“G’day Bruce, throw another shrimp on the barbie.”
Think of Australia and some common myths about life “Down Under” will spring to mind.
After living in Queensland after relocating from the UK I thought it was time to investigate some of the common Australian myths and discover which, if any, have any resemblance to the reality!
BRUCE AND *SHEILA ARE COMMONLY USED NAMES
I love this one and have been disappointed to have not met one Bruce or Sheila AT ALL in 9 months. Nope. Not one. I do quite often drive on the Bruce Highway. This 1679 km road joins Brisbane to Cairns. Unfortunately the road isn’t named after a bloke called Bruce (well it is but it was his surname.) Apparently Harry Bruce was the state Minister for Works in Queensland when the highway was named after him. So now you know!
If Aussies aren’t calling their kids Bruce and Sheila then what names are popular? In 2017 the top 3 girls names were Charlotte, Olivia and Mia and the boys names in the top 3 were Oliver, William and Jack. Nothing unusual there. However…..
One name you will hear ALL THE TIME (I kid you not) is Lockie/Lochie/Lachie (short for Lachlan). It is number 10 on the list of popular boys names apparently (and has been for over 20 years!!!!!! Other Scottish names like Hamish are Angus are also popular but not to the extent of Lachlan!
And then there are bogan baby names……
- Yes I know Sheila is an Aussie slang term for a woman.
ALL AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS WANT TO KILL YOU
No not all Australian animals are deadly. Kangaroos, koala, echidna, possums, platypus, quokka, and other creatures that make you go ahhhhh live here too! So yes there are some seriously cute creatures that can only be found in Australia too!
To see the wonderfully named quokka you will need to visit Rottnest Island near Perth which is the best place to see this cute little marsupial.
Whilst there are sharks, crocodiles, deadly snakes, spiders, jellyfish and other creatures we all associate with Australia you won’t find them lurking under every bush! (Certainly not sharks anyway) Many Australian’s never see a snake or crocodile unless they go to the zoo! Though I should add at this point that I have “met” 3 snakes since we moved here which my Aussie friends find hilarious!
AUSTRALIAN MYTHS – SYDNEY IS THE CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA
I have to remind myself of this one and probably quite a few people who actually live in Sydney forget this too!! (Or is that wishful thinking on their behalf?)
The capital of Australia is Canberra and can be found in ACT – the Australian Capital Territory. Just to remind everyone that it is the capital. Personally I would vote for Melbourne over Canberra and definitely over Sydney but lets not get into that little debate…
Canberra was chosen in 1901 and there was actually a competition to design it! I remember reading Bill Bryson’s take on Canberra in his book “Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country” (#) Not sure if he has been allowed back since! Highly recommended book if you haven’t read it already. Apparently and I quote “a suggested name for the nation’s capital Canberra was Sydmeladperbrisho using the first syllables of the state capitals.” Can you imagine getting that answer right in a pub quiz!
KOALA BEARS ARE NOT BEARS!
We all say it – koala bears….And then you come to Australia and are told they aren’t actually bears! In fact they were only called bears because Europeans when they arrived thought that is what they they looked like.
So what is in a name?
Koala are actually marsupials. They are only found in Australia. And only in the coastal areas of eastern and southern Australia at that! So don’t plan on seeing any in Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territories, or ACT unless you go to a zoo!
The koala in northern populations are smaller and lighter than the ones in the south (they probably need more insulation to cope with the freezing winters down there!!)
Koala are herbivorous and they are picky eaters eating only eucalyptus leaves. They sleep 20 hours a day apparently. Not due to being doped up on eucalyptus leaves (another myth) but mainly due to the low energy their diet provides them. They can’t waste calories unnecessarily. In the wild koalas may live from 13 to 18 years of age. Koala are often killed or injured due to being hit by cars or attacked by dogs. They also suffer from diseases such as chlamydia and are also vulnerable during bush fires due to their inability to move quickly.
IT IS ALWAYS HOT IN AUSTRALIA
It is always hot in Australia. Nope. I mean have you been to Melbourne or Tasmania in winter? It even dropped to a freezing 18 degrees in Darwin on the 11th April 2017. Brutal.
No seriously though Australia has 8 territories and states and the climate varies greatly in each. While there are 4 seasons in most of the country in the north you get 2, the wet, and the dry.
I live in the south east of Queensland where the weather is best summed up as beautiful one day and perfect the next. Couldn’t have said it up better myself.
The seasons are opposite to that in the northern hemisphere though so do remember that when booking a holiday to Australia!
BOOMERANGS ALWAYS COME BACK!
Apparently boomerangs do not all come back! This is something I only learnt when we were visiting Uluru and taking a very interesting tour with SEIT Outback Tours.
Thousands of years ago boomerangs were invented to bring down hunted animals. These throwing sticks where heavy and strong. When thrown they were designed to break an animals leg and bring it down. These boomerangs didn’t need to come back as the hunter could simply pick it up.
I was told though that boomerangs as we think of them were designed to to catch birds. First the boomerang unsettled the birds and then as they took flight knocked a few out of the sky.
Boomerangs today are probably one of the most purchased gifts by tourists to Australia along with cuddly koalas and hats with corks on. Maybe.
Boomerang throwing is now a serious international sport with apparently Germany and the USA leading the way at the world championships. Apparently no-one from Australia has won in the 31 years the competition has been running. That makes me feel a little sad.
Are there any other common Australian myths that I have missed out??
FURTHER INFORMATION FOR VISITING AUSTRALIA
I have lots of information on my blog about travel in Australia so do check out some of these posts. There is sure to be something to help you plan your trip or move to Australia.
- My ultimate guide to Australia with links to every post is a great starting point when planning your visit.
- My post all about the top things to do in Queensland gives an idea of some of the amazing places to visit in the state.
- If you are interested in learning more about Queensland wildlife there are posts about kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough. platypus at Broken River and whales off the Brisbane coast. A more general post all about the amazing wildlife you can find in Queensland
- If you are visiting Brisbane you can find out more about what there is to do in and around the city including South Bank, Mount Tamborine and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
- If Tasmania is on your itinerary I have a number of great posts all about this beautiful island – a 2 week road trip itinerary, general tips to make the most of your trip and a post all about the beautiful wildlife you can see in Tasmania.
- Click here if you are interested in learning more about the 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.
Tracy has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!