A collection of stuff I've found interesting.
- People here tend not to clean their tables--even at places like McDonald's, only a few people will actually throw away their trash. Most folks just leave it on the table behind them.
- Recycling bins are few and far between--almost everything ends up in one bin.
- Restaurant service can be interesting--often you'll have one person take the order, some one else serve your food, and some one else ask you if you'd like another drink with your meal. Sometimes you pay the server, but most of the time you just walk to the cashier and your bill will be pulled from the stack next to the cash register. Often tables will have numbers prominently displayed on them.
- O words: Rego (as in car registration), garbo (as in garbageman), seppo (as in Yankee), Salvo (as in Salvation Army person)
- Great Aussie words: daggy, as in "he looked really daggy in that polo shirt and cableknit vest". Another great saying (referring to Senator Heffo [Heffernan]): "Well, he's got his cock in the pencil grinder now." [this, by the way, was in the Melbourne Age, a very respectable newspaper].
- Nice phrase: "Show us your map of Tassie!" - Trevor the Tagged Trout has been released! You can find him in Huonville this weekend, and win a Nissan 4WD if you catch him!
- Easter is just huge huge huge; about the same level of hype as Halloween is in the US. The stores (Kmart, Woolworth's, Coles) all have huge Easter candy sections, with little bunny prints stuck to the floor saying "This way to the Easter Goodies!". There's also a big push by fishmongers and supermarkets for "Fish for Lent!" It kinda makes me giggle; I haven't seen that in California, but I've certainly seen ads saying "Come here for Passover Foods". In fact, you'd probably get protests if you promoted Christian holidays like Easter--but Yom Kippur and Ramadan and Diwali are OK.
- Tasmania feels like it's somewhere off the California-Oregon border. Same issues (old-growth logging, small businesses being forced out by bigger retailers), same type of food (great dairy, good produce, great seafood), same kinds of industry (dairy, hydro power, marijuana), same kind of people (older hippies, a few rednecks, general rural folks)
- Weird word usage: walking into Kmart and seeing, right next to the Housewares section, the Manchester section. That's what bed and maybe bath stuff is called here
- The term "husband", "wife", and "spouse" aren't used here in newspapers. It's always 'partner of', even when one of the other terms can be used.
- Australia has a boatload of commemorative coins. I have normal ones--things like Commonwealth Games 50 cent pieces, and Centenary of Federation commemoratives--but I also have ones like a Famous Cricket Player 20 cent piece, and a mystery 1994 one dollar coin with what looks like a fingerpainted picture of a family (and no other text). All in all, I must have maybe 30 coins already.
- Double paned windows are unknown here... haven't seen one yet. Insulation isn't used much either, though I have spotted a bit here and there in Tasmania. Heaters don't work very well here, but air conditioning sure does. I'd love to have one of those remote controlled airconditioners at my house. They're powerful, quiet, and don't take up the whole window.
- Some of the pronunciation can be odd to my ears: capillary is ca-PILL-a-ry, and unprecedented is un-PREE-ce-dent-ed. I don't even know how to start pronouncing many of the Aboriginal sourced words. (Uluru is not u-LOO-ru).
- More word fun: 'have loads of fun' (American) is 'have heaps of fun' (Aussie). Haven't heard an Aussie say "I'm done" at the end of a meal or "I've got something" either. Like the Brits, the Aussies 'reckon' a lot of the time, too.
- On the flip side of differences, sometimes Australia can feel so much like the US that I'm shocked when someone starts talking with an Aussie accent.
it's all abbreviated. documentation becomes "doco" ... john becomes "john-o" ... weird.
that coin you described celebrates the year of the family (it was a UN thing).
we actually have that many commemorative coins in the US ... but they don't ordinarily circulate. the bicentennial coins and the current states series are different (in fact, the original washington quarter was meant to be a commemorative!)
you can see the not-yet-issued west point commemorative half dollar here. we've already issued this year's bullion coins, as well as some commems for the olympics...
Australia has given in to the disturbing colored coin trend and coins with holograms trend on some of their commemoratives.