From Australia with Love
May 24, 2011 8:53 PM   Subscribe

What cool, small, packable gifts should my boyfriend bring back from Australia?

My boyfriend is on a work trip to Australia for three weeks. He's going to be in and around Sydney. Because I'm stuck home, he's offered to bring me back something interesting, and I'd really appreciate some suggestions.

Ideal suggestions would be for small, readily available things that can be easily stuffed into a suitcase for transport. Things that won't cause him to curse my name when he goes to pack his bag. Little stuff that's cool because it's different than home.

I feel a little silly asking this, so I'm hoping someone is willing to answer!
posted by cndelia to Travel & Transportation around Australia (37 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Billy tea
posted by crazycanuck at 9:07 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

A tube of Lucas Papaw Ointment. Widely available (or such is my understanding) at pharmacies. (Average Rating: 4.5; 89% would buy this product again at!)
posted by kmennie at 9:07 PM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Boomerangs. They're decoratively painted, and can be put on the wall as decor, and you can also take them out to a (large) park and discover that they actually work.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:09 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ditto the pawpaw ointment. I have a tube sitting on my desk right now - it's amazing!
posted by teststrip at 9:22 PM on May 24, 2011

Textiles printed with Aboriginal artwork: T-shirts, hoodies, purses, heck even tablecloths and napkins.

That really great sunscreen... damn, what's the name... Oh! Australian Gold.

Manuka honey. Much cheaper nearer the source. Get the highest MGO you can afford - at least 250.
posted by likeso at 9:25 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Timtams and vegemite. Some Australian beer or wine. (Get him to buy it from a small local brewery or vineyard so you get something you couldn't just buy in your home country).

Musk sticks (candy). They are seriously weird.

When my New Zealander friends and family visit, they tend to buy the little coin purses made out of kangaroo scrotums or cane toads. That may or may not be so hilarious to you and your friends.
posted by lollusc at 9:25 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and assuming you are living in a country that allows you to bring herbs and suchlike in, at supermarkets you can get little packets of "bush herbs" or "bush spices", which are mixtures of things like lemon myrtle, native mint, quandong, native limes, mountain pepper, bush tomato, akudjura, etc. Ground wattleseed is great too (you can use it in baking, sprinkle it on ice cream, put it in coffee, etc.)
posted by lollusc at 9:28 PM on May 24, 2011

Minties! If you don't know what they are, it's time you did. As to Tim-Tams and Vegemite--I can get Tim-Tams in my local supermarket in Doha, Qatar, so I think they've gone international. I'd ask about Vegemite. Startling thought though it may be, not everyone likes it.
posted by Logophiliac at 9:34 PM on May 24, 2011

Cherry Ripe.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:36 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Tim Tams are genius. Vegemite not so much.
I think they sell mini-didgeridoos now. There are also those painted Aboriginal click stick thingies that go with them.

You can buy random artwork, poetry, and zines from people on the street. Those are always fun.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:49 PM on May 24, 2011

Tim Tams are available seasonally (cold months) in the US from Pepperidge Farms now. Vegemite is available too in the US.

You might look for a small art object from the Aussie Arts & Crafts movement
posted by Bwithh at 11:05 PM on May 24, 2011

Tim Tams can be bought in Target now! I'd suggest some Aussie chocolate bars.
posted by Joh at 11:12 PM on May 24, 2011

If it were me, I'd want something featuring a duck-billed platypus.
posted by sugarbomb at 11:57 PM on May 24, 2011

Thirding Lucas Paw Paw Ointment. It's amazing stuff.

In that vein, Kosmea Rose Hip oil is also VERY nice (and available from any chemist), as is Lanolips lip gloss.

My girlfriends overseas get a kick out of Bonds underwear - they're affordable, fun, and great for a boyfriend to shop for you! Look them up online and point him to the right direction! I'm a USA 2 and take a Bonds size 10.

A pair of real sheepskin house slippers would be amazing if you live through harsh winters.

I am sure you can get Havaiianas flipflops in the USA but a pair FROM Oz may be nice!
posted by shazzam! at 12:13 AM on May 25, 2011

He should buy his presents for other people at Paddy's Markets, near Central Station. Tons of stuff for very little money. As for a cool gift, Kangaroo leather is soft, pliable and hard wearing has a hundred and one uses.
posted by joannemullen at 12:16 AM on May 25, 2011

can kangaroo jerky get through customs?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:17 AM on May 25, 2011

Aussie here. This is what I missed when living overseas. I miss lamingtons, but they might not travel so well. (ditto meat pies. I know, not that impressive when you live here, but overseas you drool for them!)

Australian Cadbury tastes different (better?) than other Cadbury, could be worth a giggle.

Jaffas. You can roll them down the aisle at your next movie night. (Or eat them because they are tasty) Maltesers also.

Licorice (black)


Mint Leaves, Strawberries and Cream, Musk Sticks (for the weird value only) and CLINKERS!

The clinker game, as played by Australian children (well, a variation of)
Each player takes a clinker. Going around the circle, guess the clinker colour (yellow, green, pink). If you get it right, take another clinker and try again. If you get it wrong, the next person gets a go.

When you get older, you still guess when you eat a clinker. :)

That's the sweet tooth stuff. :)

(I assume you're stateside?)
posted by titanium_geek at 12:23 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Curiously enough, I don't think Australian Gold sunscreen is actually available here.

You might get plain TimTams where you are, but do you get the flavoured ones? Rum and Raisin? Mint? Caramel? There are lots of varieties, most of which are only produced for a few years before they switch to something new. I highly recommend them all.
posted by embrangled at 12:42 AM on May 25, 2011

Lemon Myrtle Tea is lovely. Australian wine is good though perhaps not so portable. The markets in Sydney on Sundays are good and often feature stalls from independent designers makng cute clothes and accessories. IMHO mini-didgeridoos are v tacky... But he's a tourist, so may as well lap it up I suppose.
posted by jojobobo at 12:43 AM on May 25, 2011

Also- a DVD copy of We Could Be Heroes or Summer Heights High for a taste of Australian humour at its best
posted by jojobobo at 12:45 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend once bought me back a coin purse made of an odd shaped piece of leather that turned out to be a kangaroo scrotum.
posted by rhymer at 12:49 AM on May 25, 2011

Last one: I'm not sure if you can already get Aesop products in the US but they are really lovely and beautifully packaged too.
posted by jojobobo at 12:50 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

'Sheepskin slippers' will be known as Ugg/Ugh Boots, and are incredible for cold days around the house.

If you're into wine, definitely pick some up here - the range overseas is depressingly limited.

You can get a 12-pack of little koalas that cling to things - tacky, but can be fun.

Cadbury chocolate is definitely different. And definitely better.

posted by twirlypen at 12:50 AM on May 25, 2011

Hazelnut Snickers
posted by brujita at 12:57 AM on May 25, 2011

Here's what I asked my mum to bring me when she visited:
Lanolips, both the tinted and the clear kind. I used to be a Lucas girl, but Lanolips is the greatest tinted lip balm of all time. OF ALL TIME!
Rosehip oil, any brand.
Bonds undies (how I miss them!)
TWISTIES. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
Tim Tams.
Golden syrup (yes, really).
posted by nerdfish at 1:19 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh! I'm also devoted to Cancer Council everyday sunscreen, if you wanted to bring back some sunscreen.
posted by nerdfish at 1:20 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Australian herbs and spices - this store carries them, will mail-order them to you and is licensed for export so if you tell them you're taking them to the states, they will pack them properly and ensure that the correct paperwork is with them. Lemon myrtle is awesome but there are a lot of others (pepper berries, bush tomatoes etc). I don't think they do an Aussie kit per se but they'll put a custom one together for you if you ask nicely. :)
posted by ninazer0 at 1:31 AM on May 25, 2011

Opals. He can easily find either a nice piece of jewellery or a tacky kitschy ornament, whatever floats your boat.

Something from the Ken Done shop at Darling Harbour. I bought my last swimsuit/cozzie/bathers/whatever-you-call-them for $10, and they are quintessentially Aussie, and just a teeny bit kitsch but well-made. They have gorgeous sarongs too.

I dunno if the US have Lifesavers, but a Canadian friend sent some over to my kids and we were fascinated by the difference in size and flavour to ours.

Aussie flag thongs. No, not your sort of thongs, ours! Footwear.

What's with y'all and musk sticks? Make some patty cakes, sorry CUPcakes, ice them with strawberry icing and put chopped musk sticks - the proper pink ones, not the newer fruity versions - on top. Scrumdiddlyumptious.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:39 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Choc-coated crystallised ginger and toasted coconut marshmallows from Darrell Lea.
A secondhand Mambo t-shirt to use as PJs.
Aussie flag bikini.
Stickers for your car - frangipanis, a Southern Cross, 'fuck off we're full', a Bundy bear, something about a ute muster, something about a pub, 'bugger', and HOLDEN
50c coins.
Allen's Party Mix.
Something from RM Williams?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:03 AM on May 25, 2011

Tim tams
Violet Crumbles
Caramel Koalas [So cheap, so yummy]

Also seconding ninazerO's suggestion of herbs.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:21 AM on May 25, 2011

This thread is making me drool! I would get a ton of Cadbury Flake bars. And yeah, I remember finding all sorts of great sun-protection stuff. Not so glamorous but Australians have sun-protection down!
posted by wallaby at 5:04 AM on May 25, 2011

I try and do all my souvenir shopping in the supermarket ;) Get him to go crazy in the chocolate bar section of the local supermarket - Caramello Koalas, Freddo Frogs (strawberry and mint), Violet Crumbles, Cherry Ripes, Fantales, Minties, Chokito.... and a big block of Cadburys with Macadamia nuts!

And yes, maybe some golden syrup and ETA BBQ sauce (so different from US BBQ sauce - can't have a bacon sandwich without it!)
posted by unlaced at 6:55 AM on May 25, 2011

I got my friends kangaroo leather bookmarks, Aussie flag lapel pins, tiny bottles of Bundaburg Rum, and fridge magnets. The bookmarks were a big hit since all my friends are big readers and its something that lasts.
posted by PJMoore at 7:50 AM on May 25, 2011

Drop Bear-skin gloves. Very hard to find.
posted by Joh at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

How about some Australian magazines - off the top of my head, King Brown and Frankie both have a strong local flavour. Please be careful buying Aboriginal art themed products - a lot of cheap tourist tat is a. not Aboriginal or b. stolen from the artist. You can get some great postcards and mini prints from the NSW Art Gallery shop though.
posted by Wantok at 6:45 PM on May 25, 2011

I'm an Aussie married to a Yank and living in the USA, my care packages from home include such delights as . . Minties, caramello koalas, Mint Slice chocolate biscuits (cookies), and my husband has become addicted to Violet Crumbles. Also on my last visit there I sent my MIL a selection of Red Rock potato chips .. she had never had "Honey Soy Chicken" or "Sweet Chilli and Sour Cream" chips. I also manged to get her some Smiths Chips "Bacon" and "Lamb & Mint Sauce" flavoured ones. Though they can take up room in you luggage, potato chips are super cheap to post (well cheap for international postage anyway).
posted by wwax at 7:56 PM on May 25, 2011

If he can get it - Tasmanian pepper. It's one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.
posted by jb at 11:17 PM on May 25, 2011

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