For any Aussie travelling in America, they can most likely attest that they’ve been met with some funny questions. Americans tend to have some odd misconceptions about Australia and its people, from its killer wildlife, kangaroo plagues, and love of Fosters beer.
American impressions of Australia are overwhelmingly the residue of images from American pop culture. Think Crocodile Dundee, Man from Snowy River, The Drover’s Boy, Finding Nemo, and the Mary Kate and Ashley movie Our Lips are Sealed. So according to this, Australia is full of crime lord-stopping boomerangs, eccentric crocodile poachers, boys trying to become men with rugged wilderness spirit, and talking clown fish.
So what do American’s think when they first land on our shores? Is it what they expected or more?
First things first, they struggle with the time it takes to get here. It may take just 15 hours to get from Los Angeles to Sydney, but to an American, this is generally deemed as forever. The flight is never ending, so their initial thought of our beloved country isn’t that great. Thoughts are usually along the lines of “this country better be good to make up for me having to cross the universe”.
And once out of the airport?
The good news is, it goes up from here. Some of the biggest things in Australia that Americans admire include:
Health care: While Australians may have a moan about the national health care system, to Americans it is nothing short of an incredible gift. In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy, and drug companies dominate politics and advertising. They also admire Australia’s policies to keep cigarette smoking less accessible.
Free-to-air TV: Watching TV in Australia is as simple as buying a television and plugging it in. Straight away you are met with a variety of channels, all without paying another cent. In America, you can’t get any channels without paying fees to a cable or satellite company. And when you do, you are given so many channels it’s completely overwhelming to a lot of people.
Food: Australia is a country full of culturally diverse cuisine, and the majority of our chefs take pride in using only the freshest ingredients. Supermarkets are doing great at promoting healthy foods over pre-packaged salt-ridden goods, and the coffee is just as good as in countries such as Paris and Italy.
Boutique shops: Boutique shops are a thing of the past in America, especially in big towns and cities. Identical malls sell identical wares and serve identical foods from identically inferior cafes and restaurants. In Australia, all you have to do is walk along King St in Newtown, Sydney and you will be flooded with unique stores.
Roads: Roads in Australia are simple and generally traffic-free, as opposed to insanely knotted with looping overpasses and busy traffic made up of angry people running late.
Religion: While religion is very much a part of Australian life, it’s not thrown in your face like it is in America. The USA creates big public shows of devotion when it comes to religion, meaning there’s no escaping it.
Gun laws: While many American’s disagree with our gun laws, for those few Americans that don’t carry guns they love the Australian views on gun ownership. They also respect John Howard for responding to the Port Arthur massacre with definitive actions, instead of just talking about change.
Accent and language: Americans love the Aussie accent, the rhyming slang, and the Aboriginal place names that sound like they come straight out of a magic book. (Think Attunga, Caboolture, Goondiwindi and Dumbleyung.) They also love the relaxed approach to the English language, and the way we turn words such as Mcdonalds into “Maccas” and Salvation Army into “Salvos”.
Nature: From rugged wilderness to outback plains, tropical rainforest to white sand beaches, it’s all here in Australia. No matter what kind of experience you are after, you can find it. Skiing, city shopping, bushwalking, scuba diving, white water rafting and mountain climbing … you name it, Australia’s got it.
Thongs: For an American that loves an immature giggle, they love the opportunity of a snigger every time they see a person wearing ‘flip-flops’.
Wildlife: Ok so not all of our native wildlife is wonderful (think snakes, spiders and crocs), but for all the bad animals there are hundreds of cute and cuddly creatures, such as koalas and wombats. The kangaroos are pretty cool too, and unlike any other creature on earth.
The people: Aussies are super friendly, down-to-earth and never in a rush. They’re relaxed about everything and take mishaps in their stride.