‘Unwritten’ rules of Australia

Replying to the question “what are some of the unwritten rules in Australia?”, Quora user Adita Udayana wrote “As an Indonesian, I’d like to answer the question from an Asian perspective.

“To Australians or other Western countries, my answer will probably sound ridiculously obvious.”

His first point is in relation to water conservation – something that battles many visitors down under.

“NEVER leave the water tap running when unused, even for 1 second. Australians are super efficient with water. Using the water efficiently is like taking your shoes off in an Asian person’s home.”

It's true that many Aussies have been taught to take short showers and conserve water
It’s true that many Aussies have been taught to take short showers and conserve water. Picture: Getty

He has plenty to add about etiquette on Australian roads.

“When you’re driving and someone gives way for you, smack that thumb up, do the gentle nod and mouth “thanks mate” even if they can’t hear it.

“Also, if you’re the one crossing the road, you have to jog a little … even the seniors would sprint to the other end”.

He continues: “Australians follow the speed limit spiritually, doesn’t drive too fast or too slow. Don’t tailgate and never use the car horn unless you’re about to crash, even then, I think Aussies instinctively don’t use the horn when it happens. Using the horn is like saying ‘F*** you’.”

Use that horn sparingly
Use that horn sparingly. Picture: Getty

He also has a word of warning when it comes to culinary etiquette.

“The no double dipping rule … If you are sharing a sauce with someone, don’t double dip the bitten part of the food back on the sauce. Double dipping is like kissing mouth to mouth in Australia.”

You have one shot at the title. Make that dip count
You have one shot at the title. Make that dip count. Picture: Getty

The remainder of his tips read like this:

  • 1. If you live in Australia for some time, you’ll notice Aussies speak in this super friendly casual tone. The sooner you learn to speak like so, the better your interactions will be with the people.
  • 2. Behaving like a boss is a recipe for disaster in Australia, even if you’re the son of Jack Ma, they don’t give a s***. Australians don’t tolerate super assertive behaviours in public settings or even professionally, treat everyone equally. No snapping fingers, no whistles.
  • 3. Show some manners: The word thank you and please is overused in Australia, but that’s just how it is.
  • 4. If you’re having a house party, it is a crime not to invite your surrounding neighbours especially if it’s going to go on till late.
  • 5. It’s also a crime to jump in on queues, it’s one free ticket to confrontation with an Australian. If you’re not sure where the queues begin, simply ask.
  • 6. Adding a mate to the end of sentences will make you sound friendly. Even if you’re a foreigner with an accent, people will respect you a little more.
  • 7. If you’re in public transportation, please for the love of god, don’t answer phone calls or make calls. If you really have to, keep it super quiet or find an empty area to make those calls.
  • 8. Bring beer to a BBQ or wine to a dinner party.
Heading to a barbie? Don't turn up empty handed
Heading to a barbie? Don’t turn up empty handed
  • 9. Don’t touch or get physical when interacting with people unless you know them well enough. People take personal space seriously, skin to skin contact with a stranger is like a threat, that even a small bump you’ll have to say sorry.
  • 10. If you carry luggage and you’re getting on a taxi or Uber, help the driver even if it’s not so heavy. Getting right inside the car while the driver is still lifting the luggage is pretty disrespectful.
  • 11. It’s weird to take selfies in public, especially in busy areas.
  • 12. Chewing food with your mouth open or making absurd chew noises will get you deported.
  • 13.  You can call people by their last names. In fact, some bosses like to be addressed with their first or last names and without the Mr/Mrs/Miss.
  • 14. If you cough or sneeze, please cover it up. Leave the room, use the tissue to block your mouth and nostrils, and always say sorry or excuse me afterwards.

On another Quora thread, a visitor to Australia from Europe warned that Aussie’s attitude to nude beaches is very different from back home.

In fact, he warns there’s one state where nude beaches are completely outlawed.

Getting naked on a beach in parts of Europe is no big deal. But nude beaches are banned in one Aussie state
Getting naked on a beach in parts of Europe is no big deal. But nude beaches are banned in one Aussie state. Picture: Getty

It turns out he is right – Queensland is the only mainland state in Australia that has no legal nude beaches.

In 2016 then Police Minister Bill Byrne rejected two attempts – a paper petition with 527 signatures and an online petition bearing 946 names – to create a “clothing optional beach” in the sunshine state.

“As such, I can advise that the Queensland government has no plans to change the current legislation dealing with wilful exposure,” he said.

“Therefore, the designation of a clothing optional beach is not supported at this time.”

This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com

About the author


Hi! I’m Ozzie!

Before joining Australia Exploring, I was a writer at Tripadvisor.

I'm looking for the best posts for you about travel adventures in Australia and around the world. This website has the purpose to inspire you to travel… travel more and better. I hope it can help you explore the world a little bit better.

I graduated from the University of Sydney. I live in California with my wife and two children.


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