The Odd Reason Tourists In Australia Are Getting Grossed Out By Locals

Australia, known for its stunning landscapes and iconic wildlife, attracts nearly 7 million tourists each year. Visitors come from far and wide to explore its vibrant cities, ride some of the best waves, and trek through the rugged outback. Amid all of these experiences, one peculiar local habit has been causing quite a stir among international visitors: Australians' penchant for not wearing shoes.

Barefoot culture, while perfectly normal to Aussies, has left many tourists scratching their heads and, in some cases, feeling a bit grossed out. People tend to be quite divided about feet. From the U.S. to Japan, cultural etiquettes differ regarding this body part. In Australia, however, walking around without shoes in public places like supermarkets, banks, and even restaurants is not uncommon.

Is there a shoe shortage in Australia? Nope. The answer comes down to culture, weather, and history. The country boasts a year-long warm climate, encouraging a leisurely lifestyle and plenty of outdoor activities (the beach, duh!). Moreover, Aussies generally share a relaxed, non-judgemental attitude that values comfort and informality. This extends to their choice of footwear — or lack thereof.

Historically, after WWII, British citizens were encouraged to move from the gloomy UK to cheerful and sunny Oz to work and develop the country. In the campaign for this scheme, the beachy and relaxed lifestyle was a major selling point. New immigrants literally began to kick off their shoes, eschewing the cold of the North and, instead, embracing the warmth and freedom of the land down under.

Barefoot steps in the land down under

For visitors hailing from places where shoes are considered essential attire for stepping outside, the sight of barefoot Australians can be startling. In certain countries, wearing shoes is a matter of personal care and a sign of respect towards others. "No shoes, no shirt, no service," as the quip goes. Consequently, the Oz barefoot phenomenon can appear odd or unhygienic to foreigners.

Tourists have expressed their surprise toward barefoot Aussies on social media. In a TikTok by Curtis & Darcie, an Aussie commentator responds, "We're just built different." You'll even see Australian celebrities like Chris Hemsworth walking around shoeless. However, despite being a bush and beach-loving culture, barefoot action mostly happens in Australia's coastal towns, suburbs, parks, or indoors.


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♬ sheerans in paris – PASHINN

Did you know that ditching shoes is good for your health? The founder of The Barefoot Movement (who just happens to be Australian) says it enhances balance, posture, and power output by stimulating dormant foot muscles and more than 200,000 nerve endings. A 2012 study indicates that walking barefoot is an "effective environmental strategy against chronic stress ... inflammation, pain, poor sleep, ... and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease."

Despite the initial shock, this habit is a unique aspect of Australia that tourists can learn to appreciate. After all, humans only started wearing shoes 40,000 years ago. Until then, everyone's toes were on full display. On your next trip to the land down under, consider going barefoot for a slice of Aussie culture in the most literal sense — step by step.