Australia

30 things you need to know about Australia

9 February 2020

Australia, the land of Crocodile Dundee, Home & Away and kangaroos. Before you book your thirty hour flight, it might be useful to know what’s waiting on the other side of the world.

1. Flies in Australia

No, I’m not talking about flying from Belgium to Australia, I’m talking about flies. The only animal on earth without any purpose or usefulness it seems. If you’re on the West Coast of Australia and you’re passing through, sooner or later you will be confronted with flies. They come in group and have a great interest in ears, nose, mouth and eyes. It’s impossible to explain to anyone how flies can irritate you from day to day. Apparently it’s an Outback trait to deny this gigantic phenomenon while at the same time swallowing a family of flies.

Protip! Buying a fly net isn’t unnecessary luxury.

australia flies

Geen fashion statement maar bescherming voor de vliegen

2. Australian Heat

During the summer, temperatures can climb above forty degrees here every day. Such a climate changes daily life. Walls, door handles and the bonnet all become cooking plates. Cold water doesn’t come from any tap and air conditioning is a necessity, not a luxury. It’s of absolute importance that you always drive around and walk around with water within your reach. We went through a period of sixteen days where the temperature gauge didn’t go below forty degrees. During these days the sweat doesn’t have the chance to slip off your skin. It’s so hot that the moisture evaporates immediately, so you don’t realize that your body constantly loses moisture. Extremely dangerous for dehydration.

Since these temperatures occur, it is important to protect yourself from the sun. My tip for this is not sunscreen, but to cover you. A walk through one of Australia’s major cities will immediately give you a good idea of what the sun can do to your skin. Since many people here suffer from skin conditions that they have contracted because of the sun. In short, cover yourself sufficiently and/or use quality sunscreen.

Protip! Buy a hat. A baseball cap isn’t enough protection from the sun.

3. Australian animals

It’s often portrayed in the media that Australia has the most dangerous animals. Moreover, there are enough images and photographs circulating that only reinforce this image. However, there’s no reason to panic. Australia is a huge country and the chances of seeing wildlife during your trip or stay is minimal. The animals are more afraid of you than vice versa. The chance that you’ll see dangerous snakes is zero, an encounter with a crocodile is unlikely and being attacked by a spider is extremely unrealistic. All you have to worry about are the different kinds of jellyfish that swim in the sea.

Protip! Most beaches have enough signage to tell you what to look out for. You can also put on a stinger suit to be sure..

 

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4. The distances

Australia is big, very big… Still bigger than you think.

You can squeeze all the European countries together and Australia is still bigger. Moreover, it’s an island and has a coastline that you’ll never be able to fully explore. Therefore, be careful when you make an itinerary. A ride from point A to point B should not be underestimated because of the emptiness that Australia has. You can easily drive 250 kilometres here without encountering an oncoming car or petrol station.

From Cairns to Brisbane on the map seems an easy one, in reality it’s a roadtrip of 1700 kilometers and it will take you three weeks to see what’s going on between these two cities. Also the small corner in the southwest of Australia, with the top destinations Denmark and Margaret River, will keep you busy for at least a week.

australia size

5. Summer versus Winter

You wouldn’t be the first to forget that the seasons on the other side of the equator are reversed. Although in Australia it’s more a question of wet versus through. Since it’s a continent we’re talking about, the seasons are different per location.

  • The far north you experience humid and hot summers with flood risk
  • The south has hot, dry summers with forest fire risk
  • During the winter it remains a tropical climate in the north with temperatures around 25 degrees.
  • During the winter it can get quite cold in the south, even up to freezing temperatures at night.

It’s best to plan your holiday in the in-between seasons. Avoid the north of Australia during the wet season. Cyclones, floods and 100% humidity aren’t ideal weather conditions for a fun holiday.

6. The biggest smallest country in the world

Okay Australia is unreal big, but Australia is also the only place in the world where people who live 200 kilometers apart call each other neighbour. It’s nice to see how people here in isolated regions can still count on each other. You can work on a cattle station in the middle of Western Australia in July and be employed 1000 kilometres away in September and the owners are best friends. Perfectly possible here! In addition, Australia has the lowest density in the world with an average of 3.1 people per square kilometre. Knowing that more than 80% of the population lives on the coast, the heart of Australia is a very lonely place. In short, are you tired of people? Come to Australia!

keppel island

7. Stay on the right side!

Like most countries in the world, Australia used to be owned by England. Apart from the miserable English cuisine and the British accent, they also took over left-hand driving. A small detail with many consequences! The steering wheel is on the right and the right of way is on the left. Certainly don’t forget this when you drive into a roundabout.

8. Sports in Australia

Football, cycling or basketball all have to lose out to Australian Rules Football and Rugby. Australian Rules Football is a mix of American Football and rugby. Actually, it’s a very entertaining sport with few interruptions and lots of action. On Sunday afternoon the world stops and everyone watches their favourite team.

The other sport that’s also avidly watched is cricket. A remnant of the Commonwealth as New Zealand, Pakistan, India and England also practice the sport.

9. Diversity of Australia

The country has the largest collection of animals and plants in the world. Here you’ll find fauna and flora that you will find nowhere else in the world. Both the desert and the rainforest have an unseen diversity. Vineyards, sea dunes, a marsh landscape, from the rainforest in Cairns to the city of Brisbane, keep your eyes open here to see plants and animals you won’t find anywhere else.

For example, the endangered Cassowary, Platypus or Tree Wallaby, all three in the Cairns region.

exmouth wallaby

10. Respect the borders

When you enter the country, it goes without saying that you do not bring any fruit, meat, seeds, etc. into the country. Australia has an extremely delicate ecosystem and has suffered several blows in its history due to the import of exotic animal and plant species.

In addition, this also continues to apply when you travel from state to state. Western Australia is very strict about importing fruits, vegetables, seeds, etc. Make sure that you do not go shopping during your trip before you cross a state border. It’s also possible that your oranges from WA contain fruit flies that can cause a lot of damage to the ecosystem in Northern Territory.

 

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11. The paperwork

You need a visa to enter Australia. There are a lot of possibilities what kind of visa you can apply for. On the website of the government you can clearly find everything you need. The most commonly used visas are:

For more information about the Working Holiday visa you can read more here.

12. Australië and the oldest…

Both the oldest rainforest and the oldest people in the world can be found here. Daintree Rainforest connects immeasurably to Cairns. The connection between the ocean and the rainforest is nowhere more beautiful than in Daintree. In addition, Australia is home to the Aboriginal people who call this place home about 50,000 years before the whites came to disturb the peace. Aborigines have a knowledge of the land that cannot be compared to that of Europeans. Although Australia has been around for over two hundred years, the coexistence between white people and Aboriginal people is not very harmonious.

kuranda rainforest

13. Finances

Everything is communicated here ‘per week’. Although your salary is expressed per hour, per day or per year, your salary will (usually) be deposited into your account on a weekly basis. In addition, your rent for your room, apartment or house is also expressed per week.

14. Australia is expensive

Compared to surrounding countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, Australia is very expensive. It’s a Western country that does not need much help from others to get by economically. This is reflected in the prosperity of the country. The minimum wage here is $19.49 per hour and the local population doesn’t realize how good they have it here. As a tourist planning a trip here can quickly become very expensive.

  • An overnight stay often start from $100 per night.
  • You can rent a car from $30 a day.
  • Dining out in the city is often $30 a meal
  • Domestic flights are among the most expensive in the world

Protip! Although Australia can be very expensive, it’s also a country for deals and promotions. Go the extra mile and check websites like Bookme and Viator for great discounts. In addition, it pays to look at promotions related to school holidays or certain holidays.

15. The Outback

The Outback is the most vague term in Australia. There is no limit to where the Outback begins. In this country you can drive several kilometers without seeing people or buildings. The majority of the population lives on the impressive coastline of Australia. When you go inland, you see the fauna and flora decrease and before you know it you’re in the Outback.

Although the Outback can be a lonely and arid place, it contains most of Australia. In other words, it would be a shame not to visit the Outback during your trip. The most popular destination is undoubtedly Uluru or Ayers Rock. The most impressive thing we saw during our year in Australia was without a doubt Karijini National Park.

karijini

16. Internet in Australia

Are you staying in the big cities? Then there’s no problem. The inconveniences only occur when you take a road trip and travel long distances. It’s normal that you don’t have a connection during a trip. Moreover, you completely lose your access to the internet when you leave the area around the big cities. If you plan to explore the isolated areas of Australia, it’s recommended that you become a member of Telstra. They are the only ones who have network masts in the Outback. Both BoostMobile and AldiMobile are part of the Telstra network so these are also possible options.

17. The food of Australia

Typical Australian food is not exactly sophisticated cuisine. They don’t go much further than sausages on a barbecue, meat pies, fish and chips and vegemite on a sandwich. Expect lots of meat and lots of bread. Basically everything the English kitchen has, they have here as well. Of course there is an offer from the world cuisine when you visit the big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, etc.

18. A car is a necessity

We’ve already talked about the vastness. To move here you need a car or you become very dependent on the goodness of the locals. Public transport is expensive and cumbersome, trains are limited, national flights are expensive and buses are almost unaffordable. Moreover, you are in the country where the best road trips are possible. Whether you are in the southwest of Australia or on the tropical east coast, a car holiday is the best option.

 

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19. Tips are optional

Good news! A nice dinner in a nice restaurant doesn’t need a tip. It’s not the habit of the Aussies to tip the hospitality staff. Of course you’re free to reward great service with a bonus but it’s not expected. Since the minimum wage starts at $19.49 per hour the staff doesn’t really need the extras either. Moreover, they earn more on weekends, double on public holidays and catch a bonus when they work after seven o’clock in the evening.

20. Bondi Beach isn’t the best beach in Australia

Despite the popularity of Bondi Beach with (British) tourists, it’s by no means the best beach in Australia. The best beaches are undoubtedly on the rugged, untouched coast of Western Australia. Here you can drive your car on the beach and spend the night. It’s not impossible to stand on a gigantic white beach on your own and watch the pearl blue water make contact with the mainland. The only thing to pay attention to is that you don’t get stuck in the sand with your vehicle.

rottnest island

21. English, or something similar…

The language in Australia is, of course, English. However, it can happen that you speak perfect English and don’t understand a thing the Aussies say. The Outbackers have the habit of shortening words and swallowing sentences halfway. It may sound like a harmonious melody, but at the end of their explanation you have no clue what they’re saying. We especially experienced this during our cattle station periods. In the populated areas, however, we never had trouble understanding the Aussies. Moreover, keep in mind that many Aussies are only first or second generation immigrants and that their accent can show exotic tones.

22. In case of emergency

Hopefully you’ll never need this tip. In case of an emergency, call the number 000 in Australia.

23. Swimming in Australia

There are some dangerous animals in the sea in Australia. Still, don’t let that scare you from swimming in the water. Most beaches have signs that tell you if you can swim safely. In addition, nets are placed to indicate where you can swim.

The biggest dangers are sharks, crocodiles and jellyfish.

  • Sharks do not hunt people. The accidents that occur are usually a case of confusion.
  • Jellyfish are present depending on the season. They have one of the most painful bites in the world and can be deadly. If you are at a location during the jellyfish season, swim with a stingersuit on!
  • Crocodiles can swim in the saltwater in the north of Australia. They are living horror stories that must be avoided at all times. If there’s a sign that says there’s a good chance they might be there, don’t go in the water. The chance of surviving a crocodile attack is very low.

24. The Great Barrier Reef

A miracle of nature, a bucket list destination, but also a victim of global warming. Only 5% of the reef is still in good condition and that’s still decreasing daily. 95% of the reef has been bleached because of the high temperatures of the Earth which has immense consequences for marine life.

The area around Cairns appears to be the most intact of the Great Barrier Reef.

25. Bushfires and floods

Don’t be put off by forest fires, floods and other extreme weather conditions in Australia. Despite the reality that such situations can occur during your stay, the chances of experiencing them are slim. You’re visiting a country that is larger than Europe. The media only reports the sensational natural disasters, which creates an influenced depiction of Australia.

You can visit Australia with peace of mind if you keep these things in mind:

  • You come during the dry season
  • Bureau of Meteorology keeps an eye on extreme weather
  • Visiting the tourist attractions

26. Tim Tam

This is a can’t miss from the list. A delicacy you can find in every supermarket or gas station. Older than Oreo’s (and tastier too) and probably the best kept secret in Australia. In any case, buy at least two packs because the first pack will soon be gone.

Moreover, you have the Tim Tam Slam.

  • First you suck diagonally two corners of your Tim Tam into your coffee.
  • After that you bite off the corners
  • And then you put the Tim Tam halfway into your coffee and slurp some coffee through the biscuit.
  • To cap it off you eat the rest of the soaked biscuit

In short, a real piece of Aussie culture!

27. Beer as water

If you thought Belgians drank a lot of beer, you’re gonna be in awe over here. The Aussies drink beer like water, for some Aussies you can even interpret that literally. Although the beer here is for the most part not so strong, they consume so much that they’re in different atmospheres almost every day. After the working day it’s ‘beer-o-clock’ and cans of beer are pulled open en masse. It’s not uncommon here to consume four to five cans of beer every day.

28. Driving at night in Australia

It’s recommended to arrive at your destination before sunset and only leave after sunrise. Because of the wildlife it’s best to avoid the roads at night in Australia. Especially in the Outback there’s a very good chance to see animals on the road if you drive at night. Moreover, your chances are already increased if you drive after sunrise or before sunset. So always be attentive and careful. Animals that you may encounter on the track are:

  • Kangaroos
  • Cattle
  • Dingoes (wild dogs)
  • Snakes

In the cities and densely populated areas, however, it’s okay to drive around in the dark. We had a collision with a kangaroo at two pm and almost drove a dingo off the track around three pm in the afternoon. Keep your eyes on the road at all times!

exmouth kangaroo

29. Go off the beaten path

Australia is so much more than Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef. I have never seen so many beautiful things I had never heard of before. Moreover, Australia is sometimes called the ‘Last Frontier‘ and that’s completely true. It’s perhaps the only country on Earth where you can walk on land where no human has ever walked before. My advice is to dare to go off the beaten path and make your own discoveries. There is so much to do and experience here. It would be a shame to base your journey only on tips from the Lonely Planet.

30. Flying to Australia

Are you completely convinced and do you want to book your ticket to this insanely beautiful country? Then wait a minute before you spend your money. After all, a flight to Australia takes at least 24 hours and the effect this has on your body and mind should not be underestimated. In addition, tickets are very expensive and it’s often cheaper to first book a ticket to a destination in Asia and then fly on to your favourite destination in Down Under.

Extremely attractive destinations for pit stops are abundant in Asia. Moreover, the standard of living is much lower than in Europe, so a lot of money will not be gained. Do you want to go citytrips in Singapore, backpacking in Thailand or relax in Bali? The choice is yours!

If you want more articles about Australia, click here.

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