1. It is not as daunting as many people make it out to be
Australia is kind of the other end of the world. So, it is easy for people in North America (Europe as well) to think of Australia as nearly out of reach due to constraints related to time and money. Flights from Los Angeles to Sydney take 14-15 hours. Sitting in an airplane for that long, especially in coach, is quite uncomfortable.
However, once it’s done, it’s done. Traveling to Australia for the first time felt reminiscent of the first time I spent a weekend away from my family, while I was in high school. Despite the trip being only four hours, the lead up made me nervous and took me out of my comfort zone. I came back with a fantastic experience and a comfort zone expanded. Dealing with jet lag and the change in seasons can be rough, but many regular travelers have come up with some good techniques to manage it.
2. The best time of year to visit is somewhat ambiguous
The northern part of Australia is tropical. Since summer is their wet season, winter is likely the better time of year to visit.
As for the Southern part of the country, the weather would most likely be more pleasant in the summer (December- February). However, that is the busy tourist season. The Great Ocean Road in June was pleasantly empty. Plenty of locals indicated this to be the better time of year to be here due to the lack of crowds.
If I could chose any time of year to visit Australia again, I would like to try Springtime (Fall in North America). When considering the ideal time to travel, many fail to consider what they are missing back home. Colorado is amazing in winter and summer. Spring and fall can be beautiful as well, but I feel like I am missing less when I travel in these in-between seasons.
3. For Americans, it is one of the easiest places to engage in another culture
Travel can often be far more rewarding when tourists engage in the culture of the place they are visiting, rather than just visit sites. The combination of friendly people and a similar culture makes Australia an easy place for Americans to do this.
4. It is neither expensive or cheap
If someone tells you Australia is cheap, they likely live in New York and typically visit places like London, Paris, or Oslo. If someone tells you Australia is expensive, they likely live somewhere like Indianapolis and vacation in places like Mexico and El Salvador. In reality, prices for things like food, hotels and transit is right in the middle of the pack.
For food and drink, it is important to remember the tipping is not required here and the Australian dollar is worth about 77 cents.
5. Forget the Commercials
I did not hear anyone say ….
- “Throw another shrimp on the barbie”
- “Oh Crocies”
- “Fosters, Australian for beer”
6. Expect a lot of Asian tourists
Half of the world’s population lives in China, Southeast Asia, India and Japan. Australia has only 26 million people. The makeup of the tourists will most certainly be dominated by people from the highly populated and relatively nearby part of the world. Many of the signs along the road contained text in Chinese as well as English, in the same manner that signs in Colorado are written in English and Spanish.
7. There are three different kinds of rugby
And apparently each one has different rules and is associated with a different class of people.
8. Australians have a nuanced view of weather and climate
A bartender in Melbourne told me that “real Australians love the heat”, when referring to temperatures in excess of 45°C (113°F). Yet, there seemed to be a genuine concern about climate change.
In America, especially in the Midwest, it appears that concern for climate change has some connection with weather preferences, particularly frustration with wintertime cold.
9. It is a big country
By area, it is only slightly smaller than the United States, and that is primarily because of Alaska. Trying to see the whole country in two weeks is pretty much like someone saying they’ll see the entire continental United States in two weeks. It is nonsense (or, “rubbish” as they would say). Two weeks is almost the minimum amount of time one would want to allocate to a trip to Australia to make the long flight worth it. One couple I met set out to see the entire country in a recreational vehicle. They plan to do so over two three-month trips.
10. They have some surprising travel preferences
Skiers seem to prefer to travel to Japan over New Zealand.
It is actually cheaper to fly to Hawaii from Australia than from the United States. Most Australians I met have been there at least once. I even heard of people flying to Hawaii for Black Friday Shopping
11. Koalas can be somewhat hard to spot
12. They are having many of the same discussions we are having
In addition to having the same political divide as the United States, there seems to be similar discussions about a lot of other issues. This book, Australia Reimagined, could have easily been written about America.