Monday 12 September 2011

Australia vs The UK -The Random Differences They Don’t Tell You About

Right, I know I haven’t done a proper update about life Down Under, but that’s because there’s been so much going on that I have no idea where to start! Plus I’ve been writing in my travel diary every day so I’ve simply not had the time to update everything.

So instead, while I’m gathering my thoughts together into an easy-to-decipher post, I thought it’d be fun to point out a few little differences I’ve noticed in between Australia and the UK. Here goes:

  • Burger King is called Hungry Jacks – This baffles me. Anyone know why it is? Who is Jack and why is he hungry?
  • The seagulls are exactly like they are on Finding Nemo – If you’re down by the water and stay sitting in one position for more than 30 seconds, you will suddenly find yourself surrounded – it doesn’t even matter if you have food or not! And I’m 99% sure they squawk ‘MINE’ rather than a normal seagull squawk.
  • In the city it will take you about five minutes just to cross one road – This drove me completely MENTAL for the first week or so of being here. If you’re from a big city you will find yourself teetering on the edge of the curb desperately wanting to get to the other side but being forced to wait by the unfazed people surrounding you and absence of that stupid little green man! Also, the lights beep even when you can’t cross. I haven’t figured out why this is yet.
  • You stand on the left hand side of escalators – I’ve worked in London since I was 18 so it’s been drummed into me to stand on the right for years. I spent the first week of being here generally getting in the way and being confused as to why people were glaring at me… oops.
  • It takes ages for you to order a coffee, smoothie or anything else that needs to be made for you there and then – It seems Aussie’s really do work at a much slower pace. I waited for over ten minutes for a couple of slices of toast the other day…
  • Ugg boots are not worn as casual wear – They originated as something surfers could slip on after emerging from the waves, so some Aussies find it a bit weird when they’re worn for just strolling around the shops or going about your daily routine. Oh and it’s normal for guys to wear them too apparently.
  • The coffee is GOOD – There is a massive coffee and cake culture over here and it’s all about independents. Unlike in the UK and the States where you’re never more than 10 metres away from a Starbucks, there are hardly any to be seen here! It’s very refreshing.
  • It’s expensive – I’ve been told that this is because there are less people, so less consumer businesses and therefore less competition between pricing. Which means that a pre-made sandwich will cost you $6-8, a bottle of water will cost you $3 and a tube of toothpaste will be about $7. 
  • People run and work out anywhere and everywhere – I reckon this must be because of the cakes and massive portions. Hotspots I’ve found include the Royal Botanical Gardens, Bondi and the Eastern Beaches walk. You can find people walking, running, working out, stretching, rollerblading… you name it, they’re doing it. And they all have beautiful (and tanned) bodies to show for it.
  • Pre-pay buses – With a lot of the buses you have to buy a ticket before you board. If you get on a pre-pay bus without a ticket because you’re new and confused, the bus driver will get angry. Luckily when I did it the guy let me off and just let me pay, but I’ve seen people being shouted at and thrown off…
  • The trains have three levels and the seats are AWESOME – I’d go as far as saying it’s my favourite thing about being here! On my first train journey I was just about getting over the brilliance of having three levels (we need this in London) when I witnessed the magicalness of the seats. I don’t want to say what it is because I want newbies to the city to discover it for themselves. It’s an experience. The first time I saw it, it BLEW MY MIND!
  • You can crumple up a note and it just flips back to its original shape – Ever played Monopoly and wished the money was real? Well wish no longer! Aussie notes have see-through bits on them and feel plasticy (maybe because everyone lives by the sea and sweats a lot in the summer?!). So when you scrunch one up it doesn’t really crease like British notes do. Hours of fun.
  • They don’t have one or two cents coins – I find this a bit weird because they still price things at in-between numbers, then just round up. Crafty!
  • It’s like being in a time warp when it comes to music – I’ve heard songs here that I haven’t heard for YEARS! We’re talking Billie Piper, various Eurovision songs and 90s club anthems. And of course there’s loads of Savage Garden, Delta Goodrem and Kylie.
  • They put bucket loads of salt and pepper in everything – Which means you’re constantly thirsty and sometimes things like pie and sandwich fillings simply taste of just pepper. Blarg.
  • Credit, cheque or savings – When you use your card you’re asked what type of account you want to withdraw from. I didn’t have a clue what mine was first time round. After trying the other two options and failing, I pressed ‘credit’ and it worked (even though it’s not a credit card!), so that’s what I roll with each time I withdraw money.
  • They don’t seem to care about swearing in songs or on TV – Which makes hearing the unedited version of Cee-Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’ a bit awkward when you’re in a shop and there are kids around.
  • Some places still freak out when you pay by card – With some things it feels like Australia has only just discovered technology. They don’t do ‘chip-and-pin’ (which they refer to as EPTFOS) the way we do in the UK and in most places you still sign on the dotted line if you pay with a card. Bizarrely though, my card has that ‘wave’ technology where you just perform a jedi-like hand gesture with your card against a machine and it automatically debits your account. Bit of a massive contradiction in security! They also seem to be mortally allergic to splitting the bill in restaurants.
  • There’s loads of FREE services – The best one being the completely free shuttle bus that runs up and down George Street (the main street) from Central station to Circular Quay. There are also free city walks, free tours of the Botanical Gardens and free places to charge your phone in bars and pubs. This would never happen in London – Boris, mate, you need to sort it out for us!

  • Their chocolate is RUBBISH - Like... seriously bad. I can't physically eat it. Luckily though, you can scout out places that import the proper English stuff. Thank god!
So there we have it, the first few things I’ve noticed. I’m sure there’ll be more to come…


  1. Haha, I love this list! It's interesting to see your take on this coming from the UK whereas I see it all coming from the US.

  2. Nice article! In answer to your Burger King question. As I understand it when Burger King decided it would enter Australia it found that the name 'Burger King' had already been registered by another business. The owner of that business refused to sell the name and therefore Burger King was forced to enter Australia under a different name.

  3. Haha, nice post! To answer the beeping at the lights. The slow beep at the lights are for the blind people (Slow beep means wait, One loud beep followed by quick beeps means go) and if you hold your hand just above the button you will notice it will 'pulse', that is there for the deaf people.

  4. ha ha! thanks guys :) i'm learning a lot! definitely going to investigate the traffic light situation!

  5. I'e heard the chocolate thing is that it has something in it to avoid melting so fast in hot weather -

    Hope you're using a credit card linked to your bank account - hence the dual usage - I'd check lest you get hit with some nasty cash advance fees?
    Also while you're there get a pin connected to it so you don't have to sign :)

  6. love this list! by reading through the comments now I have some answers too :)

  7. I Love this post! The pedestrian crossings were probably the thing that drove me most crazy and how wierd is it to stand on an escalator on the wrong side!
    Credit, cheque or savings really threw me - i've never owned a credit card but apparently thats what you have to use in Oz if you have a foreign card! Although for my NAB one, i think i just pressed savings?? confusing.
    And the chocolate? Hmm - with the exception of anything by Arnott, Aussie choccy aint so good - they use UHT milk cos of the heat whereas we brits use fresh milk and LOADS of cream! yum

  8. Yes, not being able to pay on EFTPOS at some places is annoying (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale), but its too expensive for some businesses to use.
    Staying on the left on escalators is the same as driving on freeways, the faster cars stick to the right lanes.
    And plastic money is a godsend when you've put some pants with a $20 in the pocket through the wash

  9. It's really weid reading this as an Aussie. It's honestly all pretty amusing. Our chocolate isn't too bad :P

  10. I just moved to australia from Canada and every single thing you posted is SO TRUE! But you forgot, they walk around with no shoes! Like all the time! In Canada its "No shoes, no shirt, no service" but it seems like every other person here is walking around in theyre bare feet!!

  11. That's so weird, as an aussie I think UK chocolate is gross.

    Just to clarify a few things,

    The cool 3 level trains are only in Sydney as far as I know. Melbourne has weird one level trains (coming from a true blue Sydneysider haha)

    Ugg boots (or Uggies as you say in Aus) USED to be fashionable to wear casually. Teenage girls went through a whole phase...but it's simply not cool anymore!

    Pre-pay buses are a new invention here! They've only been brought in in the last year or so...everyone hates them though.

    Our censorship laws are notoriously relaxed. You hear swearing all the time on TV, even around the 8:30 mark..!

  12. thanks for all the feedback guys - now i'll be able to blind all my uk visitors with knowledge! :)

  13. Joey bloggs is a wondeful blogger! And a wonderful friend! Miss u lots :) x