• travel guide
  • Travel Guides
  • Apps & eBooks
  • Community
  • Publish Apps
Travel Guide > Australia & Oceania > Australia

Australia People & Culture

  
 
Upload Photo     Upload Video

Australia also has a multicultural population practising almost every religion and lifestyle. Over one-fifth of Australians were born to immigrant parents. The most multicultural cities are Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. All three cities are renowned for the variety and quality of global foods available in their many restaurants, and Melbourne especially promotes itself as a centre for the arts, while Brisbane promotes itself through various, multicultural urban villages. Smaller rural settlements generally still reflect a majority Anglo-Celtic culture often with a small Aboriginal population, however virtually every large Australian city and town reflects the immigration from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific that occurred after World War II and continued into the 1970s; in the half century after the war when Australia's population boomed from roughly 7 million to just over 20 million people.

There are approximately half a million Australians who identify as being of Aboriginal descent. Many fewer maintain elements of traditional Aboriginal culture.

Contrary to popular mythology, descendants from convicts are in a small minority, and even during the years of transportation free settlers outnumbered convict migrants by at least five to one.

Australian English was once known for its colour and colloquialisms but has lost a great deal of this to outside influence, although people in rural areas still tend to speak in a broader accent, using many of the slang words that have become outmoded in metropolitan areas. There is very little provincialism in Australia and although accents tend to be broader and slower outside of the large cities.

Australians can be socially conservative compared to some European cultures, and most resemble Canadians or New Zealanders in their political outlook. They tend to be relaxed in their religious observance. While the mythic Australian sense of egalitarianism has declined in economic terms, modes of address still tend to be casual and familiar compared to some other cultures. Most Australians will tend to address you by your first name and will expect that you do the same to them.

Customs

Unless you are actively trying to insult someone, a traveller is unlikely to insult or cause offence to an Australian through any kind of cultural ignorance.

Australian modes of address tend towards the familiar. It is acceptable and normal to use first names in all situations, even to people many years your senior. Many Australians are fond of using and giving nicknames - even to recent acquaintances. It is likely being called such a name is an indication that you are considered a friend and is it would be rare they are being condescending.

It is generally acceptable to wear revealing clothing in Australia. Bikinis and swimming attire is okay on the beach, and usually at the kiosk across the road from the beach. It is normal to wear at least a shirt and footwear before venturing any further. Most beaches are effectively top optional (topless) while sunbathing. Just about all women wear a top while walking around or in the water. There are some clothing optional (nude) beaches, usually a little further removed from residential areas. Thong bikinis (more commonly called g-string bikinis in Australia as thongs refer to flip-flop footwear) are fine on all beaches and some outdoor pools for both women and men although they are not as common as conventional beachwear. Some outdoor pools have a "top required" policy for women.

Cover up a little more when visiting places of worship such as churches. In warm conditions casual "t-shirt and shorts" style clothing predominates except in formal situations. Business attire, however, is considered to be long sleeved shirt, tie, and long trousers for men, even in the hottest weather.

Using Australian stereotypical expressions may be viewed as an attempt to mock, rather than to communicate. If you pull it off well, you might raise a smile.

Australians are often self-deprecating, and are rarely arrogant. However, it is rude to ever agree with a self-deprecating remark. Boasting about achievements is rarely received well.

Most Australians are happy to help out a lost traveller with directions, however many urban dwellers will assume that someone asking "Excuse me", is going to be asking for money, and may brush past. Looking lost, holding a map, looking like a backpacker or getting to the point quickly will probably help.

Indigenous Australians

Do not mention the name of a deceased person to an indigenous Australian. Though Aboriginal custom varies, it is best to avoid the possibility of offence.

Some areas of land are sacred to Aboriginal people, and require additional respect.

Many areas of Aboriginal land are free to enter. Some areas carry a request from the Aboriginal people not to enter, and you may choose yourself whether or not to honour or respect that request. An example of an Aboriginal request is climbing Uluru (Ayers Rock). No law prohibits people from climbing the rock (except in heat, rain or strong winds), however, local indigenous communities (The Anangu) request that you do not climb. Uluru holds great spiritual significance to the Anangu. The Anangu feel themselves responsible if someone is killed or injured on their land (as has happened many times during the climb) and request tourists not to place themselves in harm through climbing. Many people who travel to Uluru do climb, however, so you certainly won't be on your own if you choose to do this.

Other areas require permission, others require a permit, and some others are protected and illegal to enter. Some areas in Australia are only open to indigenous populations and non-indigenous people will require a permit to travel to or through these areas. Tourists should check these regulations before making plans. Permits are often available if you agree to show a suitable level of respect to the land you are travelling on, and some Aboriginal Land Councils make them available online.

If you need to refer to race, the politically correct term is Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal people is usually okay and referring to sacred sites and land as Aboriginal sites, or Aboriginal land is okay too. Avoid Aborigine or Aboriginal used as a noun to describe a person, as some people see negative connotations in these words. The contraction "Abo" is deeply offensive and should never be used.

Gay and Lesbian Travellers

Australia has no laws against homosexuality, and Australians in general tend to be tolerant towards different sexualities. Though homosexual relationships are recognised by the Australian government, same-sex marriages are not.





Users for Australia People & Culture
1 0 0
Guru
The Guru

You receive points for adding & updating information
and for replying to Discussions.

You become the Guru if you are the user with
the most points for the place.
 
WikitravelUsers
Wikitrave...
has 4 points for Australia People & Culture.
 
has helped
0 people with his Replies.

Make it Happen!

Our service for you - your travel checklist:

  1. Read our online guides
  2. Find a cheap flight
  3. Book a nice hotel
  4. Get travel insurance
    - even during your trip -

...and have fun!