Aussie Life Challenges

Aussie Etiquette

I have been wrestling with a point of Australian social etiquette (yes, there really is!) for almost the entire eleven years we’ve been living here and I’ve never been brave enough to ask anyone about it.  Now that I’ve reached that age of not caring what one says, I thought I’d air what’s been bugging me all these years.  So here goes.

It is polite and customary when you pass someone on a quiet street in a small suburb or village to say ‘good morning’ or ‘hi’ or perhaps just make eye contact and smile – well it used to be back in the day.  Some people respond and some people do not – that’s perfectly fine.  Some Australians reply with ‘how’s it going?’ or ‘how ya going?’ and I’ve never quite worked out what I’m supposed to say at this point – as you’re walking past each other there doesn’t seem to be enough time to actually say ‘I’m fine thanks, how about you?’  Do I just remain silent?  I don’t know what’s expected of me.

Yesterday for example, I opened the front gate to take some rubbish down to the dustbins only to almost bump into a man wheeling a pushchair.  I smiled and said “hi” and he said “hi, how’s it going?”  “Fine thanks.” I replied and his response was “that’s good.”  It was totally ridiculous and awkward so if any of you lovely people out there can guide me in my Australian social etiquette it would be much appreciated.

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.

8 replies on “Aussie Etiquette”

Put them on the back foot with, ‘ Bonza Cobber.’ If they are under the age of 60 they won’t have a clue what you mean.
Cobber just means mate, champ, pal or friend. I think it’s old English or perhaps Welsh. Bonza means great, fantastic, terrific, extra grouse, ripper, or just plain good.
Pick your mark and have a bit of good natured fun.


You are safe with the weather almost anywhere in the world! (Except Malaysia I think, apparently!!)

In the States when they ask you ‘How are ya doin’?’ they look taken aback if you give them an answer. Strangers don’t actually care how you are doing, you need your friends for that! Here in Ireland I’ve had to learn not to be affronted if I ask someone ‘How are you?’, and they reply ‘good thanks’ but don’t ask me back in turn. In my limited experience, Africans win the award for greeting politeness. Some tribes will ask about the health of your whole family before moving on to conversation. 😀


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