10 Things to Know When Travelling to Australia




If you are travelling to Australia, there’s a number of things to take into consideration. There’s the furiously hot summers. The azure beaches. The Sydney Opera House. The hopping kangaroos. In fact, the country is so unique from other parts of the world that there’s quite a few things they do differently there. To make sure your trip is fun, hassle-free and enjoyable, here’s everything you need to know about travelling to Australia,

10 Things to Know When Travelling to Australia

1. Know their seasons

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While everyone knows that December is winter in the US, remember that Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere. The seasons are flipped. Spring is from September to November. An Australian summer starts from December and goes to February. These are the hottest months and can be pretty brutal, with temperatures reaching up to 45 Celsius in some parts of the country. Autumn is from March to May while winter is from June to August. Each season starts on the first of the month.

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2. Traffic goes the other way

Cars drive on the left side of the road and their steering wheels are on the right. This means that you have oncoming traffic passing on your driver’s side. Also, if you’re used to driving manual transmission or stick-shift cars, request one specifically at the car rental desk – they’ll probably give you an automatic car as that’s the norm in Australia. It takes some getting used to, so unless you have an Aussie or English friend who will drive for you, take the bus or other public transport. If you want to drive, you can use your foreign license to drive in Australia for three months as long as your license is in English. If it’s not in English, then you have to apply for an International Driver’s Permit.

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3. There’s no such thing as ‘too early’ for beer

Yes, Aussies love to drink and they can go through alcohol like water. Of course, you have the option of sticking with non-alcoholic beverages. But drinking is a proud part of Aussie culture and with so many excellent beers, cocktails, ciders and wines to choose from, you’ll want to do as the locals do and sample some, if not all, that Australia has to offer.


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4. Don’t expect a lot of wildlife

At least, not if you’re staying in a city. If you’re expecting an encounter with sharks, blue-ring octopi or kangaroos during your stay, you’re in for a big disappointment. You won’t be seeing kangaroos in the middle of the road or koalas up in the trees unless you visit a National Park.

Wildlife usually stay in, well, the wild. So if you want some adventure, go backpacking or trekking in the bush.

5. To bring or not to bring

Australia has some very strict quarantine laws in terms of what you can bring into the country. Aside from the usual drugs, weapons and protected wildlife, here’s a list of what NOT to bring:

  • food like fruits and vegetablesmeat
  • eggs
  • plants
  • seeds
  • animal skins
  • feathers

You’ll need to declare prescription medicines and bring a letter from your doctor. As for what you should bring – Australian fashions are smart casual, especially in the big cities, so leave the haute couture ball gowns at home. Definitely bring your swimwear as Australia boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This comprehensive list will help you decide what to pack for travelling to Australia.

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6. Australians are sports mad

If you’re into sports, you’ll fit right in. Aussies play Australian Rules Football and rugby instead of American football, though many are also big fans of soccer. If you’re planning to watch a game, make sure to read up on the rules so you know when the appropriate time to cheer is. There are different types of rugby in Australia. There is rugby league football (NRL), rugby union football and Australian Rules football (AFL). Make sure you don’t mix them up, or if you do, simply ask a friendly local to explain the difference to you – they’ll be more than happy to!

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7. G’day mate!

Australian English can sound quite different from American or UK English. Aside from the accent, Aussies can seem to speak what sounds like a whole new language. Here, you’ll say thongs instead of flip flops or sandals, swimmers or cossies instead of bathing suit, capsicum instead of pepper, chips instead of fries, tomato sauce not ketchup, and coriander instead of cilantro. Fortnightly means every two weeks, a car boot is the trunk and a bonnet is the hood of the car. Aussies also like to abbreviate, so mossies are mosquitoes, sunnies are your sunglasses and a bikkie is a biscuit, or in Americanese, a cookie.

To fit in with the locals, practice your Aussie English slang and try abbreviating every other word – you’ll be right, mate!

8. Tips are not common

You are not expected to tip for restaurant service, taxis, bars or hotels. Workers in Australia are generally paid a minimum living wage and are not relying on tips to make a decent living. If you want to show your appreciation for their service, you can round up the bill or top up with anything from 5% to 10%.

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9. Australia is huge. Like, really huge

It is the 6th largest country in the whole world and has a territory of 7 692 024 sq. km. So if you’re planning to travel or to move to Australia, make sure you have everything prepared. Going to another city means a 5-hour flight. So plan carefully where you’re planning to stay because travelling will be expensive and time-consuming.




10. Australians have a very accepting culture

Maybe it’s because it is a land of immigrants or because Australia is still a relatively young country, but Aussies are very accepting of other cultures and people. Everyone can have a fair go here and mateship is what takes precedence. Whether you’re planning a short vacation or want to move there permanently, it is very easy to fall in love with the Australian way of life.


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3 Comments

  1. We traveled Down Under twice, January to mid February, blazing heat. Liked everyplace we visited, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Red Center, Queensland, and Perth. For long distances we traveled by train, Brisbane to Cairns in ’12, then flew from Adelaide to Perth and WA for 2 weeks. Love Aussies, their quirky humor, eccentricity, love of life. The country is stunning, some of the most spectacular scenery. If you ever have a chance to travel Down Under, don’t miss it. Experience of a lifetime. And we’ll go back!

    1. Wow – how did you find the Red Centre in Jan/Feb? I was there in April and the mornings were crisp but it got hot pretty quickly! Can’t imagine how much hotter it would have been in the height of summer!

  2. kayrpea61 says:

    I love getting the perspectives of others about this Great Southern Land. As is the case with other big countries (the US comes to mind), beware of regional variations. A couple of examples for you – “togs” is not universal, as we might wear swimmers, cossies or bathers. Some states have suitcases, others portes or even bags! As for the tropical north, rather than summer/winter, it is the wet/dry season. The dry season is lovely and warm when we want to escape winter in the south, while the wet season is very humid and even prone to cyclones (i.e to be avoided)! Beer is always beer, but varies regionally, as does the size/name of the glasses used. Whenever you come, hopefully the “Welcome” mat is out for you 🙂

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