We’re a weird mob: Australians’ bizarre behaviour

We break from our usual program to bring you this.  Taken from the Sydney Morning Herald, this helps us understand why RainMan is… well, let’s use the term ‘special’

We love the Aussies in the Mango Bar.  Always a pleasure to hang out with them and they’re always up for a laugh.  Not like the French.

It was either this picture, or a German thong on a beach. Trust me, this one was better

People do some weird things overseas, which is why I wrote a post about it some time ago. Things like sticking your entire family on a scooter, or taking your goat on the bus. Or eating chips with mayo.

But it occurs to me that for foreigners coming to Australia for the first time, it would seem like we do some pretty strange stuff here as well.

So in the interests of fairness, and with a lot of help from a band of expat friends of mine, I’ve compiled this list of the bizarre things that Australians get up to.

It’s a great Aussie tradition to get dressed to the nines for the races … then struggle home without shoes after a big day.

Charlie Sheen… my hero.






Shortening all words

Whatevs, it’s not like we shorten everything. Except sunnies. And boardies. And footy. And snags. And chucking a uey. And calling Barry, Baz. And Sharon, Shaz. And Robert, Robbo. I even travelled with a girl who referred to her binoculars as “binos”.

“Bring a plate”

In 1880, before he was RainMan, he was IronMan. Had to change it for legal reasons. This is an actual real picture of him.


When my mum first arrived in Australia she was invited to a friend’s barbecue and told to “bring a plate”. So she brought a plate. An empty plate. She was a little embarrassed to find that everyone else had brought some food on theirs.


It’s great when foreigners first realise this: “You can take your own wine to a restaurant? Geez, can you take your own beer to the pub?”

Watching the footy

Because there’s no such thing as just “footy”. There are four sports here that could qualify as “footy”, and you can never be quite sure which one people are talking about. Still, you gotta love the footy.

Buying a beer

What the hell is a “pony”? And who came up with “schooner”? And why do “handles” not have actual handles? And in which other country is it normal to order a “pot of gold”? South Australia takes the grand prize for weirdness though, with a glass called a “pint” that doesn’t hold a full pint.

Taking a day off for the Queen’s birthday

I’m not arguing about it or anything, but it’s not even on the Queen’s actual birthday. And the Brits don’t celebrate it, so why do we?

Having a bank robber as a national icon

Ned Kelly was no Robin Hood, was he? No altruistic man of the people. He just shot some cops and wore a bucket on his head. And we revere this guy? (OK, I know there’s a lot more to this story, but from a foreigner’s perspective, it’s pretty odd.)

Dressing really fancy for the races…

Then getting absolutely obliterated. There’s nothing more Australian than seeing a smartly dressed couple stumble out of the races, her with high heels in hand, him with a tie around his head, and start drunkenly screaming at taxis going past.

“How’s it going?”

This has to be up there with the American “what’s up” as the most nonsensical greeting around. How’s what going? I remember a few exchange students at uni talking about this, saying, “It took me a while to realise that Australians don’t actually want to know how you are going. They just want you to say ‘good’.”

Complaining about the rain in London

Somewhat stunningly, a mate of mine pointed out that Sydney gets more rain each year than London. Ouch.

Having celebrity TV shows that don’t feature any celebrities

Australia’s pool of actual, legitimate celebrities is frighteningly shallow, but that doesn’t stop the networks from pumping out “celebrity” versions of their reality shows featuring people you’ve never heard of. We have chefs dancing on primetime TV. It’s embarrassing.

Eating seafood on Christmas Day

I’m all for a few prawns and bugs on the 25th of December, but if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere and were expecting a turkey roast, it might seem a little bizarre.

Worshipping meat pies

It’s pastry filled with bits of meat, and slathered in tomato sauce. Not exactly a gastronomic masterpiece, but that doesn’t stop us getting all excited about eating a lukewarm one at the footy.

Worshipping swimmers

Just between you and me, swimming’s not really a sport, is it? It’s a pastime; a survival technique. But anyone who wins gold medals over here is a big deal. Heck, we even treat walking as a real sport once every four years.

Playing the pokies

Surely the dreariest, most antisocial form of gambling there is, and yet Aussies are mad for it. We flock to pubs and clubs around the country to pour money into the gaping mouths of these flashing, dinging monsters. Sigh.

Travelling… Elsewhere

Australians love to travel, right? Well sure, as long as it’s not in Australia. No, we can’t tell you what WA is like, and we haven’t been to Adelaide. But what do you want to know about Bali?

Rugging up for winter

Northern Hemisphere folk think it’s hilarious, just as we have a chuckle when everyone strips down to their bikinis in England when the temperature nudges 20. In Australia, a brief dip into the teens will mean the scarves and coats are out for the next few months.

Wearing our thongs on our feet

This is for the Americans, who always look a little confused when you ask them if they’ve seen our thongs. Or, do you think I should wear thongs today? Sounds a little inappropriate… but at least it’s not as dumb as sandals.

– the above was sent in by Salty.  -thanks.

17 thoughts on “We’re a weird mob: Australians’ bizarre behaviour”

  1. In Canada we actually say ‘How’s it going?’ all the time. The majority of Aussies I talk to in BKK start off with ‘How you going?’ which always throws me off.

    1. Most Aussies I’ve encountered in BKK start of the conversation with ‘faaaackin strewth. Let me get a faaaakin beer down me neck. Me throats dryer than a Nuns chuff box’

      Or something like that.

  2. Interesting. I kinda like these oddities.
    Having grown up in some of America’s slang word/phrase kitchen’s. I dont even notice any of these strange greetings. We American’s are still trying to make greetings as less strenuous as possible/lazy with “Wassup?” But I will still respond to “What up Doggy?” or the “Yeah my ninja?” or even “Ohhh Shit…” which you can assume means “Hello how are you, when i see you i know trouble is coming or a probable awesome night.” So, I would have to agree, that no one is really interested in how you really are as they are how slick your response is.

  3. Until you’ve discussed “fair dinkum” you haven’t started on a conversation about speaking ‘Stralian.

    My sister, on her first trip to the land downunder, asked me why everyone kept telling her that she was right, as in “yer ‘right”, a fairly all-purpose response that gets thrown around by Aussies.

    In one of my first business meetings in Australia nearly 20 years ago, we were discussing a quality problem in the business and my new boss stated that it was so obvious that “it stuck out like dog’s balls”. Another company executive suggested later in the same meeting, that we try to boost sales at a retail location by “getting a few girls with blond hair, long legs and big boobs” to hand out flyers on the street. Having just arrived from PC-America I nearly fell off my chair in shock. Today I’d be surprised if an Aussie didn’t make these kinds of references in business meetings.

    After living for a decade in Australia, the Australians started to seem normal, so I moved here to Thailand, where people can get up to some REALLY unusual behaviour. After seven years, the Thais are starting to seem normal and predictable. Maybe it’s time to consider moving to France.

  4. Sorry I’m so off-topic, but I’m using my cell phone and cannot log in completely.
    The movie is supposedly about a boxer – but it’s really about Bangkok.

  5. A Vietnamese refugee friend of mine tells of the time when he was waiting for a bus to go to school one morning and an Ausie said to him “How ya goin”. His reply was “By bus thank you”. At the time he couldn’t understand why the whole bus queue burst out laughing.

  6. How’sit hanging DW, good on ya, mongrel of a write up, lower than a brown snakes shit 🙂

  7. On an Australian news chanel, a Sydney city slicker was interviewing a cattle farmer in the drought stricken outback;
    ‘So, have you lived here all your life?’…he asked the old farmer.
    ‘Not yet’ …he replied.

  8. Here’s one line I’ve heard from fellow aussies that cracks me up “I’m so hungry I could eat the ass out of a low flying duck”

  9. Having had the pleasure of Khunkuntas company for the past week, my favourite expression has to be ‘I split her from her bumhole to her breakfast’. Ive still no idea what it means

  10. Funny stuff. Some thoughts:

    On shortening words: “Robbo” doesn’t shorten Robert, unless you’re passing each other notes. Texans do the same thing: tell them you’re Robert and they start calling you “Bobby”. Why do people so hate saying “Robert?”. Same with William: they can’t help but say “Billy.”. What do they change William to in Australia, “Willzo?” “Will-diddly-dildo?”

    On “bring a plate”: no offense, but your mum deserved whatever ridicule she got. I’m still chuckling about what she must have been thinking! “I better do what they say, or I’ll have to hold the baked beans in my hands!” Her conclusion that she had been asked to bring an empty plate is just slightly more rational than that she was to bring a license plate, or a home plate (that’s a baseball reference for you non-Yanks), or a tectonic plate.

    On “thongs”: first, in Cali at least, thongs were thongs before thongs were thongs. Second, I think I speak for all Americans when I say that hearing an Aussie ask about his thongs isn’t nearly as confusing as having one of our English friends inform us that he’s going to step outside to puff a fag.

  11. “I’m not arguing about it or anything, but it’s not even on the Queen’s actual birthday. And the Brits don’t celebrate it, so why do we?”

    I always thought that’s what good subjects of the Empire did… didn’t know it wasn’t even her birthday.

    When *is* the queen’s real birthday?

  12. @ Fender; I’m with you man, we called thongs (flip flops) thongs as early as I can remember here in HB…The first time I heard the term “flip flop” was actually pronounced “Frip Frop” by an Asian childhood friend of mine, I laughed my ass when I finally figured out the translation!
    @ et-al; funny the literal translation for the very common German phrase for whats’ up or how’s it going or zupp, is “Wie Geht” word for word means “How + Goes + [“it” is implied] ???
    My all time favorites are the Britts with a few drinks onboard, but a close second is Native speaker from Louisiana followed by a Native Georgian, drunk or sober the funniest shit comes out!

  13. I was introduced by a mate to this guy from far north Qeensland , He came down for the Cox Plate , We arranged to meet at the Crown Larger bar , sure enough there he was , new suit , shirt with cuff links , tie and thongs , Peter

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