“Travel broadens the mind”, it is often said. After spending a good part of last year working in Australia, there’s a few things that she taught me – some of it unexpected and some of it just confirming the stereotype. Here’s my list of “Six things I learnt in Australia”:
- There’s no bear in koala
Those cute, furry, teddies are just called koalas; never koala bear. It doesn’t belong to the bear family; it’s a marsupial.
Interestingly, these tree climbing, clingy creatures sleep for an average of 20 hours a day, explained by their imbalanced diet consisting almost exclusively of eucalyptus leaves.
- Wallabies aren’t baby kangaroos
But you may get that confused, as wallabies look fairly similar to the untrained eye. Often I couldn’t identify what I was looking at, as it happened with my first marsupial sighting at Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania.
- Australia has a Queen
Ignoring pink ones, I was surprised to learn that there is a Queen of Australia. This title is bestowed on the British monarch who appoints a representative in Australia who is independent of the Prime Minister. Looks like she won’t be cutting that apron string anytime soon. But at least they get a national holiday to celebrate her birthday (even if it’s rarely observed on her actual birthday).
- American English rules
Despite the British heritage and stronghold (see 3 above), Australians have a confused identity and seem to want to emulate their American allies. From American football to spelling rules, they’re less British then you’d think. (And “learnt” in this article’s title is not a spelling mistake – it is British English.)
- Rules rule
If you can’t think for yourself, Australia will be perfect for you. There are rules just about everywhere (and the majority obey them too). It is very much a nanny state; and sheltered from the outside world.
- Waratahs aren’t fierce
I’m no rugby fan, but whenever I hear of the Waratahs I think of butch, fierce rugby men. So it was with great astonishment that I learnt that waratahs are actually shrubs with delicate flowers.