If you’ve clicked into this awesome, comprehensive guide to Australia, there’s a pretty good chance you’re planning your next holiday. If so, congratulations – you’ve chosen an incredible country! I was lucky enough to be born and raised in this beautiful country, and I’m thankful every single day for that! There is so much to love about Australia. From wide open roads perfect for road tripping, to incredible beaches with even better sunsets and super friendly and laid back locals. You can’t really visit Australia and not enjoy yourself!
However, as amazing as this country is, there are some things that some people may not be aware of. For instance: did you know that crocodiles can be found in almost the entire top half of Australia? So if you’re visiting the Northern Territory, Western Australia or Queensland, be careful!
A comprehensive guide to Australia – 30 tips for first time visitors
There’s a lot that people don’t know when it comes to traveling to Australia, and surviving while you’re here! We are a very large, very densely outback country, so if you plan to spend an extended period of time here, you should definitely be prepared!
TRAVEL & TRANSPORT
1. Travel time to and from Australia is always super long – Travel time depends on where you’re visiting from. But for instance, non-stop from the United States takes around 14 hours. It takes between 3 and 4 hours from New Zealand; roughly 22 hours from London and 18 hours from Canada.
Note: These are purely approximates, and are based on flying into the East Coast of Australia.
2. How much does it cost to fly here? – This varies based on where you’re visiting from. Prices can start anywhere between $150 from New Zealand, to $1,800 from London. Prices will vary depending on the time of year and where you’re flying from.
Tip: Make sure to book as early as possible to score an awesome deal! Check out comparison websites like Trivago and Hotels Combined for some great specials.
3. Australia is a huge country – I’m not even being dramatic. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, and is almost as big as the United States. Plus, 20 percent of Australia’s land mass is outback desert. Embarking on a road trip around the country is a big task, so prepare to see a lot of red sand and a lot of absolutely nothing else along your travels!
4. Our public transport system sucks – Seriously, you’re better off hiring a car. In most states around Australia, public transport isn’t reliable nor anything to brag about. Avoid it if you can!
5. Uber is much more budget friendly than a taxi – If you don’t have a car and would prefer to not rely on our public transport, book an Uber before you book a taxi. You’ll pay a lot less, and have a much more enjoyable experience!
6. Road-tripping is best way to travel around Australia – If your plan is to see as much of the country as possible, embarking on a road trip is probably your best bet! You’ll be able to see so much more, and at completely your own pace. Heading off the beaten track and discovering some hidden Australian gems is all part of the fun!
Tip: Check out Britz or Apollo for a wide range of awesome RV and camper-vans available for hire! Campervan Finder or VroomVroomVroom are great for comparing prices across all companies!
7. Flying domestically is great for main city hopping – If you’d prefer to stick to 100% civilisation, flying domestically is a great option. You can frequently pick up super cheap flights, especially if you book ahead! So if you aren’t keen on drivers for hours on end, flying is the way to go!Australia is the perfect place for a cross country road-trip. Here are some tips!… Click To Tweet
SEASONS & CLIMATE
8. Our seasons are opposite to 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. If you’re someone who enjoys a white Christmas, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Australia during December!
9. The Northern Territory is always going to be hotter – If you’re planning a summer trip to Australia, keep in mind that the temperature is going to be higher in the Northern Territory, year round. Expect highs of over forty degrees celsius in summer, and late twenties to mid thirties for the rest of the year.
10. Travel during off-peak times for less crowds – Summer is prime time to visit Australia. Everyone wants to experience our beautiful beaches. But guess what? Our beaches are still here during winter! They’ll also be much less busy. So for a more relaxing Australian adventure, book your trip between April and August!Want a break from winter blues over Christmas? Head to Australia for hot days and sunshine!… Click To Tweet
MONEY, PRICES & CURRENCY
11. Australia is expensive – I know, I hate to say it as much as you hate reading it. There’s nothing you can really do about the situation either, which totally sucks! Food can be fairly cheap if you shop at the big brands (Coles or Woolworths). Make sure to choose their ‘home brand’ items, though. Cigarettes and alcohol are very expensive, with a carton of beer costing upwards of $70 and a bottle of hard spirits starting at $30. Stick to wine. It’s cheap and delicious!
12. That being said, Australia can be done on a budget – Keep an eye out for cheap flights and package deals with hotels and fly during off-peak time. For cheaper alcohol, head to a big liquor chain like First Choice or Dan Murphy’s for great weekly deals. If you’re road-tripping (more on that later), buy bulk in essential items such as water, fuel/gas and snacks.
13. The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar – look out for good deals on currency exchange, to get the most out of your spending money!
14. Tipping isn’t required in Australia – At least as far as I know. I’ve never been anywhere within Australia where I was required to leave a tip. This might sound strange for Americans and other countries that enforce the tipping system, but it’s perfectly normal for us Aussies!Tipping isn't compulsory in Australia - awesome! Here are 29 more cool facts you may not know… Click To Tweet
ALCOHOL, FOOD & SHOPPING
15. Australia’s liquor laws are very strict – 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 to show ID. In New South Wales, if you look under 40 years old, you’ll also be asked for your ID. This can be a valid passport, valid international drivers license (in Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland only) or a valid proof of age card. All of these forms ID must have a photo and your date of birth.
Tip: Be prepared and take your passport or valid form of ID with you wherever you go. Especially if you plan to purchase alcohol or cigarettes!
16. Alice Springs has much stricter liquor laws – In the Australian desert town of Alice Springs, cask wine is restricted and is therefore not sold anywhere in town. Fortified wine (port/tawny) is only available after 6pm, and each person can only be sold one bottle per day.
17. Kmart is great for cheap everything – I love Kmart. It’s my favourite Australian store hands down, and is perfect for almost everything! If you’re moving here for a couple of months, Kmart has an endless amount of kitchen supplies at extremely great prices. You’ll also find great quality clothes that suit budget shoppers.
18. Australia has a wide range of food options – Whether you’re a picky eater, meat lover, seafood fan or vegan, there’s something for everyone. Most of the major cities are home to almost every type of cuisine you can imagine. To get the low down on the specific area you’re staying, ask at your hotel or a local information centre.
19. Our snacks are delicious – Ever heard of Tim Tams? How about Fruchocs? Barbecue Shapes (the original ones) are also some of Australia’s best. If there’s one thing I love about this country, it’s our snacks. And food in general, really. I’m a picky eater, but I no matter where in Australia I am, I’m always able to find something delicious and satisfying. Do yourself a favour: save some space in your luggage for our snacks. Your friends and family back home will love you for it!
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
20. Queensland is perfect for theme park fans – The Gold Coast is a thrill seeker’s heaven. There are 5 major theme parks within the Gold Coast: Movie World, Dreamworld, Wet n Wild Water World, White Water World and Sea World. Definitely something for everyone!
21. Head to South Australia for wine tasting – Ahh, my beautiful home town! Spend a day exploring the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills or Clare Valley, and enjoy a glass or three!
Tip: Cellar Door Wine Tours are rated #2 on TripAdvisor – check out their website here when you’re ready to book!
22. Australia has some of the world’s best beaches – Australia is famous for its beaches. From Bondi Beach in Sydney, to the dozens of beautiful beaches up the coast of Queensland. There’s no shortage of incredible coastline! Personally, I love Semaphore Beach and Glenelg Beach, in my hometown of Adelaide!
23. Uluru in the Northern Territory is a must see – If you’re planning to spend a significant amount of time in Australia, make sure you visit Uluru. It’s one of the most popular and famous attractions in the country, and a spectacular sight – especially at sunrise or sunset!
OTHER FACTS & TIPS
24. Australians do indeed talk weirdly – Us Aussies definitely have a different version of the English language. Our very cliche way of speaking can confuse tourists and visitors to Australia. Sorry about that! We’re normal. I promise. If you stay for long enough, you’ll be saying ‘no worries’ along with the rest of us. You’ll own more pairs of thongs (flip flops, not underwear) than you ever thought you would. You’ll be buying super expensive stubbies (bottles) of beer and throwing them back late in the arvo (afternoon). You’ll also be spewin’ (really angry) if you miss out on that delicious brekkie (breakfast). Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it eventually!
25. Internet kinda sucks in Australia – It can be pretty expensive and super slow to use internet in Australia. If you choose not to purchase a sim card to use for data while you’re here, 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 purchasing a portable wifi device.
26. We actually do call everyone mate – I’ll be honest. I work in customer service/retail, and I tend to call most males that I see or serve, mate. It’s become a habit, and is oh-so-very Australian.
27. Aussies are a pretty chilled group of people – Generally speaking, we’re pretty laid back. You’ll occasionally come across someone who hasn’t had their chill pill, but most of the time, we’re very approachable! If you don’t mind listening to some of our bad jokes or laughing (cringing) at our unique way of speaking.
28. If you’re traveling solo, keep your wits about you – Australia isn’t an unsafe country, per say. But we’re definitely not crime free. It’s especially important if you’re traveling alone, to have some common sense and a basic knowledge of street smarts. There are stupid people everywhere in the world, so regardless of where you’re traveling, it’s best to remain vigilant!
29. Yeah, we do have a lot of dangerous animals & insects – Sorry about that. I won’t share any statistics, because I actually want you guys to visit Australia. But if you’re visiting during summer especially, keep an eye out for snakes.
30. I guarantee, you won’t want to leave – I may be biased, but Australia is a pretty incredible country. No matter how long you stay, you’ll wish you could stay longer. If your budget allows, definitely try and stay for as long as possible. You’ll see much more, and really get a chance to appreciate Australia for everything that it is!
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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