A Guide to Australia: Things To Know Before You Visit (Tips From a Local)

Australia is an incredible country – there’s no doubt about that. I was lucky enough to have been born and raised in this beautiful country, and am thankful every day for that! There’s so much to love about Australia. Wide open roads (perfect for road-tripping!), incredible beaches with even better sunsets, super friendly and laid back locals, and so much more. You can’t really visit Australia and not enjoy yourself!

A Local's Guide to Australia: Things You Should Know Before You Visit

That being said, there are some things about Australia that not everyone is aware of or understands. So I thought I would share them with you here! I’ve already published a post with 10 reasons why you should visit Australia, and 10 things that you should know. But I’ve decided to go a bit further in depth, and provide as much useful information as I can! What can I say – I love Australia and I want to ensure as many people experience this incredible country as possible!

A GUIDE TO AUSTRALIA: THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT

How long does it take to get to Australia?

This purely depends on where you’re visiting from. But generally speaking, non stop from the United States is around 14 hours. It takes 3.5 hours from New Zealand, roughly 22 hours from London and 18 hours from Canada. These flight durations are purely approximates, and are based on flying into the east coast of Australia.
Regardless of where you’re flying from, we’re super far away from the rest of the world, so be prepared to be on a plane for quite a while! It’s worth it though, I promise.

How much does it cost to fly to Australia?

Again, this depends on where you’re visiting from. But prices can start from anywhere between $150 (from New Zealand) to $1,800 (from London). Obviously prices will vary, taking into consideration the time of year and where you are flying from, so make sure to book as early as possible!

Also, keep an eye out for awesome deals when it comes to flights and even travel packages. Even if you’re not one to purchase a travel package, if the deal is good, it’s a great way to save you some extra money! Some ways you can suss out deals are to check out comparison websites (i.e. Trivago), visit a travel agency that’s been advertising specific discounted tours, or head onto a site such as Scoopon. They’ve always good great deals on flights and packages.




What are the seasons in Australia?

Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, we have opposite seasons to North America and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Our summers are from December until February, autumn (fall) is from March until May, winter is from June until August and spring is September until November. So if you’re someone who longs for a white Christmas, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Australia during December! It will be stinking hot and you won’t know what to do with yourself (except spending all day in a swimming pool, or sitting naked in front of the air conditioner).

How expensive is it to visit or live in Australia? 

Super expensive. That’s probably one of the only downfalls of visiting Australia. There’s nothing you can really do about it either. Unless you spend all of your time bargain hunting and shopping at thrift stores.
Food can be fairly cheap if you shop at the big brands (Coles or Woolworths), and choose their ‘home brand’ items. Cigarettes are insanely expensive, so I would recommend quitting before you visit, or prepare to pay a fortune. Alcohol is just as shockingly pricey, with a carton of beer costing upwards of $70 and a bottle of Smirnoff costing around $50. Wine is your best bet when it comes to alcohol. You can get a very decent bottle of wine for under $10 (I’m a self confessed wine lover).

So if you’re a budget traveler, be prepared. Australia is expensive. You’ll have to spend quite a bit of money, to live or visit comfortably. But that being said, you can also do it on the cheap. Just look out for great specials and bulk buy when something is out at a good price!

Speaking of alcohol, what’s the go with that?

Australia is very strict when it comes to liquor laws. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years old, and in all states around the country, if you look under 25 years old, you’ll be asked for ID. In New South Wales, if you look under 40 years old, you’ll also be asked to show your ID. This can be a valid passport, valid international drivers license (some states across Australia) or a valid proof of age card. If you’re an international visitor, I recommend being prepared and taking your passport with you no matter where you go. Especially when the purchase of alcohol or cigarettes is involved.

Note: If you’re visiting Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, cask wine is restricted and is therefore not sold anywhere in town. Fortified wine (or port) is only available after 6pm, and each person can only be sold one bottle per day.

How big IS Australia?

Here’s the short answer: huge. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, and is almost as big as the United States. Crazy, right? The even crazier part, is that 20 percent of Australia’s land mass is desert. So if you’re road-tripping around the country, and decide to head away from the coastline, you’ll see a lot of red sand and outback animals along your travels!

Russell and I have lived in Alice Springs (which is literally in the centre of Australia) for 8 months now. And I can honestly say that although we’re in the middle of the desert, it’s still a very scenic place to live or visit!

A Guide to Australia: Things To Know Before You Visit (Tips From a Local)

Where should I visit? There’s so much to see and do!

That all depends on what interests you! Considering Australia is its own continent, there’s no shortage of beaches and coastline. But if you’re after something a little more adventurous than just relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of other options.
Spend a few days having a blast at Queensland’s theme parks. The Gold Coast has four theme parks: Movieworld, Dreamworld, Wet n Wild Water World and Sea World. There’s something for everyone!
If theme parks aren’t your thing, head to South Australia for some wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, or an afternoon enjoying everything that Adelaide city has to offer!
If you’re a desert or outback lover, head to the Northern Territory! Uluru is one of Australia’s most popular and impressive attractions, so you should definitely add it to your itinerary!




How can I travel around Australia?

There are a couple of options in regards to traveling around Australia. If you’re a keen road-tripper, you can hire a campervan and set off at your own pace. This is a great choice if you’re traveling as a family or a couple who wants to see more of the country than you would otherwise.
The other option is to fly! Domestic flights within Australia are super cheap, especially if you book months in advance and travel during off-peak times (winter months). So if you aren’t keen on driving for hours on end, with long distances between civilisation, flying is your best bet!

A Guide to Australia: Things To Know Before You Visit (Tips From a Local)

Why do Australians talk weirdly?!

Us Aussies definitely have a different version of the English language. Sure, we do speak legitimate English. But our very cliche ‘slang’ way of speaking can confuse tourists and visitors to Australia. #sorry
If you stay for long enough, you’ll be saying ‘no worries’, thirty times a day. You’ll own more pairs of thongs (flip flops, not underwear) than you ever thought possible. You’ll be buying super expensive stubbies (bottles) of beer, and throwing them back late in the arvo (afternoon). And you’ll be spewin’ (super angry) if you miss out on that delicious brekkie (breakfast). Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it eventually.

What’s the internet situation like in Australia?

Internet in Australia is fairly expensive and super slow. If you don’t want to purchase a sim card to use for data while you’re visiting Australia, there are plenty of places that offer free wifi. McDonalds is a great option, and the best part is, they’re everywhere. Otherwise, look into buying a portable wifi device. They can be pretty expensive, but if you rely on the internet on a daily basis, this is your best bet.

Some money saving tips when traveling around Australia

  • Head to a department store (Kmart is my favourite!) and purchase a refillable water bottle. You can pick up a decent one for under $5, and it will be the best purchase you make all trip! The water in Australia is safe to drink. So refilling a bottle each day instead of purchasing multiple plastic ones, will not only save you money, but it will also help the environment!
  • Cook as many meals as you can. Try and get a hotel room that has its own kitchenette, as cooking your own meals will save you a ton of money! Eating out in Australia is expensive, especially if you do it multiple times a day. So spend some extra dollars ahead of time, and book a self sufficient hotel room or Airbnb!
  • Here’s some good news: tipping isn’t required in Australia! So it’s not necessary to budget extra for tips. Whatever you decide to bring as spending money, is all yours!

Australia may be expensive, and we do talk funny sometimes, but it’s definitely a country that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. From the endless beaches (literally), to amazing wineries and bustling city centres, and even the desert outback. There’s something for everyone in Australia! I am so thankful to call this incredible place my home, and no matter how far I travel, I will always appreciate coming back.

I hope you found my guide to Australia helpful! Have you visited Australia before? What did you like best? Tell me in the comments below!

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A Guide to Australia: Things To Know Before You Visit (Tips From a Local)

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. Which means, if you click the link and make a purchase, I receive a tiny bit of commission. This will never change the fact that I always give my 100% honest opinion and advice!

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27 Comments

  1. June 2, 2017 / 3:36 am

    I love reading and hearing tips from locals as I find them the most useful! Awesome post, Rhiannon!

    • June 2, 2017 / 10:54 am

      Thank you! I’m glad you found it useful. I always try to share as much helpful tips as possible! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. June 2, 2017 / 6:15 pm

    These tips are very handy for us who are coming to Australia to travel next year! Thank you

    • June 3, 2017 / 1:05 pm

      That’s exciting! You’ll have a great time in Australia. Which parts are you visiting? Thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. Mainak
    June 3, 2017 / 2:27 am

    Such a helpful guide, especially since I am planning for a visit very soon.

    • June 3, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      That’s awesome! You’ll love Australia – it’s a beautiful country. Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. June 3, 2017 / 11:28 am

    As a fellow Aussie I love all of these tips! I get asked these questions all the time and I will direct them here 🙂

    Thanks Rhiannon!

    Lucy x

    • June 3, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      Thanks so much Lucy! I appreciate that. I definitely think they are general questions that everyone would want to know before visiting Australia, so having them in the one place will hopefully help some people! Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. Julia Dent
    June 3, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    This is such a helpful guide! When do you think the best time to visit would be? Is it very hot in December?

    • June 3, 2017 / 12:58 pm

      Thanks so much, Julia! Yes, December is summer in Australia, so depending on where you visit, it will be pretty hot! I would say between August and November are prime times to visit (in regards to weather) as it will be Spring and most days are very nice! Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Jean
    June 3, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    Oh as a fellow Aussie I love this! Our poor little country gets such a bad wrap from ignorant travellers thinking it should be Asia level cheap!

    • June 3, 2017 / 4:56 pm

      We really do! It’s frustrating on the one hand that everything is so expensive, but at the same time, I get frustrated with people (customers in particular, since I work in liquor) complaining about the prices. This isn’t Thailand. Things cost more here! haha. But I certainly love Australia and wouldn’t call any other place home 🙂
      Thanks for reading, Jean 🙂

  7. June 3, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    Great post Rhiannon, from another local 🙂 So glad you mentioned little ‘ole SA and the Barossa! The most underrated places to visit I think! (I may be biased though!)
    Josie recently posted…May 2017 SummaryMy Profile

    • June 3, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      Another fellow South Australian, yay! I love SA. Living in Alice Springs has definitely made me appreciate Adelaide, can’t wait to move back next Saturday! Thanks for reading, Josie 🙂

  8. June 3, 2017 / 5:45 pm

    Awesome post, Rhiannon! We are hoping to make it to Sydney this December. It’ll be my second time in Australia, but the last time was so long ago it hardly counts! 🙂

    Totally cracked up at the comment about Australians speaking weirdly. My best friend is from Australia and I LOVE listening to her talk!
    Sarah Shumate recently posted…Staying In The Charming Town Of Sorrento, ItalyMy Profile

    • June 3, 2017 / 10:20 pm

      Thanks, Sarah! Oh I hope you get to visit! Sydney is actually the only main city I haven’t visited yet! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time 🙂
      Haha, we really do speak funny! But I’ve heard it’s entertaining for non-Australians 😛 Thanks for reading!

  9. June 3, 2017 / 9:44 pm

    Oh gosh! I was so intrigued reading this list! Australia is still on my must-visit list! Due to how expensive it actually is (thanks for admitting to that btw) and how far it is as well, it has actually been a struggle to make my way there! I love your slang section (that was really fun to read) and how down-to-earth you wrote this article. Like literally thinking like a tourist in terms of prices (expensive!), distances (car vs. planes) and the endless and confusing choices there can be (things to do)! Awesome post!

    Oh, I also wanted to say about the wi-fi portables – sometimes you can buy it from the departure city and rent it out for a few days and take it back when you return ‘home.’ It can be cheaper than getting them in Australia – food for thought! 🙂
    Charmaine recently posted…How to Find Free AccommodationMy Profile

    • June 3, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      We are expensive, but it’s also doable on a budget. Just gotta plan ahead! I’m glad you liked the post, and found it useful!
      That’s a great suggestion! I didn’t know that you could rent wifi devices that way, thanks! I’ll definitely keep that in mind.
      Thanks for reading, Charmaine.

  10. June 3, 2017 / 10:18 pm

    I’ve been twice for work, but I’m DYING to go back with my husband. Problem is that we don’t want to go until we can do it justice and I’m not sure when in the next few years we’re going to have 3-6 months to take off!

    • June 3, 2017 / 10:25 pm

      Ahhh, you’ll have an amazing time! It could definitely be done in under 3 months, you’ve just gotta prioritise what you would want to see and experience! 6 months is just a way to explore as much as possible, at a slower and less fast-paced way. Either way sounds great and would be an awesome experience 🙂
      Thanks so much for reading, Kristin!

  11. Kelly
    June 3, 2017 / 11:04 pm

    I am dying to visit Australia but since I live in New York, the time and expense of t all has always gotten in my way. But I know I will get there one day. Thanks for the tips about how to sae money and what to expect because I think many people forget how diverese this country is and how much time it will take to try and see as much as possible. So helpful!!!

    • June 8, 2017 / 11:59 am

      You live in my favourite city in the world! haha. I hope you do visit Australia one day! I’d love to hang out and do some exploring with you! It’s definitely a huge place, tons to see and do. Thanks for reading Kelly! 🙂

  12. June 3, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    Love reading about this! In high school, I was so close to leaving the US for an Australian university (Universty of Queensland) but I chickened out and never went! It’s still an absolute must visit and its always great to hear it from locals. Thank you for sharing!

    Best,
    Rebecca

    • June 8, 2017 / 11:57 am

      I hope you get to visit one day! I definitely suggest visiting Queensland if you get the chance. Especially if you like theme parks! 😀
      Thanks for reading, Rebecca 🙂

  13. June 4, 2017 / 10:57 am

    What a great post. My dad first immigrated to Australia (Adelaide) before moving to Canada. It’s a must visit for me.
    Diana recently posted…Eat Train Live TorontoMy Profile

  14. June 4, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    Great tips Rhiannon!
    This has all the information needed for first timers!
    Thanks for sharing your local expertise with us.

    • June 4, 2017 / 5:49 pm

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you found the post helpful! Thanks for reading 🙂

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