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Quintessential Australia

Go Bush

When Aussies refer to the bush, they can mean either a scrubby patch of ground a few kilometers outside the city or the vast, sprawling desert Outback. In most cases it's a way to describe getting out of the daily routine of the city and getting in touch with the natural landscape of this incredibly diverse country.

With 80% of its population living on eastern shores, and with all of its major cities (except Canberra) on or near the coast, most of Australia's wild, wonderful interior is virtually empty. Whether you find yourself watching the sun rise (or set) over Uluru, taking a camel trek through the Kimberley, or sleeping under the stars in a swag (traditional Australian camping kit), there are countless ways to go bush and see Australia's most natural, rural, and stunning sights.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

From world-class sporting events like the Australian Open tennis to national obsessions like the Australian Football League Grand Final, Aussies love their sports. The calendar is chock-full of sporting events that give Aussies good reason to drink a cold beer and gather with mates to barrack for (cheer on) their favorite team.

Aussie Rules Football (or footy) is a popular, fast-paced, and rough-and-tumble sport that's played without padding and uses what looks like an American football through four 25-minute quarters. Rugby League Football is a 13-a-side game that is played internationally. Cricket test matches are the sport of summer, though much less happens during these games than in footy matches. Spectators get to soak up the sun and drink a lot of beer while watching the Australians duel international teams in matches that can go for one to five days.

Swimming Between the Flags

Australians love their beaches as much as they love their barbies, so put on your bathers or your cossie (slang for bathing costume) and slather on good sunblock—the damage to the ozone layer above Australia is very, very severe.

Many Australian beaches are patrolled by volunteer members of the Surf Lifesaving Association (SLSA), who post red and yellow flags to demarcate the safest areas to swim on any beach. The SLSA was formed in 1907, and its tan, buff lifesavers make the Baywatch team look like amateurs—it's rumored that no one has ever drowned while swimming in the areas that they patrol. Of course, these hunky heroes can't be everywhere all the time, so use caution when swimming on those picturesque deserted beaches you're bound to come across in your travels. The undertow or rip can be strong and dangerous.

The Barbie

Paul Hogan, aka Crocodile Dundee, showed the world laid-back Australian hospitality by inviting visitors to say "G'day," then throw another shrimp on the barbie, or barbecue. But it's unlikely you'll find shrimp on a barbie in Australia. What you will find is Aussies cooking up steak, sausages (often called snags), beef, chicken, and lamb on gas grills all over the country.

Barbies are so ubiquitous in Australia that almost every public park or beach will have a barbecue area set up for people to come and grill at will. The tools required for "having a barbie" the traditional Aussie way are newspaper and butter. The newspaper helps wipe the barbie clean from the previous grilling, and butter greases it back up again before putting the meat on. Sometimes an onion instead of a newspaper is used to clean off the grill—a slightly more hygienic system.

Updated: 07-2013

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