There are loads of Australian traditions that we’ve embraced since moving to Australia. Some of these Aussie traditions are big, some are small but they all form an important part of the Australian culture!
You may assume Australia is going to be like the UK or US but Australia is a country like no other. Our Australia traditions are unique and plentiful!
Australian traditions and customs
Here are a few of my favourite traditions in Australia, in no particular order!
Bunnings sausage sizzles
A Bunnings sausage sizzle has to be the most iconic of all the Australian traditions! It’s sometime so simple, yet it really is a great intro to the Australian culture. A sausage sizzle is a sausage in bread, with or without onions. Red sauce is optional! They sell them outside every Bunnings store and no visit to the DIY chain is possible without one, according to my kids.
A Bunnings umbrella
Not a tradition as such but more like a way of life – I couldn’t mention Bunnings without recongising that 99% of the pupulation owns at least one large Bunnings umbrella which we all pull out when it rains. We have four of them in our household! It sometimes feels like Bunnings sponsors storm season here.
Doing the Tim Tam slam
One day I’ll record my kids doing the Tim Tam slam as a demo, but basically this is a fun Australia tradition of drinking a hot drink through a Tim Tam (which is like a Penguin if you’re in the UK). You bite off opposite corners of the chocolately biscuit and then suck your drink through it like a straw. My kids are pros at it.
Serving fairy bread at kids’ parties
Fairy bread is an Australian party food that is basically bread and butter with sprinkles scattered on. You aren’t allowed to host a kids’ birthday party without it. (It’s the equivalent to jelly and ice cream in the UK!).
Shortening every word possible and adding ‘o’ at the end
It’s not so much of an Australian tradition as it is an Australian habit but Aussies shorten EVERYTHING here and then chuck an ‘o’ on the end of it. Think ‘servo’ for service station, ‘arvo’ for afternoon, ‘relo’ for relative… you get the idea.
Vegemite on toast
OK who am I kidding? I still buy Marmite for myself as I can’t bring myself to move over to Vegemite, but my daughter loves the stuff on toast and bread.
Going for walks to see the Christmas lights in t-shirts and shorts
This is an awesome Australian Christmas tradition of ours. Every year we walk around our suburb exploring all of the amazing Christmas light displays. It’s so warm (hot even) that sometimes we come home and jump straight in the pool after it for a night swim.
Read this post to learn lots of fascinating facts about Australia!
Commemorating ANZAC Day on 25th April every year
There are dawn services held all over the country for ANZAC Day. Even during lockdown in 2000 when we couldn’t gather, everyone went out onto their door steps with candles at dawn to show respect to service men and women. It’s a lovely opportunity to pay tribute and give thanks to those who’ve served in wars past and present.
Celebrating Australia Day on 26th January
Australia Day is a public holiday and it’s an opportunity for a big celebration in Australia with lots of events and BBQs taking place. It is a longstanding tradition, but many (including myself) feel it would be better to move it to a new inclusive date where everyone can celebrate together. You can read more about what the day means here.
Celebrating NAIDOC Week
NAIDOC Week is usually held in the first week (a Sunday to Sunday) of July that incorporates the second Friday. The event celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Australia’s heritage.
Annual city festivals like Brisbane Festival and Sydney Festival
They sure know how to put on incredible festivals in Australia. There are lots of big annual events in Australia, some of which culminate in huge firework displays at the end like Riverfire in Brisbane which is held in September as part of Brisbane Festival.
New Year’s Eve fireworks x 2 (one for the kids and one for the grown ups)
New Year’s Eve in Australia is a family affair. The big cities usually put on one set of fireworks early so the kids can watch them before they go to bed and then they do them again at midnight. This means the whole family can enjoy the celebrations. The viewing areas are kept safe and alcohol-free too so you can relax and enjoy the evening without any dramas unfolding.
Swimming outside at night at Christmas
This is one of my favourite Christmas traditions in Australia – swimming outside in the dark with the neon pool lights on watching bats fly overhead! It doesn’t feel like Christmas until we’ve been for a night swim!
BBQs for Christmas dinner
It’s too hot to want to slave over a turkey and potatoes on Christmas Day, so there is nothing like the Aussie tradition of cooking a barbie on Christmas Day for the ultimate Aussie Christmas! Some people cook theirs at the beach. I like to cook our Christmas BBQ on our deck while watching the kids jump in and out of the pool. Bliss.
The State of Origin
I’m only adding this as it’s such a big thing here in Queensland – I really have no clue about footie, rugby or rubgy league (which I think are all different sports – please don’t ask me to explain any of them!)
The State of Origin series is an annual best-of-three rugby league matches between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons. (Don’t forget, in Australia the colour maroon isn’t pronounced like it is in the UK – in Australia it’s pronounced ‘mah-r-own’.) Either way, the State of Origin is huge if you live in Queensland or New South Wales so I had to include it as an Australian tradition!
Yes, even though we’re in Australia not Germany, we still get to celebrate the awesome German festival, Oktoberfest! Lost of cities in Australia run Oktoberfest events and I can confirm they’re a lot of fun!
Smashed avo on sourdough toast for breakfast
Breakfast in Australia isn’t just bacon and egg (although they do offer plenty of that here too). Smashed avocado on toast is a really popular (and yummy) breakfast tradition in Aus.
Carrying a water bottle everywhere
This is an Australia tradition that I’ve well and truly embraced – you need to carry a water bottle everywhere. It gets so hot in Australia and it’s really important to stay hydrated. Now we always travel with water bottles, even if we’re only going out to the shops for a quick trip.
Putting a small gift in Christmas cards
This is a kids’ tradition in Australia – all of the school kids tend to put a small gift like a small candy cane, a sweet or a mini Christmas decoration in the envelope with their Christmas card. This usually means my kids end up with 30 candy canes each in the last few days of term!
Bring a plate
One of the most misunderstood Australian traditions which catches expats out is being asked to ‘bring a plate’ when invited to a BBQ. This doesn’t mean bring an empty plate to eat off – it means bring a plate of something to share. This could be snacks, cakes, salads etc. If in doubt, ask what sort of food they’d like you to bring!
Bring your own drinks
Another BBQ/party tradition in Australia is that you bring your own drinks with you. The host’s fridge is likely to be full, so it’s usually a good idea to go to a party with your own cool bag or box so you can keep your drinks cool. It’s also common to bring fold out chairs with you (I usually pack some in the car and can go and get them if we need them).
Getting your bags checked at the exit
This isn’t a favourite ‘Australia tradition’, but it is something that happens in all of the big shops so I thought I’d mention it. Bunnings, Target, KMart and the like ask to see your bags and receipt as you leave. It’s nothing personal – everyone just gets checked. It felt very strange to us when we first moved though so I thought it was worth including so you know to expect it!
Embrace the traditions of Australia!
There are so many awesome Australian traditions in this wonderful country. They can all feel a bit confusing and strange at first, but it’s important to welcome the differences and embrace your new way of life Down Under!
Welcome to Australia! What are your favourite Australian traditions?