My impression of Australia is very positive for one main reason – Australians.
Brisbane is a city of the courtesy wave in traffic and the friendly nod of approval on the sidewalk - gestures of respect to complete strangers. Asking a stranger for a bit of help here is not ‘asking too much’. By far the most popular response to ‘thank you’ (or ‘sorry’) is ‘No worries mate’. Another one I hear often is: ‘Too easy.’
I really like this attitude from people – a bit of ‘small town’ in the city. It reminds me of my dad. He has always understood how to be respectful to strangers. Not over-the-top polite, just sincerely courteous. I don’t know how he became that way. When I was maybe 12, he once picked up a scary looking hitchhiker with me and my two younger brothers in the back seat of the Taurus and gave him a ride across Kitchener. The guy had a black leather jacket, long hair, basically he was Antonio Banderas from Desperado. But he turned out to be very polite – a little surprised I think. I don't know why my dad suddenly decided to offer this guy a ride - it never happened again. Maybe it was just his small town childhood coming through. Maybe he thought it would teach his sons an important lesson. Maybe he was overcome by a sudden need to confirm that Canada was full of good people just like where he grew up. Or maybe he could just somehow tell that this guy would be harmless - that he'd be alright.
In Brisbane, if they don’t know you, most Aussies assume you’re alright, until you manage to show them otherwise. I am still a bit surprised every time it happens. Almost everyone is just plain respectful. I think mainly I'm talking about working class men and women. But that seems to be everyone. Aussies generally don't like to flash their wealth even if they have it. The elite get ridiculed. The politicians get tortured here. But the average bloke on the street - he's alright.