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Aussie Bush Etiquette

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One of the best things about travelling to a new country is experiencing new, beautiful places and unique cultures. In Australia, we are often best known for our open-minded attitudes, our “shrimp on the barbie” accent and our laid-back coastal surfing culture. However, despite our seemingly ‘easy-going’ attitude, there are certain behaviours that may not sit well with otherwise very friendly locals. This is especially true when travelling to the bush and more remote parts of Australia. 

If you are planning an Australian campervan holiday with your family but are a little worried about what is considered rude in Australia’s outback areas - we have you covered! Here’s a little peek into Australian bush etiquette, including conversations, camping, driving and more! So you can feel right at home during your adventure down under.

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Australian etiquette during conversations

When chatting with the Aussie locals, here are a few general rules of thumb:

  • Don't forget to smile

    Just like mum and dad taught you, always say 'please' and 'thank you’. And remember (just like anywhere else in the world), a smile will get you a long way. 

  • Chat to the locals

    If you are not in a hurry (and in your Britz there's no need to be) then take the time to talk to people and get to know the locals. Country folk often welcome a chat. The experiences and places you discover through these conversations can be amazing. This is all part of the Britz road trip experience!

  • Respect others' personal space 

    Australian’s value their personal space, so be mindful of maintaining a metre or so distance when having a chat.

  • Cover your mouth when sneezing

    If you need to sneeze or cough while talking, be sure to do so into your elbow or a tissue. 

  • Don’t be offended

    Aussie communication is often quite direct, with people saying what they mean. So try not to take it to heart. 

  • Learn about Aussie sports/ local events

    A conversation about things prominent in Aussie culture like sport, gigs etc, will make chatting with locals a breeze.

camping

 

Australian etiquette on farms/private property

When travelling in the bush, you will likely come across a number of farms and private properties. Here are a few things to consider when travelling past Aussie farms:

  • Leave the gate as you found it

    Always leave any gate the same way you found it. If it was open, leave it open. If it's shut, make sure you shut it again when you have been through.

  • Adhere to ‘Keep Out’ Signs

    If a sign says "Private Property", "Keep Out" or the like, take that as meaning exactly what it says.

  • Never interfere with livestock

    Running or driving in a paddock when it is lambing or calving season can cause distress for the animals. It's best to keep your distance from them. Sometimes cattle can be curious and follow you, especially if they have been hand fed. If that happens, there's no need to worry, as they will lose interest in time.

 

Australian driving etiquette

Out in the bush, you are going to be racking up some serious kilometres. Understanding driving etiquette will ensure you get to your destination safely and without fuss. Here are a few tips for good manners for driving in the bush:

  • Don’t drive from dusk to dawn

    If you're in an area where there are kangaroos (and that is a lot of Australia) we suggest you avoid driving altogether from dusk till dawn. Dusk is a time when kangaroos and other wildlife camouflage with the landscape particularly well, making it hard to see them. Kangaroos in particular make night driving unsafe as they are very fast and can change direction very quickly. So if you must drive at night, take it slowly and keep a sharp eye out.  

  • Slow down for livestock 

    If you ever see stock on the road, slow right down straight away. Watch for the stockman and edge forward at a walking or suitable pace. If someone is moving them, they may not appreciate you splitting the mob and may make their job harder.

  • Stick to the track on dirt roads

    On dirt roads, keep on track and out of the sand and bulldust at the sides of roads. Getting into this can cause you to lose control and throws up unnecessary dust and stones for people behind you.

  • Don't speed through towns

    No matter how small a town is, it’s important to remember that people live there. So while it can be tempting to just keep driving through town, you can show your small town kindness by adhering to the local speed limit in these smaller areas. 

  • Check road conditions after rain

    While you will mostly be on sealed roads, if you're travelling in a 4WD campervan rental, some bush roads can become impassable after heavy rain. This is particularly true of black soil (a high clay soil) that will quickly clog the treads of your tyres and even wheel wells. This can look solid and safe to drive on, but you will sink to the axles if you try.  Your local branch host will let you know of any local road closures or restrictions when you pick-up your campervan.

  • Follow the Australian road rules

    If you are new to driving in Australia, it's a good idea to have a quick look at the Australian driving law to ensure that you know the rules of the road. 

  • Wave to say thanks

    Give a little wave if someone lets you into traffic to be polite. 

  • Honk with care

    Don’t honk your horn excessively, as this can be considered rude. 

  • Report injured wildlife 

    You will come across plenty of wildlife on your travels. If you see one that is injured, you can help by phoning the Wildcare Helpline.

alcohol

 

Australian camping etiquette

When camping in the outback or Aussie bush, here are a few things to consider:

  • Obey fire bans

    It may be obvious, but we'll say it anyway: in most areas, fires are banned all year round and definitely in fire season. Bush fires can do tremendous damage in Australia as the bush, especially eucalypt trees, burn fiercely. If you do light a fire, make sure you put it completely out when you finish. In Australian context, ‘out’ means cold, water-drenched, with no smoke and no sparks. Keep an eye out along the road for Fire Danger Ratings, especially in summer, as a Total fire ban means exactly that!

  • Never use soap or detergent in rivers or streams

    Even small amounts of these things add up and can threaten water quality and aquatic life. If it is a non-crocodile area, you can swim to clean up, and the freshwater will do the job without soap. Washing up water needs to be tipped out well away from the stream or riverbank.

  • Take your rubbish with you 

    Obvious again but we are going to say it: NEVER leave any rubbish behind when you leave a campsite. That includes the tiniest bit of foil. The idea is for the next person to find it as beautiful as you did and follow the "Leave No Trace" principles.

  • Toilet

    Most places you go will have toilets as may your camper, but if you have to go in nature, there are some basic rules. This is especially true with a number two. First off, make sure you go a good distance from the camp. Depending on the cover, that might mean 50m or 200m away (and if possible, downwind). Make sure you dig a 6-inch (or 30cm) hole to do your business and cover it thoroughly. This will stop flies and prevent anyone from spraining their ankle in it. Then you can choose to burn your toilet paper or put it in a bag and bring it back to your bin in your campervan. Above all make sure you wash your hands properly. That means with soap, detergent or alcohol hand sanitizer.

  • Don’t camp too close to other campers 

    Remember, Aussies value their personal space! So this also means also not walking through other people's campsites.

  • Keep quiet after dark 

    Be respectful of other campers, and don’t be too loud after 9-10 pm. 

  • Follow campsite rules 

    There are a number of different camping sites, including paid and free camping sites. Each campsite will have its own rules, such as sticking to the posted speed limit and so on. Adhering to these rules means these camps can continue to run for the enjoyment of everyone. 

  • Don't feed wildlife

    Wildlife is just that - wild! Feeding them can encourage domesticated behaviours such as reliance on a food source. Human food, such as bread, can make wildlife severely sick. In other situations, wildlife can become aggressive and seek food from campsites/campers. So don’t feed native wildlife, and be sure to clean up at your campsite. That way, there are no leftovers for them to find!

 

Australian alcohol etiquette

Many Australians like their beer as much as the next! In Australia, alcohol is commonly found at many Australian social occasions such as BBQ, after-work drinks, weekend parties and so on. It is also common for people to express their thanks to someone by buying them wine or a pack of beer. But there are a few things to consider when enjoying a beverage (or two) down under:

  • Be respectful in bush pubs 

    Bush pubs are like any other pub around the world. Don't trash local customs, be pleasant and respectful, and you won't have a problem. 

  • Avoid ‘shouting’ a round

    In Australia, a 'shout' is the custom where each person in the group takes a turn in buying a round for the group. While it's interesting and fun to talk to the locals if they show they are up for this, as a general rule it's a good idea to avoid getting into a shout with them. Keep your round to yourself where you are completely in charge of where it is heading.

  • Tipping is optional but welcome!

    In some bush pubs, it is customary to put your money on the bar in front of where you are sitting rather than in your pocket. In some old pubs, the publican would automatically fill up your glass when it looked like you were finished or close to it. While it is not mandatory to tip in Australia (like it is in other countries), when you are finished, it's good form to thank the barman or barmaid!

  • Don't drink and drive 

    Our drink-driving law is simple: don't drink and drive. You have your Britz campervan right with you (just one of the many reasons to hire a campervan!), so it's no big deal to stay the night and take a fresh run at the road the following day. 

  • Drink safely 

    As per drinking at home, be sure to drink safely

  • Adhere to drinking laws 

    Make sure you are aware of the drinking laws in Australia.

 

Australian bushwalking etiquette

When bushwalking in Australian nature, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keep left! In Australia, we drive on the left, but we also walk on the left. Avoid running into oncoming foot traffic and stick left!
  • Don’t throw rubbish into the bush
  • Bushwalkers going downhill should give way to bushwalkers going uphill
  • If you need a break, pull over to the side to let other bushwalkers pass. 
  • Don’t disrupt nature, and take home a keepsake from your bushwalk.
  • Walk single file when walking in a group
  • Try to keep the noise down, as most people will like to bushwalk in peace and quiet  
  • Use available toilets or make sure to go far away from any water source 

 

Australian etiquette during Aboriginal experiences

When venturing into the Australian bush, aboriginal experiences are a great way to learn about the Aboriginal culture and way of life. However, if you do choose to join these experiences, there are a few things to consider:

  • Take the time to learn about the Aboriginal culture before diving headfirst into an Aboriginal experience. Being aware of the customs, such as the fact that silence and limited eye contact are considered respectful, will help ensure it's a positive and respectful experience.
  • Demonstrate understanding of their culture and experience when in conversation.
  • Respect sacred sites
  • Ask questions if unsure

 

What to pack on an Aussie bush adventure

The Aussie bush and outback can be harsh environments prone to extreme weather (this is especially true if you choose to travel in a campervan hire in the summer). Out there you could come across flies, heat waves, freezing nights, as well as sparse deserts and panoramic gorges. To face these intense (but very beautiful!) regions, this is a list of what to pack for your campervan trip to the bush:

  • Insect repellent 
  • Sunscreen (we recommend SPF 50+ for the harsh aussie sun) & sunglasses
  • Dry bag to protect valuables 
  • Hiking shoes 
  • Reusable water bottle 
  • Torch
  • Powerbank 
  • Flynet 
  • Swimwear
  • First aid kit 
  • Broad brimmed hat

All campers with a toilet and shower also feature reverse cycle air-conditioning for those hot days or cold nights. For the smaller campers a portable heater can be hired.You can also hire extra bedding from Britz if you are heading somewhere cold. 

 

Experience Australian culture in a Britz Campervan

There is a lot to consider when it comes to camping etiquette in Australia. However, with a little planning, knowledge and an open, easy-going attitude, you’re bound to have an incredible time as you explore Australia with your family.

If you are ready to hit the road and experience the true-blue Aussie culture for yourself, book a campervan rental with Britz Australia, in-store or online today. For more information on travelling with kids, choosing the right campervan and everything else you would want to know about renting a Britz campervan, check out our blog