Although largely informal in their everyday dealings, Western Australians do observe some (unspoken) rules of etiquette.
- Greetings Shake hands when meeting someone for the first time and when saying goodbye. Female friends are often greeted with a single kiss on the cheek.
- Invitations If you're invited to someone's house for a barbecue or dinner, don't turn up empty-handed: bring a bottle of wine or some beers.
- Shouting No, not yelling. 'Shouting' at the bar means buying a round of drinks: if someone buys you one, don't leave without buying them one too.
Responsible Cultural Travel
There are a range of protocols for visiting Indigenous lands, but it's always courteous to make contact prior to your visit. In many cases you must acquire a permit to enter, so check with local Indigenous Land Councils and police stations before visiting.
Some Indigenous sites are registered under heritage legislation and have conditions attached, or may only be visited with permission from their traditional custodians or in their company. Don't touch artworks, as the skin’s natural oils can cause deterioration. Dust also causes problems – move thoughtfully at rock-art sites and leave your vehicle some distance away. Respect the wishes of Indigenous custodians by reading signs carefully, keeping to dedicated camping areas and staying on marked tracks. Remember that rock art and engravings are manifestations of sacred beliefs and laws.
When interacting with Indigenous Australians, you'll generally find them polite and willing to share their culture with you – but it must be on their terms. Show respect for privacy and remember that your time constraints and priorities may not always be shared. In some areas, English is not a first language, but in others many people speak English fluently. Body language and etiquette often vary: the terms ‘thank you’, or ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, may not be used in some areas, or direct eye contact may be avoided. So take note of local practices: take them as they come and follow the cues. Some Aboriginal communities are ‘dry’. There may be rules relating to the purchase and consumption of alcohol, or it may be forbidden altogether.