Are you putting together your bucket list of trips that you want to take in your lifetime? Most people have the wonderful continent of Australia on their bucket list but it is such a vast space that planning exactly what you will do on the trip is not easy! Where will you go, what will you see and what time of year should you visit? Should I do a road trip? Here are ten tips to get you started.
Australia is vast. It is the 6th largest country in the world and occupies approximately 7 692 024 sq. km. This is larger than all of the European Union countries put together. It will take you over 9 hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne. If you have never visited before it can be hard to appreciate just how big it is. Touring holidays are a relaxing and fulfilling way to find out all about a location that you have not been to before without having to spend months on your own research. You will follow an itinerary that has been put together by experts and will be accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide at all times.
You cannot expect to visit Australia without spending some money. You can make your trip a bit cheaper if you fly with budget airlines and travel overland when you are there. Of course, there is a range of accommodation and some will be more expensive than others. Don’t forget to budget for food and drink. Drinking in bars there is probably more expensive than you are used to in the UK.
The official language of Australia is English but there could be many words that you don’t recognise. Others are based on American. For example, gas is petrol and a ute is a pick-up truck. Other words are shortened. This afternoon is ‘arvo’ which should not be confused with an avocado which is an ‘avo’!
Many visitors arrive in Australia expecting to be surrounded by koalas and kangaroos. This will not happen. You may spot a few in the wild but if you really want to see them it is best to head for one of the national parks or nature reserves outside of the cities. These are in gorgeous locations and are well worth a visit. For kangaroo spotting, one of the best places is Kangaroo Island just south of Adelaide. The cities, however, are not devoid of animals. You are very likely to see a lot of bats, possums, snakes and lizards in built up areas. Don’t forget about the spiders and other bugs which are found everywhere on the continent.
Whilst tipping is expected in some countries such as the USA and appreciated greatly in the UK, it is not commonplace in Australia. You are not expected to leave a tip in bars or restaurants or when you get out of a taxi. This is down to the fact that the people who work in these industries are paid a decent wage and so they do not rely on tips to get by. If you leave some coins on the table and walk off, the waiter is likely to come running after you and return them!
The sun is very strong in Australia and it is easy for people from countries like the UK to get caught out. It is not just uncomfortable sunburn that you have to be wary of. There are areas of Australia that have the highest rates of skin cancer in the whole world. Take plenty of tight weave clothing to cover up your back and shoulders. Also, take a broad-rimmed had and several bottles of a high SPF sunscreen.
The Australian summer is from December to March. During that time it can get extremely hot. Some areas (including Brisbane) can also experience very high levels of rainfall. If you can, it may be best to visit during what is called the ‘shoulder season’ which is October/November or April/May. At these times it will be warm and sunny but you will avoid the intense heat and humidity and high rainfall of the other seasons. Darwin and Cairns are warm for most of the year.
The best advice is to drink like a local! There are plenty of local brands for you to try and Australia is blessed with more than its fair share of micro-breweries (lager and cider) which are all worth trying while you are there. If you prefer to stick with mainstream lagers go for XXXX Gold, Coopers, Hahn, or James Squire. There are some great wine regions too, where you can learn all about the local drinks whilst tasting them!
You may view this as a good thing! The internet in Australia can be bit slow and expensive which is not a good combination for visitors with limited time and a limited budget! Free Wi-Fi is available in some cafes and hotels but don’t expect the connection to be reliable or fast. You may want to sort out your data roaming with your mobile phone service provider before you leave and use that. Alternatively, you could get a Wi-Fi hot spot device such as SkyRoam which can avoid a lot of stress and frustration if you are desperate to send an email!
No-one has been disappointed by Australia. Ever! You are guaranteed to see an amazing sunset and trek through a fascinating rain forest. If you wish, you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive amongst colourful fish in crystal clear waters and relax on some of the world’s most stunning beaches. You can even learn how to surf or sail. The only disappointing part of the holiday will be getting on the plane to fly back home.