On the way to Australia
, somewhere over the Pacific, you lose an entire day. I don't know where this day actually goes
but the phenomenon underscores the fact that, even though they speak English and enjoy "Seinfeld" reruns as much as Americans do, you are headed to a place very, very far away. And, like any country, Australia has its own customs and quirks. To help you get along on this continent, which is also a country that is also an island, follow this guide of what not to do.
Believe tales of crazy wildlife
Only the English beat the Aussies when it comes to bullshitting with a straight face and gullible tourists make perfect targets for their tall tales. When I was 20, my first traveling companion was an Australian I made the mistake of asking about kangaroos – essentially my only reference point for her country (sophisticated traveler I was not). "Oh, they are everywhere
," she told me. She then proceeded to explain the city's need for "roo shooers," men whose job it is to "shoo" the kangaroos off the Harbour Bridge each dusk and dawn. This was followed by warnings about drop bears (they perch in branches and drop onto unsuspecting tourists' shoulders, so give trees a wide berth) and hoop snakes (who can chase you uphill). Don't believe a word of this. Sydney and other major Australian cities are as urban and developed as any metropolis. Still, while drop bears and hoop snakes don't exist, you might run into any number of strange and frightening creatures out in the bush.
Use the phrase "Throw Another Shrimp on the Barbie"
(especially in your Australian accent you think is so good but, rest assured, is not)