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Australia Travel Guide: What every traveler needs to know

by Catherine Carey | June 19, 2023
Quokka animal from Australia travel

Surfing at the best beaches like Bondi Beach, diving in the sea to enjoy the coral reefs where you can see sea animals while Scuba diving and snorkelling and learning about the Aboriginals are just some activities to enjoy in Australia travel.

Australia is one of the richest countries when it comes to natural landscapes and animals. If you take a trip to Australia, you must see the quokkas, koalas, kangaroos and platypuses. There are plenty of Australia national parks and reserves to visit. If you have the chance, you should definitely see the Uluru/Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas) or The Great Barrier Reef.

In addition, the major cities in Australia are some of the most beautiful in the world. Some cities worth exploring are Sydney with the Opera House of Sydney, Perth with Kings Park and the Swan Valley, Canberra with its war memorial, and Melbourne with its Victorian architecture and its parks.

In this article, we are going to give you a bit more information on culture, traditions, gastronomy, the Australian flag, geography, history, population, weather and safety. Continue reading and be the most prepared for Australia travel. 

General overview of Australia 

Basic Information Australia

The Australian Flag

Australian flag, Australia Travel Guide

The Australian Flag was created in 1901 upon federation. The first of January 1901, Australia became a nation when 6 British colonies: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania united to form the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Australian flag is built with three main elements, each of them representing something specific.

  • The Union Jack in the corner represents Australia's historical links with Great Britain.
  • The Southern Cross in the second quarter and fourth quarter consists of five stars in a more or less kite-like pattern - Alpha Crucis (7-point), Beta Crucis (7-point), Gamma Crucis (7-point), Delta Crucis (7-point) and the smaller Epsilon Crucis (5-point). This constellation is a significant navigational feature of the southern hemisphere which strongly places Australia geographically.
  • The Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation, under the Union Jack, represents the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth.

Geography of Australia

Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world and lies between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. It is also the only country in the world that covers an entire continent, and more than one-third of Australia is desert.

Australia is surrounded in the north by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. New Zeland is in the east, and there is little over 2000 kilometres between them.

Cities and farms are located majorly in the southwest and southeast, while there are rainforests in the northeast. In the outback, there are rural areas, large deserts and almost no vegetation. Around the eastern and southeastern edge of Australia, there is the Great Dividing Range of about 3,700 kilometres.

It is worth highlighting that Australia’s ecosystem is very rich with animals that can’t be found in another part of the world like the platypuses, kangaroos, echidnas and Koalas. Its ecosystem also flourishes some of the deadliest species of animals on the planet.

map of Australia, Australia Travel Guide

History and Heritage of Australia 

The first people who inhabited Australia arrived in the country 60,000- 50,000 years ago. It is believed that they may have travelled from Asia across land bridges that were exposed when sea levels were lower. Then, a couple of thousand years later, they spread out over the entire continent, including Tasmania. In this prehistoric population in Australia there were hunters and gatherers.

Nevertheless, it is after the arrival of the first Europeans in the late 18th century that there is concrete written documentation. The first ones to arrive in the country were the Dutch in 1606, but the British began to settle in 1788 and they colonised and claimed the entire continent by 1820. They wanted to expand their territories and create a place for convicted criminals after losing their colonies in North America.

In the 1850s there was a gold rush in Australia. Gold had been discovered and thousands of new immigrants travelled to the country to get a piece. By 1869 there were six separate colonies.

When these different Australian states were able to create a united national feeling and realise how similar they were (especially economically) they formally separated from the United Kingdom in 1901. After this, the independent Australian states voted for political reunification of the continent.

Culture and Traditions of Australia 

The Australian people are modest, respectful and friendly. Everyone is treated and talked to in the same manner and it is very common to hear how Australians talk to everyone as a “mate”, although they might be complete strangers. They are also casual and relaxed and love spending their time with family and friends and picnics, barbecues and parties are fundamental activities.

It is also worth knowing that the Australian society is very ethnically diverse and due to its migration history, a quarter of the Australian population has at least one parent of foreign descent. They mainly come from the UK, China, Vietnam, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Aboriginals are also extremely diverse and there are hundreds of different tribes, each one with their own language and culture. They are collectively known as First Peoples or First Nations.

It is important to note that the remote location of the country has been a crucial shaper of Australian culture. Back when they were under British rule, they felt abandoned by the British crown and therefore decided they would have an egalitarian society without significant class differences.

Because Australia was under British rule, Anglo-Saxon cultural traditions have had a significant impact on Australian society, and, for example, British and American pop culture is still widely popular.

Sport is very big in Australia. Cricket, Football, Rugby, swimming, basketball and horse racing are the most popular sports.

Some important celebrations are:

  • Anzac Day on 25 April. It is a public holiday that commemorates the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.
  • Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January to commemorate the British settlement, and many capital cities host firework events.
  • Boxing Day occurs on 26 December. The Boxing Day cricket test match is an annual event watched on television by many residents

Australia travel to Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, Australia Travel Guide

Australian Gastronomy

The main way to define the Australian cuisine is fusion. Australian gastronomy is mainly based on foreign dishes, with the uniqueness of dishes with kangaroo meat. Some typical, iconic and authentic meals you should try during your Australia travel are vegemite, fairy bread, meat pies, chicken parma, pavlova, Anzac biscuits, kangaroo steak and lamingtons.

Weather in Australia

Australia is a vast territory, which means that Australia covers a range of different climates. The best time in Australia to travel will depend on the different regions you want to visit and the type of holiday you are planning on doing.

For a beach or outdoorsy type of holiday, we’d recommend taking your Australia trip to the southern regions of the country, including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania in Spring or Summer. The central and northern areas, including the north of Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland you should visit in winter.

In the north, Australia experiences a tropical climate with hot and humid summers and warm and dry winters. The northern part of Queensland and the Northern Territory are characterized by a rainy season spanning from November to March.

The centre of Australia is characterized by an arid or semi-arid climate with hot temperatures during the Summer months and colder temperatures in Winter. Note that the nights in the desert can be cold in the summer and even colder during the winter months.

The southern regions feature mild and dry summers and cool winters.

Because Australia is located in the southern hemisphere, seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere. In Australia, Spring and Summer months span from September to February, and fall and winter run from March to August.

Official currency of Australia 

The Australia currency has been the Australian dollar (AUD) since 1966, when it replaced the Australian pound. In Australia card payments are widely integrated, but there are businesses that require a minimum amount to accept payment by card. Therefore, it is advisable to always carry some cash for Australia travel.

Main tourist attractions in Australia

Australia offers a lot of different activities to carry out. They go from surfing on the beach, diving and snorkelling in coral reefs and touring the Great Ocean Road to learning about the Aboriginals. Here are specific events and attractions you must see if you travel to Australia:

Sydney Opera House 

Apart from being an Icon for Sydney, and Australia in general, it is a fantastic place to enjoy art, culture, concerts and more. Sydney Opera House opened its doors in 1973 and since then it has been a must-see building if you visit Australia and one of the best things to do in Sydney Australia

Australian Museum

If you want to learn more about the history of the country and indigenous culture, you must visit the Australian Museum in Sydney.

Australian Open

Set in Melbourne Park, the Australian Open sees top international Tennis players compete in one of the most important Tennis competitions in the world. In fact, the Australian Open marks the first tournament of the four Grand Slam tennis competitions held annually.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and if you visit it, you can snorkel and scuba dive, go on aircraft or helicopter tours and bare boats (self-sail), whale watch and swim with dolphins.

Uluru/Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas) National Park

Uluru (also referred to as Ayers Rock) is a world-famous sandstone monolith that sits in the middle of the Australian desert. About half a billion years old and towering 348m above sea level, the sacred site is of high cultural significance to the local Aboriginal tribes.

beach in Australia, Australia Travel Guide

Safety in Australia

Is Australia safe? Australia is a safe country when it comes to crime rate. It is ranked 10th out of 162 countries in terms of safety. The biggest danger is pickpocketing, but it’s rarely an issue. Nevertheless, you must not walk alone at night or leave your belongings unattended. It is also recommended if you go hiking or camping to be informed of the terrain and space you are going to be in and inform someone about your route and plans.

One of the most important risks is exposure to UV rays. You should wear SPF protection higher than 30 and reapply at all times. You should also be aware of natural hazards like strong waves and rapid marine currents and wildlife like the Taipan snake, the Saltwater crocodile, the Redback spider and the blue-ringed octopus.

Do I need a visa for Australia?

Yes, you’ll need an Australia Visa to enter the country, regardless of your country of origin. However, there are a few different types of Australian visas that you can discover in our guide on how to get a visa for Australia. The one you should apply for will depend on the reason for your trip.

If your purpose is to stay for a short business or touristic trip and your nationality allows it, you need to know whether you need the Australia visa vs ETA. You can quickly get your visa by applying online and receiving it directly to your email in a matter of a few days. 

If you are not sure about what other documents you need to enter Australia, you can check out our guide about the Australia travel requirements. There, you will find visa and passport information, vaccines and more details to map out your perfect trip to Australia.