Australian Culture? It's a tricky subject.
To a visitor, especially a non-English speaking visitor, Australian culture may look a lot like that of the UK or even, heaven forfend, the USA or New Zealand. But that's not really the case.
The USA was founded on religious lines, whereas Australia, according to the Princess Bride, was "entirely peopled with criminals". That's how Australia started and it's still reflected in contemporary Australian culture. Until recently the idea that Jack was as good as his master prevailed and it could be said that Australia was the fairest, most egalitarian country in the English speaking world.
Australians are an informal lot. We don't dress for dinner and many of us never wear anything but shorts and a tee shirt for most, if not all of the year.
Australians swear a lot. This is something to be careful of if you are not fluent in English. Words like bastard and bugger can be a friendly greeting to a mate… as in "Hello you old bugger, how's it going?" This might be taken the wrong way in other English speaking countries but learning to swear proficiently in another language is always a useful skill so pay attention when the locals are swearing.
Australians gamble a lot. You might think that Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world but believe it or not, Australians gamble 400% more per capita than in the US and twice that of the Chinese who are just runners up.
Australians have a great sense of humour. It may take a while to get used to it but it's worth the effort. Australians rejoice in being politically incorrect and laugh at everyone and anything, especially Tasmanians, New Zealanders, Seppos and other foreigners. And people from lesser states like Victoria, Queensland and South Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking of NZ, do you know that there's a website devoted to maps of the world which don't include New Zealand? How's that for having a chup on your shoulder?
Australians are great at BBQs. In fact, if you are a visitor from Europe, don't bother. Hand your sanger or chop to a local.
Australians have a difficult accent if English is not your first language. And the further out into the bush you get, the worse this accent gets. This may mean that you understand very little of what's said to you… but never mind, we're a friendly lot. And think of it… you could be in New Zealand with their funny accent or worse South Africa!
Australians are excellent drinkers. We have good wine, not the lolly water you get in the USA and proper beer which soon makes your legs stop working.
Australians are sports mad. Cricket and football (Rugby) are the games played in heaven. "To win in Australia has to be the ultimate success because the Aussies live for sport." Yes, that's true but probably our biggest participation sport is surfing… and there's part of the problem. Go down to one of Australia's surf beaches and day of the week and you'll see dozens of people out riding waves when they should be working. The US may have invented surf culture but Australia made it a way of life.
And hanging out at the beach is not really a culture is it? But with warm weather and fantastic (shark infested) beaches, who needs a culture?
For visitors who want to brush up on Aussie culture, there are some essential instructional books and films. The film Wake in Fright is a must-see though don't let it put you off. As for books, it's a toss up between Barrie McKenzie and "A fortunate Life".
Barry McKenzie is the invention of Barry Humphries. A comic strip was printed in the English satirical magazine Private Eye. Barry McKenzie, a child of hidebound 50s Australia, travels to the UK in the swinging 60's, a rite of passage still performed by most Australian kids. It's a clash of cultures and in a series of misadventures, Barry invents a new Australian culture.
While the English laughed at the Aussie innocent abroad, the Aussies laughed with Barry, taking on the Poms and from being a satire, Barry McKenzie went on to be a celebration of being Australian.