Dean (Justin Long) returns his tip in 2005's Waiting.

A Punter’s Guide to Tipping in Australia

Not so long ago in this country, a good tipper was someone who correctly picked the results of the footy on the weekend, not someone with a habit of leaving their money behind in restaurants or bars.

But over the last twenty years there’s been a shift towards what can only be described as ‘The American Way’.

Tipping has become far more widespread in Australia, but with no hard and fast rules there’s always a bit of a dilemma when the cheque arrives.

We all know the minimum hospitality wage of around $17 per hour is pretty decent (especially compared to America’s), but no one wants to come across as a tight-arse if they don’t tip when they should.

To clear up the confusion, here’s a punter’s guide to tipping in Australia.

Bars

While tipping bartenders is neither expected nor required, Aussies are actually quite generous tippers at the bar.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

One, people at the bar tend to be, well, drinking, and hence filled with alcohol-induced jolliness and generosity. And two, having to scrounge your shrapnel off those little silver change trays feels cheap, regardless of the fact you’re paying eight bucks a beer or eighteen for a cocktail.

But hey, if you’re happy with a pocket or purse full of silver, swallow that pride and don’t worry about it.

Guideline: Not necessary, but if you’re feeling generous then leave that shrapnel lying there like you just don’t care.

Cafés

The less formal the situation, the less pressure there is to tip.

A simple test of the level of formality in a particular venue is to look at your waiter. Are they calling you sir or ma’am, waffling on about the wine list and unfolding a crisp white napkin on your lap with a flourish? Or are they sweating out a hangover in a black t-shirt that smells like the bottom of a wheelie bin?

Cafés are usually pretty laid back, and so a tip is not always needed.

Still, if you’re feeling generous after your poached eggs and you’ve been well looked after, the wait staff will be happy to accept.

Guideline: 10%-20% for great service.

Restaurants

The fancier the restaurant, the more expected a tip will be, but at the end of the day it really comes down to the service.

Did the waiter turn their nose up when you ordered the house red? Bungle your order? Insult your mother? Probably don’t worry about it, then.

But if they were friendly, efficient and knew their stuff (as any waiter in a half-decent place should), then let them know in the simplest way possible: cold hard cash.

Guideline: tip what you feel comfortable with for great service, 10 – 20% is standard.

Cabbies

Cabbies are masters of the guilt-trip tip for customers paying with cash.

They’ll hand over the notes first, and then fumble for change for what seems like an eternity you eventually tell them not to bother.

If you’re running late for your Tinder date, then you may have to just let those coins slide, otherwise, feel free to wait it out.

Guideline: not necessary, but if you do just give the cabby a breezy wave when they try to pass you those coins, to convey how easy-going, rich and generous you are, and then feel good about yourself for the rest of the day.

Nurses, paramedics, firemen, police…

We’re not saying slip the nurse a fiver if they hit the vein first time on your blood test, but it is a bit strange that we’ll tip a waiter for a good job but not any of these other fine service professionals.

It’s the way of the world, and they wouldn’t expect it either, but a heart-felt thank you will go a long way.

The final word

  • Had great service in a café or restaurant? Tip what you’re comfortable with, between 10 – 20% is standard.
  • Cabbies and bartenders? It’s not necessary (but can be convenient).
  • Other service professions? A thank you goes a long way.
  • Earn less than the waiters? Don’t think twice about not tipping.