A Few Myths About Australia, Busted

Over the centuries, the rest of the world has developed some interesting myths about Australia. Let’s check into a few

Like many Americans, you may be laboring under a few myths about Australia that deserve some serious busting. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us have been misinformed on the subject — not just by the usual suspects, rumor and the media, but also by Science itself.

And in any case, any subject that arouses intense interest generates myths by the carloads. Let’s look at three, and quickly set them straight.

Myth #1: Australians Just Love Foster’s Lager!

Not so much. Foster’s still sells in Australia, but hasn’t been popular since the 1970s. In fact, it doesn’t make the Top 100 list of favorite brews in Australia these days. The perception of popularity is a result of some very good advertising on the part of Foster’s in America and elsewhere in the world.

While Foster’s does promote its lager as an Aussie icon, the truth is that Aussies consider it a tourist’s beer.

Myth #2: How About a Shrimp on the Barbie, Then?

Nope. This misperception originated with none other than Paul Hogan, Crocodile Dundee himself, who used the term in a series of ads for the Australian Tourism bureau. Ironically, Hogan also contributed to the Foster’s myth outlined above; he was their spokesman for a while.

You see, Australians don’t eat shrimp. They eat prawns, which are kind of like large shrimp. And they tend to call shrimp prawns anyway. The whole “shrimp on the barbie” thing was a way to translate the concept into American.

Oh, and by the way? Aussie’s don’t often cook prawns on the barbie anyhow. Ask for a snagger (a sausage) and you’re more likely to get one.

Myth #3: Koala Bears Are Stoned All The Time

There’s this “scientific” myth out there that states that koalas are sooo slooowww because they’re, like, totally stoned from the chemicals in the eucalyptus leaves they eat. The truth is, they’re just conserving energy. There’s not much available in those gum leaves, so they’re not prone to speedy movement.

Speaking of koalas… people (especially tourists) have been frightened away from camping in Australia in recent years, because of a fear of giant carnivorous koalas, a.k.a. “drop bears,” that drop out of the trees and attack campers.

Er, no. This rumor derives from a series of TV commercials a few years back, intended to flog a specific brand of rum. The media strikes again!

The Bottom Line

The island continent fascinates many Americans, not merely because it’s exotically far away, but because we see many aspects of our culture expressed in theirs. But don’t fall for these bankrupt myths about Australia — there’s so much incredible reality to enjoy in the Land Down Under instead!