Melbourne may not be as ancient as other of the world’s cultural metropolises, but that hasn’t stopped it from being awarded the most liveable city in the world, putting it on many a traveller’s bucket list. And, while experiencing a city with your own eyes is the best way to truly get to know it, a little planning goes a long way. Here are 10 things you should know before visiting Melbourne.
People do say ‘g’day mate.’
‘G’day mate’ is not one of those mythological sayings that you imagine were made up or went out over time; it is real, and it is delightful to hear. However, the two words are not always used together. It’s more customary to be welcomed simply with ‘G’day.’ In fact, for many Melburnians,’mate’ might stand in for a comma or a full stop in spoken phrases.
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Melbournians abbreviate everything
Aussies are strong admirers of nicknames and word abbreviation, so much so that many store signage are written in slang. Wherever you go in the world, you’ll see a ‘McDonalds’ sign; in Melbourne, you’ll see a ‘Maccas’ one. Sometimes they just leave words out of sentences; for example, ‘good on ya’ becomes ‘on ya’. Even their country’s name has too many syllables, so they nickname it ‘Straya.’
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You will not be bitten by a snake, shark, spider, or any other of the world’s most dangerous creatures.
Of course, some unlucky people may fall victim to Mother Nature, but if you stay in the city, you’ll be comforted to know that you won’t be one of them. If you venture into the woods, you will almost certainly see a snake, but with adequate protection, you should not get bitten. The same is true with sharks. Only surfers and frequent ocean dwellers are likely to come across these magnificent creatures. They do suggest, though, that you should never be more than three feet away from a spider. Although we all know they are masters of camouflage and apparently love duvets, it seems implausible. Good night.
They also enjoy appending a ‘o’ to the end of every word.
Once abbreviated, it will either have a ‘y’ or a ‘ie’ added to the end: ‘barbie,’ ‘ciggie,’ or ‘footy’ are frequent examples. Otherwise, a ‘o’ will be added at the end. There are no bottle shops, only ‘bottle-os,’ no ambulances, only ‘ambos,’ and no afternoons in Melbourne, just ‘arvos,’ which are not to be confused with the ‘avo,’ which is an avocado. Be prepared for your name to be shortened; if your name is Jon, you will be referred to as ‘Jono,’ and Christine will be referred to as ‘Chrissie.’
The sun is your adversary.
It’s a common saying in Australia that ‘you get sunburnt by gazing at the sun,’ and it’s true – five minutes in the sun and your face will turn like a tomato. The sun is said to be harsher in Australia than everywhere else on the planet due to a hole in the ozone layer. This means that UV damage to skin is enhanced, which also means a larger chance of skin cancer, therefore always apply sunscreen.
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It does not always shine.
Melbourne has wonderful weather all summer, but it does have a winter, and it is freezing. Although the temperature rarely drops below six degrees Celsius, which most of you are probably thinking is warm in comparison to your winters, once acclimatised, a six-degree night will have you sleeping with socks up to your knees and in flannel pajamas. It rains in Melbourne as well, sometimes unexpectedly; one minute you’re sunning on the beach, the next you’re drowning in soggy sand.
Christmas feasts are traditionally served outside.
Yes, you read that correctly: they eat ‘Chrissie’ supper outside, and the turkey is usually hunted (from the local store) and cooked on the grill. Many Australians will spend Christmas Day at the beach, picnicking in botanical gardens, camping in the woods, or simply relaxing in their own backyards.
Kangaroos, to be honest, do not impress them.
While the rest of the world envies the Australians for having such diverse and exciting animals, they are sick of it. They are particularly indifferent in kangaroos, which are ubiquitous. You don’t spot them crossing the street in the city, but once you get into the wilderness, you’ll rapidly lose track. For foreigners, ‘roo spotting’ is never boring at first, but after a time it becomes a game of’spot the tree,’ which no one wants to play.
They enjoy coffee just as much as the Italians.
Making coffee is like an Olympic sport among Melburnians. Most cafés will not hire anyone who has not attended a barista school or received training, so you will never experience a terrible cup of coffee. They are also said to have invented their own coffee style. Baristas in Sydney are said to have devised the ‘piccolo’ as an alternative to sipping long coffees. It is a close relative of the macchiato and is best described as a smaller latte.
The expressions ‘down the road’ and ‘it’s close’ have very different meanings for Melbournians.
When someone says ‘it’s down the road,’ you know it’ll be walkable in 30 minutes or less. In Melbourne, this may mean three suburbs distant, 16 tram stops, or an hour trip in the car; anything but walking. When taking a day vacation to the beach or hiking in England, ‘it’s close’ signifies one or two hours drive away. Close could be a four-hour drive to a waterfall or a plane flight to the Gold Coast in Melbourne.
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