20 Things To Know Before Visiting Australia

Traveling to Australia is an exciting experience, but if you're thinking of going these 20 Australian tips are sure to make your trip go smoother.

It’s no secret that I love Australia and the year I spent traveling there was one of the best I’ve ever had. Because Australia is so far away from, well, everything, there’s a lot of misinformation out there and many stereotypes surrounding the country, like videos of giant snakes coming out of your drain. Australia is a beautiful country and one that has grown very near to my heart.

If you’re traveling down under you should know these 20 things before visiting, taken from someone who lived there for a year.

Top 20 Australian Tips

1. No, not everything will kill you. You’ll read tons of articles and blog posts and horror stories about all these plants and creatures that will send you to your grave, but the reality is you’re probably going to be completely fine. Especially in the cities, you’re unlikely to face any real danger. However, if you’re venturing to the outback you best brush up on your survival skills.

2. Kangaroos and wallabies are not the same thing, but they’re both super cute and super cuddly-looking. Wallabies tend to be a bit more docile (they’re the smaller ones) and you’re best off not trying to piss off a kangaroo.

kangaroo

3. Koalas are really hard to find. Guys, I’m obsessed with koalas. I love them and I went to Gorge Wildlife Park to hold one more times than I can count. Unfortunately, trying to find them in the wild is going to be really difficult. In my entire year there, I only saw two.

4. If you do want to hold a koala, you must visit Gorge Wildlife Park. There’s a reason I kept going back. It’s a great animal experience and they also make the animals’ welfare a priority over anything else.

Koala holding Australia

5. If you want to do a bit of grocery shopping in Australia, you’re really only stuck with two chains. Woolworths and Coles. Coles tends to be cheaper but Woolworths has a higher end selection, I shall leave the choice up to you.

6. Tipping is not expected in Australia. Although it’s nice and you may find some people doing so in higher end restaurants, it’s certainly ok to not leave a tip and no one will blink an eye.

7. Yes, it is expensive. However, it’s the tourist traps that really try to gouge people. Eat and drink where the locals eat and drink at and stay away from shady people on the street. I feel like I don’t have to say that, but you’d be surprised.

8. Nearly everywhere will accept card and many use pay pass (also known as contactless and also compatible with Apple Pay).

9. If you’re visiting Melbourne, the transport card is called a Myki and you can top those up at 7/11’s which are found throughout the city. The other biggest benefit of this? At 7/11 you can pay with an American Express.

10. Yes, Australians like to use abbreviations and sometimes it can get a little ridiculous, but it’s not nearly as bad as stereotypes would lead you to believe.

11. Australia does get cold. When we lived in Melbourne, I wore a scarf and puffy coat for the entire winter. Snowing in Tasmania is common and it even snows in Queensland in the Bunya Mountains.

12. If you want to see the native penguins, don’t waste your money paying at Phillip Island or any of the other islands that advertise penguins. Instead, go out to St. Kilda Pier in Melbourne. A whole colony lives in the rocks out in the breakwater and it’s completely free because it’s just a natural place. They tend to come back from fishing in the ocean at dusk.

St. Kilda Penguins Melbourne, Australia

13. Some of the cattle ranches in Australia are bigger than other countries. Anna Creek Station in South Australia is larger than Israel and they need to use helicopters to round up the cattle.

14. There are six states in Australia and each one has a “major” city that you’ve probably heard of. Sydney, NSW, Melbourne, VIC, Hobart, TAS, Adelaide, SA, Brisbane, QLD, and Perth, WA. Believe it or not, the Northern Territory (where Darwin is) is not its own state and neither is ACT with Canberra. However, when you write their address it is Darwin, NT and Canberra, ACT. Confused yet? Me too.

15. You have to pay for internet at the vast majority of hotels in Australia. Certainly not all and not if you have status with certain chains, but it’s a good thing to bear in mind when booking your stay. If you see somewhere that doesn’t have free internet, it’s not uncommon.

16. If you want a small taste of what the outback is like but don’t actually want to go to the outback, than Mildura and Renmark are your best bet. Located in Victoria, you’ll get a pretty good taste of it but much closer to the safer confines of the cities.

Renmark, South Australia

17. Drinking out in Australia is expensive, but buying beer from a store is even worse. Luckily, wine is pretty reasonable, but if you’re looking to drink some beer you’re honestly better off just going to a bar or a pub. A six pack from the store will set you back well over $20.

18. You can’t buy alcohol in a grocery store. Should you want to buy alcohol you have to go to specially designated stores for it called bottle shops. Don’t worry though, there are plenty around. Some popular ones are BWS (which are generally located inside a Woolworths), First Choice and Dan Murphy’s.

19. Airfare within Australia is actually very reasonable. If you want to fly Qantas or Virgin Australia you will pay a bit more, but Tiger and JetStar are actively cheap. Especially coming from the US where continental fares are well into the hundreds, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

20. Australia is just as beautiful and awesome as the stereotypes will lead you to believe. Despite everything that may be odd or different about it, this country will seep into your heart just like it did mine and you certainly won’t regret going.

Melbourne, Australia ocean

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  • I think I told you but my brother’s been living in Perth the past 5 years and I have yet to make it there!!! These are such great tips xo

    • Ahh, Jordan, you must go! I really want to go to Perth! One day I’ll make it there haha. I’ve yet to venture that far west. I hope you get to go because it’s such an awesome country!

  • JamieSplendry

    My brother lived in Australia for a bit and I’m still sad I never got to visit him! Maybe someday! Great tips here, thanks!

  • Your pictures are phenomenal! I’m bookmarking this post because Australia is TOTALLY on my bucket list some day. Ugh. It’s literally my dream!

    • I hope you go one day, Chelsea! It’s such an amazing country.

  • Belle Bermudez-Tubel

    Great tips! I would love to visit Australia someday!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • It’s so wonderful. I hope you make it there one day!

  • Marissa Pedersen

    These are great tips! I’d love to go.

  • Joules (Pocketful of Joules)

    And now I want to hold a koala. I mean, HOW CUTE is that!?!

    • Right?? They’re so adorable. I really almost stole it, they had to like pry it out of my hands hahaha.

  • I want to visit! these are great tips! I didnt know tipping wasnt required there!

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

    • Yeah! Lots of countries don’t require tipping and now after living abroad I go to the US and I’m like, “I have to tip you? Why?” Lol.

      • haha as someone who was a server for 7 years we need your tips! we make $4 / hour and work our butts off!

  • Oh my gosh you in the picture with the kangaroo is adorable!! I just want to give one a hug lol. Great post with awesome tips! 🙂

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! The kangaroos are so cute, but I prefer the wallabies because they’re less intimidating!

  • Australia is at the top of our travel bucket list. We have some friends who live there and I use that fact to reassure myself that not everything will kill you (they’ve lived this long, right?).

    • Haha exactly! I think especially if you’re in cities it’s even less of a problem. Personally, I’m not all that interested in going to the outback–to harsh for me haha.

  • I lived in Sydney for 2 years and while culturally similar to the US it was crazy how little things like not tipping and less variety at the grocery store catch you off guard!

    • Yes totally, Shane! Although the grocery store is definitely different, in the end I think I ended up preferring it to the US stores. The quality is much better for a lower cost.

  • Sharon Glascoe

    I love these tips! I had no idea that koalas could be seen in the wild, as rare as it could be. But still!

    • Yes they can! They’re apparently really common in Brisbane and they tend to be a nuisance for people living there. However, I never went to Brisbane so the few places I did go they’re few and far between.

  • Loved these tips and little tidbits about Australia. I’ve been considering a trip there forever!

    • That’s so awesome, Kiara! I hope you eventually go, I loved it.

  • Taylor Smith

    I have never been more jealous!!!! LOL. I love Australia. I would love to visit one day.

  • Adriana

    I’m dying to go to Australia!! I LOVE this post! I’m so jealous!

    • Thank you, Adriana! I hope you do go one day, it’s one of my favorites!

  • Australia looks like a beautiful country to visit. Maybe one day I’ll make it there.

    • It’s gorgeous! I hope you make it one day there too 🙂

  • Stephanay Jnote

    Australia has always been a dream vacation idea of mine and hope to get there soon. But, you got me at Woolworths. Now I really want to go.

    • Hahaha, I’m so glad Woolworths did the trick!

  • Going through your entire list makes me want to actually go to Australia. I’ve always loved your accents but I grew up in Hawaii so I felt like it would feel way too similar. However, I’m totally wrong and I’m sure I’d love it out there. Australians have always been super cool, at least the ones I’ve met and hung out with.

    • Oh I’ve been to Hawaii! Personally I think they’re totally different. Especially if you’re going to cities like Melbourne or Sydney. They have a totally different feel, but I love them!

  • Victoria Stacey

    “No, not everything will kill you.” LOL my biggest fear about Australia! I’ve always wanted to go though. My aunt and my cousin have both gone for extended periods of time, and I’m so sad I never got to visit. One day!

    • Oh I hope you do go one day, Victoria! But yes that was my biggest fear too when I first moved there! Turns out it isn’t that big of a deal haha.

  • Sandy Kul

    I love this and the ‘not everything will kill you’ point is legit! I’m Ausralian and I’ve seen waaaaay more scary insects abroad than at home haha

    • I’m so glad you agree, Sandy! I think the insects in the US and Asia are horrendous. I didn’t really find anything I loathed in Australia haha.

  • Trang Nguyen

    I’m planning a trip to Aus but I am so scare of the cockroaches there. My friends said that roaches in Aus are giant!

  • Love this! You definitely won’t get eaten alive here. I’ve lived my whole life her and have never seen any of the poisonous animals that foreigners are scared of, it’s not as scary as people make it out to be!

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