Four things visitors may find odd about Australian living

by isvolunteers on Wednesday, 17 June 2015

To any Australian these things are normal. However, to visitors like ISV volunteers who travel to Australia in winter time, these four things, all related to energy and water consumption, might seem a bit weird…

Just about everyone knows these famous sites – the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in NSW; however read this blog to learn a few things you may not know about Australian living! (c) International Student Volunteers

  1. Many households don’t have electric

    Hanging clothes on a Hills Hoist…on another Australian icon, Bondi Beach.

    clothes dryers; we use clothes lines. In fact, we even invented the free standing and rotating “Hills Hoist”, a cultural icon, featured in the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games! The winter climate means that we can struggle sometimes to have days suitable for outside clothes-drying, but usually we’ll just hang the clothes inside instead. To use less energy (better for the environment and your monthly spending), let the sun and the wind dry your clothes.

  1. Toilets have two buttons: half flush and full flush. It should be intuitive but half flush is for #1s and full flush is for #2s. Save water. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Australians are taught from an early age to conserve water but there is still much more to be done to improve water wastage by individuals and especially primary industry.
  1. Australia is dry, real dry. Conserving water is a way of life in Australia (c) International Student Volunteers.

    Australia is dry, real dry. Just ask these ISV volunteers! Conserving water is part of every-day life in Australia. (c) International Student Volunteers

    Dishwashers aren’t the norm: lots of homes still wash dishes by filling a sink full of water and doing it by hand, rather than using a machine. This uses less water than keeping the tap running. We’re very conscious of water wastage in Australia due to the fact our continent is so dry, so please always turn off the tap when you don’t need running water. This includes brushing your teeth!

  1. Many homes aren’t fully insulated and don’t use heaters. Seriously, there are lots of older style homes (especially in rural areas) that burn wood fires in winter and people just rug up more when it’s cold. Newer homes tend to be much better insulated, adopting more sustainable designs, which is important for reducing energy expenditure on heating and cooling, thus better for the environment and ultimately your monthly costs too.

OK, let’s be honest about it. Duel-flush toilets are very common, but not all Australian homes are unheated and don’t have clothes dryers or dishwashers, and do it purely for environmental reasons. However, as a heads up, we wanted you to know that lots of homes don’t have one or more of these modern conveniences for one reason or another, so please be prepared for it just in case!   

The bottom line for volunteers who might find these things odd during their May to September project experience –

  1. Rug up! The cold winter weather in many parts of Australia will surprise you! (c) International Student Volunteers

    Rug up! The cold winter weather in many parts of Australia will surprise you! (c) International Student Volunteers

    Remember you are in Australia to volunteer for the environment, so saving energy and water is a good thing!

  2. Save water when you flush. It may seem like a small thing, but when over 20 million Aussies do that multiple times every day, it can add up to saving a lot of our precious water supply.
  3. Wear an extra jumper (sweater) and pack thermal underwear. You’ll be surprised how cold it can get in many parts of Australia during winter, contrary to popular perceptions overseas that we’re hot all year round!

Thanks for being a conscientious visitor in Australia. We can’t wait to host you!

To learn more about ISV in Australia and our programs internationally please visit our website!


ISV volunteers wearing pants and sweaters. Remember, contrary to popular belief, it can get cold in Australia in winter! (c) International Student Volunteers

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