Ten Things You Might Not Know About Australia

I’m just back from Oz and prepping for an appearance on Brad and Bo’s WHYN-AM Morning Show. Listen at 8:05 Tuesday morning, and I’ll share some of these tidbits. Here is the complete list, since the segments are usually pretty short.

1. There is no tipping in Australia. So a cab ride is the meter–only. And the price on the restaurant menu includes everything, sales tax and the whole tip. What’s the difference between an Australian and a canoe? A canoe sometimes tips. So menus seem expensive but you’ve gotta subtract about 25% compared to the US. The food is very good and the wine lists are very long.

2. Desirable real estate here faces north. Because the sun is coming from the other side of the world, so that’s the warmest direction to face.

3. Home builders and re-modelers here have to provide a 7-year warranty on all repairs and new construction. Or they have to fix it for free for the homeowner (this was told to me by a contractor I sat next to at dinner.)

4. The most popular sport in Melbourne where I visited, is known as ‘footy.’ That’s Australian rules football, played on a circular field, where players attempt to kick a ball through four uprights, and lateral, kick and run with the ball and get tackled without any pads. Women like the shorts the buff players wear. All over Australia, though, cricket is the most popular sport, it’s also played on this same circular field. More than 70,000 fans attended the game I saw on a Sunday afternoon in Melbourne last week.

5. Kangaroos are as common as white tailed deer in New Jersey. They munch grass, and there are actually six ‘roos for every Australian. The meat is sold for about $18 a kilo and looks like prime steak. They eat grass and don’t bother anyone….except when I was there a newspaper headline said that a man was attacked by a roo, who was cornered in a garden shed and scratched him. The pack of ‘roos is called a mob.

6. People talk a lot about the many poisonous snakes in Australia. They do have most of the top ten here, but the venom is mostly dangerous to mice, and snakebites are not at all common. A man I took a hike with said he’d seen a few venomous snakes but he was more afraid of the large poisonous spiders that can grow to three inches long. But only 13 people have ever died from the most feared spider the Sydney Funnel-web species.

7. There are just over 20 million people living in Australia, nearly all of them in the eight cities on the coast, and there are very very few people in the interior. The distance from end to end is about same as from New York to California.

8. The Aborigines, the native peoples of Australia first settled there as long as 65,000 years ago. The British first came here in 1825, so it’s one of the youngest countries in the world. The government actively encourages skilled people to move here. It’s 15 1/2 hours from LA by plane.

9. It’s very rare to find free Wi-Fi because there aren’t enough people to profitably roll out the kind of wiring needed….and since the telephone company owns the wires already in place it’s unlikely that it will ever be free as it is in many hotels and other cities in the US.

10. The average wage in Australia is about $50K a year. Coffee shop workers make about $18-20 an hour. Since wages are so high, dinner entrees (known as “mains”) can cost about $25-30, and a glass of wine is often $9-12. People make a lot, so they don’t worry much about these costs, And then again there is no tip or tax added to the bill. Since the dollar trades nearly even with the Australian dollar nowadays, there is no currency advantage like there used to be before the dollar sank across the board versus other currencies.