In response to a recent request by someone in the US self-admittedly ignorant to anything and everything about Australia, I gave them this quick synopsis that on review I thought should save for future use.
5-year veteran expat in Sydney here. Permit me to share some insights:
– The flight to Sydney is unspeakably long. It really doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, it will still take you a significant part of your life to get here that you will never get back. If at all possible, do not fly a US-based airline, as they are still unclear on the meaning of “food” and the bastards have started charging for booze in coach on international flights. If you’re going to be uncomfortable for 14 hours, you may as well be drunk or unconscious.
– Speaking of drinking, there is a remarkably good variety of beer and wine in Australia. Under no circumstances ask for a Fosters, the idea of advertising Fosters overseas when it’s not actually sold in Australia is one of the best long cons this country has devised. VB and Tooheys are the Coors and Budweiser of Australia, XXXX is the Hamms of Brisbane. “Goon” is cheap wine in a box and will destroy you in the most entertaining way possible, as well as garner you many friends.
– Through a freak of physics, sunshine in Australia is the equivalent of a sadistic 5-year-old holding a magnifying glass over you. Do not wear anything less than SPF 30 on a sunny day. If you are prone to sunburn, do not wear flammable synthetic clothing.
– Swear words are used more often than commas. Use them liberally and people will appreciate you as one of their own.
– If you’re going to tour different cities, here’s a quick breakdown:
Sydney: The Australian version of LA; it’s where all the famous people and places are, and everyone there knows it. Everything about the place is annoyingly pretty.
Melbourne: Australia’s San Francisco, complete with aggressively schizophrenic weather and even more volatile trendiness. The food and coffee is fantastic; breakfast is a competitive sport.
Brisbane: Beach city without a beach. Hard to be uptight when it’s always shorts weather. A little ways down the coast is the Gold Coast, which is where everyone goes for bachelor parties and regret.
Adelaide: You’re getting off the beaten path as tourist destinations go. The pace is slower, the wine is cheaper, and the shops close earlier.
Perth: New money territory with all the mining companies calling it home, so there’s plenty of friendly people out to have a good time but not quite sure how. Again, a much slower pace than the other coast.
– The danger of imminent death from everything is no joke, even some of the birds here are essentially ridiculous-looking velociraptors. However it’s impossible to live under the expectation that you could die by putting your hand in the silverware drawer, so Australians have championed the attitude of belligerent nonchalance. When you could die at any moment by anything from a tiny spider to a shark to standing too close to an Irishman on a sunny day, the Australians have decided to say, “Fuck it, good day for a beer.”
Enjoy your stay.