Planning a trip to Australia? Before you pack your bags, there are a few things that you should know about the “land down under”. Keep reading to find out the top 15 things to know before traveling to Australia.
Sydney is not the Capital of Australia
It is an extremely common misconception that Sydney is the capital city of Australia due to its popularity, however, Canberra is actually the capital. Australia became an independent nation in 1901 and Melbourne was initially declared as the national capital of the country, but then, in 1927, it was decided that Canberra become the national city of Australia and it has been that way ever since.
Common Languages Spoken in Australia
English is the national language of Australia, so you can be assured that when traveling to Australia, there won’t be much of a communication barrier. Australian English has a unique accent and vocabulary that will take some time to get used to, however, native English speakers should understand Australians relatively easily. Other than English, Australia’s latest data suggests that over 200 different languages are spoken there and the largest non-English spoken language is Mandarin.
Alcoholic Beverages in Australia
In Australia, any store that sells alcohol is known as a “Bottle-O”. Since the beginning of time, consuming beer has been part of the traditional Australian culture. A common 6-pack of beer will cost around $15, whereby imported beer will be $20 and upwards. Occasionally you will hear the term “goon wine” which is typically a 5-liter packet of wine packaged in a box with a tap attached to it. The legal drinking age is 18, so if any alcoholic beverages are ordered you will be asked for proof of age, any person found drinking under the legal age will receive a fine in terms of penalty units.
Traveling Around Australia
The easiest way to travel around Australia would be by plane, as you can cover long distances in short time frames, however, plane tickets can be pricey. There are other ways of traveling around Australia, for example, traveling by bus is comfortable and comes with various benefits such as air conditioning and free Wi-Fi to mention a few. Greyhound is Australia’s national bus operator. If traveling by bus isn’t your thing, there are car rental companies which will cater to your needs. Getting around by train is the most convenient and affordable way to ensure that you enjoy every moment of your travels, there are various rail routes that run through the cities which offer breathtaking journeys.
Weather in Australia – Summer is in Winter
The weather differs depending on which of the eight states of Australia you are in. From December to February it is Summer, which makes these the perfect months to travel if you wish to enjoy the lovely warm-weather activities that Australia has to offer. The sun temperatures are very powerful so it’s best to make sure that you have protective sunblock with you at all times. During the months of June to August, it will be the winter, where snow falls regularly in the state of Victoria, so if skiing is an activity you enjoy then these months would be perfect to travel to Australia. Temperatures range from a maximum of 36 degrees to a minimum of 9 degrees, all depending on which state you decide to visit.
Health and Safety in Australia
Australia is one of the most secure destinations where you can enjoy a safe traveling experience, however, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. It’s recommended that you consider purchasing travel insurance that covers you for theft, accidents and medical emergencies and that you carry those details on you at all times. Medicare is Australia’s public health care system. You can be assured that Australian hospitals have world-class medical facilities. The Australian government has various Health Care Agreements with several countries that offer travelers subsided health services, however, it’s always best to check with your travel insurance to see what you are covered for while you visit Australia. Crime is very low in Australia, however, it’s highly recommended to follow the same safety precautions with your items as if you were in your home country.
Cost of Living in Australia – EXPENSIVE
Accommodation cost varies on how long you stay and where you plan on staying. Most travelers prefer to spend their nights at local youth hostels as its cheaper and prices can range from $20-30 or, if you prefer a single room, it will range from $75-150 a night. Accommodation prices in Sydney are the most expensive in Australia. Food and drinks are fairly similar to other countries, approximately $50 will get you through a week if spent wisely.
Check out our comparisons:
Some basic item prices:
- 1L of whole milk $1
- 12 eggs $5
- 500g of pasta $1.50
Clothing in big retail stores are expensive, however, there are thrifty shops like Kmart that sell cheaper items.
Some pricing examples:
- Levi Jeans $140
- Jeans from thrifty stores $20
Hygiene and health products are a lot more expensive, especially if you haven’t opted-in for overseas health insurance.
Some medical price examples:
- 1 box of antibiotics will cost $15
- A regular visit to a general practitioner for 15 minutes will cost $67
Dangerous Animals in Australia – No Need to Worry
Some of the most dangerous animals in the world are located in Australia. These animals include sharks, spiders, crocodiles, and snakes. Australia is known for having some of the deadliest snakes in the world. The world’s most venomous snake is called the inland taipan. They can be located in the remote desert in South Western Queensland, and so far there are no records of deaths by this species, however, one bite contains enough venom to kill any species almost instantly – including humans!
The Crocodile Hunter
Stephen Robert Irwin is a national treasure and was an Australian Zookeeper who shot to fame with his famous television series, “The Crocodile Hunter”. Over the years he has made numerous wildlife documentaries and helped put Australia on the global pop culture map. During his countless battles with many dangerous animals, unfortunately, he passed away after being pierced in his heart by a stingray while filming an underwater documentary. Currently, his family runs the Australia Zoo, which is a popular tourist attraction.
Events and Festivals in Australia
Regardless of the weather, you can rest assured that whatever month you decide to visit Australia there will be plenty of activities at your disposal. Australia is big on building community events that bring people of diverse backgrounds together to interact as one. These events include “The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras” and the Melbourne Arts Festival. Check out Australia’s official government website to see which large events and festivals are taking place during your trip.
The Australian Indigenous People
Aboriginal Australians is the term used to refer to the indigenous people of Australia. Aborigines include the indigenous Australians, Tasmanian, and Tiwi people. Aborigines have lived in Australia for over 50 000 years and are the biggest part of Australian history and culture. While you are visiting, be sure to check out Aborigine museums, art, and even watch the traditional locals perform ancient music on the didgeridoo (a giant woodwind flute that plays a large part in Aboriginal history and traditions).
Best Attractions to See
There are a lot of interesting sites to see and things to do when visiting Australia, but if we had to narrow it down to just a few…these are our top 5 sites you HAVE to see when visiting Australia:
- The Sydney Opera House
- Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Blue Mountains National Park
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
- The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Marsupials – Only in Australia
If you’re an animal lover, you will know that Australia plays host to 90% of the existing species of Marsupials in the world. Basically, if you want to see a marsupial in its natural habitat, you’re gonna have to go to Australia! A marsupial is characterized as a mammal that usually has a pouch on its belly to feed its young. Well known marsupials that you can expect to see in Australia are kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian devils.
Surfing in Australia
Australia has long been known as being one of the best places in the world to visit for epic surfing spots. Surfing is a huge part of many people’s daily lives in Australia and is an extremely common interest and past time. Australia is also known for generating a lot of the culture around surfing, even being home to some of the world’s biggest surfing brands like Billabong, Quiksilver, and Ripcurl. If you are planning to surf on your trip, don’t attempt it in any part of Northern Australia. Most of these parts are unsafe to surf due to large coral reefs that subdue the waves.
Our picks for top surfing spots would be:
- Queensland, Noosa, Tea Tree Bay
- Byron Bay, Tallows Beach
- New South Wales, Coffs Harbour, Macauleys
The Australian Outback
The Australian outback has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its mention in pop culture and movies worldwide. However, there are a few things you should know if you plan on being adventurous and traveling to the outback to check out the gorgeous landscapes and scenery. The outback is over 2.5 million square miles and is basically a desert.
There aren’t many people around and only 10 percent of the population lives in the outback. This makes it great for stargazing and camping, but not great for emergencies. If you plan on camping or traveling through the outback on your trip, always bring a map and plenty of extra water (dehydration in this area is extremely common). Don’t attempt to drive at night as it is very easy to collide with large animals roaming around and many of the unpaved roads are unlit and extremely dangerous. The weather is often also “tinder dry”, so be extremely cautious when lighting fires.