Respectful travelling: what not to ask an Australian whilst in Oz
Updated: Jan 17, 2019
I'm all about being mindful and respecting the locals whilst travelling, and it's part of my mission to inspire others to do the same.
Coming from a very famous tourist destination, I've always been subject of stereotyping from people I've met through out my life.
In case you wonder, it's quite annoying. I'm the first one to laugh about it and to joke around with friends and family but when a complete stranger puts on a fake Italian accent, starts randomly moving his hands around and ask me how much pasta I eat per day, it can get quite irritating, if not offensive.
That's why when travelling I always try to be very sensible about things I ask locals that I meet on the way and I try to instill the same practice to people I travel with.
Here is 5 cringe lines I've heard whilst travelling around Australia, if you want to be more mindful and less basic, make sure you memorize them and never mention them whilst out in Oz.
1. "I've heard there are loads of deadly spiders!"
Most of Australians will tell you they have never seen a deadly spider, scorpion, snake, ANIMAL in their life. Yes, it's always good to keep an eye out when travelling in the outbacks of the country but, please, avoid to mention this to any Aussie you will meet. It's probably the millionth time they have heard it, and they are probably tired of hearing it.
2. "Will I get attacked by a shark if I go for a swim?"
Again, if you were thinking that swimming in the ocean in Australia is like being in a Spielberg movie, you were terribly wrong. Yes, Australia has the biggest diversity of sharks and rays (180 out of the 590 known species) and yes, most of the deadly ones swim freely around the country.
However, the statistics register approximately two deadly attacks per year which make the odds of you getting bitten by a shark pretty low, don't you think?
If it makes you feel any better, it's most likely you will see whales or dolphins whilst walking around those beautiful beaches.
3. "When will I get to see a Koala? or a Kangaroo?"
No, you can't find the famous animals everywhere in the country. Maybe in zoos and national parks but, in case you were wondering, you are not gonna find wallabies freely jumping around Sidney.
Koalas are more common in South Australia whilst Kangaroos and Wallabes are more common and can be easily spotted when driving around the country.
Keep in mind that in most states it's illegal to hold a Koala bear so, even if you spot one in the wild, don't attempt to touch it or hold it. Some zoo offer the chance to get closer to those fluff balls and maybe even touch them, but I'd be aware if someone proposed you to hold one as it would probably be a scam.
We visited a wildlife park in Tamworth where all animals were saved from road accidents or needed treatment and will be then reintroduced to their natural habitat when ready.
Also, if you are undertaking a road trip, be prepared for the amount of kangaroos you will see dead on the side of the road. It's terrible and I had a good cry about it whilst we were travelling up to the Blue Mountains (I had to see at least 10 dead ones before spotting a group of alive ones).
However, they are considered a nuisance, especially in certain states and Australian don't make it a secret about killing them.
I'm not here to say that I agree with the practice, but would rather prepare you for what you will find out there.
4. "It's quite chilly, I thought it was always warm here!"
As basically the rest of the world, Australia has seasons too. So no, it's not always flip-flops and shorts weather but it's not the Aussie's fault (I'm sure they would prefer to have warmer temperatures- as far as it rains- all year round) so keep this observation for yourself!
I was guilty of it too, and suffered the cold in silence for at least the first 4/5 days (it got warmer as we were driving up North) so don't make my mistake. Sidney especially was particularly cold so make sure you check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly!
5. "How come you don't surf?"
You will be surprised at how many eyes could be rolled at you if you asked these questions.
Not all Italians are pizza makers, not all English drink tea and guess what? Not all Australians surfers!
Australia is a huge country and most of it isn't touched by the Oceans, with the best surfing spots being between South New Wales, Victoria and Queensland, so shouldn't come as a surprise if most of the Australians you meet in the outback don't enjoy (or don't how to) surf.
Instead, try and ask what they like to do on their spare time, or if there is a traditional sport in that particular area. Some of the cities in the outbacks are famous for their country music or for their rodeos, maybe not as entertaining as those tanned surfers on Bondi beach but definitely interesting and worth looking into! ;)
What are the most common stereotypes you have heard about your country or a country you have visited? I would love to hear about them in the comments!
DISCLAIMER: These are real questions that I've heard from people whilst I was travelling around Australia. This post isn't meant to be offensive or provocative in anyway but just to give a (hopefully) funny and different perspective on how to approach travelling. I was guilty myself of some of those things mentioned up there!