Difference #6: Mistakes and the Future

There is something about the Aussie mentality that took me a while to figure out. And I’m not even sure if I did it by now. When comparing Germany and Australia I always have to account for the fact that my lifestyles are completely different as well and that I get in contact with different people in different environments.

Some things still stick out and and one of those things are mistakes. The Aussie way of dealing with mistakes is simple: they deal with them. There is no prolonged search for who’s responsible, no blaming and no bucket-passing. Germans, by my experience, have a different approach. Firstly they spend an awful lot of time worrying about what could go wrong and take every possible measure to prevent mistakes. When things do go wrong the first action is usually to find someone or something to blame it on. Maybe it’s just like that in IT but I honestly don’t think so.

That doesn’t mean that Aussies are reckless slobs who balance a ladder on a chair to reach a higher point. On the farms I worked on, safety was a constant issue and in the beginning I was always told where not to put my fingers if I wanted to keep them. It simply seems to me that Aussies understood the fact that work is done by humans and humans inevitably err. Try to prevent mistakes, especially if they could cause physical harm, but don’t overdo it.

In most jobs that I did so far I was basically at the bottom end of the hierarchy. Yet I can’t remember a single occasion where somebody who acted as my supervisor tried to blame me for something they did wrong or where a mistake made by me was due to insufficient instructions. In Germany stuff like that happened more often, a mistake is like a personal flaw, a stain that is better put on somebody else rather than yourself.

In my opinion Aussies are less scared by the unknown, by the future and what it might bring. It seems they are in general more used to deal with the problems at hand instead of worrying about possibly upcoming trouble.

It is not uncommon in Australia for people to move every couple of years, change jobs or even pick up a different profession. At the vineyard I met people like Greg, he’s doing casual work all year long and creates enough income to raise two kids. During the months of the year where he doesn’t work he goes fishing and plays golf.

I’m pretty sure he’d have a harder time doing something like that in Germany. After all, how can he risk to raise children without a secure job? And how would he dare to have a good time on the boat while everybody else is sitting in an office?

Difference #5: On the Road

Travelling long distances on the road in Australia is different. It’s not just the driving on the other side of the road.

There is no separate speed limit for trucks, pretty much regardless of their size. That means that if you’re obeying the speed limit or even stay a bit below it you will sooner or later have a truck in your rearview mirror. And if that truck happens to be a road train you basically have 100t of steel and cargo just meters behind your bumper. The bright side of that is that trucks are not moving obstacles like they are on German highways. Still feels weird to get overtaken by trucks.

Inevitably linked to Australia are dirt roads AKA unsealed roads. They differ greatly in terms of quality. Some of them are so bad that even at low speed every screw is rattled out of its bearing and the suspension cries for mercy. Others are as plain as tarmac and driving 80-100 km/h is still comfortable. And amazing. It’s probably the child in me that enjoys it but driving like that with nothing but an enormous dust cloud in the mirrors is just heaps fun. Most of the dirt roads I’ve travelled on are somewhere in between those extremes. Not comfortable but no immediate threat to the vehicle either.

Now Australia is a country the size of Europe but with just a quarter of Germany’s population. Much of the country is vast nothingness and even along the coast there are stretches that literally go for hundreds of kilometres without passing by any town. Driving there is a challenge as it is incredibly boring and easy to get distracted. To keep drivers focused the QLD government even put signs with trivia besides the road. “What is the highest mountain in Australia?” and a couple of kms later the answer on another sign. Those streets put a meaning to words like ‘infinite’ and ‘endless’.

The Aussie highways sometimes look like an autobahn, two lanes in each direction separated by some green in the middle. Yet still the speed limit never exceeds 120 km/h and even that is rather rare. Sometimes those roads lead into a city and suddenly the speed limit is 60 km/h with bus stops on the shoulder. Speaking of shoulder, on most highways riding a bicycle is legal but I can’t imagine it to be very pleasant.