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10 facts you may not know about travelling Australia

10 facts you may not know about travelling Australia

There are many facts about Australia that have questionable levels of truth.

Is the country crawling with dangerous animals? Will drop bears fall from the trees while I’m camping in the wilderness? Will I be greeted with G’Day Mate every time I meet a local? Does everyone just hang out at the beach all day?

Throughout my years of travel I’ve had countless people ask about whether Australia is as scary as it sounds with all the sharks and crocodiles and whatnot.

I’m going to tell you what you can actually expect, and why you shouldn’t be afraid of visiting this rather large and sunburnt country.


spider

1. yes, THERE ARe DANGEROUS ANIMALS EVERYWHERE

One time when I was camping on the east coast of Tasmania, I saw a snake slide past our tent, had a redback spider (tiny but quite venomous) crawling up my jeans, and saw another large and nasty looking black spider making its way along the beach just metres from our campsite – all in the space of 12 hours.

These kinds of animals are in fact so common that we’ve been desensitised to feeling afraid. What’s that, there’s a Tiger Snake in your backyard? Meh, whatever, seen it all before.

Don’t worry – it’s rare to actually get poisoned/attacked/bitten. You won’t immediately get mauled by a shark as soon as you swim in the ocean. In fact, you’re more likely to get struck by lightning or drown in your own bathtub.

A common concern that I hear from foreigners is that Australia is not a ‘safe’ destination because of the reputation the dangerous animals have given it. I think that’s entirely untrue! Check out these tips on travelling safely around Australia and know that Australia is just as safe as any other modern country.

Friendly Beaches, Tasmania

2. …but there are friendly animals too

I can’t say I’ve spotted a wild koala, but I’ve seen plenty of kangaroos, cockatoos, kookaburras, possums, echidnas, lizards… even the occasional wombat. On the same camping trip where I “almost died” from the surrounding snakes and spiders, I also had a friendly wallaby (kind of a small kangaroo) come and say hello.

To find these critters in the wild you’ll have to get out of the cities, or visit a wildlife sanctuary to see them in captivity. I’ve put together a list of places where you can see awesome Australian animals.

3. IF WE SAY G’DAY MATE TO YOU, WE’RE PROBABLY PUTTING IT ON

There are some people who have G’Day as part of their regular vocabulary, but it’s not all that common. If you have someone say it to you, it’s probably just to see your reaction.

The Australian sense of humour is generally sarcastic so you should take nothing we say seriously. If anyone tells you about the mysterious “drop bear” that falls from trees onto camper’s tents, disregard anything that has just come out of their mouth. Or you could play along – we’ll love you for it.

Sydney, Australia

4. travel is expensive

So expensive, in fact, that most Australians fly internationally to travel instead of within our own country as it’s cheaper that way.

Last time I looked at doing some budget travel through Western Australia and Northern Territory, I actually discovered it would be about half the price to fly to Bali and stay in a luxurious room with it’s own personal plunge pool. It was an obvious choice.

But if you hail from somewhere ridiculously pricey such as New York, London, or Zurich, you may find it Australia not so bad!

Even though it’s expensive, Australia is still worth visiting! Take a look at my list of budget travel tips for Australia.

5. WE DON’T DRINK FOSTER’S BEER

Despite what you may think of this “Australian” branded beer, it’s not really sold here. Frankly, most of us think it’s kind of gross and would much prefer to drink any of the other beers available in Australia.

The Big Pineapple, image sourced from waymarking.com

(Image source)

6. We have an obsession with ‘big things’

Big Pineapple, Big Macadamia Nut, Big Wine Bottle… you get the picture. Apparently everything that we can make into a ‘big thing’ we have, and it’s popular among tourists to seek them out.

7. EVERYTHING IS REALLY FAR APART

I mean, really far apart. If we map out the trip in Google Maps, we can see that it would take 42 hours of non-stop driving to get from Perth (west coast) to Sydney (east coast). It’s a damn large country.

Don’t expect to be able to casually catch a quick bus or train in between major cities. Although it’s not the cheapest option, the quickest way is definitely flying.

Australian Beach

8. Beach culture is everywhere

I think most international tourists are under the impression that Australians spend most of our days at the beach, and I guess I can see why – we have some of the most stunning beaches in the world, and also some of the best weather.

Aside from the fact that most of us do actually have jobs and therefore can’t make it to the beach every day, we like to complain that we’re not at the beach if it’s a nice sunny day during the week.

You can get to a beach in under an hour from most major cities, so make sure you take part in this national activity during your travels.

Baby Kangaroo at Bonorong Park, Tasmania

9. OUR NATIONAL ANIMAL IS PART OF OUR DIET

I may not fit into this category being that I’m vegetarian, but kangaroo meat is quite a common delicacy for most Australians. You can also sample crocodile or emu meat if you feel so inclined.

The not-so-carnivorous of us can try vegemite on toast or savoury pies, and if you have a sweet tooth go for Lamingtons, Pavlova, Anzac Biscuits, Fairy Bread, or Tim Tams. I’ve put together a list of all the Aussie foods that I love, so do give some of them a try!

10. We take the English language to a whole new level

Think you’ll understand Australians because English is our national language? Think again! I was having a lovely chat to a Dutch friend on the weekend who noted that sometimes she can’t understand us from all the abbreviations, slang terms, and word-shortening that we tend to do.

For example, “Wanna head to the beach this arvo? Take ya cossies and stop at the bottle-o for a coupla stubbies, we’ll chuck em’ in our Esky” can be translated to “Would you like to accompany me to the beach this afternoon? Take along your swimsuit and stop at the liquor store to purchase a few beers, we shall place them in our cooler bin.”


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Ashlea Wheeler

Blogger & Photographer at A Globe Well Travelled
I'm Ashlea, an excitable Australian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

27 Responses to “10 facts you may not know about travelling Australia”

  1. Nathan Anderson

    Thanks for this! I’m thinking of visiting Australia next year, so this was a great read. Good to know about drop bears, those sound deadly 😛

    Reply
  2. Robert

    Ashlea, the drop bear is frightenly real. To suggest otherwise is to be putting your readers’ safety at risk.

    Also old men at the pub and bus drivers still say G’day 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hey everyone, come and look at this prime example of the Australian sarcastic sense of humour!
      And that is true, old men are more inclined to say G’Day to you 😉

      Reply
  3. Khaoula

    Thanks for this post. It is very useful to m since Australia is the first destination on my must-visit list and I was concidering visiting it next year.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Rich, you have so many Australianisms to look forward to! I hope you enjoy your time here, let me know if you have any questions about visiting 😉

      Reply
  4. Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

    Haha, this is all so accurate! I’ve actually only ever seen about 5 or 6 snakes in Australia, and I grew up in the country! The spiders are horrible, but luckily they generally leave us alone. It also makes me laugh when people think they can do Melbourne as a day trip from Sydney!

    Reply
  5. Ted

    Great list! My wife and I were actually just talking about how we’ve had to explain countless times to our friends about the dangerous animals and bugs really not being an issue at all. It’s unbelievable how many people seriously won’t come because of those fears.

    I must disagree with it being expensive though 🙂 for an Australian surrounded by cheap destinations in Southeast Asia, I can see that perspective. But as a Canadian (and more generally, a North American), I was thrilled to be in a country where I could take flights for less than $100, never tip anyone, eat cheap authentic Asian street food pretty much anywhere, and drink cheap local beers and wines. And when most of the attractions are beaches and landscape, all you have to pay for are the basics!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Exactly Ted, Australia is in fact one of the safest countries travel wise! There’s barely any crime, and the majority of Australians are so trusting that we’re usually the ones who get taken advantage of in tourist scams overseas.

      You are correct – it really depends on which country you hail from as to whether you think it’s expensive. I thought Canada was kind of expensive too 😛 To be honest, the cheap authentic Asian food is much more plentiful in Sydney than it is in the rest of Australia but the wine here is definitely one of the world’s most reasonably priced! A win for us all.

      Reply
  6. Kathi

    Your slang example made me crack up. And I had no idea what you were saying but I did remember cossies from my time in Australia.
    I really don’t know how I survived sleeping in a camper van in Australia a couple of nights but everything was fine until the last night. Before going to bed we encountered a huntsman spider (?) in the car so we arrived at our prebooked hostel one night earlier. The owner laughed at us, naturally…

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh huntsmans are the worst! They’re quite common, but actually not very dangerous to humans. It’s their appearance that gets to you, so giant and creepy… it’s giving me shivers just thinking about it.
      Glad you enjoyed the post Kathi!

      Reply
  7. Andy

    Loved this post and I can’t wait to visit Aus in three months! But I find spiders a little creepy, and I’m beginning to worry a bit with so many of them around 😛

    Reply
  8. Luke

    Haha this is great. And all so true as well. I always found it weird that we eat the animals on our coat of arms. But kangaroo meat is actually so delicious so I got over it pretty quickly. I’ll have to disagree with no 3 though, G’day is actually one of my go to greetings, and I hear it quite often (maybe because I live in bogan central Newcastle?). Of course, it doesn’t sound ridiculous or put on if not said with a super ocker Aussie accent, but sometimes I have to catch myself before saying it to people when in another country!

    Reply
  9. Laura

    I just moved to Melbourne a few months ago, and these are all so funny and so true! I am terrified of spiders and have only seen one huntsman so far, but man was it HUGE. I think I’d have a heart attack if something poisonous was ON ME!! Also, I had no concept of how far away things really are here. I wanted to “drive through the outback to Darwin” until I figured out that would actually take me, like, two days and is not a great idea :).

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You’re lucky you’ve only seen one! We had one in our apartment the other day. I think because Australia’s population is not so large compared to some other countries, it’s presumed that the size of the country is small too, but what no-one realises is that much of it is basically uninhabitable desert!

      Reply
  10. Celia Yarwood

    Thank you so much for this! I’m moving to Australia for half a year starting in February and have no idea about anything. Good to know these things!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s super exciting Celia, you will love it! Hopefully this post informed you a little on what to expect, not that it should matter too much as I’m sure you’ll find out soon after you arrive 🙂

      Reply
  11. Renate @ Renate's Travels

    Haha, this is great! I’m actually at the airport in Oslo, Norway waiting for my flight to Australia (connecting here and there) right now. I’m sooo excited! This list is awesome, although I’m not sure what I feel about the possibility of seeing snakes outside my tent or spiders crawling up my jeans. I think I probably would faint and die. Yikes!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh wow, welcome to the land down under Renate! Don’t be too worried, I was only trying to scare you. If these are all the stories I could muster from a lifetime of living in Australia, then the scary animals can’t be that common 😛

      Reply
  12. LuvYaOz

    You described it here really well! I’m an American living on property, and had our brush cleared as much as possible after spotting a brown. Found three more and a tiger snake, very much a worry with kids around. Huntsmans are freaky but at least not dangerous, and can’t beat the happy go lucky people and amazing working conditions! Occasionally I get homesick for 1. doughnuts 2.safe swimming 3.Mexican food 4.cheap shopping– that’s what visits home are for!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Glad you’re enjoying the Australian experience! Snakes can definitely be a problem in the bush. I totally understand your Mexican food craving, it is sooo much better here in the states than it is back home in Australia. And don’t even get me started on the cheap shopping… 😛

      Reply
  13. Rosalind Moody

    Love this piece, Ashlea 🙂 and all the others, including the must-do itinerary – that’s definitely going to become the backbone to my schedule when I get there in a month! I’ve got a working holiday visa for a year, starting in Melbourne. I’m meeting my boyfriend a few months later back in Melbourne, but where would you recommend I go roaming alone (in Melbourne/South Australia regions)? Thanks! 🙂 x

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s so exciting, Rosalind! I’m really glad you’re going to experience Australia. The country is an easy place to travel alone – you should definitely do the Great Ocean Road if you have the chance. Also, book a flight from Melbourne to Hobart (it’s only a 1 hour flight) and explore my home state of Tasmania! It’s a fabulous place if you like nature and pretty scenery 😀

      Reply

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