Top Travel Tips for first time visitors to Australia!

Having immigrated to Australia six years ago you could say I have completely fallen in love with this country I now get to call home. I feel so fortunate to live here and experience everything this incredible place has to offer.

Whenever we have friends and family come visit us, there are a few tips we like to share with them before they get here. If you’ve never been to Australia and want to know what to expect when heading Down Under, here are our Top Travel Tips for first timers to our amazing country…

Australia…it’s a bloody big place

Byron Bay

While places may look close on a map, the likelihood is that it will take you much longer than expected to get there. As an example, it takes 10 hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne non-stop. It would take you the best part of a week to drive from Sydney to Perth with sufficient stops and Sydney to Cairns is a good 20 hours driving. You get the idea! It’s a big place.

If you want to visit a few places in Australia while you’re here (and we would definitely recommend it!) you have a few options to maximize your time here. Road trips are awesome but if you have limited time we’d recommend internal domestic flights. Our preferred airline is Virgin Australia. If you book ahead you can get some awesome deals on domestic airfares. Flights with these guys are affordable, reliable and you can even choose to offset your carbon footprint…save the planet peeps! Travelling this way will give you way more time to explore.

It get’s hot, really hot

Palm Beach, Sydney

In case you didn’t know, there’s a big hole in the ozone layer smack bang above Australia! As a result the sun is fierce here and you will feel it. Even on an overcast day it is possible to get sunburnt so it’s super important to cover up when possible and always wear a hat and sunglasses. As the Aussies say, Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a t-shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat!

Your factor 15 sunscreen won’t do much to protect your skin here; factor 30+ is where it’s at. For all you sun worshippers, don’t worry. You can still get bronzed when wearing factor 30. Better to be safe than looking like a red lobster! It’s also super important to stay hydrated so make sure you’re alternating those cold beers with a few waters here and there.

Aussies love to shorten all their words!

Servo (pertrol station), bottle-o (establishment that sells alcohol), brekkie (breakfast), g’day (hello), arvo (afternoon). These are all words you’re likely to hear around the traps down under. To come to grips with Aussie slang, simply start by adding the word ‘mate’ to the end of every sentence and the letter ‘o’ to the end of every word. You’ll be chatting away with the locals before you know it!

Not everything will kill you!

Northern Territory

Despite what you may have heard about Australia, it’s unlikely you will come across any of our more deadly residents (like this Saltwater Croc pictured) unless you go looking for them. During my first trip to Australia back in 2005, I was convinced a funnel web spider was going to crawl into my bed, bite me and leave me for dead! Didn’t happen.

Now having lived here a while, I can safely say that the scary man eaters/creepy crawly factor is not as bad as I originally thought. If you’re going to be spending time in cities in Australia it is very unlikely you’ll see them roaming the streets…in zoos maybe, but not in your hotel room! That said, it’s always best to enter outdoor dunnies (translation: rural bush toilets) with caution. That thing you heard about checking under the toilet seat does apply to those!

Always swim between the flags

Manly Beach

As a Brit I had no idea why swimming between the flags was important…until I swam in the ocean and felt the full force of the currents in Australia, or rips as they are more commonly known!

Ever seen Bondi Rescue? If you have, you’ll know how many tourists fall victim to rips! On unpatrolled beaches you won’t have anyone there to jump in and rescue you so if you’re not a strong swimmer and don’t know how to read the ocean currents it’s probably best just to paddle or stay out of the water altogether! Despite all that, it’s perfectly safe to swim in Australia. In fact it’s one of the best things to do here on a hot day! The main thing is to stay safe and always swim between the red and yellow flags so the lifesavers can see you.

Kangaroos really do box…and there are so many other cool animals to see too!

Hunter Valley

The time we saw boxing kangaroos was just the coolest thing EVER! You will definitely see Skippy and his mates out in the wild at dawn and dusk in rural areas of Australia. There are literally millions of them.

If you’re an animal lover this country is one of the best places on earth to visit. From swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef to cage diving with Great Whites off South Australia this country has it all. Over 80% of animals here are unique to Australia; so you won’t find them anywhere else!

Keep your eyes peeled for some of our well-known residents…wombats, koalas, echidnas, dingos, platypus and wallabies.

Warning: You may become a coffee snob after visiting Australia

The Book Kitchen, Surry Hills

Aussies take their coffee VERY seriously. And they have good reason to. It’s really, really good! I was more of a tea drinker before I moved here but now I don’t touch the stuff. I can hear all of you Brits gasping with horror.

The coffee culture is a big part of Aussie life. You’ll find many people having business meetings over coffee, social catch-ups over coffee and even giving their kids a ‘babycino’. I thought parents had officially lost the plot and were giving their kids espresso but I recently learned a babycino is simply milk foam. Crisis averted. Oh and let’s not forget the dog lovers…puppycino coming right up!

So, if you really want to fit in here, find your favourite barista (that’s the guy or girl who makes the coffee) and discover whether you’re a flat white or skim latte…or maybe a long black! The coffee world is your oyster down under.

If you want our top tips for coffee, check out our Top 10 Best Breakfasts in Sydney for some of our faves!

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