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Snapshot of Australia – Australia does not have an official language, though English is the de facto language. Australian English has its own unique accent and phrases. Chinese, Italian, and Arabic are also spoken by small groups. About 60% of Australia’s population is Christian, with the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches being the largest denominations. About 30% of the population does not practice any religion. Modern Australian culture has been greatly influenced by other English-speaking nations (particularly England as a result of early British colonization), though efforts have been made to preserve the Aboriginal culture as well. Immigration from other countries has made Australia into a “melting pot” nation. Australian culture tends to be very informal, and dry, ironic humor is a common theme. Loyalty to ones’ friends (“mates”) is considered an important part to Australian culture. The appeal of the Australian outback has influenced many art forms in the country, though other styles such as street art are popular in the cities. Australia has often contributed to international popular culture, through bands such as AC/DC and the Bee Gees or actors such as Hugh Jackman. Aboriginal traditions can still be seen in instruments such as the didgeridoo. Popular sports in Australia include Australian-rules football, cricket, rugby, and basketball. Cycling and skateboarding are also popular activities, especially among the youth. A wide variety of foods are available in Australia. Several varieties of fish and seafood dishes are common, and barbecuing meat is a popular practice. Popular dishes include fish and chips, hamburgers, meat pie, sausage rolls, and pavlova (a meringue dessert). Kangaroo meat is also used in some recipes. Vegemite is a popular spread in Australia.
Missionaries have been serving in Brisbane for about 100 years, so the people recognize who you are just by seeing you on the streets. The church congregations are strong in the area and the wards are well-established. There are a few branches in the northern part of Queensland.
The members there love to feed the missionaries. Expect to be served pasta, rice or mashed potatoes; Australians also like to make Mexican or Greek food, and they love Indian and Thai curry. One interesting thing is that they eat a lot of lamb. There are also some Polynesian-type foods like taro or chop sui.
Most missionaries get to use a car part-time, usually for half of the week. The other half of the week they spend on bikes or utilizing public transportation. If you do use public transportation, the mission reimburses you. There is not much walking to get to places, only in tracting in areas once you get there.
Missionaries always need to be careful of dogs, being out late and walking through uninhabited areas. The biggest safety concerns are actually the weather, as Australia gets a lot of rain, which results in heavy flooding. There is also the occasional cyclone towards the northern part of the mission.
They call trash “rubbish,” and trash cans are “rubbish bins.” Like in England, they have different words for parts of the car; the trunk is called the “boot,” the hood is the “bonnet,” and the windshield is the “windscreen.” There is nothing too crazy in the language; it just takes a few weeks to get used to it.
Since it rains so much, you will definitely want a rain jacket and umbrella. Also, even though the weather is warm, you soon acclimate to it. That being the case, the winters will start feeling cold to you even at 65 degrees. Bring some warmer clothes for those days (such as dress sweaters).
They have different deodorant than in the United States, so you might want to bring your own or have your family send you some. Also, they have most American candy, but not Reese’s.
The postal service is a reliable way to send mail. Just make sure you know what customs will and will not let through. You can look it up online before you leave so you and your family know about any restrictions. It takes about 11-14 days to get mail from the United States, and it is about the same for packages.
28 Towers Street
Hamilton QLD 4007
Straight from the Australia Brisbane Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Everything was available. Some I didn’t like as much, like deodorant. I had that sent from home.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Fruit and Cereal”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Sheep hearts, kidney pie and cow stomach.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Kangaroo’s in the suburbs. Some places still had out houses.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Australia Brisbane Mission?
“Be open minded and accepting of the culture.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Love people and have a great mission.”