You’re unlikely to forget your first Christmas in Oz. Firstly there’s the weather – it’s bikinis and boardshorts not mufflers and mittens. And the beach – make sure you get lots of photos to put in the “brag bank”.
Then there’s the food – down here it’s the BBQ that’s fired-up, rather than warmed up by your dad’s backside after too many brussel sprouts.
Arguably the biggest difference is the spontaneity of it all. Gone is the pressure to visit every family member within a 20 mile radius in under 10 hours. There’ll be no drunken old relatives to thank for their lame presents: “Thanks Nan, I really wanted a set of Elvis tea towels – again”. Oh no, when it comes to Christmas in Oz, you make the rules. If you don’t believe us, try answering these questions:
1. I’m hungover, my mouth feels like I’ve sucked up the entire contents of a budgie’s cage, and it’s only 9am. Do I really have to get up, get dressed and open my presents now?
2. I can only afford to buy my mate a novelty cooking apron (you know, with the fake boobs attached). Will he give a shit?
3. I’m thinking of venturing out to visit my friends. Do I have to spend the next 30 minutes scraping the ice from the window of my car with an empty cassette tape? (Incidentally, Michael Jackson’s Thriller does the best job).
4. Do I have to listen to old Queenie giving it the large?
5. Will I miss my nan’s false teeth moving around in her mouth when she kisses me under the mistletoe?
For your sake, we hope the answer to those questions is a resounding “no”. Sure, you’re going to miss the good folks at home, but with TNT’s Guide to an orphan’s Christmas Down Under, there’ll be plenty for you to talk about come Boxing Day. First up…
Warning! Warning! Bottle shops DO NOT OPEN on Christmas Day, so unless you want to spend the day sucking the dregs from ashtrays, do your shopping beforehand. Go with some mates to grab a few slabs and some delectable cask wine. When it comes to purchasing ice to cool your booze, get as much as you can carry from the supermarket beforehand.
Last year, TNT thought we could just pop down on the day. But spending a few choice hours at various petrol stations while everyone else was getting on it reminded us of the benefits of planning. So don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Beach and the Gifts
Remember to observe the local laws when you’re partying, particularly when taking booze down to the beach. For example, Bondi Council will be enforcing alcohol-free zones on Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches over the festive period. Spending Christmas in the slammer wouldn’t be much fun. So, if you want to drink, do so in a licenced venue.
It’s also a good idea to be careful in the sea. The busiest people in Australia on Christmas Day are the surf lifesavers who patrol the beaches. They spend the whole day pulling out inexperienced – and pissed – swimmers who get caught in the waves or rips. Always swim between the red and yellow flags and raise your hand if you get in trouble. We’re not gonna do the whole “mum thing”, but try to at least be careful after the 50th beer. Plus, don’t forget to “slip, slop, slap and wrap”.
You’re staying in Kings Cross, but want to spend the Big Day on Manly Beach? Fear not, ferries and buses run a weekend service on all the main holidays, so getting about is still pretty easy (but try to be nice to the poor bus drivers).
We know you’re strapped for cash, and so do your mates. But a little gift can go a long way – it’s the thought that counts after all. So we’ve compiled a list of the most thrifty yet actually very useful gifts…
1. New headphones
2. Playing cards
3. Santa hat
4. International phone card
5. Lottery ticket
6. Bottle opener
7. Magic beans
8. 2010 organiser (it’s cheaper)
9. Stubby coolers
10. Box of Oz’s finest goon
You’ve probably figured out that the cheapest way to call home is by using an international phone card (or, better yet, Skype). The best time to call is in the morning (Oz time), when it’s still Christmas Eve almost everywhere else. This way you can boast about the weather and not sound like a drunken tramp – until they ring back 12 hours later at least. You’ll also find most phone cards won’t work the later you call, due to everyone else jamming the network. Plus, remember to phone the number for the nearest city (the generic number is usually more expensive).
Leading up to the Big Day, many Aussies go cock-a-hoop for outdoor carol services – especially Carols by Candlelight, held in all the capital cities. On Jesus’s alleged birthday, rather than charades and snoring in front of the telly, it’s backyard cricket, splashing about in the pool and beach bowls. The traditional Anglo-Saxon turkey roast is being slowly replaced by BBQs, seafoods, salads and cold meats. But of course, there’s lorry loads of beer involved. Christmas Day tends to be more of a family celebration, and Boxing Day is often the time for friends to celebrate together.
And if you really start missing that northern hemisphere Christmas? Simple: go to Blockbusters and rent out Only Fools And Horses, go to the nearest bottle-o and climb inside the freezer, then find an aged street dweller to play charades with until they wet themselves. Merry Christmas all!
Fire It Up: Getting Started From Xmas to NYE
New South Wales
Pre-Xmas: Polish up your Singstar
voice for the biggest carol sing-along in Australia, in Sydney’s Domain on Saturday 18 December.
Xmas: If you’re not busily chilling at a barbie, then get to Sydney’s biggest Xmas Day party – Sunburnt Christmas. It kicks off at 12 noon at the Bondi Pavilion and has Freestylers as a headliner. Tix are $59 ($69 with lunch) from
Boxing Day: Join the masses basking in the sun along the spectacular shores of Sydney Harbour to see off the 100-plus boats starting the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, one of the world’s most challenging sailing contests. Alternatively win your Christmas spending back at the Royal Randwick races, where it’s international day, meaning non-Aussies get in free. Take your passport.
NYE: The classic, not to mention cheap, way to spend New Year’s Eve is in Sydney watching the harbour fireworks. Chances are you’ve seen them on the telly at home but that’s no substitute for the real thing. They are world famous for a very good reason. Visit www.sydneynewyearseve.com to check out the best vantage points and also where will let you BYO alcohol (try to avoid taking glass) – you really don’t want to be drinkless when the clock strikes 12. Remember to arrive extra early. The entertainment starts at 5pm. After that, there’s the family fireworks teaser at 9pm before the main event at, well, you can probably guess when.
Another popular option is Shore Thing at Bondi Beach. Superstar DJs David Guetta and Armand van Helden will be providing the tunes at this massive outdoor party. Expect drinking, dancing and snogging strangers. Tix cost $135 from
Keen to escape the holiday season craziness? Check out alternative three-day festival Peats Ridge, an hour north of Sydney. Tix cost $295 at www.peatsridgefestival.com.au
Boxing Day and NYE in Australia
And for the few people who don’t seem to travel to Sydney for NYE, here’s what’s going on elsewhere…
Boxing Day: One of the biggest sporting events of the Aussie calendar (let alone in an Ashes year) is the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. You’re more likely to get your hands on the urn itself than a ticket to the first day, but head to Fed Square to join the masses watching it on the big screen.
NYE: It’s not just Sydney that puts on amazing firework displays. Federation Square is Melbourne’s answer to the Sydney Harbour bonanza. Check www.fedsquare.com.au
Another option is to head along the Great Ocean Road and catch the likes of The National and Public Enemy playing the awesome Falls Festival in Lorne. It’s sold out, but you never know what might crop up. See www.fallsfestival.com.au
NYE: Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands is the place to catch the obligatory NYE firework display. Celebrations kick off from 3pm and include a fairground, dance party, live music and free films. If your New Year’s resolution is to get as drunk as physically possible then the Wicked Club Crawl is a great way to start as you mean to go on. Join the merry gang of 2,000 like-minded partygoers on a tour of the five best clubs in Surfers Paradise. Tix are from $85, available at www.wickedclubcrawl.com.au
NYE: Perth’s Northbridge hosts a giant free street party every year. Entertainment comedy, burlesque dancers, circus acts and aerial performers. Info at www.cityofperth.wa.gov.au
NYE: Hobart is one of the coolest places to spend NYE in Australia as the usually sleepy capital cranks up a notch every time a Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race contender sails into town. The city also plays host to the Taste of Tasmania Festival, which runs from December 28 to January 3.
There will be over 70 stalls of Tassie food for you to feast on and, if you’re not too full, live music for you to dance to. It’s not unknown for some of the acts in town for the nearby Falls Festival to drop by for a surprise free gig during the week. Visit www.tastefestival.com.au
Darwin’s Wharf Precinct is your destination if you find yourself in the Northern Territory over New Year. The fireworks take off from Stokes Hill Wharf at 9pm and again at midnight. In between the displays take in the live music and street theatre or have a drink or 12 at one of the local bars.
Adelaide’s Elder Park is the biggest NYE celebration in SA. There’s music, dancing, entertainers and multicultural food on offer and at midnight you can watch the fireworks whiz, bang and sparkle over Victoria Bridge. Info at