15 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Australia

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Need a few reasons to visit Australia? The country is famous for its beaches, laid-back lifestyle and unforgiving outback. It’s the driest and most inhospitable continent; which makes it also the emptiest!

Kangaroo on a beach in Australia

Even though much of Australia’s beauty is in the main tourist hotspots, there’s plenty of astounding things to see elsewhere as well. Each coastline has an immense beauty of its own. There are tons of off-the-beaten-track things to do, quite literally. (Very seriously consider exploring Australia in a four wheel drive!) Plus, Australia has the craziest wildlife going.

But there are a few things you should know about Australia before visiting. These will help you prepare for the harsh climate and the culture of life down under!

Here's a useful list of important things to know about Australia before you go.

1. The country has a harrowing past

Woman standing in front of a lake with a small waterfall in the background.

The history of Australia makes me deeply ashamed to be British. The Aboriginal people suffered enormously at the hands of the British imperialists, with massacres, land stolen, and children being taken. It’s heart-breaking to know how these people’s lives were destructed by settlers, and I believe it’s every traveler to Australia’s duty to educate themselves about what happened and learn how to travel in a way that respects its surviving indigenous community.

One way to do this is to treat sacred sites that have been around for a long time, like Uluru, as if they were any other religious structure or monument.

2. The middle really is a whole load of nothingness

Directional signpost pointing to many different places in Australia and around the world.

Whether you’re doing a trip through the red center or driving across the Nullarbor, you’ll be met with a lot of nothing while travelling Australia. Parts of the country are completely inhospitable, and great care needs to be taken when visiting them – take way more water than you think you need and a very reliable vehicle!

Distances in Australia are longer than you think, and are few and far between. So, if you think you may possibly need supplies, make sure you plan accordingly.

3. Prices are high

Laneway in Melbourne Australia

Coming from China, the Australian prices were pretty shocking. You can pay over $40 for an 8 bed dorm room in the big cities, drinks can cost up to $15 for one and meals out can easily set you back $50… It’s not easy to do any of the big cities like Sydney or Melbourne on a budget.

4. If you know some tricks, it’s very easy to live cheaply

Long distance view of a woman floating in a lake.

However, it is very possible to road trip Australia on a budget. Wikicamps is a fantastic app that locates free campsites, which are in abundance in Australia. This is a country where, thanks to the mostly warm climate and somewhat little rain, it is very feasible to camp.

Food bought from the supermarket can sometimes be cheaper than European prices, and other times expensive, but a lot of ‘budget friendly’ meals can be made. Coles and Woolworths are Australia’s big chains, and more and more Aldis are popping up. Only purchase food from an IGA if you’re planning on re-mortgaging your house.

The famous goon costs between $7 and $12 for 3-5 litres of boxed wine. It’s kind of vile, but it can be mixed with lemonade or coke for a better flavour and still serves as a drink. Bottled wine can be bought from as little as $5 too.

A lot of attractions in Australia are free too; like a lot of national parks on the East Coast, various art galleries and towns with natural and manmade wonders.

Australia can be cheap if you know the tricks of the trade.

Need a few reasons to visit Australia? The country is famous for its beaches, laid-back lifestyle and unforgiving outback. It’s the driest and most inhospitable continent; which makes it also the emptiest! Click through to find out the things you should know before planning your trip to Australia. | As We Saw It #travelfacts #australia #travelplanning

5. Australia still welcomes immigrants

Australia has always been a popular destination for immigrants. The country offers a high standard of living, a stable political environment, and a strong economy.

Immigrating to Australia is not easy, but it is possible to succeed with the right support and planning. Several types of immigration visas are available, including skilled worker visas, family visas, and business visas. So, the first step in the process is to determine which visa category is most appropriate for your situation.

Each category has its own set of requirements and eligibility criteria, so it is important to research and understand which of the options would suit you best. If you’re considering immigrating to Australia from the USA, speak to an immigration lawyer to get all your options.

6. Road tripping Australia is the best way to see the country

One of the things you need to know: The Great Australian Bight, southern coastline of mainland Australia.
The Great Australian Bight

So how do you see all of this nature? On a road trip, of course! Road tripping in Australia is a fun, unique and budget-friendly way to see the country.

The distances are large, but there’s always hidden gems to see on the way. You can choose from renting a car or van or buying one yourself.

As previously mentioned, you can make use of Wikicamps for free accommodation, stock up your car with tins and chase down endless country roads and beach paths for an unforgettable experience.

If you’ll be road tripping for more than two months, I’d recommend buying a car yourself and selling it on afterwards. If you do decide to purchase a car and want to stay protected, ROLLiN’ comprehensive car insurance is a good option.

7. Lots of animals can kill you… but it’s rare that one actually does

Woman's standing in front of Animal Crossing signs. Animals include kangaroo camel and wombat.

If there’s one thing that everyone knows about Australia, it’s the amount of killer animals lurking on the island. From venomous snakes to deadly spiders to box jellyfish to the entire cast of jaws, it’s a wonder anyone visits this island and survives.

But Australia doesn’t really deserve its ‘deadly’ reputation. There’s only one death from a snakebite every year, and that’s normally by someone who tried to do something foolish like pick the snake up and then didn’t go to the hospital to get treatment (if you see a snake, the magic trick to avoid being bitten is to leave it alone. Snakes only bite if they feel threatened!).

There hasn’t been a spider-bite related death since 1979, you’re not allowed to go swimming in seas with lots of box jellyfish and there’s no more shark related deaths than any other country with an extensive coastline.

Obviously take the necessary precautions, but your chances of coming to a disastrous end because of Australia’s wildlife are tiny.

8. There’s a hole in the ozone layer. Pack sun cream.

Woman walking on a boardwalk in Byron Bay Jungle
Byron Bay has a jungle – wear sunscreen there, too.

In my opinion, Australia’s biggest danger is lasting skin damage caused by the intense sun. Even when Australia doesn’t seem that hot, the sun is fierce.

I got burnt in Byron Bay after being in the sun for ten minutes and resembled a lobster for a week – I couldn’t even sit down without wincing for three days straight. Put the SPF 50 on, even if you never do anywhere else. In Australia, it’s important!

10. Australia does get cold sometimes

When you think of Australia, endless beaches and sunny days for eternity probably spring to mind. While the Land Down Under does have plenty of those, it can get pretty chilly too – especially in the South in the winter.

Melbourne is unpredictable – it can reach highs of 40 degrees in the summer but by March, can be around the 15-degree mark and plunges well below 10° in winter (June to August).

Sydney is a little warmer, but it rained for the whole month of March this year and winters can be nippy.

Perth is a bit warmer, with winter temperatures averaging around 17°C (62°F).

If you want to experience an eternal summer, however, you should visit the southern parts of Australia during the summer months. Visit tropical locations like Broome, Darwin, and Cairns in the winter months, when the weather is cooler and it’s dry season in these places.

The 8 Best Ski Resorts in Australia

11. “Australian” is a whole other language… and all the words end in ‘o’

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

I was baffled when I first got to Australia. ‘Rego’, ‘Scripto’ and ‘Bottleo’ are all very legit words used in daily conversation. Australian slang is baffling to me and it definitely takes some time to work out what on earth people are saying – and I can’t imagine what it is like for someone who’s not a native English speaker!

12. For a country that really likes its beers, alcohol laws are very tight

Hangover Bay (that's its real name!) Western Australia
Hangover Bay (that’s its real name!) Western Australia

Alcohol isn’t sold in supermarkets in Australia, but rather in separate bottle shops. They also have strict laws in nightclubs, particularly in New South Wales, where shots aren’t sold after 11pm and double spirits are strictly not allowed.

Bouncers are really strict about drunk people trying to get into clubs and seeing people with drink in the queue; if they catch you, even if you have no intention of taking the drink in, you won’t be allowed in.

13. You will become addicted to coffee

I’d never had a cappuccino before I came to Australia. Now I (regrettably) have one nearly every day.

If you’re visiting Australia, you must try their coffee – amongst the best in the world – and if you’re anything like me, you will develop a constant craving for it – it’s part and parcel of travelling in Australia!

14. There’s so much more to the country than the tourist hotspots

Sign for the Nullarbor Plain, Eastern End of treeless plane
Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

Western Australia is one of my favourite places in the world, and it’s so rarely visited by tourists, and even less by backpackers. The whole state is packed full of immense beauty and hardly any traffic or people! Other spots that deserve more attention are Tasmania, South Australia’s coastline and the Northern Territory’s national parks.

Basically, every state in Australia has immense beauty and intrigue, and while the East Coast is absolutely stunning, there’s so much more to this country that few travelers see!

15. The best of Australia is not in the cities

You need to know about Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia
This is Cradle Mountain, in Tasmania

Sure, there’s the opera house in Sydney and Melbourne’s street art, but the huge majority of Australia’s beauty is in its outback towns and countryside. The entire state of Tasmania – which was the butt of mainlanders’ jokes for years until they realized it may be the most beautiful state of the lot – is absolutely incredible.

Other unreal things I’ve seen in Australia are the Great Australian Bight, spectacular sunsets over the Indian Ocean in Western Australia, breath-taking gorges in the North West and countless jaw-dropping beaches and bays. The cities are fine, but they’re modern, and really, they could be anywhere in the world.

10 Australian Outback Towns You Need to Visit

Travel planning resources

If you’re visiting Australia, here’s a list of our articles about Oz. I hope they will help you find more fun things to do on your journey.

Australia’s national tourism website has many useful resources for planning your own trip.

Lodging– Research your sleeping options here.

TransportationThis site will tell you how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry and automobile.

Tours in Australia– We use Get Your Guide for booking tours, attractions and activities. To see a monstrous list of all their available tours in Australia, click here.

Here are some related books and articles:

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Need a few reasons to visit Australia? The country is famous for its beaches, laid-back lifestyle and unforgiving outback. It’s the driest and most inhospitable continent; which makes it also the emptiest! Click through to find out the things you should know before planning your trip to Australia. | As We Saw It #travelfacts #australia #travelplanning

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Written by Claire Martin

Claire is a British travel blogger on a mission to see the world. She has roots in China, Guatemala and Australia; the latter which she is currently exploring. Follow her overland adventures and eco-travel tips on Claire’s Footsteps (her blog), facebook or instagram!

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4 thoughts on “15 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Australia”

  1. Just wanted to make a correction that alcohol IS actually sold in supermarkets here in Australia – Aldi, a German discount chain, for example stocks groceries and alcohol in the same shop but alcohol like all their expensive items like the occasional electronics, is stored in locked cupboards. Coles and Woolworths are the main supermarkets in Australia, both sell alcohol in a ‘separate’ store called Liquorland and BWS (‘Beer Wine and Spirits’) respectively. Alcohol is openly included in their weekly catelogues. The physical room that stores the alcohol is in a separate room to the supermarket section, but is connected with a doorless wall so essentially it is the same shop. It also has another door to the outside so anyone can go in or out of it with or without entering the supermarket first.

  2. Thanks for the great tips on visiting Australia. I like how you mentioned the budget friendly tips you have, like buying food at the market to make cheap food. It’s a good thing my wife knows how to cook really well.

    • Ha – Dan’s the cook in our family; he says it’s his relaxation therapy. 🙂 Speaking of local markets, we like to visit them on our travels. It’s interesting and fun to see what foods are popular in a region.

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