What are the personal characteristics of the Australians

Australia etiquette: Correct behavior on the other side of the world

Compared to many other countries, Australia is relatively relaxed - this applies to the general attitude towards life of most of the locals as well as to the social interaction with one another. In contrast to Asia, for example, as a tourist in Down Under it is very seldom a faux pas. But precisely because everything is so “relaxed” there, it doesn't hurt in Australia to know where the limits of looseness are. Because you don't want to come out as an uptight tourist. It also helps to know how to get into conversation with Australians or, for example, enjoy a local specialty together over a business lunch. And despite all the looseness, there are also a few real taboos in Australia. The general Australia etiquette should therefore serve as a helpful guide for German-speaking tourists as well as business travelers.


Communicate properly


This is how the salutation and greeting succeed

As a rule, foreigners in Germany, Switzerland and Austria greet each other very formally. The salutation is "Sie" and the surname of the other person. You shake hands or nod. Only after a period in which one has been in contact with one another and has got to know each other does one party offer the "you" at some point - usually the person who is hierarchically higher in some form to the other person in the conversation.

It looks different in Australia. Polite phrases and imposed friendliness are a thorn in the side of the Australians; most of them are friendly to strangers anyway. So why pretend? Instead, Australians usually introduce each other by their first names. If you are unsure and do not want to be too relaxed from the start, it is best to orient yourself to the person you are talking to. In contrast, significantly older people should not be addressed immediately by their first name.

There are no fixed rules in Australian etiquette when it comes to greetings. Although the Australians also often shake hands, they often simply do without direct physical contact. In fact, it is not proper to get too close immediately. When greeting and getting to know each other, a certain, natural distance should be kept. Even strangers cannot go wrong with a rhetorical “How are you?”, “Hi” or “Hello”. In addition, in Down Under there is a friendly smile and a nod or a short wave.

If the local person speaks to you as “Mate” (buddy, partner), you don't have to be surprised. A "G’day mate!" (All right, buddy?) Is by no means an unusual greeting among Australians who are deeply rooted in the value of brotherhood. As a foreigner, you should be more cautious with such empty phrases, if only to avoid creating the unwanted impression of wanting to make fun of yourself.

By the way, good friends and family members often give each other ONE kiss on the cheek (not two or three kisses, as we do).


Get into pleasant conversations

As relaxed and informal as most Australians are when they first meet, when they are addressed and greeted, it is just as easy to have a nice conversation with them. While snootiness and arrogance are frowned upon, modesty is highly valued. Humor is also always well received; Australians themselves often joke and tease each other in a friendly way during normal conversation.

Basically, almost all topics of conversation are possible, even if people don't like to talk about business topics in private. Discriminatory statements against any person, nationality or group are taboo. Everyone is considered equal and equal by the majority of Australians.

The indigenous people of Australia, the Aborigines, are an exception. The relationship between people of European descent and local residents is characterized by prejudices, clichés and half-knowledge or ignorance. The conflict stems from the old problem of land ownership, material goods, spirituality and tradition. It is only important for foreigners to avoid the topic if there is uncertainty in the relationship between the interlocutor and the Aborigines and to name the natives as "Aboriginal people". The abbreviation “Abo”, on the other hand, is a swear word, comparable to the word “Neger” or “Nigger” in German.

It becomes particularly tricky for foreigners when they talk about Australia's past as a former convict colony. The stigma that the country emerged from a colony of European prisoners and criminals still weighs heavily on many locals even after four centuries. Questions about family or origin can therefore also be problematic. Unless, of course, you've found out you're looking at the descendant of a sailor or officer in the First Fleet - the fleet of ships that arrived on the coast of Australia with the first British prisoners.


to eat and drink


In the restaurant

Little can go wrong in restaurants in Australia. There are only three main points to consider:

  • Unlike in this country, Australians put their hands in their laps and not on the table when they eat.
  • Restaurants don't serve alcohol everywhere. In so-called BYO’s (Bring your Owns) you can bring your own wine and consume it, as these restaurants do not have a license to serve alcohol.
  • German generosity according to the motto “The bill is on us / me” is not welcomed in Australia and is sometimes misunderstood. Australians do not want to be invited and do not feel obliged to reciprocate and do the same after an invitation. An invitation would contradict the aforementioned feeling of equality among Australians. Those who go to dinner in private groups usually split the bill equally.
  • Even on a date, it is often not expected that the man will pay for his female companion.

In the pub

The pubs are a special feature of the whole country. For many Australians they definitely have an important place in their lives. Most of the central pubs are therefore often well-frequented, very sociable and ideal places to chat with the locals. The per capita beer consumption of Australians is quite high, which is why the mood is so exuberant and relaxed. In contrast to eating in restaurants, it is common with drinks - and especially with beer - that rounds are given to each other and one in turn gives the other the drinks. Whoever shouts "It's my Shout" has to expect to spend a round for everyone present (including strangers). The reward for this is sure to be a warm welcome to the pub and some new friendships.

Incidentally, women were taboo for a long time in pubs Down Under - of course, that is very different today. Especially in larger cities you can often find single women there who are available for a nice chat. Even as a woman traveling alone you don't have to be afraid in the pubs - as long as you take part in the rounds and drink, you will be accepted as “one of us”. Of course, drinking should not then be overdone; also in order to still be able to clearly show the limits to any intrusive men.


Australia etiquette & tips

Unlike us, there are no fixed rules for tips. It is not compulsory and actually not common in "normal" restaurants to tip. Of course, it is gladly taken anyway. In better to very good and upscale restaurants, however, the 10% rule can also be followed here - provided the service was good. Tips are not given in bars and pubs.

Taxi drivers can tip those who have the feeling that they have neither been ripped off nor have they been pretended to be friendly.


Be invited

Anyone who is invited to dinner privately in Australia usually has to expect a "Barbie". This is not about eating a famous plastic doll, but about a BBQ. You have to appear punctually for one of these. The Australians set great store by punctuality, and not just in business.

In addition to alcohol, you are welcome to bring your own meat. By the way, this is grilled until it's done; Medium fried or even bloody steaks are often only consumed by tourists. Anyone who inquires in advance whether salads, baguettes or other items are also desired with the Barbie, makes a good impression in advance. Help is also welcome with the preparations and clearing.


Customs and Traditions


Gifts and souvenirs

Of course, not only beer crates and wine bottles are brought and given away in Australia:

  • With "Barbies", but especially with normal dinners in small groups at the table, chocolates or flowers are also suitable as a gift.
  • If craftsmen, such as plumbers or roofers, have worked well and have been polite, it is customary to give them either a small tip or a six-pack of beer as a thank you. A bottle of wine will do the same.
  • Close friends and family, as well as known neighbors, usually only give gifts on birthdays and Christmas. The gifts are then unpacked as soon as they are received and not put aside for later. Unlike in this country, this would be perceived as impolite in Australia.
  • Giving away vouchers is rather unknown in Australia. Instead, people like to see other little things that are also personally related. Anyone who brings a typical European gift or one from their own country as a tourist is guaranteed to be delighted.

Important festivals in Australia

In Down Under there are eight national holidays that Australians like to celebrate extensively and on a large scale. Easter, Christmas and New Years are, very much like here, at the forefront.

Also the Australia Day, on January 26th. every year, there is a native celebration. The colonization of the red continent began with the First Fleet, already mentioned in the section "Having pleasant conversations", the first fleet of ships under Captain Arthur Phillips. Red and differently painted today on Australia Day are the faces of the celebrants, who are also often well drunk and slogans such as "Aussie, Aussie Ausie, Oi, Oi, Oi" while they wave Australian flags of all sizes and drive through the area.

Easter is celebrated in Australia on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Unlike us, the Australians don't know an Easter Bunny or they don't know him anymore. Because of the rabbit plague, with which the country had to struggle for a long time, these rabbits are reluctantly worshiped as mascots or mythical creatures. For this reason, another animal has just been found - the Easter bilby: a rabbit-nosed pouch, which, with its natural pouch, is a perfect substitute for the Easter bunny. In a global comparison, this is rather unusual, because even if Easter is celebrated differently everywhere, it is still when the rabbit brings the eggs.

Christmas in Australia is even more different from local customs. The temperatures alone, usually over 30 degrees Celsius at Christmas time, contradict drinking warm mulled wine, visiting Christmas markets and sitting around the fireplace. Nevertheless, it is tradition to illuminate the houses for Christmas, put up green fir trees and let Santa Claus dolls climb up the walls. Otherwise, the festival is very similar to that in Germany, Switzerland and Austria: people are in the best shopping mood on the holidays and give each other all sorts of beautiful presents. As in the USA and England, the gifts are usually given on the morning of December 25th. instead of.

On New Year's Eve or New Year's Eve, Australia is just as colorful and loud as it is in this country. Those who are lucky enough to live in Sydney or are currently touring the city can marvel at one of the most spectacular fireworks in the world: the spectacle at the striking Sydney Harbor Bridge in the impressive Port Jackson. Since it is considered a monumental event and is lavishly organized and carried out every year, it is usually even broadcast by the news programs all over the world.

The cultural offers on New Year's Eve are usually free throughout Australia. Many public transport systems also offer trips without tickets. However, alcohol is not allowed to be drunk in public on New Year's Eve; Even private fireworks are strictly forbidden everywhere.


Tips for the business trip down under


The first contact with business partners

Basically, the rules of conduct mentioned so far do not differ from those that must be observed during a business trip. However, there are a few special features that should be taken into account.

From the very first contact, most business people, regardless of the hierarchy level, address each other by their first name. However, you are introduced with your first and last name.


Maintain seriousness

The seriousness of a foreign businessman, despite all the looseness in dealing with business partners, is above all to be punctual. Where it is impolite to be late in private, business should be well planned in order to be on time for every meeting.


After work

The Australians mix professional and private life much more strongly than most Europeans. Invitations to a pub or a “Barbie” (BBQ) after work are not uncommon. As a courtesy, these invitations should be followed up as far as possible.

As in private groups, beer is bought for everyone in the pub. The colleagues will return the favor.

The barbecues are often multicultural. Often, however, the traditional Australian dishes come on the table, which should also be tried. The Australian is happy when they try a crocodile fillet or, for example, Vegemite, the legendary spread made from yeast extract.


Leave a generally good impression

Anyone who:

  • “Australia” not to be confused with “Austria”
  • the quality feature "Made in Switzerland" or "Made in Germany" is not emphasized too much
  • does not appear as a know-it-all
  • accepts that Australians do not strictly adhere to all items on the agenda when negotiating

Taboos and possible faux pas


From standing in line and jostling

In fact, there are very few real taboos down under. One of them seems almost a little silly, given the laid back Australians, and yet should be taken very seriously: getting in line correctly. Because hardly anything is more frowned upon by the Australians than pushing. No matter how long the line may be and how many minutes you wait, you should always stand in the back and wait well until it is your turn.



  • In this country, people like to show a lot of skin during a wellness day, especially in the steam bath and sauna. In the sauna in Australia, however, just like in the USA, it is improper to sit naked in a sauna. It is therefore always a good idea to wear a large towel around your hips.
  • Spitting in public is an absolute taboo down under. It is not only frowned upon, it is officially prohibited and can be punished.

Conclusion on the topic of Australian etiquette

Ultimately, the rules at the other end of the world are not too strict and, moreover, they are frugal. However, it is important that you know the basics of Australia etiquette so as not to present yourself as a clumsy tourist. After all, it's really nice to be called “mate” by the locals the next time they visit Australia.


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