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Australia Travel Guide

Sidney

Please note all photos on this page are from Unsplash, a site that offers free images and photos that can be downloaded and used for any project. When we are able the photographer is credited.

“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains, I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me.”

Dorothea Mackellar

Top Five Destination in Australia

  1. Sydney One of the most breathtaking cities in the world with sites such as the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, Hyde, and Luna Park, The Rocks, Queen Vicotria shopping center, Bondi beach, and the best Latska you find anywhere in Australia. Easy day trips to the Blue Mountains and the Wine Country.
  2. Australian Outback The Outback is a rugged wilderness desert with waterfalls and gorges found in the Northern section. Kangaroos and wildlife abound. There is a plentitude of driving or hiking tours.
  3. The Great Barrier Reef and Tropical Queensland The world’s largest coral reef system of brilliant coral and amazing marine life, which stretches 1230 miles along the sunny Queensland coast, is known for its diving and snorkeling. Nearby you will find the lush Daintree Rainforest, the amazing Fraser Island, and the serene Whitsunday Islands in this lovely tropical setting.
  4. Melbourne The country’s second-largest metropolis Melbourne is known for its coffee, culture, food, and sport. The Victorian capital is Australia’s most cosmopolitan city, made up of fascinating alleyways lined with urban art, funky cafes, arty boutiques and galleries, a progressive dining scene, and sport.
  5. Tasmania The island state of Australia, 150 miles south of Sydney, is a land of unspoiled natural beauty. This magnificent island will have you reconnecting with nature with its gorgeous beaches, towering mountain peaks, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife. Known also for its food, drink, and art galleries, it is a diverse cultural experience. Arrive by air or sea.

Did you know?

Australia Stats

  • Population: 25.7 million
  • Capital City: Canberra
  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Government type: Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
  • Prime Minister: Malcolm Turnbull
  • Ethnic groups: British 67%, Irish 9%, Italian 4%, German 4%, Asian 4%, Native Aboriginal and Australian 3%,
  • Languages: English
  • Religions: 52.1% Christianity. 30.1% No religion, 2.6% Islam, 2.4% Buddhism, 1.9% Hinduism
  • US State Department Risk Level: Level 2 due to Covid
  • Terrorist groups: ISIL, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qa’ida, Al Shabaab, Islamic State
  • GDP 1.334 trillion, which represents 1.7% of the world economy.
  • The national anthem used to God Save the Queen until 1984. Now the anthem is Advance Australian Fare.
  • Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands.
  • Lying between 10° and 39° South latitude, it is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Its interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world.
  • Australia’s nickname is the Island Continent.
  • Australia has a low poverty rate and a high standard of living. It is one of the most prosperous nations on earth.
  • The Great Barrier reef is the largest reef system in the world.
  • Australia has three different time zones: Eastern Standard, Central Standard, and Western Standard.
  • In 1902, Australia became the 2nd country to give women the right to vote.
  • Inland area, Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area after Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America, and Brazil. It has though quite a small population
  • Australia has the world’s 3rd largest ocean territory, spanning three oceans and covering around 2.7 million square miles.
  • More than 80 percent of Australians live within 100 kilometers of the coast, making it one of the world’s most urbanized coastal dwelling populations.
  • Australia is very multicultural with Indigenous peoples and migrants from some 200 countries.
  • It has 16 UNESCO world heritage-listed sites, including historic townships, cities, and landscapes.
  • There are over 10,000 beaches.
  • The largest producer of gold in the world is located in Australia.
  • Australia also has parts that are covered in snow. The snow-covered areas are larger than Switzerland.
  • Main exports are iron ore, gold, natural gas, wine, and coal.
  • Leading industries are agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and social assistance.
  • Inventions include the refrigerator, electric drill, surf ski, grain stripper, mechanical sheep shears, instream ore analysis process, ultrasound, wine cask, CPAP mask, didgeridoo, black box flight recorded, spray-on skin, electronic pacemaker, cervical cancer vaccine, and Goggle maps.
  • Life expectancy 83.5 years, one of the highest in the world.
  • The literacy rate is 99%.

Funs facts

  • Australia has a strong culture and identity characterized by being down-to-earth, mateship, honesty, sports, and multiculturalism. 
  • The first inhabitants of Australia were the Aboriginal people, whose ancestors were indigenous to the continent and Tasmania before British colonization. Aboriginals were denied the right to vote till 1967.
  • Australia is home to the world’s longest fence, known as The Dingo Fence, Dog Fence, Wild Dog Fence, or Border Fence, depending on which state you are in. The fence is approximately 5,614 kilometers long.
  • There are 150 million sheep in Australia.
  • Forty million kangaroos are in Australia, more than the human count. You will find Kangaroo road signs vs. deer, as we see in the US.
  • Kangaroos can’t just be found in the wild and zoos. They are found in the local butcher shops. Kangaroo meat is commonly enjoyed and is considered a leaner alternative to beef.
  • Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia.
  • Australia has its desert area, known as the Outback. In this area, there were approximately one million camels that roam in the wild.
  • Christmas is celebrated in Australia; however, they don’t often have Christmas trees. The tradition is to hang lights, do charity work and sing carols.
  • Box jellyfish have killed more people than sharks, crocodiles, and stonefish combined.
  • Australia is home to the oldest surviving civilization on Earth.
  • Over 80% of the plants, mammals, frogs, and reptiles are unique to the continent and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
  • Australia is the biggest island and the smallest continent in the world. The mainland is the largest island and the smallest, flattest continent on Earth.
  • Australia is home to 21 of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world. It has more venomous snake species than any other continent.
  • Australia is one of the most obese countries, with a 26% obesity rate and 63% overweight population.
  • The world’s longest straight section of railway tracks is in Australia, which is 297 miles.
  • The longest highway in the world is on this continent, spanning around 9,000 miles in total.
  • The Tasmanian Devil is real and has the jaw strength of an alligator.
  • Tasmania has been reported as having the cleanest air on earth.
  • Melbourne has the third largest Greek population in the world.
  • Australia has the highest rate of gambling in the world.
  • The wine industry in Australia has a booming wine production of over a trillion bottles of wine a year.
  • This is a reptile-rich land with over 750 species.
  • Anna Creek Station is the largest cattle farm in Australia, located in the South, and is larger than Belgium and Israel.
  • Around 160,000 convicts were sent in boats from Britain to Australia when the country was first established as a penal colony. The survivors were kept in prison camps, while many others died en-route.

Australia Map

Good to know before you go

  • Australia has a minimum working wage, and tipping is not necessary or expected. Service charges are in the bill. If you choose to tip based on exceptional service, you could round up or leave a few extra dollars. This rule applies to all services in which you can tip.
  • Australian roads are known to be quite well maintained and in good condition. Keep your gas tank fueled in remote areas. Keep water in the car in case you get stranded as it gets hot in the summer months.
  • Speed and red light cameras are quite common in cities to discourage speeding and running lights. If you don’t want an expensive ticket months after you get home from the rental car company, watch your speed.
  • Australian money is some of the most colorful currency money around. It is also plastic. There are no pennies though, in Australia, everything is rounded to five cents.
  • Credit cards are accepted everywhere! Have some cash for small vendors and tips for exceptional service.
  • Driving in Australia is quite common as public transportation is lacking, but it does depend on which city you are visiting. If driving, remember to keep left. The drive on the correct side of the road, as it is said.
  • It is important to remember when walking or taking public transport, look right before crossing. Or to be extremely safe, look both ways several times before crossing; with so many tourists, it could be someone not making a correct turn.
  • Casual wear is generally the way to go when you’re visiting. The dress overall is comfortable and well kept. You can go to the opera in jeans, and no one will give you a second look, but you will many will dress up. Some higher-end restaurants and clubs will have a code for attire so check before you go. Plan for the weather, of course; it can rain a lot as well.
  • Greetings usually are handshakes as you introduce yourself. It is ok to call people by their first names, and it is considered polite to do so.
  • Vegemite is the jam of Australia. It is a staple on the table at every breakfast. Try it at least once but only a tiny amount. It isn’t delicious. Joelle and her daughter brought it home to her husband and smeared it on toast, saying this is a big deal there, which it is. Let’s say it was not well-received! It is an intense dark salty paste made from yeast extract. It was pretty awful.
  • The Aussies love their barbecue. Seek out some during your visit.
  • Australians are friendly, casual, and easy-going people. They are known for their laid-back attitude. The Aussie sense of humor takes a while to get used to; it is often direct and unfiltered. They adore sports and being outdoors. We found our interactions with the locals some of the highlights of the trip.
  • Aussies have one of the world’s highest life expectancies and live a very relaxed and fun-filled life. Most Australians live near the beach and are outdoors as much as they can be. 
  • This is a young country founded in the late 1700s when it was first established as a penal colony for the British and later established colonies. The openness of the people many describe as what America in its youth was.
  • Australia is among the most open-minded and tolerant nations on earth. 62% of Australians voted yes to legalizing same-sex marriage — a victory for a country so proud of its progressive values.
  • Coffee is a religion to the Aussies. They invented Flat white. Take the time to enjoy a cup.
  • Australia has a strong relationship with southern Asia. And you will find a robust Malaysian community. With this, you will discover wonderful Malaysian restaurants and food stands. Our favorite that we ate a lot of was Latska soup. I have never found it as good anywhere else in the world (I have not been to Malaysia, so we bet they have the best).
  • Aussies are very unified and have a strong sense of community. Even though the country is quite diverse, its people connect through their love for their homeland.
  • Australia has earned respect for its vibrant and thriving art scene. Most of the colorful art originates from the continent’s indigenous people.
  • If you lucky enough to received an invite to a BBQ, never turn up empty-handed. Whether you make a salad dish, provide some meat for the BBQ, bring dessert, or buy some beer, wine, or champagne. Always turn up with a little something as thanks.
  • Storytelling is an important part of the culture, which has roots in Australia’s indigenous people. They often told their family history through stories passed, and the tradition has continued in today’s society.
  • Australia also has about 20% of the world’s slot machines, with a total of approximately 200,000. This is a country with the highest gambling rate globally, with 80% of the population gambling.
  • Surfing is a huge sport. Take the time to watch these talented surfers ride a wave.
  • Are you a golfer? Australia a course that was 850 miles long? That would be something to brag at home about.
  • With a thinner ozone layer, not only does Australia heat up very quickly, but the rays are also harmful to the extent where you can feel your skin blazing, leaving you with a sunburn that lasts weeks with blistering. If you have pale skin, it may be best to wear a hat and a sundress or shirt to keep your skin covered. The lesson here; WEAR SUNBLOCK!
  • It was amazing how often we were “mates”; it is core to their culture. G’day, mate, is a common greeting.
  • Australia has a diverse cuisine; lamb is as common as fettuccine or pho, or falafel. Kangaroo regularly finds its way onto the menu, bring home so kangaroo jerky.
  • Australia is the third highest country for alcohol consumption outside Europe (and 19th overall), drinking 12.2L of alcohol per capita each year. You will find a ton of wonderful wineries dotted all over the countryside, as well as a booming brewery scene expanding quickly. Take the time to enjoy some wine or brew during your travel. Cheers!
  • Aussies are passionate about sports. They hold international events like the Australian Open tennis and the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, to local leagues like the AFL and the NRL, along with the beloved summer of cricket to all the water sports such as surfing. Take the time to partake in some of their many sporting events.
  • In Australia, smoking is an expensive habit. Legislation passed, charging $40 for one packet of cigarettes. There are some cigarettes with truly gruesome images on the wrapping.
  • The internet is reputed to be slow and expensive.
  • Australia is very safe to travel to. Apart from some natural threats to watch out for, you should have no worries. Crime rates are low, and standard precautions go a long way.

Australia Essential Info

US Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a US Phone 1-888-407-4747
Outside of US 011-202-501-4444

US Embassy Canberra
(The Embassy does not provide consular services.)
Moonah Place
Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Australia
Telephone: +(61) (2) 6214-5600
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (2) 411-424-608

US Consulate General Sydney
MLC Centre
Level 10
19-29 Martin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Australia
Telephone: +(61) (2) 9373-9200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (2) 4422-2
Email: SydneyACS@state.gov

US Consulate General Melbourne
553 St. Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004
Australia
Telephone: +(61) (3) 9526-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (3) 9389-3601

US Consulate General Perth
4th Floor
16 St. George’s Terrace
Perth, WA 6000
Australia
Telephone: +(61) (8) 6144-5100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (8) 9476-0081

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112

Country Code
+61

Time Zone
UTC+8, +9.5, +10

Driving
Left side

Adaptors
Type A/B to Type I

Tourism Office
Official Australian Tourist Site

When to go

In Australia, seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere, with summer from December through February and winter from June through August. The exact type of weather you’ll experience depend on where you will be staying.

The best season to travel is the shoulder seasons of Spring, September-November, and Fall March through May. Keep in mind this is when most tourists visit, so crowds can be an issue. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold during these seasons, making it perfect for walking around. You can also avoid the busy summer break and Christmas break to get affordable flights. 

Australia is a large landmass. The temperatures given below are for the Sidney area. For the most part, that is pretty reflective of most of the country except the Barrier Reef, which gets much hotter in the summer and not as cold in the winter months.

  • Summer 63-79 °F (17-26 °C) December to February
  • Fall 52-77 °F (11-25 °C) March to May
  • Winter 17-46 °F (8-18°C) June to August
  • Spring 50-75 °F (10-24 °C) September to November

Our Favorite Australia Resources

This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Travel Books/Guides

Australia was a trip Joelle made with her then 18-year-old daughter. It was a business trip to Sydney with extra time to explore the Blue Mountains and Wine country. Since it was long ago, the travel resources used were very old. Recommendations below come from well-researched reviews and suggestions from a friend who recently visited.

DK Eyewitness Australia (Travel Guide) by DK Eyewitness

Learn the best places to visit with the most relevant, up-to-date advice on the highlights of Australia and what hidden wonders await you. Beautifully illustrated to whet your appetite and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this travel guide here

Lonely Planet Australia (Country Guide) by Brett Atkinson, Andrew Bain, et al.

Get to the heart of Australia and begin your journey with this well-organized and detailed guide. Colorful maps and images. Many itineraries. Tons of reviews and cultural insights. It is meant for any budget. Reliable quality guide. Get this guide here

Our favorite websites

1. Australia Tourism Official Site

2. US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Australia Country Info

We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. This is the US Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency US and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, special circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in Australia. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this important info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.

Australia International Travel Information (state.gov)

3. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers Health Resource

This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for Australia.

CDC’s Travelers Health Page for Australia

Our favorite maps

Australia National Geographic Adventure Map, 3501

Easy to read the map with practical road and travel information. Explore this land down under, with detailed and accurate information. Major sites and landmarks are well marked. Mapped road network with distances and designations for major highways to the off-the-beaten-path roads. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here

Our favorite apps

Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer. Enter any address, landmark, or city in the app will instantly display all your travel options, booking info, along with accommodation providers and things to do. Find on your local app store.

Australian Slang: Urban Aussie Slang The Australians are quite spirited, unfiltered, and bold speakers. Not much they won’t say, even with a young girl right there. It is not meant to offend, it just their nature. They do use several words we could not figure out that were obviously slang. Looking at this app and it seems we could have made good use of it. Looks for this in your App store.

The Australian News Get to know where you will be visiting by following their current news stores. Look for this in your App store.

Do you have a favorite Australian travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or

Please note all photos on this page are from Unsplash, a site that offers free images and photos that can be downloaded and used for any project. When we are able the photographer is credited.

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