Alcohol and social drinking
Social drinking is a very important part of Australian culture.
It is common to have a drink with friends and colleagues after
work, and it is expected there will be alcohol served at a dinner
party or social event. Beer and wine are the most popular
drinks, followed by spirits (hard liquor).
If you do not drink for health or cultural reasons and are attending a social event, it is absolutely fine to say 'no thanks!' to a glass of alcohol. Simply ask if you can have a soft drink or juice instead.
Alcohol-related social problems
Globally, Australians have a reputation as big drinkers. While many see this as a reflection of the fun and carefree Aussie culture, it has a dark side. It is common for people to 'binge drink', having up to 10 drinks a night. This can result in anti-social behaviour, with fighting a common result. However, locals know the type of pubs and bars where this behaviour occurs, and avoid those places at night. The police and government are taking measures to reduce the amount of alcohol sold to people who have been drinking. Drink-driving is also strongly targeted by the police. A driver cannot have a blood-alcohol reading of .05 on a full licence - that is about 1-2 standard drinks for the average person.
Alcohol is sold in 'bottle shops' and some supermarkets. You can buy alcohol on any day of the week. Compared to many other countries alcohol is quite expensive, mainly because of tax. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18, and you may be asked for identification before you can enter a venue serving alcohol.