Last updated on January 4th, 2023 at 12:23 am
Millions of visitors from North America, Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world flock to the land down under in search of their own adventures–whether its for the food, the amazing wildlife, the incredible views, or just the sheer size of the place, Australia is full of surprises!
Whatever your reason for taking a trip to Australia, let’s talk about some of the things that will help you navigate your Australian experience as smoothly as possible.
Taking a Trip to Australia? What to Know
You might know this already, but since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. There’s a difference from the country’s south versus the north.
The best time to travel to southern Australia (Sydney, for example) is November to April, but that’s different when you’re visiting the north (like the Top End or the Great Barrier Reef) where this time of year is humid and soggy season.
The bottom line is check out the weather for exactly where you’ll be staying on your trip to Australia and know what weather conditions to expect.
The feeling of being in the middle of nowhere
The gaps between major cities are incredibly far in Australia. Not only are they farther in the United States or Europe, there are also typically far fewer towns between them.
Once you’re out of any major city, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Rather than an hour or two between cities or towns, it could be several, so plan accordingly, and keep a full tank of gas and any emergency supplies you’ll need in case your car breaks down.
The amazing natural areas
Australia is known for it’s natural beauty and for plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in the world.
As these plants and animals have become threatened by extreme weather events and humans encroaching into their habitats, Australia has made the decision to set aside at least 30% of its land mass for conservation in a bid to protect them.
There are literally thousands of national parks and conservation reserves in the country, so no matter where you are in Australia, exploring the country’s incredible landscapes should be easy.
Electric outlets are not like ours
It might seem like a small thing, but as you’re packing for a trip to Australia, it’s something you’ll need to keep in mind. The country uses differently-shaped electric outlets. They’re not like the British ones, nor are they American or European either.
Australia has their own special electric plug sockets, so, if you’re taking any small appliances, like curling irons, etc., just remember to buy electric outlet converters before your vacation.
Kangaroos, koalas, and other animals unique to Australia
Australia is home to animals found nowhere else on earth, including the koala, kangaroo, wombat, platypus, echidna, and others.
You may spot them in the wild, but it’s more likely that you’ll need to venture out to a reserve or nature park away from the city to see them.
Of course, there’s always a chance to spot a kangaroo or koala in any area outside the city.
Tipping isn’t a common practice
Hospitality workers in Australia are paid a whole lot better than in the US and many other parts of the world, so workers don’t necessarily expect tips and don’t rely on them to make a decent living.
That said, tipping is, of course, appreciated. If your budget allows, you can tip up to 10% of the bill, especially when in a group setting where more items are ordered and extra service is required.
Beer connoisseur? Go local
If you’re heading out to a bar in Australia, it’s best to go local when it comes to your choice of beer. Australia has a ton of great local brands as well as micro-breweries that are definitely worth trying.
If you’re unsure about what to try or where to go, there’s no shortage of award-winning micro-breweries to choose from!
Mind the sun
You may know this already, but the sun is REALLY STRONG in Australia, so stock up on sunscreen, and respect the fact that you’ll probably get sunburned a lot quicker than you would back home. In fact, a sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes in the hot Aussie sun.
A high-SPF sunscreen, sun hat, and clothing and beach wear that protects your skin is your best bet if you plan to hit the beach—or spend any time outdoors. Don’t let a painful sunburn ruin your trip when it’s relatively easy to prevent.
The distances between every location
Many people make the mistake of trying to explore the entirety of Australia in a couple of weeks, not realizing that it’s a vast continent as well as a country.
Instead, it’s a better idea to choose two or three areas to travel extensively, and check them off your travel list. If you don’t, much of your visit will be spent traveling, not enjoying everything the country has to offer. For example, did you know that it takes nine hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne?
Driving in Australia
Speaking of driving, Australians drive on the left side of the road, so if you’re coming from the United States, this is something you’ll have to get used to quickly.
Here are some other things to know about driving down under:
- Australia uses the metric system of distances and speeds.
- Australian cars are right-hand drive vehicles.
- In Australia, you can drive with a foreign (English language) license for up to three months.
- Seat belts are required for all of a vehicle’s occupants, and these laws are strictly enforced. Children and babies must be restrained in an approved safety or booster seat, in some states up to seven years old.
- The blood alcohol limit is .05% throughout Australia, with zero limits for learners and drivers with provisional licenses in some states.
- In case of an accident involving injury or death, the police must be contacted, and the driver is legally required to render assistance. The penalties for leaving an accident scene can be severe.
- Speed limits are clearly posted. A default 50km/hour speed limit applies in urban areas with street lights in the rare event that there is no other signposted limit.
- Speed cameras are used in all states and territories of Australia, with some states using hidden cameras. Point-to-point speed checks (over a certain distance) or aerial speed checks are also used in some places. There is no defined margin of tolerance for speeding.
- Rental vehicle companies may ask you to take a short road rules test focused towards tourist requirements.
- Permits can be necessary to travel through aboriginal communities and towns in certain remote areas.
- As mentioned, drivers need to be prepared and self-sufficient before travelling through remote areas. Even on major regional roads, service stations may not be open overnight, so plan ahead when it comes to getting fuel.
- Many accidents occur at night due to the presence of native animals which become more active in the evenings, for this reason some car rental companies impose a curfew on driving after sunset in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
There you have it! Ten things to keep in mind before and during your trip to Australia. Is Australia on your wish list of places you’d like to visit–or may-be even live someday? Leave us a comment.
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