Australia is a popular destination on backpackers bucket list. But a lot of people make the same mistakes, and not really seeing Australia or being able to enjoy Australia properly. Here’s a few tips I picked up, either from my own mistakes or hearing from others:
- There’s more to Australia than the East Coast
Whitsundays, Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef, are all places on backpackers buckets lists. Don’t get me wrong, do them, but realise there’s more to Australia than the East Coast. I’ve met so many travellers that have been to Australia, then when you quiz them, they’ve only really done the East Coast. You have not travelled around Australia if you only stick to the East Coast. It’s like saying you’ve travelled around the UK, but stayed in London. The East Coast is only a small portion of Australia. Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are also worth visiting.
- Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track
This applies if you’re doing the East Coast, or whether you’re travelling around the rest of Australia. Don’t stick to the main cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth. The small towns and national parks are more worth visiting from my experience. The real beauty lies off the beaten track in Australia. Rather than the built up cities, where you could easily be anywhere in the world, as they’re just like any other city. If you want Australia to impress you, get off the beaten track and visit places that aren’t really as well known and take the gamble.
- Don’t think it’s always hot and sunny
Australia does get rain, and thunderstorms, and it does get cold. Don’t make the mistake of only packing your shorts, vests and flip flops. Everyone in the UK, and probably the rest of the world, have this misconception that Australia is hot and sunny 24/7. The reality is, it’s not. Australia does get snow, bare that in mind!
- Australia is BIG
Do you research and realise how big Australia really is. So many people think they can travel around the whole of Australia in a few months. You might be able to see a few of the highlights, but definitely not all of them. Work out distances, and how long it will take to drive or get public transport. You’ll be surprised how far away things are, and if you look on the map, you’ll see how little you’ll travel. Bare in mind it’s nearly a 6 hour flight from Brisbane to Perth (which are opposite sides). That’s 6 hours of flying time in between of things to see. Fly from the UK for 6 hours, and see how many countries you miss out over Europe, to give yourself an idea.
- Australia is expensive – really expensive
When you do a working holiday visa, they require you to have $5,500 Aus Dollars in your bank account (correct at the current time of writing.) Yes, they rarely check, but there’s a reason they say it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they won’t check, so you don’t need the money. You do! Australia is expensive, really expensive. It makes London look cheap. Yes, when you start working, it evens out, as the wages are pretty good. But you don’t want to get to Australia, and have to hunt for a job straight away. Travel for a bit, enjoy a bit of Australia before you settle down somewhere.
- Learn the lingo
Australia speaks English, so it’ll be fine? Nope. The Aussies have a lot of slang terms, and not just the common ones we know about in the UK. Yes, thongs are flip flops and a Sheila is a woman. But there’s a lot of Aussie slang terms you need to learn to get by, especially if you’re planning on working in Australia. Research the lingo before you get out here. It saves you looking an idiot, standing there with a blank expression on your face. I’ll do a post soon, explaining the lingo I’ve picked up on so far.
- You’re not going to be surrounded by Kangaroos and Koalas
I’ve seen a few Kangaroos in the wild, most of which have been dead on the side of the road. And that’s when I’ve gone off track, not sticking to the main cities. I’ve been in Australia for 6 months, and never seen a Koala in the wild. You do get places where you’ll find a Kangaroo in your back garden, but it goes back to point 2. You need to get off the main track to see those kind of things.
- Chat to other backpackers and the locals
The best way to get off the main track, and see some impressive things you wouldn’t see plastered all over Instagram, is to speak to others. See where others have been in your hostel. Speak to the locals. They grew up in Australia, so chances are they know where the secret, hidden spots are. And they’re usually the best ones!
- Work if you can
The best way to see Australia is to travel and work at the same time. Stick to one place for a few months, get a job, then move on. You’ll still get your days off where you can visit places nearby, so it’s not like being stuck in a job at home, going nowhere. I’m so glad I decided to work and travel in Australia, rather than come here on a 3 month trip. I’ve seen so much already, and I’ve not even seen a quarter of Australia yet. My first few months in Australia, weren’t the best. I was sticking to the main tourist routes, and to be honest, Australia wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. If I just did 3 months travelling, I’d of gone home saying Australia isn’t all that. Fast forward to 6 months living in Australia, and I honestly can’t see myself going home anytime soon. I’ve gone off the beaten track, and saw the real Australia. I’ve met the locals, and it really feels like a second home to me now.
- Enjoy it
You will blink, and it’ll be all over. Enjoy Australia, it has a lot to offer, no matter what your interests are. Don’t waste time lying in bed till lunch time, or sitting in a pub all day, every day. You’ll regret it. Get out, see the real Australia, and budget so you have enough to enjoy it. Australia is a great country, as long as you do it properly.