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What makes Australia unique?

Why should you study in Australia? Learn what makes the Land Down Under so unique

Brighton Beach
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At some point in our lives, we’ve all cracked out an obnoxious ‘g’day mate!’ when someone mentions Australia. But stereotypes aside, the ‘lucky country’ is an incredibly special place that offers any traveller, professional or international student a spate of experiences they can’t hope to find elsewhere. So, what is it that draws these thousands of visitors in from across the globe? Whilst this short overview can’t hope to cover it, we’ve touched upon some of the key points that make Australia so unique.

The great outdoors

You can’t argue with facts. Geographically speaking, Australia is a global anomaly. The Aussie mainland is the world’s largest island, and is the only continent to also double as an island. With some of the world’s oldest geological features, Australia is also the world’s driest continent. Approximately 70% of total land mass receives less than 500 millimetres of rain per year, classing it as arid or semi- arid. It is hardly surprising then that 40% of the land is uninhabitable, with roughly 84% of the total population living within 50 kilometres from the coast.

Splashed across countless postcards, the Australian landscape is definitely one of the nation’s most distinctive features. Dry, flat and bakingly hot, experiencing the sheer red-and-blue expanse of the Australian outback is a sensation you won’t soon forget. Visit Uluru at the nation’s dead centre, or take a tour around the stunning Kakadu National Park: Australia’s largest terrestrial national park. Or, if that weren’t enough to tickle your inner explorer, Australia also boasts one of the world’s longest coastlines, a number of tropical rainforests at the nation’s tip and spades of rolling green pastures in winery and agricultural regions. When it comes to natural beauty, Australia wants for nothing.

Irony, humour and slang

Whilst the official language in Australia is English, Australians tend treat their mother tongue with a unique flair that can sometimes make them difficult to understand. Notwithstanding the spectrum of Australian slang and colloquialisms (most of which are no longer used in conversation), Aussies speak with a distinct style that is spurned from a national sense of humour, playfulness and affliction with irony.

Humour is a key part of Australian culture, and is notorious for being dry, self-deprecating, sarcastic and often dripping with irony. This comes from early colonial attitudes of making the best of a bad situation by mocking oneself or one’s situation, and gives reign to social values of openness and directness. As honestly and directness will always be placed before diplomacy in Australia, what might be considered an inappropriate topic elsewhere is likely to be ‘fair game’ when Down Under.

If that weren’t tricky enough, the Australian fondness for conversationally abbreviating words and playful use of slang can be especially tough to grasp. Words such as ‘chewie’ (chewing gum), ‘sunnies’ (sunglasses), ‘arvo’ (afternoon) and ‘ambo’ (paramedic who works in an ambulance) might throw you at first, but Australians are a friendly bunch who will only be too keen to explain what they mean.  Experiencing this sharp, irreverent take on language, communication and humour will lead you to making some firm new friends at the very least, help you crack a smile.

Food and wine

Ever heard the phrase ‘chuck another shrimp on the Barbie!’ in reference to Australian culture? Whilst in Australia ‘shrimps’ are called ‘prawns,’ high-quality seafood is in fact one of the nation’s crowning jewels. The Australian fishing zone is the third largest in the world, with seafood the fifth most valuable protein source for Australians. Surrounded by coast, temperate waters and with excellent agricultural facilities, Australian fisheries are amongst the best managed in the world. Spoil yourself with quality flake (shark meat), fat king and banana prawns, barramundi and fresh oysters (plus many more!) at any of the nation’s top-ranking seafood restaurants.

Australia is also well-renowned for its developed wine and viticulture industries. Consistently one of the world’s top ten wine producing countries, Australia is one of the few nations that produces wine in every single major wine style. There are some 60 regions for wine producing around Australia, mainly around South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

As well as the perfect climate and soil for wine production, Australia is also at the forefront of viticultural research and education. There are generous scholarship schemes in place to attract the brightest minds in viticulture from around the world to help develop an already booming industry.

Enjoying good wine is also an established part of Australian culture. With more and more wine bars opening up in city centres, doing a winery tour is a favoured activity for a weekend get-away. Australia also has a number of state and national wine festivals and events, where anyone can go and get a thorough cross-section of what Aussie grapes have to offer.

Bright lights, big city

Flecked along the coast of Australia, the nation also sports 41 cities across 7 states and territories. Historically a nation of immigrants, Australian cities are cultural melting pots with restaurants, festivals, events, cafes and speciality stores that draw inspiration from cultures from around the globe. With a strong economy, key international business ties and high-calibre education that offers graduates world-renowned qualifications, metropolitan life in Australia is at once cosmopolitan and bustling without being over-crowded and stifling.

But the statistics speak for themselves. Sydney has recently been named the world’s most popular destination to study abroad in 2014, and in 2013 Melbourne was named the world’s most liveable city for the third year running. Consistently scoring well in international quality of life and happiness surveys, Australia was named the world’s happiest nation by the OECD for three years running, and scored within the highest bracket in Oxfam’s Global Food Index for most readily available, nutritious food. Plus, in most cases the beach is never too far away!

 

Discover why Australians are so happy: browse courses in Australia now and start planning your study abroad adventure!

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About Author

Brighton Beach

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.

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