Australia – Facts and Quirks

Australia – Facts and Quirks

As most of the readers of my blog live in North America or countries other than Australia I thought I would share some things you may not know about Australia.

I was prompted to do this because my friend Adrienne Smith sent me an email with some pretty weird pictures and asked me if they were true.

Adrienne had been sent the email which is titled “Only in Australia”.  Now I know our “outback” is pretty rugged but I was unsure so I sent the email to my husband who said some of them may be true.

So let me share with you some things I do know about my country that  you may not know.

There was a book written when I was a child by John O’Grady called  “They’re a Weird Mob” which was later made into a movie.  You will probably think the same after you have read this  but I hope you know I am not weird 🙂

Fun Facts about Australia

There are more sheep in Australia than people. It is estimated there are 10 sheep for each person. The funny thing about this is Australians tease New Zealanders about their sheep.


Our greatest folk hero was a bushranger named Ned Kelly. He was finally captured and hanged.

In 2007 it was estimated that 22% of Australians had a convict ancestor.

We play several different codes of football. The most popular game now is AFL (Australian Football League) which was invented by cricketers. We also play two different types of Rugby and Soccer. Most Australians love their sport.

Australia’s favourite breakfast spread is Vegemite, which is made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract. Vegemite is almost black in colour and tastes very salty. Most people not born here think it is disgusting but most of us Aussies cannot get by without it. When I lived in London many years ago my Mom sent it to me (now you can buy it there).

Australian’s quirky language

We shorten any word we can shorten. For example:

  • Breakfast – is brekkie
  • Biscuit – is bikky (a biscuit in Australia is a cookie in the USA)
  • Dinner – is dins
  • Sunglasses – are sunnies
  • Chocolate – chockie
  • Afternoon – arvo
  • Lipstick – lippy

You get the drift….

Then a different use of words we call ……

  • A car trunk – a boot
  • A line up of people is a que
  • A thong is rubber footwear – and not underwear. I think they are called flip flops in many countries.
  • Thong



Then really weird

If you have red hair you will get called “blue”.

If you are at the pub/bar with friends it is our custom to take turns in buying drinks. We call it “our shout”.

An ankle biter is a small child

A banana bender is a person from Queensland where I live. I am not counted though as I grew up in Western Austalia – that makes me a Sand Groper! (nice 🙂

A fruit loop is a fool

London to a Brick – absolutely certain  (quite obvious don’t you think?)

I have only scratched the surface here. If you are interested you can visit Koala Net  and you will see there are hundreds of them.

Do we all talk like this?

No we don’t. I do not talk use so much slang but I do shorten words. Yes I have sunnies and brekkie.

You get more of the slang in country towns and our “outback” than you do in the cities.

We also have what we refer to as a “cringe factor” and for many Australians the overuse of the slang makes us cringe. I fall  into that category. I cringed a lot in  the movie Crocodile Dundee at the exaggeration of Paul Hogans’ antics.

We enjoy fun

Most Australians have good sense of humours and love fun. I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about us. If you visit Australia you will find us a friendly race of people.






Sue Price
Skype: sueprice

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30 thoughts on “Australia – Facts and Quirks

  1. Sylviane Nuccio

    Hi Sue,

    I love this type of posts, and it made me think of a late post of mine that you said you enjoyed 🙂

    I think that your language is much more British than American of course. If I’m not wrong a boot for trunk is also what they use in the UK, because of the only few words that I remember learning in school in English class was this one. And also British use “queue” not line, also learned in English class in France.

    Now, more sheep than people, I love that, because sheep are easier to get along with than people a lot of times, aren’t they? Well, that’s the animal lover talking here 🙂

    I love Australian accent which to me is also closer to the British accent than the American accent, just almost hard to understand at times.

    Thanks for this enjoyable post, Sue 🙂 Don’t forget to post this on facebook group 😉
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Sylviane

      Yes I did love your recent post on French people. I guess bottom line I love learning about other cultures.

      Definitely the Australian language is more like the English that the US. The English were the majority of our first settlers. Of course when you learned English it would have been English English – not US English:-)

      I am with you as an animal lover but no so sure about sheep as I have not had much to do with them. I love Kangaroos and the meat is now very popular. I refuse to even try it as they are such cute animals.

      Now I do not think our accent is like the British one but I have heard many Americans say that. English accents vary so much too depending where they come from. I always find that amazing that a tiny little country like the UK can have so many different ways of speaking. Now in Australia there are only 22 million of us spread around a county almost as big as the USA and we pretty much speak the same.

      Thanks for the reminder to post this in the Fb group.

      Nice to see you again today Sylviane


      1. Louise

        Hi Sue…I had to pick up on your comment to Sylviane about the British accent compared to the Aussie one. As you know, I have a very British accent, despite living in Australia. But when I first went to the US, people kept asking me if I was Australian. I couldn’t understand why and was starting to think that I had picked up an Aussie twang…heaven forbid 😉 But eventually I realised that many Americans can’t tell the difference between our accents, so all was well.

        Having said that, much of the Australian slang comes from the Cockney Rhyming Slang that British criminals developed in the mid 19th century as a kind of secret language. Our use of language is certainly more similar to the British than the American language. Although thongs are definitely not footwear in the UK 🙂

        I did not know that we have more sheep in Oz than people here. We always take the mickey out of the Kiwis. Maybe we need to rethink that one 🙂

        Thanks for that post Sue…it was fun.
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        1. Sue Price Post author

          Hi Louise

          I think it is funny that Americans think the British and Australians sound the same. Can you remember when we were first in that tribe the Americans thought you, Belinda and I all sounded the same. To my ear we speak so differently. You are very British for sure.

          Now you have just educated me as I did not know that much of our slang comes from there.

          I remember thongs were not footwear in the UK. Even in NZ they are called something else.. I think jandles? What are they in the UK?

          I did not know there were more sheep than people until quite recently. I agree us “taking the mickey” out of the Kiwis and their sheep clearly is not founded on much. Now tell me is “taking the mickey” British or Aussie? 🙂

          I will send you the email Adrienne sent to me and would love to know whether you think the pictures are for real.

          Thanks for adding to this bit of fun Louise.


          1. Louise

            Hi Sue
            I had forgotten about the conversation we had about our accents in our early mastermind group…I still can’t understand how they can think we all sound the same, especially as there are so many different accents in Britain. At least now, when people ask me if I am Australian, I can just say ‘yes’ and leave it at that.

            Thongs are flip-flops in the UK, and we do say ‘taking the mickey’. I don’t know if that comes from Oz or the UK though.

            And thanks for forwarding those photos from Adrienne. I can certainly see why your were prompted to write this post. As for whether or not they are for real, I’m not sure about a couple of them, but most look real to me. The thing is they are not exactly representative of Australia as a whole. Crocodile Dundee has a lot to answer for 🙂
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            1. Sue Price Post author

              Hi Louise

              I too find it amazing that anyone could think we sound the same. I remember Chris McCarger loving Jodie’s accent.

              Of course flip-flops. It was annoying me I could not remember. Taking the mickey probably did originate in the UK as my Nana used to say it a lot and she was Scottish.

              I used to cringe at the whole Crocodile Dundee thing. One of our very good friends in Noosa lived in the US and the UK for years working for Tourism Australia. He was behind the Paul Hogan ads to sell Australia! I think he has a bit to answer for 🙂

              Thanks for keeping the fun going here Louise.

              Hope you are having a nice weekend.


    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Elaine

      Yes of course I am sure there are British words in Canada as well. It always amazes me how we have our own versions of the English language.

      Yes our Prime Minister – well maybe I will not comment about her 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by here Elaine. Hope you are enjoying your new “tribe”.


  2. Donna Merrill

    Hi Sue!

    I love this post! When you think of it, we are all connected to people in so many different countries. It is fun to learn the different types of sayings we all use. I want to pick up at least one or two of your terminologies and start using them. Just to see how many of my U.S. buddies react to it. lol!
    Thanks this was so much fun!
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Donna

      I love that the internet has given us the opportunity to connect with so many people like this. I love it!
      Oh yes do try some Aussie slang on your US buddies. They probably with not have any idea what you are on about.
      Hey nice to see you back today.

      Thanks for your comment.


    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Lana

      Thanks for your comment and yes you will always meet Australians in Bali. I used to live in Perth on the West Coast and went to Bali for vacation many times.

      Where do you live? Oh and yes come visit Australia. We have much nicer beaches than Bali 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by here and for your comment.


    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Carol

      I am glad you enjoyed it. I love reading about other countries and our differences as well. It is amazing that basically we have so much in common but funny little differences.

      Thanks for your comment.


  3. Viola Tam

    Hi Sue,

    What a refreshing theme! I agree with Slyviane that the language is more British than American. Despite the fact that I had no problem understanding English whilst I was in Hong Kong, I found that I faced huge challenges understanding Aussie English!

    I was first introduced to Vegemite when my little one was attending a playgroup. I must admit that I did find Vegemite disgusting. All my three girls agreed that! I was genuinely surprised that many Aussies seemed to love it!

    Aussies are generally very friendly – that I could not agree more! I am blessed to be in such a wonderful country 🙂

    Viola Tam
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Viola

      I am so pleased you came over to this post. It is great to get feedback from people like you and Louise who were not born here. It is interesting that you could understand English in Hong Kong but found it difficult when you came here.

      My nephew married a girl from the Philippines and she used to say when she first came to Australia that she could only understand American English. She actually has quite an American Accent.

      I do not think many people develop a taste for vegemite unless they were born here. I love it 🙂

      It is a great country to live in for sure Viola. We are blessed.

      Thanks for dropping by for this one and for your comment.

      I hope you are having a wonderful week.


  4. Adrienne

    I am SO glad I sent you those pictures now Sue. How fun was that and boy did I ever learn a lot.

    I had a friend many years ago that was from South Africa and he would tell us the story of going into a store and asking for a rubber. Now in the US that’s known as a condom but he wanted an eraser. Every time he told that story it would crack us up because he was trying to tell the lady behind the counter what he wanted and she never got that.

    I can only imagine all the different jargon that is used in the different countries. Glad this inspired you to share this with us Sue. I really had fun learning about your lifestyle. Okay, Aussies…

    Hope you’re having a little better week. Thinking of you.

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Adrienne

      I am so glad you sent the pictures too Adrienne. I had so many days after Nirvana died trying to think what to blog about. It was good to do a fun one to get back here.

      Same here we call erasers rubbers 🙂 It must have been hilarious to watch your friend in the store. I did a similar thing when I first went to live in London when I was in my early 20’s. In Australia we have a brand of adhesive tape called Durex. Back then most people just called the tape “durex”. I was working in London and needed some tape. So I asked across the office if anyone had any Durex? Everyone looked at me as if I had two heads. Fortunately there was another Aussie in the office who was quick to tell me that Durex in the UK was a condom.

      I also worked with a lady from the USA way back who was knew to Australia. She told us she was going to “root for some footy team” – in Australia that means she was going to have sex with the entire team 🙂

      Good to know the differences I guess.

      I am doing better this week in the main. Ivan is away today so I have been a bit up and down as it is the first day I have had in the house all alone. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for me and Nirvana Adrienne. I so appreciate it.

      I hope you are having a great week.


  5. Carol Lynn

    What fun! I love learning these types of quirky little things. I especially love shortening words! I bet that comes in handy on Twitter 🙂 I’m going to walk around today just trying to shorten up words for the heck of it.

    I’ll be honest, the only thing I’ve heard before this is from the TV commercial… “Foster’s. Australian for beer.” lol

    Thanks for sharing, this was definitely a nice little peek inside Australia.
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Carol

      I had fun writing this one. I seldom write the words as we say them because only Australians would know what I am talking about.

      Now I do not even know that TV commercial.

      I have spent some time in the US and worked with lots of Americans so am very aware of the different use of words between us. Even when we use the same words many are pronounced differently.

      Thanks for dropping by here Carol.


  6. Steve Vernon

    Loved this, Sue! Thanks. I’m always fascinated by language, and American English certainly doesn’t lack a few strange colloquialisms, for sure. Of course, we’re such a mish-mash of people here from everywhere, that’s not surprising. There are places I can go here in the States where I have really, hard time figuring what people are saying, and I’m from here! Of course, we Southerners seem to get the brunt of most of the jokes, HA! Thank goodness I’ve lived in enough different parts of the country that I managed to get rid of most of my Southern accent. Heck, I hardly ever even say “y’all” anymore, but I DO at least know the difference between “you”, “y’all” and “all y’all”. <<>>

    I’m also old enough to remember when we used to refer to flip flops as “thongs” here, too. Not anymore. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a thong (or even worse, a pair of thongs) in public anymore! <<>>
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Steve

      I enjoyed writing this one too. I know what you are saying about the variety of versions of the American English language. I actually love the southern drawl as we call it here. When I was much younger I was hooked on that movie Dallas with JR and Sue-Ellen. I loved the way they all talked.

      Oh so you did have thongs for the feet there once too. Now I do not think many people remember that 🙂

      Thanks for dropping buy here and adding to this bit of fun. See you on our hangout.


  7. Barry Wells

    Hi Sue,

    I’m from the UK, about 40 miles N/W of London and loads people online think I’m from Australia because i use the word “mate” a lot.

    It’s funny how we use different terms for such things as rubbers, as Adrienne said, or thongs as you said. A rubber is an eraser, a thong is underwear (although the girls these days like to wear them above their clothing) and flip flops are… well flip flops 🙂

    I could understand most of what you were saying here but for the life of me how does red hair lead to someone being called Blue?

    I was surprised that 22% of Australians are descendants of convicts. How long ago was it that the British stopped sending them?

    I had to chuckle as your post because the other day when I was creating my latest video I used the term “mugging me off” and then wondered whether people would understand what i meant.

    I could also relate to the over use of slang. We’ve got the cockney rhyming slang here and when we hear it being over used we tend to call them “diamond merchants” and roll our eyes.

    Thanks Sue 🙂

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Barry

      Now there you go I have just learned something about you I did not know you are English and live in the UK. That is great to know.

      I do not think I have heard a person from the UK say mate. It sure is used by men here frequently.

      I am with you how we get “blue” for a red headed person I will never know but I am sure there is some story behind it.

      I had to google when the British stopped sending convicts here – here you go – from Wiki – “The last transport to bring convicts to Australia landed at Fremantle on the 10th of January, 1868.
      Pressure from the eastern colonies, together with the rising costs of keeping the system going, prompted the British government to announce in 1865 that after three years, no more convicts would be sent to Australia.
      The approximate number of convicts sent to the Australian colonies during the period of transportation has been 160,500, of whom 24,700 were women.”

      The 22% surprises me too as there are a lot of original settlers from Italy and Greece as well. Today of course we also have a lot of Asians.

      Hmm now I would not know what “mugging me off” meant and I have lived in the UK. What does it mean?

      I love listening to the whole cockney thing but I only rarely hear it of course.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing Barry. Good to get another English point of view.


      1. Barry Wells

        Hi Sue,

        Thanks for letting me know about the convicts sent to Australia. Did you know that it was one of Jason Donavon’s ancestors that built the road from Sydney across the mountains? He lead a team of convicts and completed over 100 miles of road that allowed the settlers to make their way inland. Apparently the mountain road was so dangerous to construct they never thought it would be completed.

        “Mugging me off” means trying to fool me, pulling the wool over my eyes.

        More trivia for you Sue: Cockney rhyming slang was developed by East-end villains so as to enable them to talk about their plans and crimes in confidence that the police wouldn’t know what they were talking about.

        Cheers Sue,
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        1. Sue Price Post author

          Hi Barry

          Well there you go now you are educating me about Australia 🙂 No I did not know about Jason Donovan’s ancestor. I know they worked on some pretty dangerous constructions and many lives were lost. I must confess when I was learning our history at school I was not all that interested. I wish I had paid more attention. Later as part of my business degree I did Chinese History as an elective!

          Thanks for the meaning of “mugging me off” that makes sense and for the education on Cockney rhyming slang. I love it!

          It is fascinating to know where our quirks all originated from.

          Thanks Barry

          Have a nice rest of your week.


  8. Carolyn

    Hi Sue, Much of Australian lingo is very similar to British language as well. In the UK they use the term boot, but a line is spelled queue, not que.

    Australian terms seem very happy and peppy. It seems very easy to get in trouble with language in the UK, coming from America (“pants” means two very different things!), but I don’t think I would have such fears in the Land of Oz! 🙂
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Carolyn

      Yes the Australian lingo is very similar to the British. We still are part of the British Commonwealth so they have had an enormous influence.

      Most Australians are happy people. We are fun loving and pretty easy going. No you would not get into too much problem saying the wrong thing in Australia. 🙂 Aussies understand American lingo too because we have grown up on your television programs and movies.

      Thanks for your comment. Have a great week Carolyn.