Is Australia at the top of your travel bucket list? With pristine beaches to rival the Caribbean, gnarly surf (and the surfers to go with it), trendy cities, endless wildlife and countless adventures to have, how can it not be? If you’re planning a trip down under then there are some things you need to know before you get on that – probably very long – flight.
1. Australia is huge. You probably already knew that, but it’s important to grasp just how vast the country is. Domestic flights can take up to 6 hours and the east and west coasts sit on different time zones. If you want to see it all, you’ll need a lot of time and a lot of money. If either of those commodities are lacking then pick an area and focus on it.
2. Make sure you check the visa requirements from your country. Sometimes you’ll need an onwards flight booked too!
3. The seasons are the opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is from December to February whilst winter is June to August.
4. Winter temperatures in Sydney vary between 18 and 9 degrees celsius. Not exactly cold by most standards!
5. Most people are either Team Sydney (*raises hand*) or Team Melbourne. Nobody goes to the actual capital city, Canberra.
6. There really are kangaroos just hopping all over the place. Watch out for them, especially when you’re driving at dawn or dusk outside the cities. Those bad boys will write off a truck.
7. The internet is awful. Why? I don’t know, I like to think it’s because they’re so far away from everyone. Expect shoddy Wifi.
8. Yes, there are a lot of venomous snakes and spiders but you’re unlikely to actually see them, so don’t let it put you off *deletes story about fist-sized spider in camper van bed on night one*.
9. If you do see a ginormous eight-legged foe then take comfort in knowing that the bigger the spider in Aus, the less likely it is to be dangerous.
10. It’s almost inevitable that within a few weeks you’ll be irritating all your friends with your Aussie slang. It’s infectious; don’t ever expect to call breakfast anything but brekky again.
11. Oh, and remember when your mum used to moan at you for adopting the upwards affliction at the end of sentences that makes everything sound like a question after you used to watch Neighbours? Yeah, that.
12. Talking of which, you can actually visit Ramsay Street and the set in Melbourne.
13. Or, if Home & Away was more your jam then you can catch some waves at Palm Beach in North Sydney.
14. Like in the UK, Aussies drive on the left hand side of the road.
15. Fuel is really cheap, which is just as well because if you’re planning to really explore then you’ll rack up a whole lot of miles.
16. You don’t need to tip! Wages are very healthy in Aus and it’s just not expected.
17. Unpopular opinion: Tim Tams are overrated. Penguins without the joke.
18. In fact, all Aussie chocolate is pretty awful.
19. But don’t leave without eating at least 7 boxes of Lamingtons.
20. Wear sunscreen. Seriously! With a hole in their O-zone layer, the UV here is like nothing else and you need to put at least SPF50+ on, even if it seems overcast.
21. The West Coast is the best for wildlife: you’ve got wild dolphins at Bunbury, stingrays at Hamelin Bay, roos bouncing about all over the place and quokkas on Rottnest Island; the only place they inhabit in the whole world!
22. The best place to spot koalas is the Kennett River Koala Walk near Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road (tip: dusk is the best time and you can totally drive up the walk, just saying)
23. It’s not a trip around Aus if you don’t go to Sydney.
24. Gold Coast is really overrated, there I said it.
25. You can drive for miles and miles through the outback without seeing another soul. It can be lonely so stock up on snacks, podcasts and most importantly – fuel!
26. No seriously, you do not want to burn out in the outback. Carry cans and fuel up wherever you can.
27. When Aussies say they’re putting their thongs on, they mean flip flops.
28. Maccas – the Aussie slang for McDonald’s – serves Frozen Coke for $1 and it’s going to become your new best friend.
29. Oh, they also do this stuff called McChicken Sauce and I’m genuinely considering setting up an import business to the UK because no nugget will ever be the same again without it.
30. If you’re in Tropical North Queensland during the summer months then you’ll need to wear a stinger suit in the water to avoid being stung by the poisonous marine jellyfish.
31. Though in all honesty, the threat of saltwater crocs in all waterways north of the Boyne River (Rockhampton area) is probably enough to put you off venturing in.
32. Nobody actually says G’Day (unless they’re from the country).
33. But they will all call you ‘mate’.
34. Two thirds of Australia is desert and the environment is very unforgiving.
35. The population of Australia is just under 25 million whilst the total land area is almost 3 million square miles, that’s 8 people per mile sq. In comparison, the population of the UK is just shy of 67 million and the total land area is just 93K square miles. That’s 717 people per mile sq.
36. Temperatures often take dramatic leaps or plunges. In Melbourne, it can be 40 degrees celsius one day and 16 the next.
37. If you want to visit Fraser Island, the worlds largest sand island, you’ll need to hire a 4WD or go with a tour group.
38. There are countless excursions and activities to take part in but you’re going to need a big budget.
39. The only reason anyone really goes to Cairns is to visit the Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree Rainforest.
40. Uluru, or Ayres Rock, is the most expensive place to visit in all of Australia. It’s very remote, flights cost a lot and there are few accommodation options.
41. The Whitsundays are in the middle of nowhere. There is a little airport or it’s a 7+ hour drive from Cairns.
42. The best way to see the Whitsundays is by sailing boat. There are some good value 2 or 3 night tours if you’re willing to bunk with others, a bit like a floating hostel.
43. Blow flies are the worst (but at least they don’t bite like the sandflies in New Zealand).
44. Always swim between the flags. Those Aussie lifeguards are not messing about.
45. The West Coast has some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever see in your life. Like Little Beach at Two Peoples Bay.
46. You can’t buy alcohol in supermarkets, it’s sold in separate bottle shops (bottle-os!)
47. And make sure you take your ID out, especially in the cities, even if you’re clearly of age.
48. The Icebergs ocean pool at Bondi Beach, Sydney is world famous.
49. Oh, and yeah, there are quite a lot of sharks. Listen to the lifeguards and don’t swim in unpatrolled areas, especially around dusk, and you’ll be fine. Probably.
50. Try really hard not to fall in love with the idea of living there because Aussie visa requirements are really strict.