10 Mistakes Travellers Make When Visiting Australia – and how to avoid them

Photo Credit: David Svensson

Photo Credit: David Svensson

Australia is top of many holiday wish lists for its easy going nature, pristine beaches and unique wildlife. Not much can get in the way of a great Australian holiday however some mistakes can lead to missed flights, mosquito bites and even a trip to the emergency room!

So what mistakes can you avoid to ensure a laid back Australian getaway?

  1. Trying to cover too much land

Australia is not only the world’s sixth largest country, but the world’s fourth largest island. However year after year, travellers embark on the trip of a lifetime, expecting to circumnavigate the country in 2 weeks.

To give you an idea of the colossal landscape that is Australia, The Kimberley region in Western Australia covers an area roughly three times the size of England. The natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland covers an area that is bigger than the UK, Switzerland and Holland combined and with over 50,000 kilometres of spectacular coastline and over 11,000 beaches, it’s almost impossible to see everything in two weeks.

With vast distances between major cities it is important to use Google Maps, or similar, to plan how many hours or days you will need to comfortably and safely drive from place to place. If you are travelling in rural areas, remember that petrol stations can be few and far between so it is a good idea to fill up when possible.

  1. Not bringing enough medication on holidays

Many medications that you might require, such as mild pain relief, cough medicines and antihistamines for hayfever can be purchased over the counter, however most medications will require a script. Australian hospitals often have waiting times longer than 3 hours and local GPs usually require an upfront fee of $70 + consultation fee for new patients. UK visitors can apply for a Medicare Card which gives discounts of select medication and doctors’ visits.

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  1. Drinking in public

Unlike many other countries, drinking in public is illegal in Australia. Visitors will often take a beer down to the beach or cider to the park with their BBQ and although police sometimes look the other way on these casual occasions, it is against the law and police are able to fine you and confiscate open alcohol.

  1. Sleeping in your campervan on the side of the road or park

Each state and territory in Australia has different rules about where you can freecamp, to avoid being moved on, or fined, contact the nearest visitor centre to check before setting up camp for the night.

  1. Mobile coverage is everywhere!

Unfortunately this is not correct. In many rural areas, on most islands and even some city suburbs, mobile phone reception can drop in and out. It is a good idea to hire a separate GPS system or purchase old school paper maps when heading into the outback as phones cannot be trusted to guide the way.

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  1. Only brining t-shirts and shorts

Australia is a sun drenched country and whilst packing your swimming gear and plenty of sunscreen is a great idea, it is also important to remember the weather can change drastically. If a storm unleashes in North Queensland, a raincoat and light jumper will be necessary. If you head down south to Melbourne, cold winds can sweep through at any moment and a heavier jacket is a must. Heading to the outback? Lightweight long trousers and shirt will help you avoid mosquito bites.

Australia’s temperature varies greatly from state to state so make sure you do your research if travelling to more than one region.

  1. Having the wrong vehicle

Australian roads in major cities and suburbs are generally well kept and make for a relaxing campervan drive, however in rural areas the roads can get a little bit rough. If you are planning on heading to the outback, hiring a 4WD or Safari vehicle is recommended. Some companies will offer very cheap campervan or car hire without air-conditioning, however even in winter, temperatures in the outback can reach over 32 Degrees Celsius. Driving in the extreme heat without air-conditioning is not only uncomfortable but can cause fatal accidents due to fatigue.

  1. Under estimate the power of the surf

Australian beaches boast pristine sand and crystal clear waters, however they are also notoriously dangerous. Although most visitors enjoy the surf without incident, each year surf life savers rescue thousands of tourists who do not heed the warnings. Riptides are constantly changing and the waves can be calm one minute and choppy the next. Remember to swim between the red and yellow flags, avoid swimming in areas without surf life savers and remain in the shallow waters if you are not a strong swimmer.

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  1. Over or underestimating the wildlife

Australia is known for its unique wildlife, more than 80% of the plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia. For many tourists the idea of cuddling a koala is on their bucket list and the image of Australian spiders are almost enough to turn visitors away. Most of the deadly animals you will read about are rarely, if ever, seen in cities and suburbs and should not deter you from visiting Australia. However if you are planning on cuddling a koala, make sure you visit a zoo, koalas are not so cuddly when being petted in the wild.

  1. Everything is open all of the time

Although Australia is a first world country, it’s yet to catch up to 24 hour shopping like rest of the world has. Most supermarkets are open until 9pm on weekdays, 5pm on Saturdays and 6pm on Sundays. Other shops open until 5pm weekdays with late night shopping on Thursdays, although this differs from state to state. In rural areas most shops are not open on Sundays. If you are hiring a campervan or car, pick up and drop off times usually begin around 7:30am until 4pm so plan ahead!

Doing your research, talking to locals and following warning signs will help you to have a safe and enjoyable Australian experience you will never forget!

Campervan and car hire available at www.discovery-campervans.com.au

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10 Comments

  1. 13/10/2015 / 4:18 pm

    I genuinely hadn’t realised that drinking in public was not permitted in Australia (not that I tried it).

    You’re right that many of the people try to cover too much in too little time. I did that myself on my first couple of visits and would now rather focus on smaller areas of a country that I love visiting.
    Stuart Forster recently posted…Gouda Cheese MarketMy Profile

  2. 16/05/2015 / 8:39 pm

    Beautiful image of the island of Australia.
    Caz Stone recently posted…CurrentlyMy Profile

  3. 15/05/2015 / 7:08 pm

    Great tips 🙂 it certainly is huge, I spent 3 mths over there and didn’t even nearly cover it all! I hardly saw any scary creatures either, and koalas aren’t even that cuddly in a zoo, their claws are very scratchy! 🙂 thanks for bringing back some memories! #pocolo
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…Siblings May 2015My Profile

  4. 15/05/2015 / 3:16 pm

    I haven’t been to Australia but I love the idea that all the shops close at a reasonable hour!! I think it’s getting OTT here in UK. I can see why people are attracted to the Aussie lifestyle and why so many families want to go there. x

    #pocolo
    Betty and the Bumps recently posted…Rock of Feather jewellery – REVIEWMy Profile

  5. 15/05/2015 / 11:40 am

    I never knew that about drinking in public! Ha Ha. I don’t think I got in trouble when I did… I used to live in Oz, and worked in Sydney. You’re so right about not being able to cover everything. I was there for 6 months and still didn’t get to Melbourne!
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted…Reviewed: Rest Detail Hotel, Hua HinMy Profile

  6. Nikki
    15/05/2015 / 9:32 am

    Hey,

    I have never visited Oz, but I totally agree with all these tips, if I ever go there I’ll make sure to use them! Much love from #PoCoLo link up from a newbie blogger https://sahmiamsanityineed.wordpress.com

  7. 15/05/2015 / 8:02 am

    Great tips hon, and I’d definitely agree with not trying to cover too much in a short space of time. It’s a HUGE country, ideally you need a good few months if you want to cover a fair bit. Can’t wait to take the kids to Oz, some of my very best friends live there xx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…An Outdoorsy WeekMy Profile

  8. 15/05/2015 / 6:56 am

    I love reading about the differences in other countries although we are unlikely to travel to Australia yet. I particularly like the scale comparisons you gave. Being in a small country, which doesn’t feel small, it is amazing to get my head round the size of other countries. Great post
    Kirsten Toyne recently posted…What do you do? I’m a mumMy Profile

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