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The culture of Australia is really diverse. Due to the British colonisation of Australia, that started in 1788, the country has primarily a Western culture. However, the Aborigines have also strongly contributed to the Australian culture throughout the centuries, and their legends are still alive. After WWI, Australia's culture was altered and reoriented from Britain to the US. Australia also experienced huge migrations, from all over the world, that deeply influenced its way of life. Over the last decades, Australia became increasingly aware of its proximity to Asia and its culture gradually integrated Asian aspects, for instance in the field of gastronomy.


According to the "Life in Australia" booklet, Australia's main values are the following:

  • Respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual
  • Freedom of religion
  • Equality of men and women
  • Mutual respect and tolerance
  • Equality of opportunity for individuals.

Aboriginal Culture

Aboriginal culture includes a lot of practices and ceremonies centred on a belief in the Dreamtime. In the Aboriginal beliefs, Dreamtime is the time when the world was created. The world was then inhabited by ancestral figures, that had some supernatural powers or abilities. The Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous living culture on the planet! Many ceremonies are performed throughout the year: Smoking ceremonies are used to cleanse people; Bora ceremony turns young boys in men; Corroboree ceremony is used to welcome another Aboriginal tribe... Music is also part of the Aboriginal way of life and ceremonies. Didgeridoo has been used by the men of the Kakadu region for 1500 years! Art also plays an important role in the indigenous traditions. Painting and rock engraving are the most frequently used techniques. Aboriginal dot paintings are internationally recognized as unique. They are integral to Australian Aboriginal Art and always have a meaning.


Australian has no official language, but English is the de facto national language. Around 80% of the population speaks only English in the home and most migrants speak English in addition to their native tongue (Mandarin, Italian, Arabic...). About 70 Aboriginal languages are still in use throughout the country, but 20 are endangered. Indigenous languages are the main language of only 0.25% of the Australian population.


Australia has no official state religion. The Australian Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with the freedom of religion. In 2011, more than 60% of the Australian population declared to be Christian and more than 20% declared "no religion", while in 1901 almost all Australians professed to be Christians. The Anglican Church was surpassed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1986, due to migration waves from Southern Europe. Apart from Christianity, the main religions are Buddhism (2.5%), Islam (2.2%) and Hinduism (1.3%).


Australia has a vibrant cultural scene and some of its artists are known worldwide. Depending on your cultural preferences, you will find below some examples of Australian artists and works of art:

  • Architecture: The best known Australian architects are:
    • Francis Grennway: He is often considered as Australia's first architect
    • William Wardel: He drew the plans of the St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney
    • Gregory Urgess: He draws inspiration from the Aboriginal paintings
    • Jorn Ulzon: He is Danish, but his main realization was without any doubt the Sydney Opera House!
  • Cinema: Here are the names of some Australian movies that you should watch before travelling to Australia:
  • The Sentimental Bloke (1919), Australia's best silent film
  • Jedda (1995), the first Australian movie that dealt with the relationships between Aborigines and British settlers
  • The Last Wave (1977), Dead Poets Society (1989), The Way Back (2010) and all the other movies directed by Peter Weir (leading figure in the Australian New Wave)
  • The Devil's Playground (1976), The Russia House (1993) and other movies directed by talented Frederic Schepisi
  • The Mad Max series (1979, 1081, 1985 and 2015) by George Miller
  • And also: Crocodile Dundee (1986), Muriel's Wedding (1994), The Adventures of Priscilla (1994), The Castle (1997), Australia (2008)...
  • Literature: Aboriginal legends are traditionally conveyed by word-of-mouth. However, it is now rather easy to find books relating the legends of what the Aborigines call "Dreamtime". Regarding the Western culture, the first writers were Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson and Barbara Barynton. After the wars, the Australian poetry took off, with poets like Kenneth Slessor, A. D. Hope and James McAuley. The contemporary Australian writers (for instance Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut) are increasingly influenced by the American novelists.
  • Theatre: Born in Edinburgh, Louis Esson became the first Australian playwright. His first plays, Dead Timber and The Time is Not Yet Ripe, date back to the 1910s, but he was then one of the only Australin playwrights, due to a lack of theatre halls. Things changed from the 1960s, with a new generation of playwrights like Alan Seymour and Patrick White. Nowadays, the best known playwrights are Jack Hibberd, David Williamson, Alex Buzo and John Romeril.
  • Visual arts: Aboriginal rock art is the oldest continuous art tradition in the world! Nowadays, the best-known Indigenous artists are Gordon Bennett and Tracey Moffatt. Regarding Western artists, the first landscape painters were John Glover and Eugene von Guerard. They were followed by the numerous painters of the Heidelberg School (Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton...), that painted "en plein air", like the French Impressionists. After WWII, several currents took off in Australia: Expressionism with the Angry Penguins' group, Surrealism with artists like Ned Kelly and Russell Drysdale, Abstraction with John Olsen, Figurative painting with Brett Whiteley... Among Australia's best known contemporary artists, we can also quote photographer Bill Henson, sculptor Ron Mueck and living art exhibit Leigh Bowery.
  • Music: Music is an integral part of Aboriginal culture, the most famous Aboriginal instrument being the didgeridoo. Australia's hard rock band AC/DC is internationally known, as well as Kylie Minogue's pop music albums, but Australia has a lot more to offer! Migrants from all over the world introduced new musical styles. Beyond international success, opera and country are two popular art forms.


Sport is really popular in Australia. It is an important part of Australian culture. Australia has many professional leagues and has competed in many international events. Sydney and Melbourne have hosted the Olympic Games in 1956 and 2000. Traditionally, Saturday is dedicated to physical activities. Australian Rules Football has the highest spectactor attendance in Australia, while cricket is considered to be Australia's oldest sport. Surf and Surf Life Saving are really popular as well, due to the fact that more than 80% of the Australian population lives within 50 kilometers of the ocean. Beach activities and sports are undoubtedly part of the Australian way of life. In general, Austalia's most popular sports are:

  • Water sports: Swimming, Surf, Surf Life Saving
  • Ball sports: Cricket, Australian Rules Football (also called Footy), Rugby, Tennis, Netball (also called Ladies Basketball), Lawn Bowling, Golf
  • Races: Horse race, Greyhound race, Car racing, Motorcycle race.

Cuisine and Beverages

Contemporary Australian cuisine combines several influences and is often refered to as "fusion cuisine" or "mod'oz". British and Aboriginal specialties are well represented but often combined with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Thanks to its abundant natural resources, Australia has access to a large variety of fruits, vegetables and meats. Barbecues, also called "Barbies", are a cherished national tradition. You will find public barbecues in every single part of Australia! Most of the population living on the coast, Australia also features high level seafood restaurants.

If you are coming to Australia, you should at least try:

  • Barramundi, an iconic Australian fish
  • Crocodile and/or kangaroo meat
  • Tim Tam, Australia's most famous biscuits
  • Vegemite, an Australian food paste made from yeast extract
  • Something cooked on an Aussie BBQ!

Regarding beverages, there has been an evolution over time. First settlers came from Britain and were therefore more likely to drink beer than wine. The first commercial brewery was established in 1897 by James Squires. Since the 1970s, Australian beers, and especially Foster's Lager, have become increasingly popular in the world... At the same time, Australians have gradually discovered the taste of wine, due to the migration of people from Southern Europe. The first wines produced in Australia, in the Hunter Valley (NSW), were of a low quality, but Australia's wine industry is now internationally renowned. Australia is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine. The most famous wine districts are the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley and Hunter Valley. Children like for their part drinking Ginger Beer, a soft drink produced by the fermentation of ginger, yeast and sugar. Another popular non-alcoholic drink is tea, even if only a few people perpetuate the British tradition of tea-time.

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