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I’m an American living in Australia. It’s a dream come true, and sometimes, I just have to pinch myself to remember that this is real life. There are many more differences between American and Australian culture than I ever expected, but as I adjust to living down under, I’m realising all the things I love about living in Australia.

1. I love the snacks!

In Australia, it’s a cultural norm to have a break for morning tea and then to have afternoon tea in the late afternoon. I love the chance to grab a snack, get a hot drink and chat to my coworkers about projects and life. 

2. I love the wildlife in this country!

Cuddling a koala is one of the best things to do, ever. (Trust me, I’ve done it. So worth the money!) In addition to these precious marsupials, Australia is home to heaps of unique animals. I love driving along and seeing ‘kangaroo crossing’ signs. I’ve even seen a few kangaroos and wallabies in the wild, and I find their physiology fascinating. They’re definitely unlike anything we have in the states!

3. I love learning and using new Aussie terms!

Whenever you meet someone in Australia, whether it’s the person behind the check-out counter, or a new friend, the most common greeting is “How are you going?” As an American, this used to really confuse me, and I’d get so nervous trying to think of a response. Since then, I’ve learnt that the easiest and best response is to just say “Good! How are you?” I’ve also realised that in Australian lingo, they have some vocabulary that differs from us in the United States. Some of those words include bitumen (asphalt), ute (pick-up truck), footpath (sidewalk), chemist (pharmacy) and Hungry Jack’s (Burger King). Aussies also have a tendency to shorten certain words: afternoon becomes “arvo”, sunglasses become “sunnies”, McDonald’s becomes “Macca’s”, service station becomes “servo”, and there are heaps more. Just roll with it, and if you don’t know what on earth they’re talking about, ask them!

4. I love eating food seasoned with chicken salt!

Fish and chips are a great combo and traditional beach food here in Australia, and the first time I ordered chips (french fries), the guy asked me if I wanted chicken salt on them. I thought I might as well try it, and let me tell you, it’s amazing. Always, always, always remember to ask for chicken salt. 

5. I love meeting the lovely people of Australia! 

Every person I’ve talked to who’s been to Australia agrees that the people are SO NICE! Whether I’m at the pharmacy, café or the mall, the Aussies I meet are friendly. They always ask what brings me to Australia, and they are genuinely interested in the answer. One specific thing I love about Australians is their accents! It’s sometimes the only reminder that I’m across the world, but hearing the different pronunciations of words reminds me, yes, I’m really in the land down under. I especially love to hear little Aussie kids talking because their accents are so cute!

6. I love how easy it is to shop here!

The systems for pricing here in Australia are so cool! There’s no brain work involved. Tax is included in the marked price and there’s no tipping at restaurants. It’s genius!

7. I love Tim Tams so much!

Tim Tams are awesome biscuits (cookies) that are two biscuits separated with chocolate filling and covered in a layer of chocolate! They have lots and lots of yummy flavours of Tim Tams, like salted caramel, three bean espresso, and double-coated chocolate. A really fun way to eat Tim Tams is called a Tim Tam Slam, where you bite off two corners of the biscuit that are diagonally across from each other, and then drink a hot chocolate through the Tim Tam. As you slurp, the hot drink will melt your Tim Tam and the flavours blend together. So fun and delicious!

8. I love the landscapes! 

Australia is such a beautiful country. Of course, I love the gorgeous beaches here, but there’s so much more to Australia’s scenery than just beaches. From the expansive, rugged outback to the gentle waterfalls and leafy cover of the rainforest, this nation is a sight to behold. My personal favourite scenery in Australia is the vibrant, rolling farmlands, especially those in the South Coast of Australia. Riding along in the car or the train, seeing those green, sprawling hills makes me feel like I’m living in a fairytale.

Regardless of where you’re from and why you’re here, Australia will welcome you. Because of the beauty of the nation and its people, I have found my second home here. With so many things to love, what’s keeping you from the land down under?

by Fiona Muha

In the lead-up to Australia Day, we asked you to send in photos of what you loved about our country.

You responded in droves; we received thousands of entries and our gallery of the best submissions ended up with nearly 600 images.

We've gone through the gallery to select the best of the best, and here, in no particular order, are the top 10 things you appreciate about "the lucky country".

1. 'The best' beaches

Whether you're seeking a swim or a surf or a snorkel or a sand castle, you'll find it all at our beaches.

Some Australians choose to enjoy the safety between the flags on a pure stretch of sand, while others prefer fishing off the rocks on a remote and desolate coast.

A collage of six photos of different Australian beaches and people enjoying them.

2. Our adorable mammals

Whether they're cute, cuddly, or fearsome, our furry neighbours are dearly loved.

3. Our beautiful birds

Not only is our birdlife plentiful, it's also colourful, unique, and often noisy.

While people in other countries only ever see our parrots in cages, we have the privilege of seeing them flying free.

And our birds are clever: the cockatoo pictured here had learned to turn on the tap at the water bubbler.

4. The bush

Several photographers commented that what they loved most about the bush was the people, while others appreciated the scenery and the serenity.

Clockwise from top left: Breakfast Creek near Nimbin by Peter PtschelinzewBroken Back Range by Lindsay ThreadgateCentral Canberra by Lindy OrthiaRiver Crossing by Lindy BuckleySplitters Creek by Mary TaylorSnow in the Highlands by Mary Taylor.

5. Our mix of cultures

Many Australians commented on their love of our cultural diversity.

The football team pictured here consisted of kids from 10 different racial backgrounds, and they were "a wonderful group of friends".

Clockwise from top left: Clarence River & Country by Debrah NovakAboriginal Hunting Group by Arthur PalmerInclusive by Marcus EdwardsMulticultural by Michael Hoebert.

6. The outback

Hot, red, dry and somehow still bursting with life. Many photographers told us how living in or travelling through the heart of Australia had shaped who they were as people.

Clockwise from top left: Down South by Craig GeeSpirit of the North by Kerry SharpInland Sunrise by Lynda SnowdenLong Time Abandoned by Paul LoughrySolitude by David RobertsonPetrolheads by David Robertson.

7. Our major cities

Whether it's relaxing in Adelaide, eating mangos in Darwin or road-tripping to Perth, Australians love to be in their capital cities.

Clockwise from top left: Celebrating Queensland by amber KenningtonMONA in Hobart by Julie HollowOur Changing Cities by John SkeneFlinders Street Station by Abhijit GhateMelbourne Laneway by Reinhardt MatisonsTall Ships by Howard Mitchell.

8. Our creepy crawlies

It might seem strange to people from other countries, and even to some Aussies, but it would appear that many Australians love all things that slither, hop, and hang, regardless of how deadly they might be.

Clockwise from top left: Redback by Fay StenhouseNatural World by Kevin CoppalottiFence Skinks by Kay SpenceCritters by Jennifer GowFauna by Elijah Stewart.

9. Our sporting culture

You sent us dozens of photos of cricket matches on beaches, in backyards, and in sweeping paddocks. This is a country that loves its sport.

Clockwise from top left: Beach Cricket by Karen BurnhamSporting Nation by Angela BlasonatoFooty at the MCG by the BlackshawsBathurst by Doug FordWomen's Cricket by Bryan Shanahan.

10. Our native flora

Many Australian children grow up with stories of the blossom babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and it appears this love of our unique flora sticks with them into adulthood.

Clockwise from top left: Illawarra Flame Tree by Caylie JeffreyGum Blossoms by Mary TaylorRosella in Grevillea by Hilary RobertsonSturt's Desert Pea by Ben WyschnjaBanksia by Craig Wilson.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for the gallery.

OK, before you start thinking that this post is sponsored by Australia Tourism or something, it’s not, but it is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. If you poll potential travelers most, and not just Americans, usually have a trip to Australia in their top five dream trip destinations. People around the world are captivated by this remote continent-island, most of which is so barren life doesn’t exist except in the extreme. It’s now been a year since my one and only trip to Oz and I can’t think of a better time than now to try to answer the question: Why does everyone love Australia?

Kings Canyon, Australia

1. Extreme – Australia is 2,989,000 square miles, about the same size as the Continental United States. Yet the island nation is only home to 22 million residents, the vast majority of whom live along the coasts and far away from the Red Centre. Much of Australia isn’t just inconvenient for life and habitation; it’s extremely bad for it. Temperatures soar to incredible heights, there’s no water and just about every animal has its own special way to kill or maim. The Red Centre though I think is a great metaphor for the rest of the country, everything about Australia is extreme. It’s located at the ends of the earth, just about as far away from anything you can possibly get. It has animals found nowhere else on the planet; remnants of another geological age and infinitely strange. A trip to Australia isn’t like a weekend away in London; this is a trip for the ages. It’s big, far away and demands time and attention and it is this extreme nature that I believe stirs our imaginations as travelers at the most base of levels. Whether conscious or not, there’s a need for travelers to take their lives up a notch either intellectually of physically and Australia is one of the best places to do that.

Healesville Sanctuary

2. Completely different – Thanks to its millennia of separation from the rest of the world, there’s just no place like Australia anywhere else. It is believed that the Aboriginal people first arrived on the shores of Australia 50,000 years ago. Think about that number, fifty thousand years. In terms of human civilization that’s an incredibly long time ago and is an equally long time to be isolated from the rest of the world. But this isolation, both geological and socially, has imparted to Australia much of its wonder and charm. Most of the animal life doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world and they are mostly accessible to tourists: Koalas, kangaroos, platypi, you name it and every strange, cute creature seems to call Australia home. These differences are translated across to the landscape, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and the vast interior desert are themselves as unique as those cuddly koalas and kangaroos. This is the only place in the world that can be called completely different from anything else anywhere in the world, so why wouldn’t it be a dream trip?

Circular Quay, Sydney

3. People – I believe that the combination of their, ahem, interesting heritage and the fact that they lived on the edge of the planet created the modern Australian personality. Outgoing, fun, engaging, smart, enthusiastic and self-reliant – these qualities are by and large enjoyed by many Australians and they were borne of necessity. We in the United States congratulate our founding fathers for their own challenges in pioneering the nation, but the first Australian colonists/prisoners took this to new levels. The fact that they were able to create the country that exists today in only a couple of hundred years is no mean feat. Along the way though it meant that only a special type of person would succeed. These qualities make it a joy to visit Australia, as you’ll never be without a drinking buddy or someone with whom to yammer on about politics. As an American, I think we are drawn to Australia by our similar backgrounds and cultural underpinnings. We are both, basically, Anglo in our heritage and frankly I think understand each other fairly well. We both also truly value our independence and that too brings us closer together. Australia is an easy place to visit with people who are easy to get along with. That’s pretty uncommon as one travels around the world.

Off road Australia Britz Campervan

4. Adventure – I generally consider New Zealand to be the adventure travel capital of the world, but Australia revels in a special type of adventure that I believe draws millions of people. Instead of relying upon bungee or Zorbing, travel to Australia is itself the adventure. As humans I think we love the idea of being a pioneer, of exploring unknown spaces upon which few have tread. Sure, millions of people visit Australia every year but there is a perception I believe that to travel there is to be an adventurer, a special kind of traveler who seeks to discover new things. Whether or not that is actually true doesn’t matter, it’s the feeling of that adventure that is important and is another reason why it is so beloved by many.

Australia is big in size, in spirit and in expectations and it’s hard at times to reconcile all that. It would take years of travel through Australia to see its width and breadth and to walk away feeling like you truly know and understand the country, but it is this tendency to shock and awe visitors that I believe is the country’s greatest asset. It’s also why millions of people who have never visited want to visit; they seem to realize on some level that it is a country of infinite possibilities and that alone is enough to make it a dream destination.

What do you think? What are the other reasons why people seem to love Australia so much?

Why I Love Australia

In two years of travel blogging I have often been asked “why I love Australia and write about it. My answer has always been short and simple, because “I love Australia“.

Now this first Australia Blog Roundtable finally gives me the opportunity to tell more about the reasons why I love Australia and what of Australia fascinates me.

As you probably know, I am not Australian nor I have ever lived down under. The only way I have experienced Australia is as a Solo Traveller. My travel stories began in 2004 with a 2 month solo trip around Australia, during a gap year. A very exciting trip that surprisingly also marked the beginning of a series of life changing experiences.

Thinking about Australia lots of positive emotions swirl with self: freedom, peacefulness, creativity, happyness, contentment, inspiration…

Why I love Australia then ?

I love Australia because of its Nature, not only beacuse of its spectacular beauty but especially for the energy produced. The physical, mental and emotional boost I can get just from being there is immense. It does not have to be in the remote areas of central Australia or in the deep rainforest, everywhere in Australia I can find a place to unwind and easily reconnect with nature. Even with a short drive from the city I can immerse myself in the most pristine natural enviroment thus helping my body regain shape and restore the inner balance. For me the australian nature is a great way of detoxifying and at the same time nurturing my soul.

Lush Green Kakadu National Park

I love Australia because of the Australian people. When I travel I love meeting the Locals. I want to learn how people live, I love to listen to their stories, what matters to them, I like to find out about their lifestyle and their culture. There is no other place like Australia where this process naturally happens all the times. People's friendly and down-to-earth approach and their quirky sense of humour makes it easy for me to mingle with Aussies and be part of the local community life. Either in the outback, a rural area, or in the cities I have always experienced a sincere warm welcome, often strangers offered me help even when I had not asked for. That's something I really appreciate and this is also a reason why Australia is my favorite place for my solo travels.

Travelling Solo Australia

I love Australia because of the freedom, lightness and safety that reign everywhereI love the way I feel good when travelling around Australia, it truly opens my heart and makes me feel in harmony with self and also with others. Feeling safe while travellingis my biggest priority when I am on the road. It's absolutely a priceless feeling. And that's why I keep going back to Australia.

The Australian Outback Colours

I love Australia because of the inspiration I get from the australian outback. I love the isolation, the solitude, the emptiness of the australian outback. I cannot get enough of the outback colourful canvas: its deep blue sky, its red rugged earth, its diverse vegetation, from lush green to golden brown. I love spotting kangaroos hooping away in the distance, admiring the sight over the vast expanse of the outback plains, I love the magnificient outback sunsets. I love to wake up in the outback by the the screeching of corellas and the crispy air caressing my hair. The list could go on and on…

I love Australia because every time I discover a new place I start visualizing what I can do and see on my next visit. I love Australia because the more I visit the more my passion for this country grows. I sometimes think my passion for Australia has turned into a sort of “addiction”, but I am not sure whether there is a cure for it 🙂

Australian Rainbow Lorikeets

My travels around Australia are full of positive emotions and inspirational life experiences, that fuelled my energy and enthusiam to venture into the (for me) unknown world of travel blogging. After leaving corporate life in 2009 the result was a web australia travel guide for independent and solo travellers.

I like to think of RockyTravel as “the creature” produced Why I love Australia.

Even though over 17000 km separate me from Australia I know that my solo travel advendures in Australia are still in its infancy, still there is much to learn and experience.

I look forward to my forthcoming trips in the future to uncover more places and add more life experiences and fun to my personal discovery journey. I hope the australian travel stories I share with you on my australia rocky travel guide will trigger your wanderlust and inspire you to discover this amazing place which is Australia!

I hope you will love Australia as I do.


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