Are Aussie travellers a bunch of drunks?
Showing their colours ... but is the drunken Aussie image warranted? Photo: Peter Braig
Go to Oktoberfest in Munich, and you'll think you have the answer.
Walk on past the Paulaner tent, and the Lowenbrau tent – they won't give you any information. They're just full of German people who are quietly going about the business of ingesting as much beer and pork products as possible, but they're not getting hammered.
Wander, instead, towards the big blue Hofbrau sign, which guides foreign travellers like an alcoholic star. Step inside, and prepare yourself – the place will be heaving, bursting at the seams, with people in two states: drunk, or absolutely smashed. And a lot, at first glance, seem to be Australian.
The Hofbrau tent is infamous as a place of Antipodean debauchery, where the great unwashed come together to neck steins at midday and remove their pants. There are other nationalities in there – Italians, Czechs, Brits, Kiwis – but it always seems to be the blokes in the AFL jerseys leading the charge.
Aussie travellers. We're a bunch of drunks, right? Popular cultural cringe has it that Australians are the worst of the worst, the ones making the biggest nuisance of themselves on the turps overseas.
We do it at Oktoberfest, but at least it's expected there. It happens elsewhere, too. We're getting smashed in Bali, hammered in Buenos Aires, pissed in Lagos and wankered in Cape Town. We're drunk in Bangkok, inebriated in Istanbul.
It's part of the culture, after all. Drinking is hard-wired into the Anglo Aussie brain, going hand-in-hand with relaxation. With socialising. You don't call your mates up and say, "Let's catch up for a coffee." You call them up and say, "Let's go for a beer."
Drinking is a treat, a way to celebrate a day with no work. Or, you know, the sun going down. It's the inevitable answer to the mid-afternoon question of, "So ... What are we gonna do now?" It's a coveted chance to "cut loose".
All of which leads to us having a little reputation. There's the Loud American, the Whinging Pom, and the Drunk Aussie.
But is it really warranted? Are we really that bad?
In my opinion, yes ... and no. Australians, in general, drink when we travel. Sometimes in places where we shouldn't. Or where others don't imbibe with the same enthusiasm. But it's not always as cringeworthy as it seems.
You might shudder to think of your countrymen running around Asia boozing it up like home, but have you ever been out drinking soju with a bunch of Koreans? Or gone on a sake binge with the Japanese? Or got into a beer-drinking session with the Thais?
They can hold their own.
Yes, we drink a lot, and Australians are a nightmare when they travel in packs. But so are a lot of nationalities.
Go down to the Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney and tell me where the drunk people come from. It's unlikely they'll have a blue passport.
I've travelled with people from around the world, and in my experience there are plenty who can give us a run for our money. Young Americans – you seen them? They're not allowed into pubs until they're 21, so by their mid-20s they're still hitting it hard.
They travel in packs too, yelling "Born in the USA" into the night sky. Cringeworthy? For sure.
And Brits ... Where do you think this drinking culture of ours came from? It mightn't be as obvious in South-East Asia, but check out any destination in Europe that RyanAir or EasyJet flies to and you'll discover some serious Boozed Up Brits Abroad.
The British "stag do" is almost single-handedly terrorising Eastern Europe.
I'm not trying to defend the drunken Aussie lout here. There are compatriots of ours out there who will make you cringe – I've probably been one at some point; you've probably been one, too.
But are we a worldwide nuisance? Not quite.
Do you think Australian travellers are a bunch of drunks? Are we embarrassing ourselves out there?
Follow Ben Groundwater on Twitter @bengroundwater