“Going to a new part of the world, there are many small thing which is really good to know, before packing the suitcase and boarding the jet. Here is our best advice, when you are planning a trip to Australia.”
AUSTRALIA is a really BIG country!
Australia is huge and 6th largest country in the world with a relatively small population of only 2.6 people/km. The sheer size divides the country into three separate time zones. So it is a good idea to make a travel plan from home, so you know what you want to see, as a flight from the east coast to the west coast will take 5.5 hours. If you don’t have a plan, you will risk losing valuable time. The big distance between the cities makes flying the obvious choice of traveling. For example driving from Brisbane to Cairns will take you 3 days – if you hurry and rush away. And the drive from Melbourne to Sydney along the coastline takes 2 days – so you need to find a place or two to sleep, depending on what you want to see on the way.
Best time to travel to Australia
The seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. The northern states are typically warm all year around, and in the southern states, they can have cold winters. Have in mind that if you travel in the busy periods, everyone else will be joining your trip, and popular places will be crowded. Generally, the best times to visit the southern parts is from December to march, the Australian summer, where you can have a long summer holiday from Christmas through January. In the tropical north is best period is May to October. The Central part have two good times, from October to November, again from March to May. If you are planning a longer trip – go for the southern coasts in the summer, and head towards the north in the winter, to get the best out of the areas.
– You will need a visa to enter Australia unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen obviously. Apply for a visa online. For most citizens is quite easy and fast to apply, but there is no need to chance it, so as soon as you know when you are leaving, go online at https://www.border.gov.au and apply.
– Customs in Austalia is very focused on protecting from agricultural and livestock diseases. Australia’s quarantine laws are very strict to importing plants, animals and their products, including their foods. At the airports search dogs inspect the luggage, and heavy fines apply for breaking the law. So have this in mind, also if you are arriving from other countries on your way to Australia. Other banned items are for example ivory, marine turtle shells, rhinoceros or tiger products and sturgeon caviar. Remember to think about which signals you send when arriving in the customs. If you are dressed in leather from top to toe, with a necklace of shark tooth, you might attract unnecessary attention.
– Doctors are called Medical Practitioners, and most cities and towns have 24 hours clinics. Your hotel may be able to help you find the nearest doctor.
– The climate varies across the continent from tropical in the far north to cool and even snowy in the south. The weather in Australia can change very fast, and even if you travel in the best times of the year, you can expect a little rain shower once in a while. Depending on the area you are heading, check out the weather for the season, and pack your suitcase after it.
– Electricity is 240 volts AC 50 hertz with a sockets that take 3 flat prongs and remember to bring lots of adaptors if you are traveling from Europe, Asia or north America. If you need adaptors while in Australia, there is plenty of possibilities in electronic and hardware stores.
– If you are involved in an emergency dial 000 on any phone, for police, ambulance or the fire department.
Places to stay
– As a lot of Australians travel with their family and children, there is a great option to find apartments, services or non-serviced, to stay in. This solution it very comfortable and good value for money. As a bonus, it is very relaxing to have your own apartment, where there often is a full kitchen, big bathrooms and washing machine.
– Besides apartments Australia has loads of hotels, motels and hostels, so it is quite easy to find a place to stay overnight. If you are driving in a mobile home or camper, there is also a wide selection of campsites along all the major roads. Just remember, motels and camps often close in the evening.
– If you need to bring medications for your trip, it is not a problem if it is for personal use. But as it must be declared on arrival, we recommend you to bring a prescription or letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the details for the medication you are carrying.
– You don’t need any specific vaccinations to visit Australia unless you come from yellow fever infected country before you arrive.
– It is very easy to get cash everywhere, as there is ATMs at almost every corner. There is typically a fee on 2 or 2,5 AUD for using foreign credit cards.
– Duty-Free Shopping is possible as soon as you purchased your airline ticket. But remember to declare goods exceeding the customs limits.
– Return tax – Goods and services tax (GST) is 10 % and you may be able to claim a refund of the GST paid on goods bought herein you spend more that AUD300 in one store. You can find the scheme in the departure area in international airports.
– Tips- You are not expected to tip waiters and staff, but it is always good custom to tip 10 % in Australia – on the other hand, it is NOT good custom to bargain about goods and prices.
-Opening hours – most shops and restaurants close quite early compared to European cities. So keep an eye on the clock while shopping.
– Make sure that you insurance covers theft, loss, accidents and medical problems. The Australian Government has reciprocal agreements covering limited subsidized health services for medical treatment with some countries through Medicare.
– Australia’s beautiful beaches are usually patrolled by volunteer lifesavers from October to April and the safe spots for swimming are marked with flags. Remember to be aware of both marine stingers and crocodiles. The waves and currents can be very strong and dangerous. So before you head out in the waters, talk with the local surfers or beach patrols, so you are prepared.
– Mobile coverage in Australia is generally good, and we recommend you to buy a sim-card. Telstra offers many good solutions, where you get loads of internet for a cheap price. This is great if you are traveling in a group and need to communicate. Be aware that when you get away from the cities, into national parks and remote highways, you will often loose the signal and be without coverage.
– There is many different low price airlines operating in Australia, like JetStar and Tiger which offers very cheap flights, but remember that you need to pay for luggage beside the fare. So the difference to the better and more comfortable choices Virgin Australia and Qantas is very little in the end.
– The sun is very powerful, and if you are not used to be exposed to heavy sunlight, you must use sunscreen all the time. The South Eastern Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – just half an hour in the sun, is enough to make the light skin turn burning red.
– Australia is equal to Kangaroos, Koalas and Sharks, but don’t expect to see them everywhere. Sometimes it takes an effort to spot the Koalas, lounging in the trees above the roads or the Kangaroos in the bushes. The populated areas push the animals away, so to get some good nature experiences, head of to one of the many natural parks, spread all over the country. There is so much to see, and animals are best met in the wild. But be careful if you drive after dark, as you risk meeting the animals in ways that you don’t will like. They are drawn to the headlights and can jump in front of your car.