Aussie Life

Ten Things About Living in Australia You Won’t Find in the Guide Books

With easy access to so much information at our finger tips on the ‘interweb’, there is no excuse for not researching your new home and culture as you embark on your new life in a new country. Even with an abundance of websites and forums to aid your transition into a new culture, there will always be some things that you have to find out for yourself so here are ten things that no-one told us about living in South Australia.

1) Koalas make a noise.  Yep, I didn’t know that either and it’s not an “I’m a cute and cuddly marsupial” sort of noise and no, they aren’t bears! It’s a cross between a dog snarling and a pig squealing.  The first time we heard it in the middle of the night, we had no idea what on earth it could be until further investigation under torchlight revealed the source of the the din nestled in the gum tree outside our bedroom window.


2) Apart from a city in the north of England, Manchester is also a term used for cotton bedding and linen. So in a department store there is a Manchester department – confused?

3) A cut lunch is a sandwich, squash is cordial & sweets are lollies.

4) When you are asked by the hostess to ‘bring a plate’ to a social function, it doesn’t mean ‘bring a plate because we are short of crockery’ but a plate to share with other guests including food items such as dips and cheeses or similar.

5) Australians all know THE dance to Tina Turner’s Nutbush City Limits – it would be advantageous to learn this before your arrival so you don’t sit like lemons at the first party you are invited to after everyone else in the room has jumped to their feet.  Or worse still when you give it a go and end up tripping over your feet and end up sprawled on the floor being trampled by other dancers.

6) When a cashier ends a transaction with ‘see you later’ and your husband is suddenly all excited at the prospect, please realise that she is not hitting on him but rather offering an affectionate Aussie term for ‘goodbye’.

7) A ‘Booze Bus’ is not a community mode of transport to ferry you between wineries but rather a random breath testing unit set up by the ‘boys in blue’ to catch drink drivers.

8) A layby to me is a pull off area to the side of  a major road where drivers can take a break and make a comfort stop or refer to the map and if they’re lucky grab a cuppa from the pop-up refreshment van. Sometimes you will spot a pair of Grey Nomads who have usually alighted from a Morris Minor, supping tea from their thermos whilst perched in  deck chairs right next to a small pile of gravel the council have left after road-works; that to me is a layby.  A layby to Australians is a system used to hold an item under a deposit until you can afford to pay for it in full – you put something on layby.

9) Fritz – It is customary for a butcher to give young children a slice of fritz while they patiently wait for you to buy the weekly joint – It is like a pork luncheon meat sausage which is sliced thinly and it might be advisable to prepare your little tackers to love this delicacy so not to disappoint the butcher when they turn their noses up at free food.


10) The CFS or Country Fire Service as it is known in SA, use what to me sounds like an old World War 2 air-raid siren as their 21st century method of paging their volunteer crew that are needed at the fire station tout de suite.  This is an alarming noise to hear for the first time and I had to fight the urge to dive under the kitchen table.

So there you have it – a tongue in cheek look at some of the quirks you may encounter after you’ve hit the tarmac.  At least you will always be on the front foot armed with this knowledge – good luck!

By Waking the Wombat

Life - part two; Australia. Having spent the first 39 years of my life in England, with two adult children who don't need me so much, a workaholic husband and a head full of stuff waiting to be unleashed, Waking the Wombat is my place to share life's experiences with you.

6 replies on “Ten Things About Living in Australia You Won’t Find in the Guide Books”

That post was from 2015 and I had to remind myself of the contents! Been living in Brizzy for 4 years now although SA is pulling me back! I have more affiliation to Australia than I do the UK. Feel like I was born in the wrong country!


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