19 Myths About Australian Culture That Americans Still Believe To This Day
"I’ve read a lot of articles about tourists dying or getting seriously injured because they believed this."
Like many other countries around the world, Australia is home to its fair share of outdated stereotypes that people still assume to be true.
Some of these assumptions are harmless, like thinking we ride kangaroos to school, while others give people a really warped view of what Australia and the people living there are actually like.
1. That Australians say "put another shrimp on the barbie."
"I've travelled extensively across the USA and I can't tell you how many times I've had this line said to me. I always tell them we don't say shrimp in Australia [they're called prawns] and I'm met with surprise every time."
2. That Australia is filled with dangerous animals that you'll encounter anywhere and everywhere.
"My cousin from Boston came to visit us in Perth a few years back and she was quite surprised that she didn't have any close calls with spiders or snakes. Like yeah, if you live in the bush they can be a bit of an issue, and in some places you just have to double check your shoes if you leave them outside or in the garage, but day to day the majority of people living in the bigger cities won’t really encounter any dangerous animals."
3. And that you should be scared to visit Australia because of said dangerous animals.
"I live abroad and a lot of foreigners believe that our spiders are extreme. There are a shit tonne of spiders, but they all tend to think a giant huntsman will crawl over your body whilst you are sleeping and that you're guaranteed to die. I've literally had people tell me they’re scared to visit Australia because of the spiders."
4. Or that you need to try and kill or fight them off if you ever come across one.
"A lot of tourists get these weird ideas from movies that you need to try and kill or fight off snakes and kangaroos. This is a terrible idea because, as most Australian children are taught, it's best to leave them alone. I’ve read a lot of articles about tourists dying or getting seriously injured because they believed this. To be honest, I'm more afraid of North American wildlife. My partner is from the US and while I love the national parks, bears and cougars and stuff are frigging scary."
5. That the entirety of Australia is just one big, outback, desert town, that also happens to have beaches.
"I've met heaps of overseas folks who think we just have beaches and desert, nothing else. They're surprised we have mountains, rainforests, snow, wetlands etc. They also have no concept of how huge our country is."
6. That Australia is a tiny country, especially when compared to the US and Europe.
"People don't realise how huge Australia is. It's a similar area as the US and bigger than continental Europe. Americans can go on and on about how big the US is and how isolated their little home town is when they're actually like, a two hour drive from the city with a population of 300,000.
I lived for a while in Kalgoorlie, which is the only major city in the eastern region of Western Australia. There's no mall and just one single department store. The next biggest city (Perth) is 600km west (400 miles), which is a seven hour drive. Heading north from Kal, it's just mines and towns with fewer than five thousand people 'til you hit the ocean...1500km away. If you try to drive east towards Sydney, you will die unless you're properly prepared. And it won't be the wildlife that kills you."
7. Like seriously, people actually think Australia is small.
"If Texas was an Australian state, it'd be the third smallest. Plus, Western Australia is more than twice the size of Alaska."
8. That it's hot all year round, which means that it never, ever would snow.
"Always fun when you tell people about our ski resorts."
9. That everything, including other states, is within driving distance.
"If you are going to travel in Australia, be prepared! A lot of people from more densely populated parts of the world, or even Australian urban dwellers are known to head out and land themselves in an unpleasant situation because of the assumption that help/services aren't far away or at least that they can phone for help."
10. That Foster's is a popular beer choice in Australia.
"WE DON'T FUCKING DRINK FOSTER'S."
11. That you can walk outside anywhere in Australia and see kangaroos hopping down the road.
"Kangaroos are everywhere and every other living thing trying to kill you. Also, convict jokes."
12. That because we're in the southern hemisphere, everything has to be upside down.
"It's so dumb from the get-go, but Americans do it to death like it's brand new never-before-heard grade A humour. It's not just lame and unfunny, it's so cringey and tells me you have no taste in humour. Stop kicking the dead horse, it's fertiliser by now."
13. That Outback Steakhouse is an accurate representation of Australian cuisine.
"I had never heard of an Australian 'bloomin' onion' until I went overseas."
"Outback Steakhouse is the American interpretation of Australian cuisine and actually bears no resemblance whatsoever to real Aussie food."
14. That we're all a bunch of bogan, Crocodile Dundee-esque types.
"I never like how we're portrayed in movies and TV shows. I think, and I could be wrong, but Americans see us as 'country', so they lump us in with their own 'country' stereotypes — that we talk slow, aren't too bright, never seen a big city, don’t know how to behave at a fancy restaurant…stuff like that. When my hubby and I were in the US about five years ago, everyone thought our accents were English and were really surprised when we'd say we were Australian. They were surprised because they were expecting us to talk with a whole lot of 'Aussie' slang, with some words I’ve never heard of lol."
15. That we can't say two words without having to swear.
"You can swear excessively when you're hanging out with mates if you want, but the general public doesn't want to hear it."
16. Or that we can't go an entire sentence without saying the word "cunt".
"We don’t say 'cunt' nearly as much as Reddit would have you think. In the vast majority of situations, for the vast majority of the population, it is utterly offensive."
17. That Australia apparently needs to be saved because of our "disturbing", "excessive" and "tyrannical" COVID-19 lockdown rules.
"That protest in NY trying to 'save Australia' made me fucking cringe so badly. We're literally ahead of them in pretty much every single standard of living lol."
18. That Australia isn't a multicultural country — and that we all look like Margot Robbie or the Hemsworths.
"One that I'm seeing way more often lately is that Australia is just populated by white people. Like, they have no idea how diverse Australia is, let alone Aboriginal history itself. They're shocked to even hear about how we have thriving communities and culture spread all around Australia."
19. And lastly, that Australia is nothing more than a myth and that the people living there are all paid actors.
Reddit responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.