Australia Travel Tips
If you’re traveling to Australia for the first time, you have a great treat in store for you. No matter what you’ve read or seen of this great continent on TV and in movies, it doesn’t prepare you for the reality.
The sheer vastness, diversity, bewitching natural beauty and vibrancy of Australia will leave you mute. Here are 30 tips for the first time traveler to Australia – the better to prepare you for a momentous journey.
1. Australia warrants many visits for a full, satisfactory exploration. However, if a single trip is all you can manage for now, make the most of it by hitting the right spots.
2. Group your destinations, based on the distances between them. For example, Alice Springs, Uluru and Kings Canyon can be clubbed into a single visit to the area.
3. Pack clothes according to which part of Australia you’re visiting, and during which season. Summer is between November and March, while winter is between May and August. Winter temperatures are mild in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. However, Victoria and Tasmania can be bitterly cold during winter.
4. Find out about the items that you’re allowed to bring into Australia, on http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4369.asp.
5. Drugs of any kind are not allowed in Australia. If you have prescription drugs, you may be asked for your prescriptions and medical report.
6. You can carry one each, not more, of camera, laptop, surfboard and other personal objects.
7. If you smoke, you can carry 200 cigarettes if you’re over 18
years old and not more than a liter of alcohol, to avoid customs tax.
8. Both the Australian outback and water bodies are full of dangerous creatures. Watch out for spiders, drop bears, jellyfish, stingers and other dangerous creatures.
9. While diving, take care to swim only between the flags that are planted at different points to indicate safe waters.
10. Speed limits vary in different states of Australia. For example, in New South Wales, it’s 50 KMPH. Read the latest Australian Traffic Rules before driving a car.
11. You can drive in Australia as long as you hold a valid driver’s license issued in your country, in English.
12. If your driver’s license is not clearly written in English, you’ll need an English version, or an international driver's license.
13. In Australia, you drive on the left-hand side of the road, which takes some getting used to if you’re from US or from European countries other than England.
14. Don’t drink and drive, even if you feel it’s only a couple of glasses of wine. The Australian alcohol limit is 0.05% of alcohol in breath. Australian traffic police man the streets for drunk driving early in the morning.
15. If you are caught drunk-driving, do not try to tip the traffic police into getting you off.
17. Australian notes come in different colors. The $100 note is green, while the $10 note is blue. While the notes are the same size vertically, the length of each note differs based on the denomination.
18. Australian coins come in gold and silver color, in denominations of $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢, 10¢ and 5¢. Copper coins are no longer in circulation.
19. You may find that some automatic exact change tollbooths don’t accept the 5¢ silver coins, especially in and around Sydney. Always keep a supply of $2 and $1 coins for tollbooths and for some parking meters.
20. Australians are, for the most part, friendly, hospitable and fair-minded. You may come across some prejudice against Asians, Aborigines, and new visitors. Do not deliberately provoke anyone or get into a bar fight and you’ll be fine.
21. Learn basic Australian terms such as boot for a car’s trunk, lift for elevator, and petrol for gasoline.
22. If you have connecting flights within Australia, remember that domestic air companies allow about half of your luggage to be checked in.
23. You don’t need to book your lodgings before your travel. The Australian Tourist Information Centre in any town will help you find lodgings for free.
24. You can buy a detailed street map for $7 at any bookshop, gas station or news agent’s when you land at your destination. Alternatively, you can buy a copy of the Yellow pages for a complete set of maps.
25. Cigarette smoking is prohibited in several indoor and outdoor locations in Australia, including beaches. Watch for No Smoking signs before lighting up.
26. Australian gas stations are mostly self-service. It’s best to fill your tank up, since gas stations are few and far between in some areas.
27. Take advantage of the free ride and economic fare passes for Australian buses, trains, ferries, attractions, museums and parks.
28. Press “000” to contact Ambulance services, police or the fire station.
29. You cannot hire taxis on the street except in Sydney and Melbourne. Taxis cost you A$ 1,20 per kilometer.
30. You don’t have to tip taxi drivers, waiters or other service people unless you want to.
Teena is a freelance writer working for gifts for men company Adrenalin, an Experiences company that offers rally driving experiences all across Australia.