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Melbourne Dos and Donts

Melbourne Dos and Donts

Do visit a pub, especially in smaller towns, for a slice of Aussieness (youll likely see poker machines adjacent to bars or eating areas). Even where good restaurants are expensive, you can usually get a good, cheap pub lunch or snack at a milk bar or coffeeshop...

Do seek out sporting clubs (motor, rugby or soccer) that allow nonmembers to sign in. You can enjoy an inexpensive, high-quality lunch or dinner and entertainment on the weekends...

Dont be surprised if the Australian version of English leaves you mystified. Australians use slang liberally, and we saw a play in Sydney (featuring rural, working-class women) in which we understood about 40% of the dialogue...

Dont count on cuddling a koala while youre Down Under. The adorable, sleepy-looking creatures, which appear so cuddly as they cling to their eucalyptus branches, are not fond of being petted: Theyve been known to piddle on would-be human fondlers. Some places have ended the practice of allowing visitors to handle the animals...

Do attend an Aboriginal music and dance performance. Its a great opportunity to hear the low-pitched drone of the didgeridoo, a wind instrument made from a small hollow tree trunk...

Dont be surprised by what they wear (or dont wear) on the beaches. Lady Jane is the nude beach in Sydney...

Do try Vegemite, a yeast spread that has the same standing that peanut butter has in North American cuisine. But its best to start with a small taste (and we mean small)...

Do visit a working sheep station. There are many outside Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne....

Tipping: Tipping traditionally has not been required in restaurants or taxis, but the practice is changing. Everyone youll meet seems to have a different opinion on the subject, so use your own judgment.

Recommended Guidebooks and reading

  • Australia: A Travel Survival Kit by Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet).
  • Rough Guide: Australia (Penguin).
  • Aboriginal Australia: A Travellers Guide (Angus and Robertson).
  • Frommers Australia (Prentice Hall).
  • Outback Australia Handbook by Marael Johnson (Moon Publications).
  • Bushwalking in Australia (Lonely Planet).
  • Australia: The Outdoor Travelers Guide by Gerry Ellis and Sharon Cohen (Stewart, Tabori and Chang).
  • Islands of Australias Great Barrier Reef by Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet).
  • Stepping Lightly on Australia: A Travellers Guide to Ecotourism by Shirley LaPlanche (Globe Pequot).
  • The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes (Knopf). A superb history of the founding of Australia.
  • Triumph of the Nomads: A History of Aboriginal Australia by Geoffrey Blainey (Overlook Press).
  • Kakadu, Looking After the Country -- The Gagudju Way by Stanley Breeden and Belinda Wright. Provides good insight into Aboriginal history and culture.
  • The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (Viking-Penguin) is a semifictional journey into the world of the Aborigines and a meditation on the meaning of Dreamtime, the Aboriginal creation myth.