Australia has, for good reason, always been a mecca for travelers, in good part because of its natural beauty. The lush rainforests in the north, the remarkable Outback, and the Great Barrier Reef are all iconic destinations. There are some things to take into consideration before planning a trip that will help keep you safe and maximize your experience of the land down under.
1. Australia’s Landscapes are Very Diverse
Australia is the 6th largest country in the world and spans multiple climactic zones and since it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed than in the United States. Rainfall differs dramatically from the tropical north to the temperate south, while temperatures at one end of the country are often very different from the other. In the red center of Australia, the temperature can fluctuate 80°F in one day, so pack for all conditions if you’re visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock). The area surrounding the Great Barrier Reef experiences two distinct seasons, the wet season and dry season. The summers are hot and humid and the winters are dry and warm. In Tasmania the winters can get quite chilly.
2. The Sun is Extremely Powerful
Another important factor to consider, especially for travelers coming from more temperate regions, is the sun. There are several holes in the ozone layer above Australia, and the UV index can routinely reach dangerous levels. Always carry sunscreen, preferably with an SPF rating of 60 or above, and do your best to stay out of direct sunlight, especially during the middle of the day. Know the limitations of your body and drink enough fluids. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, find shade immediately and rehydrate.
3. Biosecurity Regulations are Strict
Australia has one of the strictest bio-security regulations in the world regarding the transport of biological entities. These include food, plant material, and animal products, and failure to declare them can lead to a hefty fine. Australia has been threatened by invasive species before, such as the cane toad, which has become a serious threat to crops and food production. If unsure, always declare at customs – or leave it at home or on the plane.
4. United States Citizens Must Apply for a Electronic Travel Authority Before Entering Australia
United States citizens are required to apply for a Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which provides authorization to enter Australia and is electronically linked to your passport. The ETA grants permission to visit Australia unlimited times in a 12 month period for up to three months at a time. There is a AUD$20 service fee. Before purchasing your plane ticket, make sure that you are eligible for an ETA. You can apply here: https://www.eta.immi.gov.au.
5. Don’t Worry Too Much About The Wildlife But Still Be Cautious
Australia is notorious for its dangerous wildlife, and although that danger is embellished, it still remains that some of the more venomous creatures on earth can be found both inland and on the coast. Avoid driving at night out of towns and cities to avoid hitting kangaroos, wallabies, and other wildlife. “Singer Season” is in the summer in Queensland when jellyfish can be seen on the beaches. During this time, it is necessary to wear a stinger suit or only swim in beaches with stinger nets. If you plan on frequently going into the ocean, it may save you money to buy a suit at a local store on your first day rather than renting numerous times. Always obey the wildlife warning signs.
6. Tipping is Discretionary
Whether you should tip in Australia is a controversial topic. Some Australians suggest tipping and some advise to never tip under any circumstances. If you are going to tip at a restaurant, around 10 percent is sufficient and only tip to reward good service. At restaurants, the bill is always settled in the front of the restaurant, unlike in the United States where the bill is brought to the table. So when you’re done with your meal, get up and pay at the front. Your tour guides do not expect a tip, but it’s always appreciative. If you think your tour guide deserves a tip, a few dollars tip will suffice.
7. You May Be Confused by the Aussie Slang
One thing that always takes visitors off guard, especially on their first trip to Australia, is the unique Aussie slang and the speed that the Aussies speak. A few key common phrases to keep in mind include: Macca’s (McDonald’s), Thongs (flip-flops), Sunnies (sunglasses), Cuppa (A hot beverage), Good on ya (Great job), Heaps (A lot), Bottle-O (liquor store), and Mozzie (mosquito). In restaurants, what we call “Appetizers” in the United States are called “Entrées” in Australia and what we call “Entrées” are called “Mains”.
Alicia has spent extensive time traveling Australia and is passionate about helping others get the most out of their travels making them easy, comfortable, creative, and smooth. To find out more and to get started planning your upcoming travels visit aliciasaba.com.