This, believe it or not, is the first thing my friend Kevin wants to know about Australia. He saw a Simpson’s episode once (Season 6, Episode 16. Kevin remembers next to nothing of his four years in college, but he does remember this.) where Bart calls Australia, collect, to find out which way the toilets flush.

Kevin is convinced water swirls in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere, but has no evidence other than The Simpsons to back up his claim. “Why would they lie?” He asks, indignantly.

Annoyed, I turn to my own toilet. It, helpfully, flushes straight down and doesn’t swirl at all, so away I go to the internet.

As it turns out, The Simpsons didn’t lie. The Coriolis force is real and if there were no other forces acting on the water in a toilet it would turn the opposite direction as it does in the Northern Hemisphere. So much ink has been spilled on this particular bit of useless knowledge, it’s even spawned a scientific experiment using simultaneous video demonstrations to test the effect. Click through if you like. No toilets were harmed in the making of either video.

Kevin feels vindicated, but by leaping into this particular rabbit-hole he’s completely missed the bigger picture. Australia is an amazing land with a rich history filled with unique people and creatures not found anywhere else on earth. And although they are definitely a part of Australian culture, there is more to the country and the continent than Men at Work, Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan and Steve Irwin.

This is a point I’ll make over and over again as this series unfolds, but first, Kevin has questions about the some of the words Australians use.

Next up: What is Macca’s and why does everyone go there?


Part 1: I Would Like to Acknowledge…

Part 2: Educating Kevin About Australia


Photo by midascode (Pixabay)