 24, 2013

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    The Koala is a marsupial native to Australia. Often, people call them the cute & cuddly "Koala Bear," infact, the first settlers did this as they thought the Koala looked like a Bear. The Koala is actually closely related to the Wombat, AND IS NOT A BEAR.

    The Koala also is not found all over Australia, just in the coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia, from Adelaide to the southern part of Cape York Peninsula and inland in regions with enough moisture to support suitable eucalypt woodlands.
    The koala is not found in Tasmania, the Northern Territory or Western Australia.

    Another interesting fact, is Southern koalas are 30% larger than the Northern koalas. All Koalas can live as long as 17years, with females living the longest.

    So, if you want to see a Koala in the wild, you will need either good eyesight or a pair of Binoculars.
    Koalas tend to sleep their life away, spending 75% of their time sleeping, only moving around just after sunset.
    The Koala is only one of three mammals, which can survive on a diet of eucalyptus leaves, and it is from these leaves, that it recieves its water from. They can survive on eucalyptus leaves and bark from 12 different eucalyptus tree species.

    Quite often, Australians jokingly call it the "piddly Koala," as the once Federal Minister of Tourism, John Brown, referred to it as “a dirty piddly little animal.” This came about, as the Koala he was holding in a publicity shot had piddled down the front of his suit! Being Aussies, we thought it rather funny!!!
    Don't think he did!!!

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    THE OFFICIAL NATIONAL DAY OF AUSTRALIA

    by balhannah Updated Aug 24, 2013

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    IS KNOWN AS AUSTRALIA DAY, AND IS CELEBRATED ON 26TH JANUARY, THE DAY THE FIRST FLEET ARRIVED IN SYDNEY COVE, NEW SOUTH WALES, AND CAPTAIN ARTHUR PHILIP RAISED THE FLAG IN 1788

    This important day in our history is celebrated in many ways all around Australia.
    IT IS A DECLARED PUBLIC HOLIDAY.

    BBQ's are very popular as it's a chance for a family get together. Many outdoor concerts, like the "Big Day out" music festival, the Australia day live concert, The Australia day cricket match held at the Adelaide oval, Ferry & Tall ship races in Sydney, fireworks, beach parties, beach bbq's and other types of entertainment are held throughout the day and night. This is the day when you will hear our national anthem sung with pride, see plenty of Aussie flags flying and you may even hear canons fired.

    IMPORTANT CEREMONIES HELD ON THIS DAY are when special community projects and individuals are recognised, and ceremonies are held to welcome the country’s new citizens.

    Most importantly, the "Australian of the Year Awards' are given on this day. Four people are chosen.
    Australian of the year
    Senior Australian of the Year (60 years and over)
    Young Australian of the Year (16 to 25 years)
    Australia's Local Hero.
    The awards are announced in Canberra, the nation’s capital, on Australia Day eve.

    So if you come here on January 26th, you are sure to find some kind of entertainment on this special day!

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    THE DIDGERIDOO

    by balhannah Updated Aug 24, 2013

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    Probably when you here the word "Didgeridoo," it conjours up a picture of an Aboriginal sitting down and playing this wind instrument in outback Australia.

    True, but do you know anything about them, and do you know you can have lessons on how to play one?

    First the Didgeridoo can also be known as a didjeridu, believed to date 1,500 years ago.
    To be made, the correct type of Tree has to be found. The stringybark and the woollybutt Trees are used by the Aboriginals from the Northern areas of the Northern Territory and the North East of the Kimberlys.
    How they would find a suitable tree, was to simply tap the tree to see if it was hollow. Nowdays, they use chainsaws, but years ago, the trees were cut with special stone axes. Termites have usually hollowed out the centre, so they soak the piece in water to clean it out, then the outside bark is stripped using machetes and other instruments. It is sealed both ends and held under water for a few minutes to test for air leaks. Holes found are sealed with Bees Wax. The stick is then cut down to achieve the right pitch (usually 1-3 metres). If necessary bees wax is placed around the mouthpiece to achieve a smoother seal. It is then painted and ready for use!
    For me, the description "drone pipe" suits it the best.
    So now you know all this, you will realize why they come in all sizes and shapes, anywhere from 1m - 3 metres long. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower the pitch of the instrument, with flared instruments playing a higher pitch than unflared instruments of the same length.

    Of course if you are buying one, they let you have a try to see if they sound is what you want.

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    POWER OUTLETS IN AUSTRALIA

    by balhannah Written Apr 5, 2013

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    Electricity in Australia is 220-240V AC, 50 Hz. Plugs have three flat pins, so if you come from overseas, you will need a socket converter. These can be bought in lots of places these days, starting with the Airport, Handbag shops, camping stores, electrical stores and cheap shops.

    If you have a digital camera, laptop computer or other electrical equipment that runs off a battery charger, check the back of the charger to ascertain the input range, as it must be within the 220-240V range. A socket converter is all you will need. If it is outside this range, you will have to buy a transformer to increase or decrease the Australian voltage as necessary.

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    Australia Day

    by wise23girl Updated Jan 25, 2013

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    All over Australia on 26th January each year we celebrate Australia Day. This is our official national day and was formerly known as Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, and ANA Day. This date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 when British sovereignty over the eastern part of Australia was proclaimed.

    Unfortunately this celebration is not warmly received by some of the indigenous people who sometimes protest and call this day "Invasion Day". To me this is a shame as though there certainly have been problems for the Aboriginal people they might be wise to ponder what might have happened if another less friendly nation had come first instead of the British.

    Australia Day is a popular choice for those who are becoming Australian citizens and The Australian winners of national awards such as "Australian of the Year" are named..

    There are parades....and concerts...and family outings...all over Australia.

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    AUSSIE ETIQUETTE

    by balhannah Updated Jan 10, 2013

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    Since I have travelled overseas quite a bit, I have realized that every Country has different etiquette and customs.
    In Istanbul, Turkey, I was first waiting for an Icecream but was totally ignored by the seller who served all the men behind me first. Something like this would never happen in Australia, as men and women are treated equally. We also queque, making it a very fair way to be served. NO pushing and shoving infront of others, this is VERY RUDE.

    Australians are polite, always saying "please," "thank you," and "excuse me."
    We also ask "Howyahgoing?" but don't expect to be told "lousy" or something similar, instead most people say "Not too bad" or "Pretty good mate," even is they are feeling lousy.
    It is considered polite to ask the person the same question back. It is also considered polite to greet anyone, including strangers, in this way.

    Australians are very down to earth and think they are no better than anyone else, they hate pretentiousness but love sincerity. You probably have already found out we are a friendly, fun-loving lot of people who are modest, often downplaying success & other achivements.

    We have a good sense of humour, so watch out, you may become the centre-piece of a joke!

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    We Do Not Tip Much

    by wise23girl Written Jan 10, 2013

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    In Australia we do not tip as routine. Sometimes for extra special service we do. But even so it is usually only the more affluent that tip. In most cases the staff of an establishment do not expect a tip...not saying they do not like it if someone does put a few dollars in their hand.

    In better class restaurants the habit is creeping in I must admit. Even on some dockets there is a place for a gratuity shown.Some cafes now have a jar for odd change to go towards their Christmas party or maybe a charity.

    In Australia wages are not based on the expectation of gratuities as they are in some countries. It is certainly easier on the brain when the price on the bill is all that is expected and a tip is not an expectation but a rather pleasant surprise for good service.

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    THE AUSTRALIAN STOCKWHIP

    by balhannah Updated Dec 15, 2012

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    The traditional Australian Stock Whip has been used by stockmen and drovers all over Australia since the early 1800's. The purpose of the whip, is to control the Cattle, so a good stockman will have a good whip which makes a very loud "crack!"

    Sometimes at country parties, the host has a stockwhip, and a bit of fun is had trying to make it crack. It isn't as easy as a professional makes it look. Often, the whip ends up around your ears, legs and anywhere, often accompanied by some pain, and many laughs from the onlookers.

    We saw a professional at the Camp Oven Festival in Millmerran, Queensland. For half an hour, he told the audience about stock whips, and set about showing what you can do with one, even to lasooing a young lad from the audience without hurting him. It really is interesting and entertaining watching just what can be done with a stockwhip or two, and just how loud the "crack" of the whip is, no wonder the animals take notice.
    He also told us the most expenisive whip to buy, is one made out of Kangaroo hide, it will last for ever!

    You are most likely to see this type of attraction at a Country Show.

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    DUST DEVILS!

    by balhannah Written Nov 10, 2012

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    Probably you have seen a dust devil, a strong, well-formed, and relatively long-lived whirlwind, ranging from small to large (more than 10 metres wide and more than 1000 metres tall).

    Did you know, in Australia, we have our own name for them, either a "willy-willy" or "whirly-whirly" probably deriving from the Yindjibarndi people.
    In Aboriginal myths, willy willies represent spirit forms. They believe they are quite scary spirits.
    Aboriginal children who misbehave, are told by their parents a spirit will emerge from the spinning vortex of dirt and chastise them. They are seen as a forecast of dry conditions.
    The further inland Australia you travel, the more and greater whirly whirlies you see. No need to be worried, they are too small to be a danger to people.

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    TRY AUSTRALIAN DAMPER!

    by balhannah Written Oct 19, 2012

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    Damper is an icon of Australia, prepared by swagmen, drovers, stockmen and Caravanners, campers and other travelers.

    It was stockmen who travelled in remote areas for weeks or months at a time, with only basic rations of flour, sugar and tea, supplemented by whatever meat was available, who put together some ingredients, and called it 'Damper.'
    The basic ingredients of damper are flour, water, and sometimes milk.
    No oven is needed for cooking damper, just the flattened ashes of a fire, and then place the Damper in the ashes and let it cook for 10 mins. Following this, the damper was covered with ashes and cooked for another 20 to 30 minutes until the damper sounded hollow when tapped. Alternatively, the damper was cooked in a greased camp oven, a more modern way.

    Damper I love when it comes straight off the heat and is broken open, spread some butter and golden syrup, and you will be back for more.

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    ENJOY A 'BILLY' TEA!

    by balhannah Written Oct 19, 2012

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    In case you don't know what a billycan is, it's a light cooking pot which is used on a campfire or a camping stove.

    The traditional billycan on a campfire, is a term associated with Australian usage.
    It is believed the term "billycan" came about from the large cans used for transporting bouilli or bully beef on Australia-bound ships or during exploration of the outback, which after use were modified for boiling water over a fire.

    I always associate it with the outback or camping, boiling the billy under the stars, toasting marshmallows, everybody blissfully happy!
    Billy tea, is also a name of a tea you can buy over the counter.
    Banjo Paterson made 'Billy Tea' most famous with his words in Waltzing Matilda: "And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled......."

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