6 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Australia Travels

December 16, 2014
6 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Australia Travels

country-expert-badge-final3There are a lot of reasons people choose to travel Australia. There are the famous landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock), but there’s so much more to this beautiful place. There’s the people, the cities, the beaches and the great expanse in the middle, the Outback.

Even after living in Australia for two years, I still wasn’t prepared for my travels through this country. I still wish I’d have done more research and talked to more people about exploring this vast place. I wish I’d known a few more things.

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Australia Travels

1. It is insanely big.

It’s huge. It’s the sixth biggest country in the world. If I had known how big it was before I started traveling, I would have started traveling a lot sooner. There are so many corners of the country to explore, all completely different, all completely fascinating and all ridiculously far apart. You will devote entire days just getting from A to B and they won’t really look that far from each other on a map. I only had two months to see the Northern Territory and Queensland and it wasn’t enough to see all that I wanted to see there. After two years of weekend jaunts around the country I never made it to Tasmania or Western Australia at all. Give yourself plenty of time to see what you can and know that you probably won’t even scratch the surface.

2. You’ll need to learn another language to order a beer.

A schooner in New South Wales might get you a large beer, but order one of those in South Australia and you’ll get a small. Don’t even use that word in Victoria–it’s a pot down there. Head to the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland and you’ll want to ask for a handle. If all else fails, a pint is pretty readily available and most people will know what you mean (even if a pint isn’t actually what you’ll get).

3. You’ll need a 4WD.

If you’re going to buy or rent a car, make sure it’s a four-wheel drive. There is no point in even visiting the Northern Territory or Western Australia or anywhere inland without one. I made the mistake of renting a two-wheel drive camper van to go from Darwin to Cairns and I kicked myself every day. I missed out on some seriously epic off-roading and some amazing sights only accessible via sandy, rocky unpaved roads. I know deep down that I need to go back.

4. It’s not always hot.

Australia is not hot all the time (except parts of the Outback and Northern Queensland, which are always hot). Sydney gets cold. Melbourne gets snow. Okay, I mean, cold is relative. It’s not like winter-in-Russia cold. But you cannot wear shorts and a t-shirt all day every day. Before you travel to Australia, be sure to pack a jacket and some jeans, too.

5. Not all Australian animals are trying to kill you. Not all the time anyway.

Yes, there are a lot of dangerous animals in Australia. Perhaps more than you’re used to. It’s home to the world’s most venomous snake, a serious number of spiders that can kill you (or at least leave you feeling pretty rough), man-eating crocodiles, sharks lurking beneath your surfboard and heart attack inducing jelly fish. I was really nervous when we first started traveling, but I didn’t need to be.

It’s hard to be in the way of these animals and they are genuinely more afraid of you than you are of them (except crocodiles, they just want to eat). Don’t go in the water if there are signs warning about crocodiles or jelly fish and trust me, there are always signs. Don’t let what is a very rare chance of something happening stop you from seeing this incredible country.

6. You’re never going to want to leave.

While I was living abroad, I wish someone had told me that leaving Australia was going to be near impossible. The people are so friendly, the landscape is breathtaking, the beaches are everywhere. The ocean is full of things that might want to kill you, but you’ll quickly get over that as you swim in the safety of the stinger nets. There is every kind of food you could possibly want, the cities are thriving, the beer is cold and the wine is so cheap. There are too many reasons to stay in Australia and not enough reasons to leave.


6 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Australia Travels photo by Laura Bronner. 

About Laura Bronner

Laura Bronner is an American girl addicted to life abroad. After graduating from college she set off on what was meant to be a year of travel. That was four years ago. Since then she has lived in New Zealand, Australia and now calls South Korea home. You can follow along with her experiences on An American Abroad

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