A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

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

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!

A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

Can you tell I’m a big fan of our beautiful beaches? Semaphore Beach, Adelaide.

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!

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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.

A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

Alice Springs – although hot and not a place for thrill seekers, it’s hard to deny the beauty of the place!

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!

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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!

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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.

A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

Alice Springs is a pretty spectacular and beautiful place! It’s also a great place to stop on your way to Uluru!

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!

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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!

A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

Australia’s beaches are just as beautiful in the winter! This was a cold winter’s day during August, in Adelaide at Semaphore Beach!

A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

Absolutely gorgeous Semaphore Beach!

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!


A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

The beautiful hinterland in Victor Harbour. Russell and I stayed here for a romantic weekend away, and it was absolutely incredible!

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.

A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

I mean, really. Is this not one of the most incredible sunsets you’ve ever seen?

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!

Related: Australian Winter Travel Essentials – 5 must pack items


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 Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors A Comprehensive Guide to Australia: 30 Tips For First Time Visitors

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, if you click certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. I will always only share my 100% honest opinion, and will never endorse a company or product I would not use myself.

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

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

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

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

  • Mainak

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

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

  • 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

    • 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 🙂

  • Julia Dent

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

    • 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 🙂

  • Jean

    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!

    • 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 🙂

  • 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!)

    • 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 🙂

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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! 🙂

    • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • Kelly

    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!!!

    • 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! 🙂

  • 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

    • 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 🙂

  • What a great post. My dad first immigrated to Australia (Adelaide) before moving to Canada. It’s a must visit for me.

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

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

  • Love it! You have some awesome tips. Totally agree on Kmart as well, its the perfect place to shops for everything #kmartislife

  • What a brilliant post! Absolutely top notch advice, and Semaphore Beach has a special place in my heart. My mum was an expat in Addie, and this was the local beach. I blame you Aussies for my addiction to avo toast.

  • Soraya

    These are great tips to visiting Australia. I love Australia and totally recommend this beautiful country to all travelers alike.

  • Perri

    Wow.. this made me want to plan a trip to Australia right now! It’s such a humongous, diverse place.. I can’t wait to visit. Will def be using these tips! Thanks!

    • Thank you so much! I hope you get to visit one day soon. You’re right, it is a huge and diverse country! 🙂

  • Absolutely love this post! So detailed and comprehensive. I’m definitely going to use this to plan our first trip to Australia 🙂

  • This is really an helpfull and comprehensive guide! Wow! Will save this for my visit!

    • Thanks so much, Lina! I hope you make it here one day soon 🙂

  • I enjoyed reading your tips! Although Australia is for me very far and it would be bit expensive, I still hope once I will be lucky enough to visit this wonderful country!

    • Despite the distance and cost, Australia is definitely a must-visit! 🙂 Hope you make it here one day. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Aww yeah, Australia! It’s so huge I couldn’t cover everything I wanted in 18 days! You’re right, it is so expensive but it can be done on a budget. After all, there are a lot of awesome sights that we can see for free. your post makes me want to go back sooner! I may be lucky because I only stayed in sydney and melbourne– maybe transpo there is significantly better againts the other parts on the country or my country really just have terrible one! Again, you’re right about the road trip, though! <3

    • Visitors often underestimate just how big Australia is! Yeah, Sydney and Melbourne definitely have the best public transport in the country – you lucked out there! Adelaide where I’m from, is pretty awful when it comes to buses and trains! Thanks so much for reading, Stella 🙂

  • I’ve been dying to get to Australia — I’ll definitely be bookmarking your post for future travels!

  • This is so useful for me as I’ll be in Australia for the first time in December for a year. Bit worried about the costs and the slow internet (I work remote) but I’m sure I’ll have a great time. Thanks for the tips!

    • Although Australia is expensive, it can definitely be done on a budget. Where abouts are you moving to? 🙂 That’s exciting! Thanks for reading, Jen 🙂

  • These are great tips! We loved our time in your great country even though we always had all the things that could kill us in the backs of our mind 🙂

    • Haha yeah it’s hard not to think about them! Even I freak out whenever I see even the smallest spider lol! But regardless of our scary creatures, it’s still a great country! 😛 Thanks for reading 🙂

  • As a born and bred Aussie, can agree to this comprehensive list! It’s funny though to see some of the perspectives of a traveler in Australia, like how expensive it can be to get/be here and our shitty internet! Haha

    • Yeah I think it’s funny too! I work in liquor, and it’s funny seeing people’s reactions when they see or hear our alcohol prices! And yeah, our internet sucks doesn’t it haha. Where in Australia are you from?
      Thanks for reading, Kirstin! 🙂

  • Really great post, girl! I have never been to Australia, so this is really the perfect post for me to get all of the basics down. I hope I make it there soon! It sounds and looks like an amazing country.

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you found the post helpful! I hope you make it to Australia one day soon. It definitely is an amazing country 🙂 Thanks for reading, Kristen!

  • Wow what an informative post!! I haven’t been to Australia yet but it’s high on my list. Good to know about the crocodiles and the insects etc! It’s been tough finding a reasonable flight price there and I would love to do a road trip and visit Barossa Valley. Funny about “mate”!

    • I hope you make it here one day soon! Yeah, because we’re so far away from everywhere else in the world, it can be quite pricey for flights. You’ll find a good deal sooner or later! Just keep an eye out 🙂
      Yes, highly recommend the Barossa Valley! I’m from Adelaide, and I live less than an hour away from the Barossa Valley! 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Excellent comprehensive overview of Australia. Love your photos too.

  • This is a brilliant list – very comprehensive and it would be invaluable to a first-time visitor. I enjoyed reading through it as a reminder of certain things even though I’ve visited Australia before. Great article 🙂

  • This reminds me of my time in Australia. I actually took the greyhound bus around. Not the fastest way, but it was affordable with the hop on/off! I also have never seen a prettier beach than one in Australia.

    • That’s a cool way to see Australia! No stress of driving, but you still see a lot! Yes, we are very very lucky to have incredible beaches in Australia! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Stephanie 🙂