40 Non-Australians Share What Shocks Them Most About The Land Down Under

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People have wildly different opinions about the land Down Under. For some, Australia is paradise on Earth, with friendly people, good food, amazing weather, and tons of travel opportunities. For others, it is the land of ‘nope!’—a spider, snake, and shark-infested country that makes them question why anyone would choose to live there.

But it’s only through travel and personal experience that we can learn the truth about a new place. The non-Aussie members of the r/AskReddit community spilled the beans about what they found the strangest about Australia. Read on for their thoughts and culture shock experiences.

Bored Panda reached out to Bree Clarke from South Australia, aka redditor u/Desperate-Narwhal817, the author of the intriguing viral thread. She was kind enough to shed some light on the biggest culture shock moments that tourists face when visiting Australia, as well as how to find the confidence to travel far and wide. Read on for our full interview with Bree!


“Nah yeah” = Yes please.

“Yeah Nah” = No thank you.

Image credits: italkaboutbruno

According to Bree, she started the thread on Reddit because she was curious about how other people see Australia. She wanted to compare their experiences with those of her own.

“Life and Aussie culture seems so normal to me, and I wanted to get real insight from everyday people, from all over the world. And I certainly achieved that! I didn’t expect the post to blow up like it did, that’s for sure. I was quite chuffed, to be honest… and full of pride, amusement, and warmth for my little (big) land down under,” she told Bored Panda how happy she was that the discussion got a lot of attention.

Bored Panda was curious to get Bree’s take on the biggest culture shock moments that foreigners might experience when they first visit Australia. In her opinion, one of those moments is “realizing there are cities here, and busy ones at that.”


As a Texan there are no people I like more than Australians. Even when they’re rude I just laugh at how creative the insults are.

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The nutbush 100%.

exobiologickitten replied:

My Scottish family came down for my sisters wedding on the weekend and two things happened: The band played 500 miles by the Proclaimers, which sent the Scots into a highland dancing frenzy They then played Nutbush, which sent the aussies absolutely feral And on both sides, the other family would look at the ones on the dance floor like “what the actual F is going on??” It was hilarious

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“Chatting to tourists, I get the impression they were almost expecting to land on a dirt patch in the middle of nowhere and have a kangaroo courier them to an outback cattle station fighting off snakes and sharks and spiders with a boomerang,” she quipped. “That view, or expectation, does warm our hearts, though.”

Bree said that Australians love a lot of things: their country, taking the mickey out of others, the tourists, as well as the view the rest of the world has about them. “The snakes and sharks and spiders and isolated cattle stations are definitely here, we’ve all encountered them, but I do not know a single person who’s had a bad experience with any of them. They tend to leave you alone if you do come across one.”

She shared some more things that Aussies have in common: “We all have a mate called Gazza, (hi, Dad!) and we all know someone called Kylie (hi, bestie!) We all have broken a Hills Hoist [clothesline] as kids, and we all like our Vegemite. Everyone’s our mate, even if it doesn’t sound like it from the ‘not safe for work’ language we use.”


As an exchange student from Hong Kong, the first cultural shock I experienced was how y’all don’t really wear shoes, I never expect to see so many toes on the streets lmao.

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Kangaroos. Angry two legged deer.

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Not anymore but when i found out that the tasmanian devil is a real thing and tasmania is a real place.

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Bree explained to Bored Panda that Aussies are “super protective” of tourists, even if they might enjoy gently poking fun at them from time to time. “Whilst we may be scaring you with stories of drop bears, in the very same breath we have our eyes peeled and we won’t let you lift up a piece of tin in the Outback, or walk around barefoot in a paddock, or wander through the mangroves.”

The author of the viral thread pointed out that getting along with the locals is “practically a given,” which should put a lot of us travelers at ease. “The second we hear an accent, we don our Aussie hats and take you directly under our wings. As long as you can take a joke, and are aware that we love our culture, and are full of pride for it, you’re good as gold to us,” she shared some advice with all tourists.

Bree also had some encouragement to share with anyone hoping to travel to and around Australia. “Traveling anywhere new is equally exciting and terrifying, and my advice for anyone wanting to visit Australia is simple: just do it! I feel so incredibly fortunate to live in such a diverse, accepting, laid-back corner of the world where it is safe and welcoming,” she opened up to us.


There actually isn’t a massive f*****g spider around every corner.

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European living in Victoria – still can’t believe how cold winter gets, and how badly insulated houses are.

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As an Australian the thing that gets me is that the city of Melbourne was almost called BATMANIA. Now all that’s left of that dream is Batman Avenue.

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“I think my view of Australia could only get better if I experienced less fortunate places and was able to appreciate more what my sunburnt country has to offer. And, as an Adelaide resident, just don’t drink the VB beer. That’s for the Victorians and us South Aussies have a tongue-in-cheek love-hate bond with our neighboring State,” the redditor suggested.

On a more serious note, she warned that any travel in the Australian Outback should be taken very seriously. Travelers have to be extremely well-prepared. They should never take these trips lightly. On a lighter note, Bree said that Australia is a huge country, and she urged everyone to visit the smaller towns “on the outskirts of the cities for a true Aussie vibe and experience.”

Most of the country’s towns are near the sea, and the redditor added that the beaches are “insanely accessible and beautiful.”


How there’s actually snow there.

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The banter. Aussies are surprisingly quick and have a great sense of humor. Also they tend to have a darker, irreverent taste in jokes. Makes for good entertainment.

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Australian here that has been living in Canada for the past three months.

It’s funny looking back at how things are done differently in Austalia that you grow up thinking is normal and don’t appricate. Simple things like tipping culture and taxes are already displayed on price tags, I’m finding canada to be such an expensive country to live in. 500ml of honey (equivalent of home brand) $10! How?

I’ve had a few Canadians ask how we live with so many deadly creatures, snakes, spiders etc. Like WTF, you literally have BEARS roaming the street that can physically overpower you and f**k you up! A moose can be the size of an SUV, run ridiculously fast even in deep snow, it can also f*cking swim and will charge you if intimidated and don’t get me started on cougars (and not the fun type)

Planning on being in Canada for another year and a half but already missing the Austalian culture to a certain extent. Canada is so beautiful though.

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For anyone scared of the Aussie wildlife, Bree, who was “born and bred” in Australia and has lived there for 40 years, has some good news. “I have never once been bitten by a snake or spider, chased by a shark, stung by a jellyfish, or boxed by a kangaroo. I have, however, had a safe, fun, privileged, and fulfilling life, and believe you’ll absolutely love it here. You’ll automatically be in the ‘mate’ category and we’ve got your back.”

Another upside of Australian life, according to her, is the lack of notable violence in the country. “We just don’t see it here very often and it gives you such a sense of security and protection. It really is unique.”

The land Down Under is incredibly biodiverse. According to the Australian Government, the continent and surrounding seas support a whopping 600k to 700k native species. Most of them are not seen anywhere else on our planet!

A jaw-dropping 85% of Australian plant species won’t be found anywhere else on Earth. Moreover, the Australian continent is home to half of the world’s marsupial species.


I’m half-Australian with a lot of Aussie family and have spent most of my life living outside of the country, so I feel I have a semi-outsiders perspective to the country. Some things which immediately spring to mind are:

1. How completely uninhabited so much of the country is.
2. The sheer expanse of the red rocky deserts.
3. How much casual racism still exists towards the aborigines and how much the country is struggling to navigate its past.
4. How endless and gobsmackingly beautiful it’s stretches of coastline are.
5. How insanely big saltwater crocodiles can grow to, they are like monsters from another time.
6. How clean and well-designed the cities are, including the water quality at major ports.
7. Australians are very anti-littering and I would say are much more environmentally aware than most people I’ve come across.
8. The low rates of smoking and gun violence.
9. The environmental hypocrisies in the country, such as its love affair with coal, mining and trawlers.
10. How a country with so many resources, good city planning and so much space still has a rental crisis developing.
11. Australians fascination with snow and how many will decorate shop window displays with fake snow Etc in the run-up to Christmas despite the sweltering temperatures.
12. How insanely deadly or poisonous/venomous some really tiny and innocuous looking Australian animals are.
13. The stereotype that they love their beer and barbecues is very true.
14. Kangaroos really do box each other.
15. How massive and grass-less fields on sheep farms are.

Edit: 1. “Ozzie” (rather than Aussie) was a typing error (I wrote this post while very tired), but thanks, it seems like every other comment here is on correcting me about that.
2. I didn’t know that Aborigine was racist whereas Aboriginal is not (my apologies).
3. A lot of people here themselves seem to be confused as to what the native peoples should be called.

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The poorly constructed homes…drafty, mold, collapsing….

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Canadian here. Vacationed at 3 locations in Australia with my wife, a total of 10 days (not near long enough). Brisbane, Cairns, and Alice Springs. Brisbane could have been the sister city to Vancouver, BC imo. The thing that shocked me the most was when in Cairns, we were awake at 2am due to the time change, and we went outside looked up in the sky and there was probably a thousand massive bats just flying overhead (flying foxes I believe). It was very very cool to see that!.

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Australia boasts around 2k species of spider. Most of them are (relatively) harmless to people. Something that has been a huge help is the widespread existence of antivenom. 

The Victoria State Government has some handy advice on avoiding spider bites. For one, you should always aim to wear gloves, long pants, and shoes while gardening. You ought to avoid walking barefoot around your garden. And be sure to shake out your shoes before you put them on. You should also not leave your clothes lying around on the floor.

If you happen to stumble across a potential spider lair, do not go rummaging around it with your hands! Use a stick. Or better yet, leave it alone and contact someone who works in pest removal services.


How immense and diverse it is in all sorts of ways when it comes to landscape and wildlife. The birdlife is unbelievable………. I lived there for a decade in Victoria and WA (Perth, The Kimberly, Goldfields and Warburton.) A few months ago I started adding up the journeys I had driven whilst there and it was over well 100,000 km’s. I visited every State and Territory bar Tassie. I drove to work from Perth once and it took three days to travel 3000kms. Also drove Perth to Bathurst via Ayers Rock. Had a pet Kangaroo, shot, ate and ran into a few also. Hunted goanna and roos with some aboriginal fellas. Ĥeld a gold bar which was the weeks production for the mine I worked at, at the time. Had a ball. Was actually back there in Melbourne for Christmas just gone.
Strala ‘s f*****g awesome!.

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The size of the place, When I flew there, a movie finished, I checked the flight tracker map thing – saw we were just about approaching Australia. Thought to myself not long til we land, I won’t watch another film. – I could have watched another two films as there was over 5 hours left of the flight.

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My Hungarian friend had been living and working in Australia for two months. We were walking home late at night when she suddenly stopped dead ‘The moon! It’s…wrong way up’. I couldn’t understand what she was on about and it took like 10 minutes of explaining, because I’ve never noticed the moon on my rare trips to Europe.

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You should clear away the trees, shrubs, and bushes from around your doors and windows. However, it’s not advisable to use insecticides in your garden: the local spider population, spooked, might flee right into your home. (A very frightening proposition, indeed..!)

Meanwhile, add screens to your windows and vents, and make sure that there’s no space underneath your doors for spiders to squeeze through.


American here… its shockingly similar, honestly. A few surprises: 1) Toasties! It’s like having excellent grilled cheese sandwiches available everywhere, at all times. 2) how well “tap on, tap off” works. 3) for a people who ridicule basic American coffee…. you sure go hard on the instant coffee. 4) how you can leave your stuff lying around and it doesn’t get stolen. Overall fabulous country. Five stars.

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American here and was there a year ago. I know this is just my perspective but when I got off the plane and the whole time I was there, I did not feel tension in the air like I do here. Like I said, that was just my perspective. It was a great trip visiting my daughter. I can’t wait to go back to visit.

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How AMAZING your wine is.

Melodic-Change-6388 replied:

Tassie sparkling and Pinot noir is the best. All Tassie wines are bomb, they just don’t produce enough quantity to be as well known.

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While many of us would love to travel more—to Australia and beyond—some of us keep looking for excuses not to. It’s inconvenient. It’s expensive. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable… The list is endless. The fact of the matter is that travel can be a wonderful opportunity for adventure and exposing ourselves to new cultures and ways of living. But we have to have a little bit of courage and be open-minded.

The key to gaining confidence in travel is… to travel! You have to start out small. Like, really small. Think about some massive adventure that you’d like to have someday. Now, make that your long-term goal. In the meantime, plan a whole series of smaller trips.


How bad your internet is.

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The fact that almost the entire population lives near the coast. The center is enormous and deadly. Idk why but it blows my mind seeing those pics of signs saying stuff along the lines of: next gas station is far af, if you’re not prepared you’re gonna die.

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That the Australians went to war with emus in the 30s and they lost.

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Consider what you’d like to do and see in your hometown. Then go and do that. Then, think about what you’d love to do in a nearby town, a city even further away, and then work your way to travel abroad. Pace yourself. Take tiny steps. And soon enough, you’ll be traveling and adventuring with the best of the best.

You should also figure out what type of travel and tourism you’re most comfortable with. Are you better off being a solo traveler, or do you thrive when you’re on an adventure with a gaggle of friends? Do you prefer having quality accommodation, or are you fine with crashing on someone’s couch? Do you want to travel by plane, train, and car, or are you a fan of hitchhiking? Do you enjoy long hikes (hi!) or lazing about in the pool (hi again!)?


Something is wrong with the way you market Tim Tams. Arnotts should be bigger than Amazon.

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It surprised me when I found out that their term for the right leaning party is “liberal” and once I figured it out, I suddenly understood a lot of the things I saw online that were confusing me.

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I thought everybody would be friendly there and then after I went I learned I would rather talk to an a*****e in the tourism industry in NYC than to a coffee barista in Sydney.

There’s no shame in knowing what you’re most comfortable and happiest with, even if others prefer an entirely different style of traveling. It’s up to us to decide how quickly to step out of our comfort zones.

In the meantime, be sure to do at least some basic research about any city, region, or country you want to visit. Knowing how to get along with the locals can be a wonderful way to make the most of your experience! But what matters the most is having an open heart and mind.

What did you find the most shocking the first time you visited Australia, dear Pandas? What advice would you give non-Aussies to help them get along with the locals? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


My friend has recently moved over from Texas, and has said the thing that’s shocked her the most is how much Australian millenials love The Simpsons.

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That people still live there despite learning the existance of: 1. spiders the size of my hand 2. flying spiders the size of my hand 3. literall wingless dragons 4. boxing world champion bipedal deer on roids 5. snakes that WILL k**l you with one bite within the hour 6. living rocks just outside the coast that will give you the early access of what hell will feel like 7. and the fact that THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN BURNED TO THE GROUND.

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How the Aussies manhandle the English language.

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How much Aussies drink alcohol and swear way more than us Americans. Living down under the past 6 years now has been eye opening.

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Tall poppy syndrome: you’ve got to watch yourself…it’s an egalitarian society so if you come from a society that celebrates and flaunts success, you’ll tend to be disliked.


The racism.


As a truck driver, the road trains fascinate me, I want to visit and drive one.

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How Australians can just co-exist with one another without it breaking out into people throwing brown snakes at each other.


As an Australian myself, the thing I hate most is our anti-intellectualism. We’re automatically suspicious of a bloke that can string two words together without “f***en” in the middle of them.


The amount of famous Australian actors that have an acting credit in Neighbours and/or Home and Away.


That they don’t have a thriving film industry yet. So many good actors from there but they all make it big in Hollywood.


Dropbears. Deadly Dropbears.


Software so expensive that it’s cheaper to fly to another country and buy it there.

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