Ten things you should know about Australia

  • 06 January 2015 | Cassidy Parker
The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Image courtesy of Alberto Otero García

This month, Welcome South Africa will be featuring a series of blogs about Australia. This is ahead of Australia Day on 26 January, and because visitors from this country comprise the sixth-largest long-haul market for South Africa in terms of arrival numbers.

In light of this, we thought we’d put together a list of the top 10 things you ought to know about Australia and your Australian visitors. Of course, at the end of the day, the best research you can do involves asking your visitors themselves.

Travellers are often receptive to sharing insights into their home country and culture. Without being intrusive, be curious and strive to learn as much as you can about your guests, encouraging them to ask about South Africa in turn.

These facts should help you along the way:

The Australian barbie is about as popular as the South African braai. Image courtesy of Alpha

Australia is an exceptionally diverse nation. This picture was taken at the Chinese New Year celebrations in Sydney. Image courtesy of Brian Yap

Australians know their wine and are likely to enjoy sampling the local tipple. Image courtesy of Jason Tabarias

  1. While Australia is the smallest continent in the world, it is the sixth-largest country by area. The capital city is Canberra, although almost 40% of the country’s population live in Sydney and Melbourne. The former is famous for its iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  2. Some 40% of Australians take holidays, with 7% of these going abroad. Over half of all Australian holidaymakers are between the ages of 35 and 64, with slightly more of these being men than women. The number of travellers venturing out of Australia is currently growing.
  3. Australians have a reputation for being gregarious and outgoing, and for good reason. They are generally informal in their dealings, and will usually call people by their first names. That said, when meeting someone for the first time, a handshake and a smile is common practice, rather than a kiss or hug, which are reserved for close acquaintances. Australians often place high value on being genuine and sincere.
  4. Australia is an exceptionally diverse country. While English is the most commonly spoken language, as well as the official language, other widely spoken languages range from Italian and Greek to Cantonese, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Arabic. Australians are likely to be interested in exploring South Africa’s similarly rich cultural heritage. Be sure to recommend activities and experiences that showcase our various cultures and traditions.
  5. In terms of religious practice, Australia is a predominantly Christian country, with some 64% of the population identifying as Christian. Most other major religious faiths are also practised, however, once again reflecting the country’s diversity.
  6. Some 88% of Australians attend at least one cultural event or performance every year, and all forms of the visual and performing arts have strong followings. Keep track of South Africa’s cultural scene so that you are able to recommend film screenings, music concerts, art exhibitions and literary events.
  7. Australians typically value punctuality. Be sure to be on time when arranging to meet your Australian guests.
  8. There are many similarities between South African and Australian culture, particularly when it comes to entertainment. Australians typically enjoy a barbecue (or ‘barbie’ as they call it) as much as South Africans do, especially if it is combined with some sunshine, a few cold beers and a good game of cricket or rugby.
  9. A range of culinary influences – from Europe to Asia – has given Australia a diverse gastronomic scene and no official national dish. Australians are often adventurous eaters and are likely to enjoy sampling a uniquely South African meal. Consider serving up some bobotie, umngqusho, samp and beans, chakalaka, milk tart and malva pudding. A local bottle of wine is likely to go down well, too; like South Africa, Australia’s wine scene is highly regarded internationally.
  10. When sitting around chatting to your Australian guests, don’t be afraid to crack a joke. Australians are known for their humour.

Keep an eye on our website during the month of January for more insights into Australia.