FIRST IMPRESSIONS: AUSTRALIA

I landed in Australia nearly 5 weeks ago now, on a working holiday visa. So I think now is a good time to reflect on my time so far, and let you know what my first impressions are.

COSTS
I’ll start with the one a lot of people ask about, money. Before I came to Australia, a lot of people told me how expensive it was. So I was kinda expecting it and saved roughly £3000 to bring across with me. Which I thought would be plenty. Boy was I wrong. Nothing quite prepares you for how expensive Australia actually is. Whatever you think you need, double it. Yes, it’s that expensive.

I’ll start with the basic costs. A pint of beer, $11, which is roughly £7. And you’ll be lucky if you get a pint, because a lot of places don’t do them. Instead they do what the Aussies like to call a schooner. Basically 3 quarters of a pint. Those cost around $7-$8, depending where abouts in Australia you are. Spirits cost around $8. And that’s for a single, as doubles aren’t allowed over here. Shots, such as Jagermeister, cost around $10. And cocktails can cost up to $15-$20. Yes, drinking is expensive here. Australia is pretty good at making sure you don’t become an alcoholic. Goon will become your best friend if you are on a backpackers budget. It’s basically box wine. Tastes nasty, but gets you drunk. And it’s roughly $10 for 4-5 litres. Yes, litres! Hence it’s a backpackers best friend. A little tip, mix it with cordial or lemonade. It tastes a hell of a lot better, and is actually drinkable.

Accommodation can be anything from $20-$30 a night, but again it depends what part of Australia you’re in. Places like Sydney, you’re going to be more towards the $30. Places that are a bit more backpacker friendly, such as Brisbane and Cairns, it’s more towards the $20.

Eating out gets expensive. A regular McDonalds meal can cost $10. So you can imagine the prices in restaurants etc. If you’re on a tight budget I can’t recommend enough how important it is to cook your own food, and eat in. The first few weeks I was eating out pretty much every night. I then looked at my bank balance and wanted to be a little bit sick. The main two supermarket chains out here are Woolworths (no pick n mix I’m afraid), and Coles. Coles is the cheaper one, but Woolies is everywhere. All club in together for the shop, and take it in turns to cook meals. It’ll make it cheaper. 89 cents pasta packets from Coles will become your best friend!

Smoking. Now I don’t smoke, but a few of my friends that I’m travelling out here with, do. Let’s just say if you smoke back home, try quit before you come out here. You’ll thank yourself later, as well as your lungs. My friends have paid as much as $30 for a pack of cigs out here. That’s double the amount you pay back home in the UK. It’s an expensive habit to have out here, so yeah, kick it before you get out here and save yourself some pennies for some schooners.

Don’t let these prices put you off Australia though. Australia is super expensive, but the great thing is, wages are pretty good to match it. So once you find yourself a job and start earning, you’ll be ok. Minimum wage is around $15-17 an hour, depending on your age. I’m earning in a week, what I was earning in a month back home, with a graduate job. So it has it’s advantages.

WEATHER
Now I got here at the start of May, which is going into Australia’s winter. Back home, people kept telling me an Aussie winter, is like our summer. FALSE! Places like Sydney & Melbourne, which are South Australia, it gets freezing. So pack some jeans, and layers to be able to wrap up. If you want the warm sun, you need to chase it up the East Coast. Brisbane at the moment, it’s pretty warm in the day, but at night, it still drops really cold. So you still need layers. Basically the whole “an Aussie winter is an English summer” is a myth.

THE LOCALS
99% of people you meet in Australia will be British. It doesn’t matter if you venture out the hostel to local bars. There’s still going to be some British folks there. We really have taken over Australia, and it’s no wonder a lot of Aussies hate us British. (Well, so I’ve found!)  The Aussies I have met, have been entertaining to say the least. No offence to any of you Aussies reading this, because it doesn’t apply to you all. But a lot of you are just crazy. Friendly, but crazy. Aussies are really also really backwards with their views when it comes to racism and homophobia. I thought it was bad sometimes in the UK. But Aussies make us British look a friendly, inviting bunch. Which is saying a lot!

AUSTRALIA IN GENERAL
I’ve only been here 5 weeks, so it’ll definitely be interesting to read this in a few months and see if I agree. But Australia in general is around 20 years behind the UK. Basic things like fashion, music, bars, rules, public transportation etc. Even the views on racism and homophobia. I’ve never appreciated the UK so much before. For years I’ve been told how amazing Australia is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely country, but so far on my trip, nothing has stood out to me and I’ve been like “wow, Australia is amazing, I don’t ever want to go home.” In the cities, it’s like walking around cities in the UK. In Brisbane, I could easily be in London. Even in the coastal towns, on the beaches, nothing has stood out to me and I’ve thought “wow.” Put it this way, so far in my life, I’ve seen nicer beaches in Cornwall, than Australia. Save yourself a plane ticket, and drive to Cornwall. The weather ain’t as good, but the beaches and water are just as good, if not better. Plus there will be less things that can kill you! I never thought I would say that, and I honestly thought I’d love Australia, being as I love Cornwall so much. But so far, it’s just made me appreciate what I had growing up, and made me miss the UK more.

That being said, the best is still yet to come. I have Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Magnetic Island booked. I want to go see Ayers Rock, and visit Alice Springs, and also do some diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I think once I see those places, my view on Australia will change and I’ll start loving it a little more.

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