Traveling to the land Down Under for the first time is like going away to an entirely different planet. Starting from the country’s unique geographic position, going across the “invert” seasons and arriving all the way to the most amazing nature, Australia is a whole new world to explore. All the things that make it fascinating also make it terrifying. With the total area of 7,692,024 km2 (2,969,907 square miles), Australia is the world’s sixth largest country, and paying it a visit or deciding to move there without any previous knowledge about it can be quite overwhelming. So, here are some things you need to know about this marvellous country before you set foot on its soil.
What’s So Different about Australia?
For starters, Australia has 5 different time zones (UTC+8:00: Australian Western Standard Time, UTC+8:45: Australian Central Western Standard Time, UTC+9:30: Australian Central Standard Time, UTC+10:00: Australian Eastern Standard Time and UTC+10:30: Lord Howe Standard Time). Due to its size, it also experiences a variety of climates. The temperatures range from below zero in southern Australia’s Snowy Mountains to 48 °C (118 °F) in the Kimberley region in the north-west of the country. Summer starts in December and ends in February, autumn lasts from March to May, winter begins in June and ends in August and spring is from September to November. Since Christmas Down Under takes place in summer, and you can often see statues of six white kangaroos pulling Santa’s sleigh, instead of reindeer.
A country that is that big is impossible to explore entirely, especially on a tourist visit. Many of the Australians haven’t even seen all the regions. Naturally, you will have to decide for only a few highlights. Here are some suggestions:
- Sydney is the first place that pops to mind when thinking about Australia, and it is no wonder that it is on top of everyone’s to-see list. While there, make sure you visit Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, and Gordon’s Bay.
- Great Barrier Reef – a wonder of nature, coral reef consisted of more than 3,000 separate reefs. Before you explore the reef, station yourself in Hamilton Island (Whitsunday Islands).
- Melbourne is probably the second most interesting city in Australia, with its rich art scene, vivid nightlife and numerous attractions.
- Uluru is a famous spiritual site of local Aboriginal people, and the stories created around it attract numerous tourists.
- Daintree Rainforest is the oldest forest of its kind and a home to various plants and animals, some of which are very rare.
- Gold Coast is the most wonderful place to be if you are looking for a perfect balance of sunshine, nature and urban environment.
Staying/Living in Australia
Australia is home to many world-class hotels and booking a suit in some of them could cost a fortune. Fortunately, those aren’t your only accommodation options. There are plenty of bed & breakfast accommodations and budget hostels that could accommodate you for about $20 AUD per night. If you fall in love in the land Down Under and decide to stay to work or study, it is always better to explore your options several months prior moving. If you are planning on living in Sydney, for example, you should do a thorough research of apartments’ offer, since it is one of the most popular student cities in Australia, and every semester there are thousands of new students competing for the best prices and locations. Beside the apartments, there are dormitory type accommodations and “homestay” – an option to live with an Australian family in a rented room. Although Australia is generally pricey, you can research your way to an acceptable place to stay and go from there. Especially in more rural areas.
The Everyday Stuff
Australia’s culture is vibrant and diverse and there are things that you will have to get used to if you decide to spend some time Down Under. First of those things would be variations in English language. Aussies really love speaking in slang that is difficult to understand even for people from English-speaking countries (e.g. bloke – guy, cuppa – cup of tea/coffee, g’day (good day), yakka – hard work). Time is the only thing that will help with adjusting to it. On the other hand, food is one of those things you won’t have to get used to, since Australia has so many different international cuisines (Chinese is especially loved), so you can easily find whatever you like there. Transport in Aussie cities consists of busses, cabs, urban rail services and trams.
Australia’s natural beauty and vivid culture are the main reasons for visiting this country. However, the high standard of living and stable politics are the best reasons to start packing your bags and go live Down Under.
Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on Twitter and Facebook. She is also one of the editors at Highstylife Magazine.