If you’re planning your first visit to Australia, you’re probably looking for some useful and informative Australia travel tips. If so, you’ve come to the right place! I am a born and raised Australian. I grew up in South Australia where I lived for the first 24 years of my life. Back in October 2016, Russell and I moved temporarily to Alice Springs, where we lived for eight months before returning home to Adelaide.
I see so many people saying that they want to visit Australia, but some don’t know where to start when it comes to planning a trip here. I bet there are even some of you reading this, that still think we ride kangaroos to work. Which sadly, we don’t.
There are a lot of things to see and do in Australia, and there’s also a lot that you should know before visiting for the first time. So before you hop on a plane and travel to this beautiful country of mine, here are 20 of the best Australia travel tips to help you prepare for your first time in the Land Down Under.
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Table of Contents
- Australia Travel Tips – 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit
- 1. Our beaches are extraordinary
- 2. Australians are friendly and laid back
- 3. South Australia’s wine regions
- 4. Our animals are adorable
- 5. Our snacks are delicious
- 6. Australia has beautiful scenery
- 7. Australia’s sporting scene
- 8. We love to drink
- 9. Australia’s Kmart is amazing
- 10. There’s a lot to see and do
- Australia Travel Tips – 10 Things You Should Know
- 1. You can only buy alcohol in bottle shops
- 2. Australia is expensive
- 3. Tipping isn’t required in Australia
- 4. Wear sunscreen
- 5. Australia is huge
- 6. We drive on the left
- 7. You’ll need a Visa to enter Australia
- 8. Tax is already included
- 9. Australia is a cash and card country
- 10. You won’t want to leave
- Pin it for later!
Australia Travel Tips – 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit
To get things started, it’s important for you to know some of the reasons why you should visit Australia. Other than the fact that we are awesome, of course. Here are ten reasons why you should spend some time exploring Australia:
1. Our beaches are extraordinary
I’m sure you have seen some of our most famous beaches on TV or all over the internet at some point. Bondi Beach in New South Wales is one of Australia’s most well-known beaches, and is super popular amongst both locals and tourists. Surfers Paradise in Queensland is another beach that I’m certain you’ve heard of.
Like I mentioned earlier, Russell and I grew up Adelaide, South Australia. We are lucky enough to be within a thirty minute drive from some of Adelaide’s most gorgeous stretches of coast, including Glenelg Beach and Semaphore Beach. Both of these beaches are well worth a visit, and although they can get busy during summer, I highly recommend spending a few hours exploring these towns. There are a ton of shops and restaurants to keep you busy when you aren’t strolling along the sand or soaking up the sun.
We recently spend ten days in Queensland, and was lucky enough to be a stone’s throw away from both Mooloolaba Beach on the Sunshine Coast and Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Our hotel in Surfers Paradise had an incredible beachfront view, which made me thankful each day to live in such a beautiful country.
2. Australians are friendly and laid back
Just like everywhere else in the world, you will occasionally come across some less than friendly people who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. But generally speaking, Australians are a very laid back bunch of people. We are very friendly and will almost always go out of our way to help.
This is especially the case in outback towns such as Alice Springs. It seems that with less to keep people entertained, the friendlier the locals are. Go figure!
3. South Australia’s wine regions
If you love wine as much as I do, you should definitely visit some of South Australia’s wine regions. The Barossa Valley is probably the most well-known, and is located in the Adelaide Hills. We also have McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek, Coonawarra and more.
There are a wide range of wine tours available, which means you’ll be able to drink all day long, and not have to worry about driving home! Save some space in your suitcase, though. I guarantee you’ll want to purchase some of Adelaide’s finest wines to share with friends back home.
One of the coolest parts about South Australia’s wine regions, is there are tons of accomodation options. This is perfect for a romantic weekend with your loved one, or even a group of friends for a birthday or special occasion. Book ahead though, because during summer these hotels can fill up quick.
4. Our animals are adorable
You’ve probably heard that Australia has some really cute animals. I’m sure you’ve also heard that we have some of the world’s most venomous snakes and deadly spiders. All of the above is true. We do have a lot of dangerous animals, but if you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of yours.
You will find more than just dangerous animals in Australia, though. We also have lots of super cute and fluffy locals that are guaranteed to make you go awwww. While Russell and I were living in Alice Springs, we frequently had kangaroos hop by our house or sit outside our window.
You’ll also see koalas (not koala bears, just koalas) in gum trees all over the country. Be careful if you’re driving, though. Especially in the hills or foothills. Koalas tend to cross main roads in order to change trees and find food. So take care and keep an eye out. There are signs throughout the hills, reminding drivers to be careful.
5. Our snacks are delicious
Have you ever heard of Tim Tams before? How about fairy bread or Fruchocs? Twisties? Australia has some of the best snacks I’ve ever had in my life. Sure, I’m biased. But in all honesty, once you take your first bite of a Tim Tam you’ll understand what I mean. The only exception is Vegemite. There are people who love it and will have a vomit worthy ratio of Vegemite to butter. But I can’t stand the stuff. It’s a rite of passage for all Australian visitors to try some though. So good luck!
6. Australia has beautiful scenery
Beaches aren’t the only beautiful thing about Australia. Even the desert can be pretty spectacular if you know where to go. Whether you’re driving through the hills, along the beach or even in the middle of no where – you’ll be hard pressed to find somewhere in Australia that isn’t photogenic. Bring your camera and research some off the beaten path places to visit wherever you are. Either Google or the locals will be able to help you out!
7. Australia’s sporting scene
I’ve never been much of a sport fan, but that’s probably because I’m the most uncoordinated person in the world. But regardless of whether or not you play sport, there’s no denying that us Australians love our sport. Even I enjoy watching the odd game of AFL (Australian Football League) or tennis. If you happen to be visiting Australian during March and September, definitely try and get tickets to an AFL game. It’s Australia’s most popular sport, and the atmosphere at a game is awesome.
Cricket is also big in Australia, and there are a ton of live matches in most major cities to go to if you’re visiting during Cricket season (generally from October through to February).
8. We love to drink
Australian’s love their alcohol, beer in particular. Australia Day, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Mondays, Wednesdays, Sunday afternoons, Tuesday mornings – no matter what day of the week, you can bet that we’re drinking. The busiest day for all bottle shops is Christmas Eve, and it’s absolute bedlam. Trust me.
Whenever there is a special occasion or holiday in Australia, everyone is drinking. If you’re trying to find an Australian a gift, buy them a bottle of alcohol or a gift card to buy themselves a bottle of alcohol. You’ll leave the country as a legend, I guarantee it. This may sound like were a country of full on alcoholics, but we’re not. We just love a good bottle of wine or carton of beer to get us through the week…
9. Australia’s Kmart is amazing
I really, really love Kmart. Australia’s Kmart is different to America’s, and you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on house decor, appliances and cute clothes. Most of the kitchen appliances in our house are from Kmart, and they work perfectly. If you’re on a budget, but want your house looking awesome, hit up Kmart. They have a ton of really cool styles, so grab a trolley and start shopping!
If you’re a temporary visitor, Kmart is also great for essentials. Their clothes, shoes and underwear are very affordable. You’ll also find toiletries and beauty products. So whenever you need a new pair of shoes or tube of mascara, head to Kmart before anywhere else! Check out Kmart’s website here, for more information and take a sneak peak at all the cool stuff they sell. (No, I’m not sponsored by Kmart. I sure wish I was though!).
10. There’s a lot to see and do
Australia is filled with an almost endless amount of things to see and do. Whether you love the coast, outback, suburbs or hills, you won’t run out of new things to see. So don’t be shy – get out there and explore! Go out of your comfort zone. Do something you never imagined you’d do. Talk to locals and get some recommendations. Whatever you do, don’t leave Australia without seeing everything. Okay, I know that’s not realistic. But please, at least see as much as possible while you’re here.
Related: Check out our Australia archives
Australia Travel Tips – 10 Things You Should Know
1. You can only buy alcohol in bottle shops
Unlike most places around the world, you can’t just head to the supermarket or convenience store and grab a bottle of booze. Sorry guys. You actually have to visit a place called a Bottle Shop or Liquor Store. You’ll be able to browse through an entire store filled with an endless amount of wine, spirits, beer, RTD’s and goon (cheap wine in bags that you squeeze out like water).
The legal drinking age in Australia is 18. If you’re visiting most states in Australia other than New South Wales and look under 25 years old, you’ll be asked for ID. Always make sure to bring your passport with you if you’re an international visitor, as this is the only form of ID accepted across all Australian States. Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory accept international drivers licenses as well as passports. If you’re visiting New South Wales, you’ll be asked for ID if you look under 40 years old. So keep that in mind when shopping for alcohol, and always, always make sure to bring a valid, acceptable proof of age.
2. Australia is expensive
I’m not gonna sugar coat it – you’ll have to fork out some serious cash to experience Australia to the fullest. Alcohol in particular is horrendously expensive. Think upwards of $60 for a carton of beer, and generally more than $40 for any bottle of spirits. If you’re a smoker, be prepared to pay up to $40 for a pack.
Food can be expensive too, especially if you’re looking for some quick snacks while on the road. The best advice I can give to anyone embarking on a road-trip around the country, is to stock up on food and water at Coles or Woolworths. They are two different supermarket chains, but each have their own selection of ‘home brand’ options. Fill up your car or van with as much as you can, then you won’t have to make expensive pit stops along the way! I would also suggest buying a carton of water bottles as opposed to just one or two. It’ll cost you around $6 for a 24 pack of 600ml bottles, then you’ll have enough fresh spring water to last a up to a week.
3. Tipping isn’t required in Australia
Tipping isn’t expected in restaurants, hotels, bars or basically anywhere else you’d normally tip. Australians get paid a very decent hourly rate, so we don’t rely on tips to earn us extra money. The option is always there though, if you would like to tip. It isn’t frowned upon to tip, it’s just not necessary or expected.
4. Wear sunscreen
Australian summers can be brutal. Actually, not can be, they are brutal. Summer days can reach upwards of 45 degrees celsius in some parts of the country, so sunscreen is a must. Whether you plan to spend 15 minutes or 5 hours in the sun, always make sure you’ve got some sunscreen on hand. A hat or cap of some sort is also a good idea. Skin cancer is a very real risk in Australia, and even spending as little as half an hour in the sun can leave you with a killer sunburn. Always cover up and invest in a good quality sunscreen!
5. Australia is huge
If you’re planning a road trip around the country, you should know: Australia is huge. A large majority of the country is outback desert, too. It takes around 5 hours to fly from one side of the country to the other, and over 3 days to drive the same distance. So be prepared to see a lot of the same scenery if you decide to do the Great Australian Road Trip.
6. We drive on the left
Whenever I visit America, the driving terrifies me. It feels so unnatural driving on the right hand side, especially turning corners! No thanks. Here in Australia, we drive on the left hand side of the road. Don’t be one of those people who hires a car but doesn’t know the Australian road rules. Do some research, and stick to the left!
7. You’ll need a Visa to enter Australia
If you’re planning a temporary visit to Australia, you can apply for an ETA. This will grant you access to the country for up to 3 months. I don’t want to give you guys any incorrect information, so click here to find out more about choosing the right Australian Visa, and how to apply.
8. Tax is already included
Prices in stores and restaurants around Australia already include tax (it’s called GST). So if you’re in a store and you’re looking at a book that costs $10, that’s how much you’ll pay when you get to the checkout. There’s no secret, hidden, extra costs on top of that $10. So although some things may look expensive (which generally they are – compared to other countries around the world) at least you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll need!
9. Australia is a cash and card country
When Russell and I visited Japan back in March 2017, we knew before arriving that it was very much a cash oriented country. This meant that we had to take most of our spending money as cash, to avoid having trouble finding ATM’s that would allow us to withdraw more money.
In Australia, that isn’t an issue. Most places (especially stores and restaurants) accept both cash and card payments. That being said, it’s always a good idea to have a small amount of cash with you no matter where you travel. There are a lot of great options when it comes to loading currency onto a travel card. Check out Travel Money Oz. They have a best price guarantee and no fees!
If you do need to withdraw money, most ATM’s accept foreign travel cards. There may be a withdrawal fee, though. So keep that in mind if you intend to withdraw money frequently.
10. You won’t want to leave
We may be an expensive country, and you’ll probably get sick of hearing our cringe worthy slang, but one thing I can guarantee: you won’t want to leave. Australia is an incredible country. Whether you’re here for a week, a month or even a year, it won’t be enough time. No matter where I travel around the world, I am always excited to return home to Australia.
There’s just something about this place that makes me happy, comfortable, safe and loved. It will always be my home, no matter where in the world I may be. If you’re lucky enough to visit, make the most of your time here. I truly believe Australia is one of the best countries in the world, and you will have an incredible time, no matter how long you’re here for.
I hope this Australia travel tips post has helped you to get an insight into this weird and wonderful country I call home. There are a lot of beautiful places to see, so here is my last tip: take a camera (or your phone) everywhere you go! There are an endless amount of Instagrammable locations, so don’t waste the opportunity!
Are you planning a trip to Australia? Tell me in the comments below! Have you recently returned home from an Australian holiday? Tell me about your time here, in the comments below!
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