What you need to know before you travel to Australia
Ah, the Land Down Under. Whether you are hoping to hold a koala, get close to a kangaroo, walk through a lush rainforest, or simply relax with a cold beer or iced coffee on the beach, Australia has it all. And when you think about all of the marvelous places to see and the super fun things to do throughout Australia, is it any wonder that so many people visit the country every year?
If you have been thinking about heading to Australia, you might feel overwhelmed by all of your options in terms of where to stay and what to do, so we’ve compiled some helpful information that will assist you as you plan your trip. So keep reading to check out what you should know before you go to Australia.
What are the most popular places for tourists in Australia?
There really is something for everyone in Australia, from adventures in The Outback, to beer and cider festivals. And this means that there is a wide range of tourist attractions and popular places to choose from. Whether it’s a big city that you hope to explore or you want to escape into the natural world, when you go to Australia, you will have no shortage of options.
Below are just a few of the most visited places in the country to help you get your itinerary started:
- The Great Barrier Reef: Nature lovers should definitely make it a point to check out the Great Barrier Reef, which is the biggest coral reef system on the planet. You could do everything from diving and snorkeling, to sailing and swimming while you are there. Some of the many places to discover include Michaelmas Cay, Heart Reef, and Agincourt Reef, as well as islands that include Magnetic Island, Heron Island, and Daydream Island. Be sure to pack your underwater camera!
- Byron Bay: Byron Bay is one of the most popular destinations in New South Wales, where you will find rainforests, beaches, and plenty of restaurants to sample the local cuisine. Go ahead and spend your day hiking and swimming before sitting down to a relaxing meal!
- The Sydney Opera House: When many people think of Australia, they think of the famous and beloved Sydney Opera House, which is considered an architectural masterpiece of the 20th century and one of the country’s most well known landmarks. There are actually several venues within this opera house, and more than 2,000 events are held there annually (wow!), so in addition to seeing it from the outside, you may want to check out an entertaining show during your stay.
- Ayers Rock: Another one of the popular tourist destinations in Australia is Ayers Rock, which is found in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This is a massive sandstone formation, and it is one of the biggest monoliths on the planet. Be sure to take plenty of pictures, as you will want to share them on your social media accounts, especially during sunset, when the color of the rock will change from terracotta to red, violet, and blue! It really is a sight to behold.
- Blue Mountains National Park: Whether you are an avid hiker or you just want to experience the natural world of Australia for a couple of hours, Blue Mountains National Park is a great place to start. It is conveniently located about 50 miles (80 km) west of the city of Sydney, so tourists often plan a day trip to the park to check it out. There are a variety of trails for everyone, including mountain bikers and hikers, as well as those who want to go rock climbing for a true adrenaline rush. But if you prefer to take it easy, you could instead go on the Katoomba Scenic Railway’s glass-roofed carriage and take a ride on the steepest passenger railway on the planet.
- Kakadu National Park: Kakadu National Park is Australia’s biggest national park, so there is plenty to see there, including Aboriginal rock art that dates back thousands of years. Wildlife, ranging from crocodiles and dingoes to wallabies, can also be spotted there, so pack your camera!
- The Gold Coast: The famous Gold Coast of Australia is a must-see. There, you can find a culinary scene, exciting theme parks, and relaxed neighborhoods. But you can also dive into the beauty of nature there, as you could head outside to find waterfalls, spend time at an attractive beach, or take a walk in a rainforest. Some of the area’s top attractions include Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Warner Bros. Movie World, and Queensland Scuba Diving.
Where can you find the best coffee in Australia?
Australians take their coffee very seriously, so while you are there, you will definitely want to try a few cups at some of the country’s most famous cafes. These include Market Lane and The Kettle Black in Melbourne, Single O and Gumption in Sydney, and Barrio Collective in Canberra. Mmm, nothing like a good cup o’ joe!
When is the best time to go to Australia?
The climate could vary from one region of Australia to the next. Across the majority of the nation, though, there are the usual four seasons, along with a dry season and a wet season in the tropical north.
Keep in mind, too, that the seasons in Australia will occur at opposite times of the year compared to the northern hemisphere. So the winter will last from June to August, the spring will run from September to November, the summer will be from December to February, and the autumn will take place from March to May. In other words, while you’re sunbathing in the north, Australia is going through its winter season. Because there are so many different places to stay in and explore throughout Australia, when you should go depends upon where you are hoping to spend most of your time. Take Sydney, for example. This city enjoys a climate that is sunny, with warm summers and mild winters, so you can spend your days in the great outdoors throughout the year. Temperatures in the summer will average around 18.6°C to 25.8°C (65.5°F to 78.4°F), while the coolest months in the winter will have temperatures around 8.8°C to 17°C (47.8°F to 62.6°F), so you can still be quite comfortable. But you should consider rainfall, which could get in the way of your outdoor excursions (rainfall is usually highest during the month of June).
What should you pack for a trip to Australia?
Australia is known for its intense sun, so long-sleeved shirts, broad-brimmed hats, and protective sunglasses are necessary to protect your skin and eyes. You can also take a raincoat, just in case you are caught in an unexpected rainstorm while you are in the great outdoors.
If you are planning on hiking, a good pair of boots will certainly be helpful, though you can stick with sneakers for just walking around town. And if you are planning on heading to the beach or going snorkeling or diving, you should definitely pack a few swimsuits. The big cities in Australia are known for their fabulous restaurants and exciting nightlife. If you are planning on partaking in the fun, you should pack some formal shoes and your favorite evening wear so that you can look your absolute best, especially since many bars and clubs have strict dress codes.
Which electrical outlet adapter do you need for Australia?
Whenever you travel internationally, you have to consider the electrical outlets in your destination, as they may not be compatible with those in your home. In Australia, residents use type I Australian AS-3112 power sockets, so if the shape of your electrical sockets at home are different, you can purchase an adapter to plug in your appliances.
But you also need to consider that the voltage in Australia is 220 to 240 V, while the frequency is 50 Hz. A socket adapter won’t actually change the voltage, so you will also need to invest in a voltage converter if your appliances aren’t already compatible with multiple voltages.
What is the currency of Australia?
In Australia, the currency is the Australian dollar (AUD), so you will need to have your currency converted in order to have spending cash. You can use a currency converter to determine how far your money will stretch once it is changed into Australian dollars.
What are the rules for tipping in Australia?
Restaurants and hotels typically will not tack on service charges, and when it comes to tipping, it will be up to you. If you are planning on dining at an upscale restaurant, though, it is customary for patrons to tip their waiters 10% of their bill.
Do you need vaccinations to go to Australia?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should be up-to-date on all of your routine vaccinations prior to traveling internationally, including to Australia. This could include your measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, your varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, your flu shot, your polio vaccine, and your diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine. Talking to your doctor prior to your trip will ensure that you are good to go.
Beyond these routine vaccines, however, there are some others that your doctor might recommend if you tell him or her that you are planning on going to Australia. These include:
- Hepatitis A: Because you can contract hepatitis A through the consumption of contaminated water or food in Australia, your doctor might recommend receiving this vaccine prior to leaving for your trip.
- Japanese Encephalitis: If you are planning on spending time in certain remote regions of Australia during certain times of the year, your doctor might recommend a vaccine to protect you against Japanese encephalitis. So be sure to tell your doctor the dates of your trip, as well as where you are planning on staying and exploring.
- Rabies: Because bats in Australia have the potential to carry rabies, if your doctor determines that you might be at risk of getting bitten, or if you are going to be working around or with bats during your trip, a rabies vaccine will help protect you. Otherwise, it isn’t a risk to the majority of travelers heading to Australia.
- Yellow Fever: When it comes to yellow fever, you won’t be at risk of contracting it while in Australia. However, the Australian government requires proof of vaccination against yellow fever if you’re coming from a country where there is a risk of getting this illness.
Do you need a visa to visit Australia?
In addition to a valid passport, you will have to apply for a valid visa before you leave your home country if you wish to enter Australia. If you’re a New Zealand passport holder, however, you could apply for your visa when you arrive in Australia.
There are several visas that you can apply for, but if you are going to be heading to the country for a vacation, a tourist visa can be acquired at your local Australian Embassy or Consulate. And in terms of your tourist visa, the one that you should apply for will depend upon your passport, how long you are planning on staying, and what the purpose of your visit will be.
- An Electronic Travel Authority visa is what you should apply for if you want to be able to visit the country as many times as you desire within a year, and if you want to be able to stay for up to three months during each visit.
- An eVisitor visa is free, and you can use it for several visits to the country for business purposes or simply for tourism for up to three months at a time within a year. This visa can’t be extended, and it is available to passport holders from several European nations.
- If you are ineligible for the Electronic Travel Authority visa or the eVisitor visa, you can apply for the Visitor visa instead. This option lets you visit Australia for business purposes or for tourism, and you can do so for up to three months, six months, or a year.
If you have any questions, be sure to visit the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
Ready to head Down Under?
Hopefully the information above has helped to clarify a few of the things that you can expect when you are planning a visit to Australia. Now all you have to do is figure out when you want to head Down Under, book your flight and hotel, and pack your things in anticipation for one of your greatest adventures!
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