It’s the Great Southern Land. Everything here is different. The seasons are reversed. The swans are black. The water swirls down the drain in the other direction. Even the stars are different here. Australia is so familiar, yet a world apart.
It was established by European settlers and has now become increasingly ethnic and multicultural, with immigrants from all over the world having made their home here, and with it, bringing their own piece of the world with them.
The cities are modern, the wide open spaces are wide and open, and the skies are dark giving one a great look at the great beyond.
Australia is a former British Colony that sets itself apart from its former mother country. While there is still a sense of familiarity, people are laid back and easy going. 90% of the population lives by the ocean, which has a huge influence on life here. Inland Australia has a lot of great wide open spaces.
Australia is almost the end of the line when it comes to air travel, but is served by all major carriers from major destinations. Direct flights are available from the United States, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East.
Australia is part of the visa waiver program, and as long as you hold a passport from a nation that participates in this program you can enter as a tourist without the need for a Visa. Some nationalities do need to secure a visa. Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast all have international airports.
Within Australia, one can either drive between destinations, or fly there. Australia is served by its national carrier, Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia.
Australia does have rail connections among its cities. However, most tourists prefer to drive if they’re travelling on the ground.
Australia uses the Australian Dollar. It is close to par with the Singapore Dollar. Credit Card use is common, though some establishments are cash only. Australia is yet to fully adopt digital wallets.
Most cities will have plenty of money changing facilities.
Australia offers excellent mobile connectivity. The major mobile carriers here are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, which all offer prepaid SIM cards. Vodafone has a kiosk at the airport.
Best time to visit
Australia has great weather all year round. However, I recommend avoiding the peak of summer between November and February. During this time, in addition to the extreme heat, there is a high risk of bushfires. The best times are spring – between August and November – and Autumn – between March and late May.
Australia is very westernised and has a beach culture. There are also regions that have 4 seasons in a day. As a general rule, when travelling to Australia in the spring and autumn, dress in layers so that you can bundle up and take a few layers off depending on how the weather plays out. If you’re going to the beach, you’ll need a pair of flip flops. If you’re going hiking, you’ll need good hiking boots. And if you’re going to be in the city, you’ll need comfortable walking shoes.
Australia uses a Type I plug socket. Plug sockets can be sparse in some older properties, so consider bringing along a power strip if you have a lot of devices.
What else should I know
Sunscreen is essential. If you do not wear it, you will get sunburnt pretty badly. Lip balm is also essential. Australia is very dry and your lips will get chapped after exposure to the dry weather.
Australia has great coffee! When visiting here, make it a point to get coffee from a homegrown coffee shop.
Shops in Australia operate from 9am to 6pm. After 6pm, everything shuts down except for restaurants. If you’re in regional Australia, it can be hard to find anything to eat if you go past 6pm, so plan your trip and meal times accordingly.
Australia is home to venomous spiders and 7 of the 10 deadliest snakes in the world. Particularly when in regional Australia, it is imperative to be cautious.
Australian waters are home to very large sharks. If you’re planning to go diving, you need to take care. Inland rivers in the northern part of Australia are home to saltwater crocodiles, which have evolved over time to be able to swim under water without causing ripples. It is important that you steer clear of the edge of rivers where they often lie in wait to carry away unsuspecting individuals who go there to draw water.
Australian English has a few nuances that set it apart from English spoken elsewhere. Never every say that you root for a particular team. This has a vulgar connotation. Similarly, when someone tells you that its your shout, that means that its your turn to buy a round of drinks.