Aussie petrol station detail ‘confuses’ expat

A South African woman who recently moved to Sydney pointed out a “confusing” detail about how we run petrol stations Down Under.

When an expat moves to Australia they’re often taken back by the way we do things. Why? because the way we do things Down Under tends to be a big culture shock.

Mahle Majola relocated from South Africa to Sydney in May this year – and since then she has experienced what many expats have experienced, “confusion”.

In a TikTok, that has amassed almost 30,000 views in two days, Mahle filmed herself at a local Metro petrol station.

But it was one detail that left her shocked and wanting answers.

“This is confusing,” she said while at a petrol pump. “I feel like I’m in an American movie.

“How are there no petrol attendance,” she asked.

“There is no one here. You basically fill the tank yourself based on how much petrol you want and then you go inside and pay.”

Mahle said she “doesn’t understand” how Aussies are “so trusting”.

“Like, why wouldn’t someone drive off?” she asked.

“The price of petrol is so high in South Africa and in Sydney (it) is ridiculous right now.”

Aussies jumped in the comments section to tell Mahle there’s “cameras everywhere”.

“Labour costs are just too much here to have attendants. Plus cameras track every inch of your car – so if you don’t pay they send the details to police,” one person wrote.

“There are cameras that watch the number plate of the cars in case someone drives off,” another pointed out, to which Mahle responded: “But isn’t it so much work to now search for those cars and open a police case?”

“With low crimes rates compared to SA the police here have the time to follow smaller crimes. Saying that most people in Australia are honest,” one TikTok user said.

In South Africa, petrol stations have fuel attendants who fill up your tank for you. Customers then tip the attendant and pay at the pump.

“I was shocked when I got to Australia in 2020 … Learned to fill up and change my own oil and pump tyres. SA spoils us,” a fellow South African woman wrote.

Another added: “This was such a novelty when we first moved here as kids. My sisters and I would fight to fill in. As an adult I now miss someone doing it for me.”

Mahle said what also “blew her away” was that how Woolworths “used to have its own petrol stations”.

“Like what?” she said.

In April 2019, Woolies sold its 540 service stations to the British company EG Group for $1.72 billion. Since the sale, Woolworths-branded service stations have been progressively rebranded into EG stations.

Mahle said she is “shocked” at some things that are considered “normal here” with her TikTok filled with clips of her experiences in Australia so far.

Anther thing that took her by surprise was “street library boxes” in the inner west suburb of Newtown.

“I don’t think we have these back home,” she said in another clip. “You find these at the corner of most streets (and) in this instance I was in Newtown.

“I had seen these for the first time. So you take a book and you leave a book.”

“I think this is such an amazing thing to have.”


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