I thought I would use this episode to point out some of the differences I have noticed between Australia and America so that if you plan to visit here, you will be properly prepared. Let’s start with their money.
Australia is on the dollar system just like we are but their dollar is worth 20% less than the U.S. Dollar. This means you can buy one Aussie dollar for only 80 U.S. Cents. At first this seems like a tremendous bargain but they make up for this 20% difference by charging 40% more for everything. The average price for a beer is around $8 but it’s so good that after three or four you don’t mind.
The paper money is much prettier than ours. It comes in an array of colors and different sizes. The $5 bill is the shortest, the $10 bill is about a quarter inch longer, the $20 is longer still, followed by the $50 bill and the $100 bill which is the longest. This makes it easy to sort the bills in your wallet. Very clever. Coins, however can be a bit confusing.
They don’t have pennies down here because you can’t buy anything that cheaply. Their five cent piece is the size of our penny, their dime is the same size as our dime, but the $2 coin is also the same size as the dime only twice as thick. There’s also a dollar coin, a 20 cent coin, and a 50 cent coin which is the size of a dinner plate. When I pay for something I’ve gotten use to just holding out a handful of coins and letting the vendor take what he needs.
Driving is different here too. They drive on the left, just like the UK and the car steering wheel is on the right. This took some getting used to. I saw a car going down the street yesterday with two dogs hanging out of the passenger side window on the left and my immediate thought was, OMG, dogs can drive over here.
Since they drive on the left, it only makes sense that they also walk on the left. In the US we tend to walk on the right so it makes it easy to spot the tourists on the sidewalk. They’re the ones constantly bumping into people.
The other big difference I noticed here is in the coffee. Australian coffee is basically espresso and hot water. This makes a cup of Australian coffee quite strong and since I like to start my day with three or four cups of joe, I have been buzzing like a cheap TV. It’s very eye opening.
I have a few things left to see here in Sydney before I head home, including tonight’s Gay Mardi Gras parade. It too should be eye opening and I’ll tell you all about it in my final episode.