Creating connections is one of the best things about travelling and Australia is a destination known for its friendly people. It’s even in the quintessential Aussie greeting, “G’Day Mate”, which is used for everyone from shopkeepers to family members, proving that in Australia, a stranger is just a mate you haven’t met yet.
Aussies pride themselves on being good friends and neighbours, and not just to people they know. “When a local greets you with a “G’Day Mate”, they genuinely are looking to form a connection, and after a holiday in Australia, chances are you’ll soon be counting people you meet along the way as some of your great mates,” said Brent Anderson, Regional General Manager of South / South East Asia, Tourism Australia.
With Friendship Day just around the corner (30 July), here are some reminders of why Australia is the best place to make friends.
1. Plenty of festivals to bond over
All year round, Australia is jam-packed with exciting events and festivals for you to meet new friendly Aussies.
Strike up a friendship with Sydney’s most vibrant, experimental, and diverse group of mates at the largest alternative visual and performing arts event in New South Wales, the Sydney Fringe Festival, where culture creators from all over the city join forces to tell Sydney’s stories from all genres.
You could even hit it off with a buddy at Tasmanian Whisky Week, which attracts visitors from all over the world keen to kick back and enjoy a series of tastings, comedy stand-ups, and galas. Tasmanian whisky, touted as one of the world’s very best, claims “it’s the people that makes it so special.”
2. Catch Aussies enjoying the outdoors
From the red sands of Uluru to the clear blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the flora- and fauna-rich rainforests, Australia is blessed with some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world – so it comes as no surprise that Australians love to be outdoors.
Australia’s cities do a great job of blending nature with cosmopolitan and multicultural cityscapes, making it the perfect place to gather with friends in the park and lay out a picnic rug. Offering the best of both worlds like no other, Perth’s Kings Park enjoys sweeping views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline, and the Darling ranges to the east while resting right at the heart of the spectacular Western Australian Botanic Garden, home to over 3,000 species of the state’s unique flora.
Other popular Aussie pastimes and great chances to meet like-minded mates are surfing, kayaking, snorkelling or just bobbing gently at one of Australia’s 10,000 stunning beaches. The crystal clear waters at Stokes Bay on the north coast of Kangaroo Island is a crowd favourite, and there is also plenty to see on the shoreline with wild kangaroos, many native bird species and little penguin colonies – which brings us to our next point.
3. Find buddies for life in Australia’s wildlife
Who says friends need to be human? With neighbours like fairy penguins, koalas and wallabies, animals are great mates, and unique wildlife is part of what drives Australians’ enthusiasm for environmentalism and sustainability.
The Australian Capital Territory is surrounded by the Great Dividing Range to the east, and the foot of the Australian Alps to the west at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park, which are laced with trails that offer the chance for many native wildlife encounters. Take a twilight tour of Mulligans Flat to spot bettongs (small kangaroo-like marsupials), or ferry over to Rottnest Island to be smitten by quokkas, also endearingly referred to as the world’s happiest animals on earth.
Get even closer to animal friends – from lions, meerkats, cheetahs and chimps – at Monarto Safari Park, a safari park committed to the conservation of endangered species. Strap on some boots to become a keeper for the day and go behind the scenes to discover what it takes to keep these extraordinary mates happy and thriving.
4. Meet people from all walks of life
Australia’s first and oldest stories belong to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and a growing number of friendly guides love nothing more than to share their incredible culture with visitors from around the world.
Start your cultural journey with an Indigenous-guided walk in beautiful Mossman Gorge, where Kuku Yalanji people share stories of their 50,000-year relationship with the Country, or float down the Mossman River to see the World Heritage-listed canopy from a different perspective.
East Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, is one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers where only female visitors in Gay’Wu – The Dilly Bag Tour for Women are inducted by Yolngu women on their philosophies and tales of Aboriginal astrology, as well as healing ceremonies while revealing traditional arts and medicinal native plants.
5. Come together for a nibble or a tipple
Food and wine are top-notch in Australia, and a shared table is an integral part of Australian culture. You know you’re living like an Aussie local when you’re sharing a meal or a drink with a group of mates and an amazing backdrop.
Newest on the scene is Scenic Rim’s latest farm, food and wine experiences, also recently featured as one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 best in travel regions. The premium farm, food and wine tours are carefully curated itineraries including a range of paddock to plate-style journeys through the stunning Scenic Rim.
Fleet Street Social, Port Noarlunga’s newest kitchen and bar, was born as an idea between long-term mates resulting in a fun and relaxed cocktail bar where everyone can enjoy live music with friends on the weekends, while always using local produce to provide an authentic, grounding sharing experience.