Cultural Characteristics in Australia Part I

By | June 27, 2021

Australians either spend most of their time on the beach or roam the Australian bush in crocodile Dundee style? This is of course just as incorrect as the stereotypical image of the eternally beer-loving, sauerkraut-eating Germans dancing the Schuhplattler with a cuckoo clock in their living room. And yet the beach and the outback are among the first things that come to mind when we think of Australia and which we perceive as typical Down Under. In addition, there are of course a lot more cultural features in Australia, many of which are also due to the history of the country.

Origins of Australian Culture

Australia was colonized by the British Crown in the 18th century. This legacy continues to shape life in Australia today. English is practically the national language, even if there is no legally defined official language. As in Great Britain, there is left-hand traffic in Australia. As a former British colony, Australia is now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who in Australia is not the British Queen, but the Queen of Australia referred to as. This is to emphasize today’s independence of Australia from Great Britain. The Australian flag, in which the British is integrated, also testifies to the country’s history as a British colony. Until 1984 the British national anthem – with a brief interruption in the years 1974-1976 – was also the anthem of Australia. The colonization of Australia took place thousands of years before the arrival of the British.

Already Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander living in the country for tens of thousands of years that we call Australia today. After the captain James Cook claimed the land for the British in 1770, they used it as a convict colony from 1788. In addition, free settlers also settled in Australia from the end of the 18th century. In the course of the Victorian gold rush in the middle of the 19th century, there was a large wave of immigration to Australia. Many immigrants came from Great Britain, but also from other European countries and the USA immigrated people. A great many Chinese came to the country, but most of them left Australia. After the Second World War, many people immigrated from Europe and the Middle East. In the past few decades, many immigrants from Asia have also come to Australia. Thus, Australian society today is multicultural. The population of Australia consists of immigrants from different parts of the world and indigenous peoples, the Aborigines and the Torres Strait islanders. The proportion of Australians of indigenous descent in the total population is only around 2.5 percent.

Today, with the didgeridoo and the boomerang, two typical elements of Aboriginal culture serve as a distinguishing feature of Australia. In the course of colonization in the 18th century, however, the indigenous culture in Australia was strongly pushed back. The Aborigines struggled with oppression well into the 20th century.

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Features of Australian culture

Like any culture also has the Australian special features on, by which it differs from other cultures or in which it resembles other cultures. Cultural peculiarities can be expressed, for example, in the way people treat one another or in the relationship of the individual to society. Large cultural differences that visitors to foreign countries notice can even result in a so-called culture shock. Although the cultural distance between Germany and Australia is significantly smaller than between many other countries, the culture of Australia has characteristics that may seem strange to us at first. We are familiar with other aspects.

In the following we want to give an overview of the different characteristics of the Australian culture and specific cultural characteristics in Australia.


Address the lecturers by their first names and have a casual discussion in the courses ? This is common practice at Australian universities. At university and in other areas of life in Australia, things are more informal. However, the informal form of address should always start from the older person, as is customary in Germany.

The relaxed way of dealing with each other, even beyond the private sphere, is related to the fact that the so-called power distance in Australia is small. Pronounced hierarchical structures are not considered desirable in Australia. This can also be seen, for example, in everyday interpersonal contact, for example in the address by first name mentioned above. Many Australians also like to refer to their counterpart as mate, i.e. buddy. Knowing each other well is not a prerequisite for such an address. Another example is probably the anti-authoritarian note of Australian humor, which has its roots in the colonial era. Many a lawbreaker was able to pull himself out of the affair with humor.

Adorning oneself with status symbols or insisting on titles is not common in Australia and usually provokes rejection. Australians are more likely to downplay their own successes – after all, they want to get along well with everyone.

Cultural Characteristics in Australia Part I