Know Before You Go – Australia

So, you’ve decided to head ‘down under’ to Australia for the first time. Possibly a backpacking trip, possibly a more upmarket trip. What do you need to know before you go? Well, quite a few things really. But let’s see what I can brainstorm for you.

Visas

Okay, so yeah you need a visa to visit Australia, and they are pretty strict I believe. There is an online application for what they are called an ‘ETA e-visa’, which is available if you are from certain countries. Try this link –

ETA E-Visas Australia

You should be able to find out if you are eligible. I think it’s pretty predictable, although if you’re from Afghanistan you are eligible but if you’re from Albania you are not. So well, good luck! Otherwise I guess you need to go through an embassy and there will be a longish process. Visas Subclass 660 are around $140 AUD ($90 – $100US). So, not cheap. I understand the need for these things but sometimes it frustrates me too!

Flights

Ahhh so get ready to spend some time in the air. You’ll need over 20 hours from Europe, 14 hours from the US West Coast, obviously more from the east coast. What I highly recommend is an Asian stopover from Europe. You have Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong as common stopovers. Or Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Doha in the Middle East. From the States you could consider a pacific island stopover – even Hawaii is feasible.

Your choice of airline will possibly determine where you end up stopping over. Qatar are one that are very highly rated. So are Etihad, and Emirates have been solid for a long time. Then home airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia will get you both to Europe or the States. Air New Zealand are also excellent with great service. United and American fly here too.

Getting Around Australia

Have a look at my previous posts on getting around.

BY AIR

BY TRAIN

BY BUS & ROAD

And remember – the distances are huge, in the Summer the weather can be stifling. If you are going to drive, be prepared!

Dangerous Animals!

Crocodile in Kakadu

Ummm okay so Australia apparently has a reputation as being filled with dangerous animals. Well, okay yes there are crocodiles, snakes and spiders. And many of them are deadly. Crocodiles you will find in northern Australia, and generally not near population centres. If you’re in the top half of the country, don’t swim in an unknown water. Simples.

Snakes generally are found in the bush (forest), and in rural areas. But not exclusively. It doesn’t help that the most deadly snake is the Brown Snake, which looks as plain as its name. Snakes are, really truly, more scared of people than people are of them. They generally hide in grass, low vegetation. If you’re in an area which might have snakes, well, make noise, announce your presence. The main danger is if you catch them by surprise. However, you know, no need to be overly paranoid either. In the south the likeliness of a snake encounter in the winter is next to zero, even in the bush. Because they don’t like the cold. If bitten, well, follow first aid!

Spiders. Heck. Yes, these can be found most places. But really it’s just being careful and looking out for places spiders might hide. Again, know your first aid. Hospitals have anti-venoms, if you get bitten, try to remember what the spider looked like. The Redback is one of the most deadly, but to put it into perspective, there have been no deaths due to redbacks recorded in Australia since 1979. Zero.

All in all, don’t stress about ‘dangerous’ animals. Honestly, in a city based trip to Australia your chance of a dangerous encounter is next basically zilch. It’s not until you head out into the bush that there’s even a chance. And be aware, and you’ll be fine.

Partying in Sydney

There are plenty of places all across the land to party. All types of places for a dance and a drink. In Sydney though, they presently have a law that has lockouts at 130am and last drinks at 3am. This is due to violence. When heading out in any city in Australia, especially Melbourne and Sydney, go out with others and exercise common sense!

Costs & Money

Australia is not a cheap country, although our dollar has fallen lately against the green back. Hotels and accommodation seem to have gone through the roof pricewise in the last 20-30 years. Eating out is also expensive but I don’t think too bad. Cities now have a number of convinince stores such as 7Eleven, expect the prices to be a lot more than in a supermarket.

Accommodations

So, to be honest, anything less than say $100AUD ($70US) is likely to be fairly average. Places are often inconsistent, and it’s hard to explain but I think sometimes Australians look for different things in hotels than say in Europe. You may be surprised to find hotel rooms quite dated in some ways. Oh and very often you have to pay an exorbitant fee for wifi, which may not be great. Like $20+. Seriously. That’s nearly half of what I pay at home per MONTH.

Hostels are excellent. Usually very well equipped and great places for meeting others, and they often organise tours and activities.

Internet

Look, it’s not that slow but it’s also a long way off the best internet in the world and people do get frustrated by it. They’ve rolled fibre-optics across much of the country now, but because one political party wanted to make it cheaper than the other (ironically costs blew WAY out) it is only to a ‘node’ on the street and then it’s a copper wire to the home in most cases. Still, it’s not dial up. Public WiFi is usually very poor and hard to connect to.

Aussie Slang and Expressions

Yeah, we our own list of quirky things we like to say. Perhaps there’s a whole post in that!

 

So anyways…. Perhaps I will return to this topic another day, but for today, I am done! Thanks for reading. PLEASE comment – suggest what other things you might need to know if you’re headed Australia way! May the Journey Never End!

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