Given that we were both born and raised in Australia, we feel as though we’re pretty qualified to share these things to know about Australia before visiting. There is so much to love about this beautiful country. From the wide open roads that are perfect for road-trips, to the thousands of incredible beaches with breathtaking sunsets and friendly locals.
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably planning to do some travelling around Australia. If so, you’ve come to the perfect place. We’re about to share some of the most important things a first time visitor to Australia should know, before jetting off on what will probably be one of the biggest adventures of your life! (Mainly because we’re soooooo far away from most countries. Sorry about that).
Although Australia is one of the most amazing countries in the world (we’re not biased though, promise…) there are some things that some people might not be aware of.
For example: Did you know that crocodiles can be found in almost the entire top half of Australia? So if you’re planning to visit the Northern Territory, Western Australia or Northern Queensland – be careful!
Table of Contents
- 30 Things to Know About Australia Before Visiting
- Travel & Transport
- Travel time to and from Australia
- Cost of flying to Australia
- How big is Australia?
- Public Transport
- Road trips are the best way to explore
- Choose domestic flights for fast paced travel
- Seasons & Climate
- Our seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere
- The Northern Territory is always going to be hotter
- Travel during the cooler months for less crowds
- Costs and Currency
- Australia is expensive
- Australia can be done on a budget, though
- The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar
- What about tipping?
- Alcohol, Food & Shopping
- Australia’s liquor laws are very strict
- The Northern Territory has much stricter liquor laws
- Kmart is great for cheap essentials
- Australia has a wide range of food options
- Our snacks are delicious
- Things to see & do in Australia
- Queensland is perfect for theme park fans
- Wine tasting in South Australia
- Australia has some of the world’s best beaches
- Other things you should know
- Australians do indeed talk weirdly
- Internet kinda sucks here
- We actually do call everyone ‘mate’
- Aussies are pretty chill and friendly
- If you’re traveling solo, keep your wits about you
- Yep, we do have a lot of dangerous animals & insects
- We guarantee you won’t want to leave
- Pin for later!
30 Things to Know About Australia Before Visiting
There is a lot that people aren’t aware of when it comes to traveling to Australia and surviving while you’re here. We’re a very large, densely outback country, so if you plan to spend an extended period of time here, you’ll need to be prepared.
Here are some of the most important things to know, before visiting Australia for the first time.
Travel & Transport
The cost of getting to and from Australia and how long the journey takes, are probably two of the most commonly asked questions. Here is everything you need to know when it comes to travel and transport within Australia.
Travel time to and from Australia
The length of time it takes to travel to and from Australia varies, depending on where you’re visiting from.
Los Angeles to Melbourne – 14 hours one way (non stop)
New Zealand to Melbourne – between 3 and 4 hours one way
London to Melbourne – 22 hours one way
Canada to Melbourne – 18 hours
These are purely estimates, and are based on flying into the East Coast states of Australia. So make sure you’ve got a great pair of headphones, a good book or Kindle and plenty of entertainment – you’re gonna need it for the journey here!
Cost of flying to Australia
Similar to the travel time, the cost of flying to Australia varies depending on where you’re traveling from. Prices can start from anywhere between $150 from New Zealand to $1,800 from London.
Like the rest of the world, the cost of traveling to Australia will vary based on the time of year and where you’re flying from. Be sure to book as early as possible, for a better chance of scoring a great deal.
Visit Webjet to search and compare the price of flying to Australia from your nearest airport.
How big is Australia?
You’ve more than likely seen a map of Australia before. But have you noticed just how big we actually are?
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, and is almost as big as the United States. Twenty percent of Australia’s land mass is desert outback, so setting off on an epic Australian road trip might sound like fun, but it’s certainly a big task. Prepare to see tons of red sand, and a whole lot of nothing during your travels.
Unfortunately, one of the worst things about Australia is our public transport system.
In most states across the country, public transport isn’t reliable nor anything to brag about. You’re much better off catching an Uber to get where you need to be. Uber is relatively well priced in Australia. Major cities might be a little more expensive, but generally speaking, it’s the best way to get around.
That being said, if you’re planning to spend an extended period of time in Australia (visiting multiple cities over a few weeks or more) consider hiring a car. You’ll have a lot more freedom, not to mention the convenience when it comes to luggage. There are tons of hire car companies in Australia, but on our visit to Queensland in October 2017, we hired a car for 12 days with Thrifty. They were great, and we had no issues with our car. We were even given a free upgrade, which was a nice little surprise!
Road trips are the best way to explore
Australia is one of the best countries in the world for a road trip. You’ll see far more than you would traveling by air, and will have the freedom to travel and explore at your own pace.
Heading off the beaten track and discovering some of Australia’s incredible hidden gems is all part of the fun on an Australian road trip. Consider hiring a camper van, because it’s definitely one of the best ways to explore as much of Australia as possible.
There are lots of RV and camper van companies in Australia that hire out all sorts of road trip vehicles. Check out Britz or Apollo for a wide range of camper vans that are available for hire. Campervan Finder or VroomVroomVroom are also great for comparing prices across all companies.
Choose domestic flights for fast paced travel
If you’re short on time and money, flying domestically within Australia is the best option. There are always great deals on Australian domestic flights, especially if you book ahead.
If you’re not keen on braving the Australian outback, flying from state to state is the best way to go. Most flights are under four hours, with the exception of west coast (Perth) to east coast (Melbourne) flights, which can be up to four hours each way.
Seasons & Climate
If you’re from a country that doesn’t really have a proper summer, our weather will probably shock you.
Our summers can (and will) be disgustingly hot, especially if you’re visiting the top half of Australia. So here is everything you need to know when it comes to the seasons and climate in Australia.
Our seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere
If you live in the northern hemisphere, keep in mind that our seasons are the opposite to yours. So when you’re stuck with snow up to your knee caps during winter, we’re sweating and sleeping under the air conditioner.
These are the four major seasons in Australia:
Summer – December, January and February
Autumn (Fall) – March, April and May
Winter – June, July and August
Spring – September, October and November
So if you enjoy waking up on Christmas morning with snow falling, rugged up in a cosy blanket – we wouldn’t recommend visiting Australia during December.
The Northern Territory is always going to be hotter
If you plan to visit the top half of Australia, keep in mind that it’s always going to hotter than the rest of Australia, all year round. Except highs of over 40 degrees celsius (over 100 fahrenheit) in the summer, and late 20’s to mid 30’s for the rest of the year.
We lived in Alice Springs for almost a year back in 2016 and 2017, and definitely struggled during summer. If you choose to visit the Northern Territory during the hottest months of the year, be prepared for some scorching hot days.
Travel during the cooler months for less crowds
Summer is the busiest time to visit Australia.
Everyone loves the thought of relaxing on our beautiful beaches, soaking in the sunshine. But did you want to know a secret? Our beaches are still here during the cooler months of the year, and will be a lot less busy. So if you’re hoping for a more relaxing and quiet Australian adventure, we recommend booking your visit between April and August.
That being said, if you hope to actually participate in some of Australia’s summer activities and don’t mind the crowds, November through to February are the best times to visit. Tourist attractions and theme parks will be a lot busier, but the overall atmosphere will make up for that.
Costs and Currency
Potential visitors to Australia seem to have a lot of questions about the cost of everyday items in Australia. So much so that we’ve actually published an entire post all about the cost of travel around Australia.
Here is a brief recap about the most important tips when it comes to the costs and currency in Australia.
Australia is expensive
Unless this is the first article about Australia that you’re reading, you probably already know that Australia is an expensive country to visit. Trust us, we hate to admit it just as much as you hate to read it. There’s nothing that can really be done about it, either. Unless you’re a fantastic budget shopper.
Alcohol and cigarettes are generally the biggest expense, if you’re into that sort of thing. A carton of beer can cost anywhere up to AUD $70, and a bottle of spirits generally starts at around $30. Our advice is to learn to love wine. I almost exclusively drink wine and not much else, purely because of how cheap it is.
Australia can be done on a budget, though
With all of that being said, it is possible to travel around Australia on a budget. Keep an eye out for cheap flights and any package deals with hotels included, and fly during off-peak season.
For the cheapest alcohol, head to a big liquor chain like First Choice or Dan Murphy’s for great weekly deals.
Food can be fairly cheap if you shop at the big brand supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths. Stick to their home brand products, and you can definitely survive on a budget. If you’re doing an Australian road trip, buy essentials like water and snacks in bulk at Coles or Woolworths so you don’t need to keep repurchasing them every couple of days.
The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar
Australia’s currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD).
Keep an eye on the exchange rate, and if you already have a trip booked, exchange some cash each time the dollar is decent. This is the best way to make sure you’re getting good value for money and aren’t losing too much in the exchange rate.
What about tipping?
We’re about to share some pretty awesome news.
Tipping isn’t required in Australia.
You won’t need to tip for any service you receive, whether that’s in a restaurant, hotel, Uber or Taxi. The hourly rate at most companies is very decent, so employees can rely solely on their weekly wage, therefore tipping isn’t required!
Alcohol, Food & Shopping
You’ve made it to the 3 most important topics: alcohol, food and shopping – three of my favourite things!
Australia is one of the best places in the world for wine, so we suggest developing a love for fermented grapes before you arrive. South Australia and Western Australia are known for their beautiful vineyards, so prepare to indulge.
Australia’s liquor laws are very strict
The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years old.
In all states across Australia, you’ll be asked for ID if you look under 25 years old. If you don’t have the acceptable form of ID, you will not be served.
An acceptable international form of ID can be a Passport or international drivers license (Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland only). Both of these need to have a photo and your date of birth, be valid, in date and of course, real.
If you plan to purchase alcohol or cigarettes while you’re in Australia, make life easy for everyone and take your Passport with you everywhere you go.
If you’re visiting the Northern Territory, New South Wales or Queensland, a valid international drivers license will be accepted.
The Northern Territory has much stricter liquor laws
Since we lived in Alice Springs for 8 months, we learned a lot about the crazy differences between living in a big city and living in the Australian Outback. And trust us, it doesn’t get more Australian Outback than Alice Springs.
Due to come restrictions on local members of the Northern Territory community, there are a few stricter liquor laws put in place.
1) Cask wine (goon) is a restricted product and is therefore very rarely sold, and if it is sold, there are limits on how much you can purchase.
2) Fortified wine (port or tawny) is only available after 6pm (in most places( and is limited to one bottle per person, per day.
3) As well as needing to show an acceptable and valid proof of age card if you look under 25, each person purchasing alcohol is required to have their ID scanned. This is a procedure put in place to make sure the people who are restricted and cannot purchase alcohol, aren’t slipping through the cracks and doing so anyway.
Basically, if you are visiting the Northern Territory, always have your acceptable and valid ID with you.
Kmart is great for cheap essentials
Kmart is the best, and is perfect for almost everything you could need – other than food. If you’re moving to Australia for a semi-extended period of time and need house supplies, Kmart has tons at extremely affordable prices. You’ll also find clothes for every member of the family (including your pets!), shoes, underwear, toys, books and more.
There are Kmart locations all over Australia, so do a quick Google search to find one nearby.
Australia has a wide range of food options
Australia is great for a wide range of cuisines and food choices. Whether you’re a picky eater, meat lover, seafood fan or vegan – there’s something for everyone.
Most of the major cities in Australia have a seemingly endless amount of international cuisines. Either do a quick Google search for the city you’re visiting, or ask around for some insider tips. Locals generally have a favourite restaurant, so have a chat to a nice looking Australian for the low down!
Our snacks are delicious
probably definitely biased, but we truly believe that Australia has some of the best snacks in the world.
Have you ever heard of Tim Tams, Fruchocs or Barbecue Shapes? Well those are some of our most delicious snacks, and what Australians who move abroad generally miss the most.
Do yourself a favour and save some space in your luggage for snacks. Your friends and family back home will love you for it.
Things to see & do in Australia
There are so many things to do in Australia. Whether you’re a dedicated wine drinker, adventurous thrill seeker, museum appreciator or a super outdoorsy person, there’s something for everyone.
Here are just a few examples of things to see and do in Australia.
Queensland is perfect for theme park fans
Queensland’s Gold Coast is home to most of Australia’s major theme parks. It’s basically a thrill seeker’s heaven and should definitely be included on your itinerary.
We suggest spending a week doing all of them, especially if you haven’t visited Australia before. Movie World and WetnWild are our favourites!
Wine tasting in South Australia
South Australia is home to some of the best wineries in Australia. We both work in the liquor industry, so we’ve learnt a lot about South Australian wines, and have come to familiarise ourselves with some of the best.
Spend a day exploring the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills or Clare Valley, and enjoy a few delicious glasses of wine!
Australia has some of the world’s best beaches
Given that Australia is its own continent, the entire country is surrounded by water. This basically means that no matter which major capital city you visit, you’re always going to be super close to the beach.
From Bondi Beach in Sydney to the almost endless amount of beautiful beaches up and down the coast of Queensland, there’s no shortage of incredible Australian coastline to admire.
Some of our favourite beaches are Mooloolaba Beach and Noosa Beach on the Sunshine Coast and Semaphore Beach and Glenelg Beach in our home city of Adelaide.
Other things you should know
Australians do indeed talk weirdly
Us Aussies definitely do have a different version of the English language.
Our very cliche way of talking can confuse tourists and visitors to Australia. Sorry about that. We’re normal, promise. Don’t worry though, if you stay for long enough, you’ll be saying no worries and calling everybody mate along with the rest of us.
You’ll also own more pairs of thongs (the flip flops, not underwear) than you ever thought you would. You’ll be buying expensive stubbies (bottles) of beer and throwing them back late in the arvo (afternoon). You will also be spewin’ (devastated) if you miss out on that delicious brekkie (breakfast).
You’ll get the hang of our lingo eventually.
Internet kinda sucks here
Internet in Australia sucks. It’s slow, expensive and extremely frustrating. If you choose not to purchase a sim card to use for data while you’re in Australia, there are plenty of places that offer free wifi – like McDonalds.
If you’d prefer more freedom and don’t want to rely on free wifi, we suggest purchasing a pre paid sim card or look into a portable wifi device.
We actually do call everyone ‘mate’
It’s not a myth – us Australians really do call each other (and everyone else) mate.
Even I – a female – call almost every male customer mate. It’s become a habit and sometimes I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. If you spend long enough in Australia, you’ll be calling every second person mate as well.
Aussies are pretty chill and friendly
Other than the odd exception to this rule, generally speaking, Australians are a pretty laid back bunch of people. As I’m sure you picked up on with the whole we call everybody mate thing.
You might come across the occasional person who hasn’t had their morning chill pill, but most of the time we’re super approachable! If you’re ever stuck and need help with something, either go into a store and ask a sales assistant, or ask someone who is walking by.
It’s rare that someone will just ignore you or be a downright asshole. But if they are, simply say ‘no worries mate’ and walk away!
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.
If you’re traveling alone, have some common sense and a basic knowledge of street smarts. There are stupid, heartless people everywhere in the world, so regardless of where you’re traveling, it’s best to remain vigilant.
Important Tip: If you do get into any trouble or need Police, Ambulance or Fire assistance, the emergency phone number in Australia is 000. If anything seems strange or out of the ordinary, or someone is making you feel uncomfortable, always reach out to a Police officer immediately.
Yep, we do have a lot of dangerous animals & insects
Unfortunately it’s true. Australia is home to a ton of dangerous animals and insects. We’ll refrain from sharing any super scary statistics, because we’re trying to get you guys to actually visit Australia. Not making you hide in the corner, repeating the phrase ‘I will never go there, I will never go there’.
Basically, if you’re visiting Australia during summer, keep an eye out for snakes (brown in particular, but avoid them all) and black spiders. They love this country, and roam free despite everyone calling the snake catcher or slamming a shoe down on those pesky spiders.
We guarantee you won’t want to leave
Sure, we’re biased. That fact has been established many times. But Australia is still a pretty incredible country.
No matter how long you stay, you’ll always wish you stayed just that little bit longer. If your budget allows, definitely try and stick around for as long as possible. You’ll see a lot more and will really get the chance to appreciate Australia for the magnificent beast that it is.
Well, there you have it. Our guide with 30 things to know about Australia before visiting. It might be expensive, and we do talk funny sometimes, but it’s definitely a place that everyone should visit at least once.
From the endless amount of beaches, to the amazing wineries, bustling city centres and the impressive Australian outback. There’s something for everyone in Australia, and we’re both so thankful to call this incredible country our home.
No matter how far we travel, we will always appreciate and look forward to coming home.
I hope you found our list of things to know about Australia before visiting, somewhat useful. Have you visited Australia before? What did you like best? Tell us in the comments below!
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