5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Australia

It’s a safe and easy place to visit and because of it’s huge travel scene and multicultural mix of locals, you’re likely to find a fellow countrymen or friendly face to help you out. In fact, it's the perfect choice for your first backpacking or solo travel adventure.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Australia

Whether it’s for the sun-drenched beaches, the adorable (yet deadly) wildlife or just to surround yourself with that accent, Australia is on every traveller’s bucket list. 

But before you make your trip Down Under, we asked our expert travellers to share five things they wished they knew about Australia to help you travel smarter.


1. It might be an island, but don’t underestimate its size

“Most Europeans can jump in the car, drive for a few hours and pass through at least two other countries,” said Lauren from YHA Australia,  “in Australia, you’re not even close to passing through a single state!”.

“Distances suck in Australia,” agrees Michela, expert solo traveller from Rocky Travel, “so before spending days behind the wheel, consider flying long distances over 1,000kms”.

If you’re short on time, try to pick two or three major cities and plan day trips/drives from there. Don’t try to ‘do’ Australia in a couple of weeks or you’ll feel too rushed to enjoy your destinations.


2. Australia is shockingly expensive

“Don’t expect much change from AUD$40 for a bed in a Sydney hostel, or to get a meal for less than AUD $20” warns Anna from Global Gallivanting. She recommends budgeting at least AUD $100 a day.

“If you go all in on food, main tours, accom and transport, a month from Cairns to Melbourne will set you back just over £1,800”, says Travel blogger Chris Stevens from Backpacker Banter.  Check out his post “How Much to Budget for a Month in Australia” for a rundown of all your major costs.

A good option to supplement your income while you’re on the road though is a working holiday visa.  “Once you start earning Aussie wages (around AUD $20 per hour) it becomes a lot more affordable”, says Anna.

You can also save on transportation with this tip from Max and Oksana from Drink Tea & Travel. “Campervan companies in Australia are desperately looking for someone to relocate those campervans back to their original home base,” says Oksana. “With a bit of flexibility on your end, you can score a 4-6 berth campervan for $1 a day!”. Check out more of their money-saving hacks here.  



3. Be social and keep your plans flexible

Some of the best memories from a trip are often not on your initial itinerary. “You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities will pop up” says Chris, “and it’s heaps easy to meet new travel buddies… so leave some flexibility in your plans and don’t be afraid to change them!”

“By choosing the right type of accommodation, you’ll be able to meet fellow travellers to share experiences and tips and advice” agrees Michela.

So don’t be shy – mix and mingle with your fellow travellers in the hostel kitchen (btw a great way to save on food), or check out a local B&B or Airbnb. You might discover some locals-only hangouts you won’t find in the guidebooks that’ll make your trip.


4. Go walkabout and explore the outback

Nothing says Australia quite like the outback, filled with endless scorched plains, fiery red hills and lush green waterholes. There’s a little bit of the outback in every state, so the best way to see it is to go for a bushwalk.

“Make sure a friend or a family member always know your movements in the country”, warns Michela. If you’re going to remote areas or national parks on your own, always tell a park ranger or visitor information officer and make sure you pack a small first-aid kit with you and are properly covered with travel insurance.

Many police stations and National Parks offces in areas such as the Blue Mountains also supply EPERBs which you can hire. 

Check out our excellent Bushwalking Guide to learn how to go on a walkabout without ending up like a plotline in a horror story.

Bondi Beach


5. The Australian sun

The outback is not the only reason we’re called the “sunburnt country”. Just head to Bondi Beach on a sunny day and you’ll find more than a few Irishmen burnt to a crisp.

“The Aussie sun is super strong” says Anna, “you can even get burnt in only 15 mins on a cloudy day, so never forget your sunscreen and remember to stay hydrated.”

“Sunscreen is a must and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours” says Lauren. “Look for one that’s water-resistant if you’re spending time at the beach. A hat and sunglasses should be worn when outdoors and if you can, seek shade between the hours of 12-2pm.” 


Bonus tips


6. Aussies shorten everything. You’ll get used to it

“We wear boardies, eat bickies, drink coldies and have barbies. We are posties and pollies, ambos, vegos, Salvos and journos” chirps Lauren from YHA. Need a translation? Download our Aussie slang guide app before you head off

“Practice your ‘g’day’ when you’re at the local pub” advises Aussie Rebecca from Adventure Tours. “We’re a pretty friendly bunch, but to appear a little more Aussie, lift up your thumb and your finger, pinch your nose and say ‘g’daaay, l’d like a local frothie mate’!”



7. Yes, Australia has the highest concentration of creatures that can kill you

Australia is infamous for its dangerous animals. With more deadly snakes than any other country in the world and more creepy-crawlies than you can poke a stick at (but please don’t), it’s not hard to see why. 

“While we don’t intend to scare you with this list of the top 5” says Lauren, “The Australian Museum in Sydney has ranked Australia’s most dangerous animals based on how deadly they are, combined with how likely an unlucky punter is to encounter one in the wild”:

  1. Box Jellyfish
  2. Honey Bee
  3. Irukandji Jellyfish
  4. Bull Shark
  5. Eastern Brown Snake

So keep your eyes open and consider yourself warned!


Will YOU survive Australia?

You want to see the outback and surf the beaches, but don’t want to be bitten, stung or scared witless?

Get our FREE Australia Survival Guide to find out how!


Thanks to our excellent partners for their tips

Don't forget to check out their pages below for more great travel advice and content!

Adventure Tours, Rebecca Hargrave

Backpacker Banter, Chris Stevens

Drink Tea & Travel, Max and Oksana

Global Gallivanting, Anna Phipps

Rocky Travel, Michela Fantinel

YHA Australia, Lauren Cardwell

Will YOU survive Australia?

You want to see the outback and surf the beaches, but don’t want to be bitten, stung or scared witless?

Get our FREE Australia Survival Guide to find out how!

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