UNITED STATES—Australia is one of those bucket-list destinations that most of us have dreams of some day visiting. There’s nowhere else quite like it, we are told. Great climate, relaxed attitude, fabulous beaches and surfing culture…

Hold on a moment – does any of that sound at all familiar? That’s right, we might not have kangaroos or quite so many deadly spiders, but many of the characteristics and features of Australia that people rate so highly are exactly the same things that stand out about California. The similarities run deeper, too. Could it be that California and Australia are cultural twins, albeit separated by 8,000 miles of Pacific Ocean? Let’s take a closer look.

Climate – two west coasts with year-round sun

Australia and California both have a warm climate, especially if you happen to be comparing it with New York or Vancouver or London. But beyond that, Australia, in particular, is so immense that it is hard to generalize.

For example, the Northern Territory has an almost tropical climate that is similar to the Indian subcontinent, while temperate Southern Australia is more like the Mediterranean. Focus in on Australia’s West Coast, however, and the similarities with the west coast of the USA are hard to ignore, both in terms of the weather and the beaches.

No worries – a relaxed atmosphere is pervasive 

Mission Beach in San Diego is legendary for its relaxed atmosphere, where there’s no shortage of things to do but no pressure to do any of them in a hurry. It’s an attitude and way of life that is precious and rare in the 2020s.

Australia has no worries as an unofficial national motto. It’s fair to say that antipodean equanimity in the face of adversity took something of a hit in 2020 for obvious reasons. That was one event where we understood that personal comfort and convenience had to take a back seat for the greater good. But despite, or perhaps because of Australia’s strict and uncompromising stance, it was back to business as usual much faster than most places.

From pokies to poker, a shared love of casino

They say Australians can’t see two flies crawling up a wall without starting to bet on them. It’s true that Australians spend much, much more per capita than any other nation – more than $1,000 per year, in fact. Most of this is spent on mobile casino apps, and specifically, more than half on pokies, which are known as slot games outside Australia.

Poker is a narrow second place in Australia, and of course this game is immensely popular in California. The Golden State has more poker rooms than any other – even Nevada.

A common history of gold rushes

That Golden State moniker is about more than sunshine and beaches. The California that we know today was fundamentally influenced by the gold rush of the early 1850s. It prompted mass migration, immense investment and the establishment of boom towns almost overnight. Sure, some of them disappeared as fast, creating some of the state’s unique history that has been preserved in the ghost towns. But more importantly, it spurred economic growth and attracted both foreign and domestic investors, adventurers and dreamers. Some say that spirit is still alive and well today in the entrepreneurial heartlands of Silicon Valley.

Down Under, the story is eerily similar. The first gold rushes began at almost exactly the same time, and the effects were a mirror image of what was happening in California. The long-term impact is also very similar. Like California, Australia is a hotbed of technological innovation, with pioneering work going on in everything from VR to quantum computing.

Two new world wine producers disrupting the establishment

Australia and California are two of the biggest wine producers in the world, and are also among the most influential – whatever the French and Italians might say! The truth is, both are seen as upstarts to a certain extent, new world arrivals that have disrupted the natural order of things. From what we now know about these cultures, such charges will keep nobody awake at night in either place!

California is the fourth largest wine producing region in the world, making more per year than many entire countries – including Australia, which is seventh on the same list. Australian wine is arguably better known on the world stage as more of it is exported than Californian, which, after all, has a domestic market that is more than 13 time larger. Both, however, produce wines that are very similar in character due to the parallels in both climate and process.