Australia Culture and Customs
Australia is quite traditional and conservative, especially in the more rural reaches. You need to be open-minded and open to a different way of life, to coin the old phrase; when in Rome, do as the Romans! You should always remove your hat and boots when heading indoors on a farm and table manners are very important.
Food wastage is also a no, no. Most of the food in rural areas has either been home-grown or reared, or had to be collected from remote store outlets. Do not take more than you need and respect the fact that food is expensive and variation hard to come by.
Australians are more water conscious than many other places in the world as there is a huge shortage in terms of ratio of land to water source. The population is only 22 million and cannot support much more than this because of the water shortage. There are many great government schemes in place to try and combat the issues of water wastage. People are encouraged to use egg timers in the shower to keep the running time down. All Aussies know to turn off the tap when brushing their teeth and to only fill the sink to a necessary minimum for washing up. You would never leave the tap running and when using a hose, always let surplus water run off onto grass not gravel.
Much-travelled parts of populated/city areas along the east coast are very accommodating with dietary requirements. They are very flexible in terms of alternative produce, organic goods and supporting independent businesses. In really rural parts of Australia, people can often be limited with access to varied supplies. Lots of properties are self-sufficient by growing their own produce, breeding their own livestock and in general making a living from the resources that they have around them.
It’s important to relax when you get to Australia. Their reputation for a laid-back attitude towards life is not a fabrication. My advice is to go with the flow and trust the locals when making most decisions. Aussies are very friendly people and will always help out a traveller. If you find yourself with a flat tyre on your camper van, on in a small town with nowhere to stay, there will always be a handful of people who will be more than willing to help you out and point you in the right direction.
It is not custom to tip in Australia although it is expected in some of the more flashier places in the bigger cities where there are lots of international tourists. It is best to assess the situation and if you think you have had exceptional service then tipping is the right thing to do. You’ll find that a large majority of the population work in the tourist industry as there are just so many great things to do in Australia. For this reason people take their jobs seriously and often work in this industry because they are passionate about the nature of their jobs.
Conservation is hugely recognised with large parts of Australia designated as national park land. The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef is the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites meet.