Arriving in Australia 98



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When Jacqui and I first arrived in Australia, one of the first things that struck us was how much like English people the average Aussie was, while in a funny way also being very different. The similarities included a rather freaky sense of humour, something a lot of people from other countries just wouldn’t be able to understand, like the way we’ll joke about death, unloved spouses and the effects of drink. City dwelling Australians also wear clothes virtually indistinguishable from their counterparts in the UK, except that here in Australia there is a tendency to wear much lighter garments, a man will wear the trousers of a smart suit, but no jacket, though both here and in England, a tie is usually evident. And it’s the same for the ladies too; lighter clothing is much more used, while still maintaining all of the smartness of their fashionable European counterparts.

You really have to go to the outback to see a marked difference in dress sense. A bloke there will wear a (usually VERY worn) wide brimmed hat, complete with generous sweat stains all round the crown, a dark blue vest, or at least one that began its life as dark blue, but it’s much more likely to be a sort of pale bluish grey now. He’ll also be wearing either a pair of jeans, or a pair of shorts made from cut-down jeans, and a dirty pair of Blundstone elastic-sided boots, the leather tops torn to shreds from wear. Girls tend to dress very similarly to men, even down to the boots, but somehow they manage to look a lot better than the blokes do. (It’s the way they wear ‘em!).

Although we both, supposedly, speak the same language, that isn’t strictly speaking true. On the one side you have a range of accents and dialects that can differ almost from street to street, though this is dying out to a certain extent as the English population gets more homogenised, whereas in Australia people are so skilled at making up new and very appropriate sounding words that some English people would think another language was being used. Take for instance the Australian ‘dunny’ – that’s an outdoor toilet in England, or how about the doona – which is a duvet on the other side of the world, or snow peas – in Bristol or Bath or Sheffield you’d be asking for mange tout (pronounced monge-too). Then Australians are great experts at the funny turn of phrase, to describe some action or event, like “It was so hot I just lay down like a lizard flat out drinking”. How expressive is that, and they have plenty of them! They also have nice, single words to very adequately describe things – ‘drongo’ or ‘gallah’, for someone who isn’t too bright, or ‘chunder’ for the unfortunate act of vomiting and ‘garbo’ for the men who come each week and empty the rubbish bins.

Australians, both male and female have little respect for anyone, until it has been earned! In the UK your boss is always spoken to as ‘Mr’ even if you’ve worked for him for 20 years and know he’s an idiot, never by his first name. Here a chap talking to the Queen could just as likely call her ‘Liz’ to her face as ‘your majesty’, and that wouldn’t be meant as an insult to her either, it’s simply the friendly way Australians have of dealing with virtually anyone. But on top of this respect, or sometimes lack of it, we’ve always found Australians to be very trustworthy and helpful, especially once they get to know you personally and they’re always ready to offer help in moments of need, even financial, so I’ve been told though thank goodness I’ve never had to test this trait, (yet!).

So, all in all, Jacqui and I think Australians are a weird lot, but the best people in the world as well, which is why we became naturalised as soon as we had been here for two years, the shortest time this can be accomplished in. We now consider ourselves to be ‘true blue’, something we are very proud to claim, but something few Englishmen would be able to translate!

Have you come from another country to Australia? What has been your experience?

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Brian Lee

  1. I am Aussie born and bred and bloody proud of it.
    English English and Aussie English are not the same language as you are learning.
    Orright mate?

  2. Sorry but I just can’t relate to this article. The average Aussie and the average English person are nothing like each other.

    13 REPLY
    • I agree to a small degree, the big difference I can see is the accent, other than that if you are a white Australian , you probably have the same DNA as our British counterparts

    • I was born here and a long list of my family lay in an Australian cemetery. This country has not turned me into a brown person, which would have been nice, after nearly 200 years here and I still eat traditional English food, like roast dinners, and cornish pasties. Those that came here from the British Isles be it 200 years ago or last week still share the same bloodlines. Our accent has changed but it does not take British people who come here to long to adapt

    • What I notice is a lot of the English say “I et it all” Even those who are educated. Really amuses me. It’s I ate it all or have eaten it all’.

    • My comment related to an English person living in England and an Australian person living in Australia. I thought that’s what the article was pertaining to. Or is it that an English person now living in Australia is the same as an Australian????? I am confused. Sorry. I think I should have skipped this one!!!LOL!!!

    • Karen Peardon….. no need to be sorry Karen, it’s just I see no difference between family living overseas or living here. We came from Scotland when I was a baby and my parents settled right in quite well, they never lost their accents. I feel quite at home whether I’m here or there. Cheers.

    • Arrived here in 1977 for a 2 year stay. Still here after almost 39 years. I am an Australian citizen and my kids were born here. I like visiting England but always feel I am returning home when I come back. I think there are minor differences between Aussies and Brits but we definitely have a very similar sense of humour!

    • I love English shows too, Foyles War, all their murders and mysteries and one of my favourites is Little Britain. Very politically incorrect but what fun!! especially Daviid, is that the way it’s spelt?

    • The similar sense of humour is spot on. British comedy has been popular in Australia for many years, and in many different formats. We do see humour shows come from the US as well. Most Australians would be able to laugh at and appreciate the much more elegant and involved humour in the British shows. The Goodies, Are you being Served?, To the Manor Born, the Liver Birds, Dad’s army, the list is very long. US comedy such as Everybody Loves Raymond is generally of the genre called sit-com, or situational comedy. Much of it relies on shorter gags. We get that as well, but it is not as clever as the British humour. However, you can be practically certain that a lot of what both Australians and British find funny is not at all amusing to people in the US. They do not like that kind of humour at all.
      I also saw this very markedly with a young male exchange student a few years ago. He simply did not get on at all with most of the other boys in the class at school, He became friends with one of them, and several of the girls, but while the other boys tried to include them, he felt that they were very hurtful and did not like him. Why? Well, for example, Aussie boys would use nicknames and play pranks on someone else if they liked them and enjoyed their company. If they did not like you, they would be more likely to ignore you. However, he could not understand this concept, even when it was explained to him. He was horrified at the very thought of this and had not experienced anything like this in Texas.

  3. Born in England came here at 37 years old I think Aussies are far more friendly and welcoming Thank you Australia been here 30 years in June so kinda think maybe an Aussie now

  4. Coming from Tasmania, I found that the mainlanders were friendly and close to our ways. Took a bit of getting used too but we accepted them and welcome them to our home island as our brothers and sisters.

    15 REPLY
    • Nancy Ruhland. Yes we speak Tasmanian English that was taught to us by those who once trekked/explored the South Pole. Our great God the Penguin spirit, was friendly and gave us the peace and harmony that we express today towards those who come with trinkets as offerings. We have a University now and no longer believe that water from taps is just a fad. lol.

    • Victor Watson I will never forget that first time I was called a mainlander in Tasmania. It made me feel very special.

    • Debbie Ward. We are friendly us Islanders. I am just so glad that we now have the Spirit of Tasmania running between us and the mainland. Imagine our embarrassment if we still had to use dug-out canoes! You couldn’t put motorised transport on them. Ahh progress.Welcome mainland Australia to our beautiful southern shores where we eat, drink, dance and love under the moonlit stars and frolic on our beautiful beaches and rainforests.

    • David James. Ah yes, that old joke. This is why we love the mainlanders because they are fun. We laugh with you and not at you..its the way we roll.

    • David James, all is good now on the inbred problem with mainlanders discovering us and coming to stay. There is more in the mix shall we say! Lol

    • Victor Watson love your sense of humour.I’ve been to Tasmania on 4 separate occasions and loved everything about it.If I didn’t have grandkids I would move there in a heart beat.

    • Ines Basiaco. I can understand that. North of the Island and West Coast is just beautiful. Glad to know you have been here a few times. The only problem is playing cricket. Hit a six and you will need to retrieve it from Bass Strait!

    • Debbie Ward We Tasmanians need to say less to Mainlanders about our State, otherwise they will ALL want to move down! 🙂

  5. Coming from NZ…it was to easy….after all…I had served with these people.

    2 REPLY
    • We fought together died together still not treated as equals. If you happened to arrive here after 2001 you get know Medicare card no social security even if you have been paying tax. Aussie in New Zealand gets all the benefits a new Zealander gets with out any stand down period. Hardly seems fair.

    • Maya Richardson. To us the citizens you are. It is the government that treats our NZ cousins with contempt.

  6. I came in 2002 to be close to family here
    Aged 65
    I was in my home in England for 45 years
    But I noticed many differences at first , however soon settled in, learnt the lingo , I had a few blushes until some things were explained
    and loved all the differences
    It’s wonderful to be here numerous friends 😎😎

  7. Sorry but I beg to differ. Arriving in Kingaroy 49 years ago I had great difficulty explaining what I wanted at my local shop. I found the people very reserved until they got to know you 5 years later!!! Love Oz, nowhere on earth like it!

  8. I arrived in Australia when I was born in an Australian hospital, the nurse took one look at me and said, I can tell this kid is going to be trouble and gave me a smack on the bum to let me know I had to behave

    5 REPLY
  9. I was born in an Australian Hospital, Newcastle Hospital on the top floor on fathers day, I am still here but the hospital isn’t , it has been converted into units

  10. I found Australians very different to the British and this was the start of a great adventure, learning the colloquial accent and phrases, workplace behaviours, social activities and so on. I was 22 when I arrived and have been fortunate to have had some great experiences far different to what was ahead of me if I remained in England.

    2 REPLY
    • Fred I can imagine if you immigrate to any new country it is hard but I just think of you as another bloody Aussie. When Australians who were born here are say that to you, that is ultimate acceptance..cheers mate

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