All photography by Studioist
So you heading to the land down under? Good on ya! It’s easily going to be one your favorite adventures.
It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of an upcoming trip, especially is that somewhere is as brilliant as Australia; however, there are a few things you should know before visiting.
LeBraun and I want to share our top tips those visiting Australia for first-time or those who just need a general refreshing before heading back. Hopefully these will help you pack appropriately, prepare you for your trip, and save you from surprise or confusion when you arrive!
If any of y’all have been to Australia and have tips or facts to add, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks heaps & happy planning!
Australia Is BIG!
People tend to forget about the sheer size of Australia. It’s not only a country, but it’s own continent. A continent that is roughly the same size as the continental U.S. There’s no way to truly explore the country in the two or three weeks most people allot for the trip. Heck, we were there a year and still didn't see everything. Traveling from Sydney to Perth would be like traveling from New York to Los Angeles. You can do it, but you’re losing time traveling that could be spent exploring. I’d recommend focusing on two to three areas to make the most of your visit down unda!
...And Naturally Diverse!
Around Australia you’ll find deserts, mountains, savannas, wetlands, woodlands, tropical coral reefs, and even rainforests!
It’s A Cultural Melting Pot
The population of Australia is made up of Indigenous population, a British colonial past, and extensive immigration from countries across the world. Today, Australia’s population of about 24.6 million is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the world, speaking more than 200 languages. Roughly 26% of the population were born in another country.
Aussie English Slang vs. American English Slang
Thongs are flip flops, swimmers are bathing suits, capsicums are peppers, tomato sauce is ketchup, chips are fries, lollies are candy, petrol is gasoline, bin is trash can, bushwalking is hiking, and a city’s CBD is their downtown. And that’s just a little sampling.
Aussies Shorten (Almost) Every Word
You've heard g’day which is good day as in hello, but did you know arvo is afternoon, avo is avocado, barbie is barbecue, breaky is breakfast, cuppa is cup of tea, Straya is Australia, footy is rugby, choccy is chocolate, and Macca’s is McDonalds as in the hamburger fast food joint.
The Country Has The Largest, or Tallest, or Smallest Attraction…
…In the Southern Hemisphere that is. :)
The Seasons Are Reversed
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, your summer month (May-August) are Australia's winter months so plan your trip accordingly. High season in Australia is November-March, their mid-summer.
Cars Drive On The Left
If driving, keep to the left. If walking, look both ways when crossing the street—you never know when a crazy American will come tearing down the right side, aka the wrong side, of the road. :)
Tipping Is Not Required
It’s not expected or pressured. Workers in Australia are paid a living minimum wage and therefore don’t rely on tips. If service is particularly excellent a 10% tip is fine, but in general tipping is not common practice.
…And Tax Is Included
How genius is that! The price you see is the price you pay. Bravo Australia!
The Sun Is Extra Powerful
Those holes in the Ozone Layer well they’re right above Australia and there you can burn a lot faster than in the U.S. They’re not exactly holes but a definite thinning of the layer right above Australia. Apply sunscreen several times a day when you’re outdoors and in consideration of the environment, I’d recommend an ocean-friendly sunscreen.
Also with that in mind, make sure to drink LOTS of water. Bring or purchase a reusable water bottle. There are fountains around the city for your filling up convenience.
The Quality Of Ingredients
Australian food safety standards are much stricter than those in the US, and in general more ingredients in Australia are locally and sustainable sourced. In fact I was ill for several weeks when I returned to the US because of all the additives, preservatives, over-processing, and sub-par ingredients.
Aussies Love Beets!
Even on menu items where beetroot is not listed, beetroot will often be delivered, especially on burgers and sandwiches. I’m not sure where this came from, but as a beetroot lover it was a pleasant surprise. However if you don’t like beetroots it may not be such a pleasant surprise.
Aussies Coffee Culture Is Really A Thing
Whereas Americans are focused on readily available coffee for their busy lifestyles, Australians are concerned with the quality and taste of their coffee. I’m not saying that some Americans aren’t concerned with these factors, but as a generalization the majority of the country is not coffee-proficient. Aussie, in general, keep their orders simpler with the focus on the coffee as opposed tot he quantity. I’m not a coffee drinker, but after being in Oz my husband completely converted. Also they serve their iced coffees with ice cream, so yeah!
A Hotel Is Not Just Accommodations
Yes Australia has hotels in the traditional sense, but down under hotels also refer to pubs and sports bars. Places to grab drinks with friends and watch the games.
Rugby and Aussie Rules Football (AFL) Are All You Need To Know
Seriously, everyone has their team they follow religiously. Also don’t ask someone who they are “rooting for.” In Australian, rooting means having sex, not cheering.
Pokies & Sport Betting
The pubs here aren’t just pubs. They typically have poker machines (shortened to Pokies) and areas dedicated to sport betting.
You Won’t See People Drinking Fosters
Instead try Coopers Pale Ale, 4Pines, Victoria Bitters, XXXX, or Little Creatures. Mmm!
Call 000 In An Emergency
Triple Zero will direct you to the police, fire or ambulance departments depending on the severity and type of emergency.
Public Transit, Among Other Things, Run On Military Time
An easy way to figure it out if you’re not familiar is to subtract 12 from the time in the afternoons.
Australia Is Full Of Creatures That Can Kill You
There are sharks, crocodiles, giant centipedes, snakes, cassowaries, box jellyfish, and stonefish in addition to the 520 species of spider on the continent. True, most of these you won’t end up encountering while in the city limits, but the threat doesn’t stop there.
Magpies can be found all along the eastern coast and they attack when their nests are threatened by swooping to PECK YOUR EYES OUT! No, I’m not joking. Every year, particularity during the Magpies’ nesting season of September to November, people end up in hospital.
Even the furry, cuddly creatures like kangaroos and wombats will maul you if threatened. A kangaroo will bite, scratch and kick (with a force of roughly 850 PSI!) while a wombat won’t hesitate to crush a dingo’s skull with its cartilage-covered back bone plates if its in danger.
And keep an eye on those Sulfur-Crested Cockatoos. They are very clever and will steal things left unattended.
Shops Aren’t Open 24/7
Aussies put emphasis on family time and therefore many shops will close around 5 or 5:30 p.m. I’ll admit it was odd when for me when we first got to Australia. In Sydney, Thursdays were “late night shopping days” where shops stayed open till 8 or 9 p.m. In Melbourne, Fridays were late night shopping days. It’s actually quite an elegant solution to allow shop workers to have proper work-life balance.
The Sunsets Are Perfection!
It doesn’t matter where you find yourself in Australia, the sunsets are breathtaking! Full of vibrant colors that light up the entire sky. Some of the most popular places for consistently beautiful sunsets include Cable Beach WA, Glenelg SA, and Moreton Island QLD.
Other Random Notes
Australian cellular service - no matter the provider - is spotty.
And the wifi is sloooowww!
In search of groceries? Woolworths (Woolys) and Coles are the two biggest grocery stores.