Long sandy beaches, vibrant cities, breathtaking natural landscapes, amazing food… It’s no wonder Australia is on the bucket list of most travellers.
Before you pack your bags and make the long journey down under, check out our list of handy Australia travel tips below to ensure you get the most out of your experience.
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- Australia Travel Tips: Planning for your Australia trip
- Australia Travel Tips: Food and Drink in Australia
- Australia Travel Tips: Accommodation in Australia
- Australia Travel Tips: Activities and Attractions in Australia
- Watch a game of sport.
- Get outside.
- Don’t climb on Uluru.
- Drive across the Nullarbor.
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Australia Travel Tips: Planning for your Australia trip
Australia is massive.
If you’re used to travelling around compact continents like Europe, you may be in for a bit of a shock when you start looking at distances in Australia.
Unless you’re planning a road trip, which includes a series of places you want to visit along the way, think twice before committing to travelling between major cities by road. Local flights aren’t necessarily cheap; however, they are often still the best option, especially if you’re only in the country for a limited time of a week or two.
Plan your itinerary wisely to avoid backtracking and try to visit a few places close to each other at each major stop, rather than jumping all over the country. I cover some of the useful general planning tips from being on the road so much in my extensive post on my 50+ Europe Travel Tips too.
It can be expensive.
Not quite as bad as it once was with the weakening Australian dollar, however travelling in Australia is still far from affordable for most people.
Eating and drinking out will set you back a bit and accommodation isn’t cheap either. My best bet would be to go on Airbnb if you’re travelling with more than 2 people.
Make sure you work through a rough budget before you go so know what to expect.
Don’t worry too much about snakes and spiders.
They’re pretty much non-existent near the cities. Even if you do head out into the bush, they’re likely to make themselves scarce well before you come into proximity with them.
With that being said, if you are heading out into nature, ensure you’re aware of the specific risks relating to that area and time of year e.g. bushfires in summer.
Choose your season wisely.
The southern parts of Australia i.e. Tasmania, Melbourne, Adelaide, can get bitterly cold during winter. Cities will also be a lot less lively than in the warmer months and mountain ranges will be covered in snow and inaccessible in some places.
Northern parts of Australia such as Queensland experiences seasons that are more tropical in nature.
On the other hand, many people will find travelling in these areas unbearable in summer due to the searing temperatures and wet, muggy heat.
The best time of year for you to visit will depend on what season suits you, where you want to go and what activities you want to do.
Learn the language.
And no, we don’t mean English. Similar to New Zealand’s lingo, Australia is famous for its very own “Aussie slang,” and part of the experience of visiting this country is playing along.
Keep an ear out for the following (or try them out for yourself!):
- G’day: hello
- Doona: quilt/duvet
- Grog/booze: alcohol
- Mozzies: mosquitoes
- Thongs: flip flops
- Tea: dinner
- Hot chips: french fries
- Dead horse: tomato sauce
Check your luggage.
In order to protect its local ecosystems, Australia takes quarantine very seriously. There are hefty fines on offer for anyone who chooses to ignore their strict regulations.
As a general rule, ensure both your checked luggage and carry on bags contain no food, plant (including wood) or animal products.
Shoes or sportswear with visible dirt attached will also need to be cleaned before travel.
Be aware that there are also local state quarantine laws so be sure to do your research if you plan to travel interstate.
Australia Travel Tips: Food and Drink in Australia
Asian food in Australia is (surprisingly) amazing.
There are not many places in the world where you’ll have access to this quality of Ramen, Pho, Tom Yum and Daal within a few hundred metres from each other. Asian restaurants will range from cheap-eats (often BYO alcohol) through to fine-dining Asian Fusion.
Make the most of it!
Coffee a big deal.
In fact, Melbourne is often referred to as one of the coffee capitals of the world (and Sydney isn’t far behind).
The most common type of coffee is a flat white, which consists of espresso with micro foam. It’s similar to a latte but with less total volume and less micro foam, meaning a higher proportion of coffee to milk.
Eat where the students eat.
If you’re on a budget, try and eat near the local university. There are usually a few cheap eateries down the side streets.
Sushi is a popular takeaway meal, as is Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette with meat or tofu filling).
And it’s not just a gimmick for tourists.
Kangaroo is tasty, nutritious, and also one of the most ethical and sustainable meat options in Australia.
If trying Kangaroo is of interest to you, your best bet is to find a local pub that gets good reviews for its food and check out their menu online to see if it’s on offer.
Drink some craft beer.
Craft beer has taken off in Australia in a big way over the past five years or so, with them now producing beers that earn attention and accolades on the global stage.
Fortunately for you, most pubs will have these on tap, so you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to try them out.
There’s also a great number of craft breweries with city locations that are worth visiting. Adelaide brewery, Pirate Life, recently opened a brand new facility near the port which should be on the list for any beer lover.
Try the wine.
European settlers to Australia brought with them generations’ worth of wine-making knowledge and the Australian climate came to the party with perfect grape-growing conditions.
Standouts include Shiraz and Riesling from South Australia and Pinot Noir from Victoria.
If you want to visit the vineyards and maybe do a bit of a cellar door tour, make your way to one of the following:
- Hunter Valley (New South Wales)
- Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Mclaren Vale (South Australia)
- Yarra Valley (Victoria)
- Margaret River (Western Australia)
Check out the local farmers markets.
These can be a great place to mingle with the locals and check out the regional specialty produce. They are also an excellent place to stock up on groceries for some home-cooking.
Tipping isn’t necessary.
In nicer restaurants (AUD30+ per meal) tipping is common practice, however everywhere else it’s not necessary. The minimum wage in Australia is very good by most standards and tips are appreciated but not expected.
Australia Travel Tips: Accommodation in Australia
The centre isn’t always the best.
Generally speaking, in most Australian cities, the centre is for business and the real action is all in the inner suburbs. Don’t fall into the trap of staying in an expensive CBD hotel.
Live where the locals live.
Many hostels and other accommodation are usually located in the cheaper parts of town, in proximity to clubs and bars.
Venture a little off the beaten path in most Australian cities and you’ll find a wide range of unique and fascinating suburbs, fairly un-visited by most travellers.
In Melbourne for instance, give Fitzroy, Brunswick or Northcote a try, or check out Sydney’s Surry Hills or Newtown.
Australia Travel Tips: Activities and Attractions in Australia
Watch a game of sport.
If you really want a taste of Australian culture, head along to a local sporting event.
In Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth, try and get to an Aussie Rules (AFL) game.
In Sydney, you’ll also have the option of a rugby league and rugby union.
Football/ soccer is also popular, as is cricket and tennis in the summer months (try and time your visit with the Australian Open!).
Australia is a nature-lover’s dream.
From the Overland Track in Tasmania to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, to the Grampians in Victoria, Australia’s natural landscape is diverse and epic. Hikes are generally very well sign-posted and camping facilities are excellent.
If you don’t have the gear for camping, there are a number of glamping options popping up across the country, as well as a range of cabins which are best booked through Airbnb.
Don’t climb on Uluru.
One of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, Uluru (or Ayers Rock), is an impressive natural rock formation located in central Australia, near the town of Alice Springs.
Many tourists choose to climb up the rock despite the request against climbing it from local Aboriginal people.
This is not only disrespectful but is also causing irreversible damage to the sacred site.
Respect the wishes of the traditional custodians of the land and observe the beauty of this place from ground level.
Drive across the Nullarbor.
Considered somewhat of a rite of passage amongst Australians, driving across the Nullarbor desert from either East to West Coast (or vice versa) will give you a taste of Australia that few people get to experience.
If you’ve got extra time up your sleeve, head down to the coast in the southwest corner of the country for some of the most beautiful and untouched beaches on offer.
Do your research first and make sure you’re prepared with ample food, water and petrol.
You’ll also need to ensure your car rental company is fine with a one-way trip (many people take campervans for this journey).
Whatever you choose to do for your Australian adventure, always be open to experiences and make the most of whatever opportunities come your way!