HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Are you making a specialty food? Get great advice

Tipping - Specific to Australia

Bill Hunt Nov 2, 2010 08:39 PM

I'm caught between a rock, and a hard place. While this request for info is specific to Australia, I know that it'll end up here (as it probably should) anyway.

Going for first trip to Australia soon. I know zero about the tipping conventions there, and am hoping that others can help. I spend a good deal of time in the UK and Europe, and have a fair handle on things gratuitous there, plus in my native USA, but have no clue how things are done in Australia. What is the "norm?"



  1. TheHuntress Nov 2, 2010 11:59 PM

    Tipping is not customary in Australia - service is included in the price of the menu. However, if you wish to leave a tip you can choose to do so, it's really up to you. Most casual places will have a jar at the counter that most people will offload their change into and in higher end places you can opt to leave gratuity. But like I say it's certainly not an absolute must, it really is personal choice. I really hope you enjoy our wonderful country while you are over here :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: TheHuntress
      Bill Hunt Nov 3, 2010 05:35 PM

      I greatly appreciate the response.

      I am surprised that you found the thread, but am so glad that you did.

      Thank you,


      1. re: TheHuntress
        gloriousfood Nov 3, 2010 07:10 PM

        My husband and I went to Australia last year and dined at several restaurants, including a very high-end one. The concierge at our hotel told us in no uncertain terms that we do not have to tip, period. It's an option.

        1. re: gloriousfood
          Bill Hunt Nov 3, 2010 08:20 PM

          More useful info, and greatly appreciated.

          Thank you,


          1. re: gloriousfood
            TheHuntress Nov 4, 2010 08:04 PM

            Sorry I must have made that come across wrong. What I meant was that tipping is optional everywhere, you never have to tip in Australia; it's just in many high end places they provide an 'opportunity' to tip, unlike other places. Tipping is never expected, probably more regarded as a very welcome surprise.

        2. a
          AussieBeth Nov 3, 2010 10:53 PM

          Agree with the other posters - tipping is not a must, but I think it is quite a nice thing to do. I am in Melbourne, and would usually not tip at very casual places (like a coffee place, or for takeaway), but in a restaurant with table service, and especially fine-dining restaurants I always do (unless the service is poor). The great thing about tipping here is that you really can express your appreciation of good service, because you are not obliged to do so. Aim for 5 - 10%, and perhaps more for really exceptional service. Have a great time in Aus - looking forward to hearing about your experiences!

          10 Replies
          1. re: AussieBeth
            Bill Hunt Nov 4, 2010 07:19 PM

            Very good, and useful info. I greatly appreciate it.

            Though some complain that I am ruining the UK/European culture of not tipping, I do so anyway. My feeling is that if I am likely to leave 15% for mediocre service in the US, and some server across The Pond does a great job, should I not reward them. I mean no disrespect (that has been thrown up to me several times), I cannot let great service go without some sort of "thank you."

            Had I been thinking last week, I'd have pressed my hostess for an event in London, as she is from Sydney. Guess that there was too much business, great foods and wines, and I just lost track of the evening. But then, I would not have gotten the great input on this thread, so all is not bad. Just missed tapping a source. Duh!

            We hope to enjoy Sydney (will not have much time to explore this trip), and it will be a nice change of scene. While we travel a great deal, we often are in the same exact places (not really bad), and this will be a new horizon for us. We have planned the dining based on some great-sounding recs. in an OZ/NZ post. I will attempt to "pull strings" for a table at one recommended restaurant, as they tell the concierge that all tables are taken for six months. Heck, if I can sneak into the French Laundry, Yountville, CA, USA, at the last minute, I should be able to sneak into Quay. Here's hoping, anyway. Goanna' get right onto that, as soon as I get back from Washington, DC.



            1. re: Bill Hunt
              The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah Nov 4, 2010 10:09 PM

              DH is an Aussie. I had a hard time with him tipping here in the US, because he would very arrogantly say, in Australia, we pay a living wage,' if that helps.

              Have a great time!

              1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah
                Kajikit Nov 6, 2010 07:53 AM

                It's not arrogant - it's TRUE! Wait staff in Australia don't get paid two bucks an hour. I was an under-age, under-the-table waitress when I was a high-schooler and I got ten bucks an hour. Professionals get considerably more than that.

                1. re: Kajikit
                  hill food Nov 14, 2010 10:28 PM

                  I think the point KSyrah was making was tipping US servers based on how other countries' servers are compensated is an invalid argument and does nothing to change the workload/pay of the US server.

                  I like the French cafe system myself with the menu priced according to Terrasse, Salon and Comptoir, in order of difficulty for the server and desirability of the seat.

              2. re: Bill Hunt
                Harters Nov 5, 2010 03:29 AM

                "Though some complain that I am ruining the UK/European culture of not tipping"

                There is no UK/European culture of not tipping.

                Tipping, at some level, is common in almost all European countries (France being the notable exception) and, as you well know from your own trips to the UK, is often included on the bill as what, I believe, Americans call an "auto-gratuity".

                1. re: Harters
                  Bill Hunt Nov 5, 2010 06:46 PM

                  Well, you should have been in on some earlier threads!!!! You would have thought that I had served "stewed puppies," or something, and many claimed that my tipping in Europe and the UK should be viewed as an "international incident." To a few, I was to be considered an economic "terrorist," and should have been on the Interpol's Most Wanted List. Obviously, you and I are different from "them."

                  Now, several trips ago, we had a wonderful cabbie from Mayfair to LHR. We had an early flight, and he was on the spot. He jumped out, grabbed all my wife's luggage, hit the pavement running and gathered a trolley at LHR, and had everything packed on it. All of this in a flash, plus he was a great conversationalist, especially considering the early hour. I handed him £10 extra for a £50 fare. He refused. I pointed to the photograph of his wife, daughter and their Bulldog, saying, "I have two English Bulldogs back in the States. Tell you daughter that this is for her puppy." He smiled, shook my hand and accepted the tip. If I am pressured to tip a cabbie in the US, who will not even turn off his iPod, long enough to acknowledge our presences, speaks little to no English, does not know his city, and wanders around, until we point him in the correct direction, and then just pops his trunk (boot), and does not even say "have a good flight," I can certainly tip a trained, smiling professional, who cares about his fares. International conventions be danged.

                  Now, as per discussions in other threads, I tip very well, for worthy service. What I do hesitate on, however, is when I am forced to pay gratuities, plus maybe "other" charges.

                  Glad that you support me, and are not ready to turn me into the US State Department, or the UN. [Grin]

                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    Harters Nov 6, 2010 03:15 AM

                    Ah, if you want me to be critical of foreigners tipping according to their own customs and not the customs of the country they are visiting, I'll gladly oblige you.

                    My point on this thread was simply to correct your entirely misleading and inaccurate statement about tipping in Europe.

                    1. re: Harters
                      Bill Hunt Nov 14, 2010 06:53 PM

                      Well, if the other responses are any indication, then you might be in the minority. I am not saying that you are wrong, in any way, but that there are many UK residents and Europeans, who feel differently, than you do.



                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        Harters Nov 15, 2010 12:57 AM

                        So, on the converse, you would think it perfectly acceptable for me to come to America and tip only 10%, or less, as is the custom here in the UK? Or for an Australian or French person to tip nothing as is their custom?

                        You really can't have this discussion both ways, Bill.

                        1. re: Harters
                          Bill Hunt Nov 15, 2010 04:21 PM

                          I would have not problem with that. I rather do the opposite, when I'm across the Atlantic. Have not had Her Majesty's guards pull me out of a restaurant, but maybe those fuzzy hats outside were meant for me? Tipping is personal, but "norms" can figure into the mix.

                          As a side note, in the US, there is an impression that females, even professional females, do not tip at the same level, as do gentlemen. Not sure if that is either true now, or if it ever was, but many in the "business" still cite it. So, maybe it is personal, and perhaps even gender-specific?

                          I do not want it "both ways." I want to discover the norm, and then will factor that into my actions. Again, very personal.

                          I just did not want to head "down under," and not have a handle on this issue.

                          As always, interesting conversation and observations.



            2. Kajikit Nov 6, 2010 07:50 AM

              In short - you don't need to! If they try to make you tip just because you're a tourist tell them to go jump in the lake. Tipping is NOT expected in Australia - wait staff are paid a living wage already. If you are super-impressed by the meal or the service, tip a few bucks, but not more than 5 or10 at a time unless they give you gold-plated dinnerware to take home with you!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Kajikit
                PhilD Nov 8, 2010 11:13 AM

                Australian tipping is an interesting subject. A few years ago tipping was definately "un-Australian" as hospitality workers are all covered by negotaiated awards, with set hourly rates and supplments for overtime, weekend working etc.

                But today things have changed. I still think the vast majority of people don't tip (substantially) and we have not become a tipping culture. But more people are tipping, more (un)subtle tricks are being used to encourage a tip, like an open line on a credit card slip, or change at a bar given on a metal tray (with the expectation you keep the notes and leave the coins).

                So what to do? Well if you want to tip no one will object, but do tip in line with how happy you are with the service not because you feel obliged. Also don't worry about a percentage, give what you think is fair (after seeing restaurant prices, which obviously include wage costs you may feel less inclined to be too generous).

                In general tipping conventions (who and when) are no different than most countries. In taxis round up, porters, concierages a few coins, casual coffee places or bars where they give you your change in your hand you could put a few coins in the tip jar (there often is isn't one), in a bar where change is given on a plate you can leave the coins, in most restaurants leave a little cash if deserved (but no more than 5 to 10%), and if the credit card slip is left open only tip if you want too - there is no obligation.

                There used to be a convention in NSW of adding 10% service charge for weekends, and public holidays (in small print on menus) to cover the extra staff costs but this is now illegal. Restaurants and cafes need to have menus witch specify the price you pay. If they want to charge more at the weekend they need to print a new weekend menu with the revised prices. Only last week two places were fined $13,200 each for not doing this and continuing with the surcharge (not a tip I know but indicative of the culture).

                As an aside, I note we haven't had the usual contributions from the waiters lobby on this board yet. Whenever discussed on-line in Aus there are lots of posts arguing that tipping is normal in Aus, wait-staff are badly paid, and non-tippers are the scum of the earth. I always put this down to the demographics of the internet rather than a true picture of tipping culture in Aus.

                1. re: PhilD
                  Bill Hunt Nov 14, 2010 06:55 PM

                  Interesting and appreciated thoughts, especially for this Yank, heading "down under" for the first time.

                  Thank you,


              2. m
                Mag454 Nov 14, 2010 10:38 PM

                When I was in Australia recently for a few weeks, I caught an article in the Sydney paper about tipping there. Basically the author had just come back from a trip to America and was commenting on how service was much better over here then it is over there, because peoples' wages are dependent on the level of service provided. Interestingly enough, I found that service across the board (I dined at all sorts of places) throughout my trip was somewhat lacking and did not feel compelled to leave a tip at most places.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Mag454
                  Bill Hunt Nov 15, 2010 04:28 PM

                  Interesting observation, and thank you for sharing.

                  In the UK and Europe, I find that the baseline for service is quite good. Not sure if I can say above that in the US, for comparable restaurants, but certainly up to par. Now, this is usually in what would be considered "fine dining" on both continents (islands). I have had some issues, when dropping down the "dining scale," but then it seems that many around me are "regulars," and I am obviously an outsider. I have read reports of similar in areas of the US, where the "regulars" got all sorts of extra service, while "tourists" are ignored.

                  I'll keep this in the back of my mind, when in Sydney, and get back to the thread, with any observations. It will be obvious to all but the deaf and blind, that I am not a "local," but a tourist - hopefully a well-behaved tourist.



                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    hill food Nov 15, 2010 06:37 PM

                    act really bad and tell them you're Canadian...

                    1. re: hill food
                      Bill Hunt Nov 15, 2010 07:37 PM

                      Insert a really big grin here! Guess that I could say "eh" a lot.

                      Let's just say that, personally, I'd rather be remembered as a good patron, regardless of my point of origin. Might not work out that way, but it's my goal.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        hill food Nov 15, 2010 08:34 PM

                        my parents lived in Spain for a few years and despite their own foibles are relative non-complainers, so the Spaniards generally assumed they were Canadian (the Northern Midwest accent didn't hurt)

                Show Hidden Posts