8 Things That Might Surprise You About Living In Australia

8 Things That Might Surprise You About Living In Australia - Proudly South African In Perth

Even though we live in a time where information is so readily available, there can still be some things that you just can’t research before you move to Australia. So here are 8 things that might surprise you about living in Australia.


1. Shopping Trolleys Have A Mind Of Their Own

Australian Shopping Trolleys


You might think I’m crazy but shopping trolleys here really are something else.

Their wheels all move completely independently of one another, which makes pushing them on an incline a challenge.

On a level surface they’re not bad, but when you need to go uphill or downhill, you’ll be pushing them on an angle just to go straight. If you’ve got a bad back, get someone else to push for you!


2. Coffee Is An Institution

Australian Coffee Habits


Coffee culture in Australia is part of daily life for many. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a country where coffee was revered as much as it is here.

For a while, I stopped drinking coffee completely and stuck with herbal teas – people thought I was some sort of leper!

There are so many different kinds of coffee here, from long blacks to flat whites (neither of these are racist terms, so you’re safe to say them!) and skinny long macs. You’ll pay anything from $4 to over $6 for a coffee in Perth and most people won’t bat an eyelid.

Some coffees come with the most amazing ‘latte art’ – order a milk-based coffee and see what fantastic picture you get right there in your coffee cup.

To get to grips with how to order coffee in Australia, here’s a handy guide.


3. Drive-Through Shops

drive through coffee shops - Proudly South African In Perth


This one really tickled me. Not only do you get drive through take-aways like McDonalds (which the Aussies call Maccas) and KFC, but you also get drive through coffee shops and drive through bottleshops. Yep, you can buy beer from the comfort of your car.

You just drive up, tell the attendant what you want, they get it, put it in your car, you pay and drive off.

You can even drive through Bunnings (a major DIY store) and Woolworths is starting to roll out drive through stores for customers to click and collect without having to get out their cars.



4. It Takes 10 Minutes To Get Your Driving License

Australian Driving License


I’ve heard horror stories about people waiting in line all day to get a new ID book or driving license in South Africa.

In Australia, you’ll walk into your local Department of Transport, get a number, wait to be called, take your photo, sign a form and bam – driving license done and will be posted to you usually within a couple of weeks max.

When you want to renew it (and you don’t need to get your photo updated), you’ll just pay online and get your license in the post.



5. Aussies Don’t Care About Status

Aussies Dont Care About Status - Proudly South African In Perth


While this is a bit of a generalisation, you’ll be surprised to find that most Australians couldn’t care less about status.

They don’t care what car you drive, where you live, how big your house is, whether your kids go to private school, where you work or what you earn.

Most Aussies are down to earth people who are happy to hang out with you if you are a decent human being.

That’s all it usually takes here.


6. Travelling Interstate Can Be Like Travelling Overseas

WA Border Quarantine Laws


Going from Perth to Sydney?

Make sure you don’t have any fruit in your bag!

Just like travelling into Australia from overseas, the state border controls are just as strict when it comes to certain items like animals, food and plant materials.

Honey is something that you can’t bring into WA, as well as animal feed.

Find out more about WA border and quarantine laws here.


7. If You Don’t Vote You Get Fined

Australian Voting Laws


If you’re an Australian citizen, you’re required to vote in the federal elections (these are the national elections). In fact, when you attend your citizenship ceremony, they make you complete your voter registration form and hand it straight back in! Now that’s efficiency at it’s best.

Voting was made compulsory in 1924 to attempt to reverse the trend of low voter turnout. It is one of the few countries in the world with compulsory voting.

If you don’t vote, you will be issued with a $20 fine which you can pay online.

Elections are always on a Saturday and local schools are often used as voting stations. Parent committees usually put on drink and snack stalls and have a sausage sizzle going to raise funds for the school. It’s a morning out for the whole family!


8. The Sounds Of The Birds Never Get Old

Kookaburra Sounds - Proudly South African In Perth


I’ve been here for almost 7 years now and the sound of the birds still bring a smile to my face.

The ravens (even though everyone calls them crows) and their croaky complaints.

The 28 parrots and their high-pitched whistle.

The pink and grey galahs and their noisy squawks.

And the laugh of the kookaburras, my favourite sound of all.


What surprised you about living Australia when you moved here? Add your thoughts in the comments below.


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About Author

Helping you move to, settle in, and explore your new home in Australia. Avid reader, beach lover, and horse addict. As someone who has emigrated, not once, not twice, but three times, I know exactly what you’re going through. The ups and downs of emigration are faster than a rollercoaster and I’ve been there – three times!

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