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Australia Travel Guide

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Please note all photos on this page are from Unsplash, a site that offers free images and pictures 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 Destinations in Australia

  1. Sydney Is one of the most breathtaking cities in the world, with sites such as the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, Hyde, 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. Driving or hiking tours are abundant.
  3. The Great Barrier Reef and Tropical Queensland The world’s largest coral reef system of brilliant coral and amazing marine life stretch 1230 miles along the sunny Queensland coast. It is known for its diving and snorkeling. Nearby you will find the lush Daintree Rainforest, the incredible 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 reconnect with nature with its gorgeous beaches, towering mountain peaks, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife. It is also known for its food, drink, and art galleries and 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
  • U.S. State Department Risk Level: Level 2 due to Covid
  • Terrorist groups: ISIL, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qa’ida, Al Shabaab, Islamic State
  • GDP is 1.334 trillion, which represents 1.7% of the world economy.
  • The national anthem used to be 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 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 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 in Switzerland.
  • The 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, Google maps.
  • Life expectancy is 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 U.S.
  • Kangaroos can’t just be found in the wild and in 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.
  • Australia celebrates Christmas; 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. It has more venomous snake species than any other continent.
  • Australia is one of the most obese countries, with a 26% obesity rate and a 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.
  • 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 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 unnecessary and not expected. Service charges are in the bill. You could round up or leave a few extra dollars if you tip based on exceptional service. This rule applies to all services for 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 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; everything is rounded to five cents in Australia.
  • 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 depends on the city you visit. If driving, remember to keep left. They drive on the correct side of the road, as it is said.
  • When walking or taking public transport, it is essential to remember to look right before crossing. 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 many will dress up. Some higher-end restaurants and clubs will have a dress code, 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, which is considered polite.
  • 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 trip’s highlights.
  • 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 possible. 
  • 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. Many describe the openness of the people 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 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 excellent 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 are lucky enough to receive 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 integral part of the culture, which has roots in Australia’s indigenous people. They often told their family history through past stories, and the tradition continues in today’s society.
  • Australia also has about 20% of the world’s slot machines, approximately 200,000. This country has 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 that 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, pho, or falafel. Kangaroo regularly finds its way onto the menu; bring home some kangaroo jerky.
  • Australia is the third highest country for alcohol consumption outside Europe (and 19th overall), drinking 12.2L of alcohol per capita yearly. You will find a ton of wonderful wineries dotted all over the countryside and 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

U.S. Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a U.S. Phone number is 1-888-407-4747
Outside of the U.S., 011-202-501-4444

U.S. 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 weather you’ll experience depends on where you will be staying.

The best season to travel is the shoulder seasons of Spring, September-November, and Fall, March through May. This is when most tourists visit, and 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 and Christmas break to get affordable flights. 

Australia is an immense 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. The recommendations below come from well-researched reviews and suggestions from a friend who recently visited.

D.K. Eyewitness Australia (Travel Guide) by D.K. 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 has 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. U.S. 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 U.S. Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency U.S. 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, accommodation providers, and things to do. Find on your local app store.

Australian Slang: Urban Aussie Slang The Australians are pretty 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 is just their nature. They do use several words we could not figure out were obviously slang. Looking at this App, 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 stories. 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 pictures that can be downloaded and used for any project. When we are able, the photographer is credited.

© 2023 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

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Squaremouth.com

Our favorite travel insurance site!

If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well-insured. Not just for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.

To empower you as a consumer, we suggest you read our blog post on the importance of travel insurance and how to get the best coverage from top-rated companies for an affordable price.

MedjetAssist

Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.

Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for around $300. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.

To learn more about how Medical Evacuation membership with Medjet Assist works, check out our blog post for a more detailed review.

Expedia.com 

Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, and cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com

Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

We always start with Expedia to check prices, but it sometimes says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com, and we find it lists plenty of rooms. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.

Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)

Are you traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?

With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.

VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family with no problems.

Viator

As the leading marketplace for travel experiences, Viator believes that making memories is what travel is all about. And with 300,000+ experiences to explore—everything from simple tours to extreme adventures (and all the niche, interesting stuff in between)—making memories that will last a lifetime has never been easier.

With industry-leading flexibility and last-minute availability, it’s never too late to make any day extraordinary. This one site has it all and has experiences throughout the world. We use them often during our travels, especially for food tours. We especially take the time to read the reviews provided.

Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers worldwide use the Tripadvisor site and App to discover where to stay, what to do, and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions from nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at popular restaurants, and discover great places to see nearby. We use them for guidance and research on every trip; it is a valuable app for the independent traveler.

Welcome Pick-ups
(Airport and sightseeing service)

A global leader in ground transportation for travelers. They help hundreds of companies around the world enhance their services and boost their revenue with our 5-star ride experiences and hassle-free automation

Founded in 2015 in Athens, Greece, Welcome Pick-ups goes above and beyond the standard transfer service as the first company to deliver a holistic, in-destination travel experience. From the moment a traveler arrives at a new destination until they return home, Welcome accommodates all their travel needs (transfers, travel products, things to do, information) as the easiest, friendliest, and most personalized solution.

Rail Europe

Discover Europe by Train

Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Rail Europe continues to add coverage all the time.

It is a fast, easy, and economical way to purchase European train and bus tickets. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.

Amazon.com

An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

We now have our own Amazon Storefront with all our favorite travel accessories and gear in one place. Check out our travel store at the link below.

Amazon is one of the most comprehensive online shopping sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com provide extensive options to customers.

We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.

Travelpro Luggage

Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.

We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and returned to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.

Travelpro takes the time to learn what travelers want and need, then builds it. The key factor for us is that it must be lightweight upfront and resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.

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

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