For a country internationally known for its laid back, easy going culture – there’s an awful lot you can’t do in Australia that’s deemed perfectly acceptable overseas.
From moving fridges and cleaning houses to texting while driving and drinking in public – Australians can forget a vast array of laws when travelling to foreign lands.
Here, take a look at some of the intriguing – and often bizarre – rules and regulations which are rarely enforced by overseas authorities.
VACUUMING AT NIGHT
In the state of Victoria, it is illegal to cause ‘unreasonable noise’ with a vacuum cleaner between 10pm and 7am Monday to Friday.
On weekends and public holidays, you must wait until 9am to clean your dusty floor if the noise will be heard from your neighbour’s home.
Police can order the appliance be turned off – and you could be hit with a whopping $18,655 if you don’t comply.
Under The Environment Protection (Residential Noise) 2008 Regulations, the same laws apply for noisy air conditioners and heaters.
Such rules are rarely applicable overseas, though in parts of Switzerland you can’t even flush your toilet after 10pm.
SELLING YOUR FRIDGE
Section 58B of South Australia’s Summary Offences Act 1953 makes it illegal for people to sell a fridge with a capacity of 42.5 litres or more.
The only exemption is if the fridge in question was manufactured or imported into the state before 1962.
The bizarre law is said to have been a product of a spate of ‘fridge-related deaths’ when buyers moved the appliance in the early 1900s.
There doesn’t appear to be similar legislation anywhere else in the world.
FLYING A KITE
Flying a kite in a public place in Victoria could see you slapped with a hefty fine – or even time behind bars.
Under Section 4 of the Summary Offences Act 1966, the popular pastime is outlawed if it causes ‘annoyance of any person’.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of of two months jail and a $777 fine.
PINK HOT PANTS ON SUNDAYS?
Multiple reputable websites claim it is illegal in Victoria to wear pink hot pants after noon on Sundays.
Many years ago, the fashion statement allegedly landed people on the wrong side of the law, Victoria Police’s official magazine, Police Life once wrote.
‘Most people would agree maybe that the law should have stayed in effect as it was not only breaking the rules of fashion, but could also have resulted in a criminal record,’ a 2007 issue of the magazine stated.
A spokesperson from Victoria Police said he wasn’t sure the law was still (or ever) in place, but said it may be local custom in some areas.
WEARING A HELMET WHILE RIDING A BIKE
In Australia, the idea of not having to wear a protective helmet while cycling is comical.
But it appears cyclists in almost all of Europe aren’t required to strap their caps, while in some countries even motorcyclists aren’t forced to wear them.
In Denmark, there are no laws relating to the use of helmets, and in Finland, they recommend them – but do not enforce it as law.
The Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and Russia would also be left wide-eyed upon hearing of the $319 fine they’ll rack up each time they’re caught without a helmet on in Australia.
The western world’s war on drugs have lost its united front in recent years, with many states and countries gradually choosing to accept marijuana as a legal substance.
California eased up its laws in 2016, legalising marijuana for personal use. People are able to grow up to six plants per household, and carry up to an ounce on them – which is about a sandwich bag full.
It follows the path of The Netherlands, Switzerland or Jamaica, as well as a handful of other nations around the globe who all decriminalised marijuana for personal consumption.
For Australians, those laws appear to still be a distant future. The use of medical marijuana has recently been legalised, but those who require it still have to jump through legal loopholes and are often left out of pocket thousands of dollars.
During the Great Depression and post-war period, people were starving, and as a result, Western Australia introduced a law prohibiting the ownership of more than 50kg of potatoes.
The law remained in tact for decades to come, and while the Potato Marketing Corporation was shut down in 2016, the laws have become ingrained in the history of the state.
They introduced a Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946, which prohibits anyone from selling, delivering, purchasing, or taking delivery of 50kgs (or what appears to be 50kg) or more of potatoes.
The only exception was for members of the Potato Corporation or an authorised agent.
Fines for breaking the law started at $2,000 for a first offence and went up to $5,000 for subsequent offences.
SINGING IN PUBLIC
Singing along to a song which contains offensive language comes with a $1,554 and a possible three month jail term.
This little-known law relates to offensive conduct in a public place, but there are three loopholes that can be used to escape punishment.
The first is to dispute that the alleged actions were yours, the second is to suggest the conduct was not in fact offensive, or the third is to argue a ‘reasonable excuse.’
The law could land international tourists in hot water without much effort or realisation on their behalf at all.
DRINKING IN PUBLIC
Most public places in and across the major cities in Australia have been deemed alcohol prohibited zones.
If you’re caught with alcohol in a public place, but under 18, it will just be confiscated and you’ll be slapped with a $20 fine, but for those above the legal age, a fine of up to $400 is applicable.
Public transport and alcohol free zones are often monitored by police and officials to ensure nobody is breaking the law.
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING
Texting while driving is another facet of Australian law that often stumps tourists.
Under no circumstances is it legal for a person to be holding their phone to text in Australia while driving.
The fine in New South Wales for holding a mobile phone while driving is upwards of $337.
In the United States, laws differ by state, but a handful have no restrictions to texting while driving, while others have restrictions only for learner drivers or those under the age of 21.
Sweden doesn’t have any restrictions to texting behind the wheel, but, again, many of the countries in Europe have different laws regarding mobile phone use.
SMOKING CIGARETTES IN PUBLIC
In New South Wales, smoking and using e-cigarettes is banned in all enclosed public areas and certain outdoor public areas, under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 and the Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2016.
Smoking is also prohibited within 10 metres of children’s playgrounds, public swimming pools, public transport stops and commercial outdoor dining areas.
NSW Health inspectors conduct regular compliance monitoring and enforcement activity and have the right to issue cautions or on the spot fines of $300 to people who don’t comply to the smoking bans.
North Sydney major Jilly Gibson aims to make the suburb, where an estimated 70,000 people work during commercial business hours, the first smoke-free business district in the country.
ONLY LICENSED ELECTRICIANS CAN CHANGE LIGHT BULBS
Believe it or not, this is true in all states across Australia.
While it would be very difficult to enforce fines for ignoring the law, residents are encouraged to call an electrician when changing light bulbs, with the view it is safer for a qualified expert to carry out one of life’s routine household chores.
Perhaps keep this is mind when your significant other asks you to reach into the cupboard and change the light in the living room.
Playing it safe has never felt so good.
IT IS ILLEGAL TO BE INTOXICATED INSIDE A PUB
This law has long baffled tourists in Australia, especially from Europe and South America.
If a venue licensee or staff are caught supplying alcohol to a person deemed intoxicated, they can be fined up to $11,000.
Patrons who supply a fellow pub goer with alcohol when he or she is intoxicated can be slugged with a $1,100 penalty notice.
In a further blurring of the lines, intoxicated people are permitted to stay in pubs, provided they are ‘monitored’ and do not consume any additional alcohol.
WEARING SEAT BELTS IN A MOTOR VEHICLE
It has been compulsory to do so in Australia since 1983.
Drivers must ensure they and any other passenger in the vehicle are wearing seat belts, regardless of age.
The driver is also responsible for ensuring all passengers are correctly restrained.
Fines range from $550 to $900 as well as the loss of driver demerit points.