Things That Others Find Odd About Australia

Australia is an odd country. From calling flip-flops thongs, to tiny spiders that can kill you hiding in everyone’s backyard, to the obsession with Vegemite. If you’re after a little slice of Australiana (or Straya karnt!) then see what is on our hit list of Odd for the day.

You can order the animals from the Australian coat of arms for a meal

Yes, the mighty kangaroo, and with it the emu, can be ordered for a meal in an Australian pub if you come across one that serves up these meats. Kangaroo meat tastes fairly gamey, whereas emu meat is described as tasting like lean beef (no, not chicken).

Roo meat is also stocked in almost every supermarket in the country as dog food.

Bonus points: Even though it’s not on the coat of arms, you can order crocodile meat in some places, which does in fact taste like chicken.

Slot machines are affectionately dubbed ‘pokies’

In good old Aus, there’s nary a slot machine to be found – you’d get a quizzical look and perhaps a “whaddayatalkinbout?” In Australia, slot machines are referred to only by their Australian name – the pokies. Aussies get whipped into a frenzy by these oddly named casino machines.

Derived from the word poker, it’s not hard to see how this naming came about. You’ll find pokies in sporting clubs, RSLs (Returned and Services League clubs, for those in the armed forces – where anyone can attend as a non-member though), and casinos around the country. In Western Australia you might even find folks without a clue what a slot machine or a pokie is – they’re banned except in the state’s one casino. Sites like CasinoShortlist have online versions of all the best pokies.

Every word can be shortened

Speaking of shortening words, Australians are very fond of shortening just about everything. Here’s a quick little taste of the lingo:

  • Liquor shop = bottle shop = bottlo
  • Petrol station = service station = servo
  • Flip flops = thongs = Havianas = Havs
  • Tin of beer = tinnie
  • McDonalds = maccas
  • Mike McKinnon = Macca
  • Cigarettes = durries = duzza

And so on…

You can drive (almost) forever and not get anywhere

Thinking of getting over Perth while you’re on a Sydney vacation? The West is well known for its beaches after all… Well, you might want to rethink that. It’s a whopping 4000km away: a 41 hour drive, or 5 hour flight.

In fact, if you want to drive to the closest capital city from Sydney, you’ll be making the 3hr 20min drive to Canberra.

Canberra is actually the capital city of Australia, but it’s a barren ghost town populated only by government and government-adjacent employees, and perhaps some uni students. It’s not the most exciting place on earth and is the topic of much derision by Australians.


Someone asked you if you want a slap of the old goon balloon? What the eff is that! Goon is Aussie slang for cask wine, and hence goon balloon refers to its shiny silver casing, that once removed from said wine box resembles a balloon.

Many young folk have “got pissed” (that’s drunk) for the first time on the old goon sack, and perhaps many times since if they’re not clever. At good bang for your buck in the standard drinks to dollars department, it makes sense that poor uni students flock to it.

If you’re in Aus, save yourself the goon regret and jump on a bottle of cleanskin wine instead for around the same price. They’re simply off-label wines leftover from the vineyards around the country.

Those cute cuddly koalas?

There’s plenty a tourist snap about all cozied up with a koala. Aren’t they cute? All they do is nap and chew on gum tree leaves, how special. Outside of the zoos however, they cute little creatures have a serious problem.

Chlamydia is known to infect up to 100% of koalas in some wild populations. Don’t worry – it’s not contagious to humans – but we wouldn’t go cuddling any wild koalas either. Their claws can be mighty sharp!

It’s bloody hard to move there

Like the US has the label “the land of the free”, Australia has the nickname “the lucky country.” Whether either of these nicknames is true or not is up to the beholder. However, gaining residency and citizenship in Australia ain’t easy.

Marrying an Australian and becoming a citizen can takes years and years and upwards of $10,000. Students can study for a limited amount of time in the country, with only some courses leading to jobs where international applicants can apply at the end (otherwise it’s time to leave). Investment requirements are high. There’s a short list of in-demand jobs that can recruit from overseas. But there’s always the option to go make make peanuts and pick fruit in the country for some backbreaking labour just to hang out in Aus.