If you have decided to travel Australia, you are in for the adventure of a lifetime! Australia is a beautiful, diverse country with plenty of opportunity for all types of travel, whether you enjoy relaxing by the water, hiking through mountainous terrain, exploring canopied rainforests, or driving along the great open road. There is something for everyone and the chance to have a holiday that you will never forget. Before you set off on your trip, there are some things you should know before traveling Australia:
- Australia is big, so it takes time to get around.
You might look at a map of the world and not think Australia seems all that big, but you would be wrong. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world — it is almost the same size as western Europe, which means there is a lot to see and you might not be able to fit it all in one trip. One thing that you will have to factor in is travel time and just how long it can take to get around a country of Australia’s size. This means you need to think carefully about how much time you have, what you want to see and how you are going to get there. For example, driving from the east coast of Australia to the west coast will take you days and days, potentially even weeks if you are stopping along the way. If you do not have that kind of time, you are going to want to fly which will still take you around three or four hours depending on where you are flying from. The point is to map out your trip before you go and plan your transport accordingly. If you want to drive part of it and fly for some it, consider hiring a car or buying a cheap one. If you want to be able to use it in a city after you have traveled, arrange some long-term parking, so the car is safe and can be used once you have returned from your west coast adventures.
- You will need a visa.
Unless you are from New Zealand, you will need a visa to travel in Australia, so it is a good idea to apply for this well in advance if you can. The process of applying for and receiving a visa will depend on the country you are a citizen of, but you may be able to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). This is electronically linked to your passport and gives you the authorization to enter the country and travel around. It will cost you $20AUD. However, an ETA only allows you to stay in the country for three months and you cannot work. If you want to work or study in Australia, you will require a different type of visa, which may have a more complicated application process. It is a good idea not to leave this to the last minute in case you encounter any problems.
- Australia has strict quarantine laws.
Before you pack your suitcase in preparation for your trip, double check what kind of items and goods you are allowed to bring into the country. Australia has quite strict quarantine laws, which mean there are some things that are not permitted to be brought into the country and you must declare certain goods before you enter. Live animals and plants, plant material, animal products, and certain food are seen as being a risk to Australia’s biosecurity, so make sure not to bring anything like fruit or vegetables, plants, seeds, or anything with animal skins or feathers. As well as this, you cannot bring weapons of any kind. If you’re unsure, check the Australian government website. You will also need to declare any medication that you might be bringing in if it is a prescription medicine that could be subject to abuse or dependence, like certain painkillers or sleeping pills. If you take this type of medication it is useful to have a letter from your doctor stating why you need it so your declaration process does not become more complicated than it needs to be.
- Be prepared for all types of weather.
Given how big Australia is and the diversity of landscapes, you need to be prepared to encounter all types of weather and climates, especially if you are going to be traveling for a matter of months. Although Australia can get very, very hot in summer, do not assume that it is hot all year around. While temperatures are always fairly warm in the northern part of the country, it can also be very wet. Around Darwin and Cairns, there tends to be a wet and a dry season rather than the typical four seasons you may be used to. Similarly, in winter (June, July, August) temperatures can drop to below zero in certain parts of the country. Spring (September, October, November) or autumn (March, April, May) is usually a good time to travel, because the weather is a little bit mild but still sunny in most parts of the country.
- It can be very expensive.
The cost of living in Australia is very high. Sydney is known for being one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. For this reason, it is a good idea to save before your trip and to make yourself a budget and try and stick to it. Look at ways you might be able to save money for example by camping, rather than staying in hostels or hotels. Australia has some great campsites, many of which are by beaches or rivers so this can be a fantastic option in summer or spring. Cooking your own food will also save you money given the cost of eating out. Doing research before you go can ensure that you do not get an unpleasant surprise at the prices once you arrive!