What to Know Before you Visit Australia

If you are considering a trip to Australia, there are several things that you will want to take into consideration before you plan your trip and book the flight. Here is a breakdown of what I have run-into when I have traveled to Australia as well as common misconceptions.


First here is a breakdown of common misconceptions about Australia.

Kangaroos are fun-loving animals. Fact: Kangaroo is actually a staple meat in many Australian diets. The meat is much leaner than red meat and high in protein as well as a good source of omega-3. So don’t get weirded out by it, it’s actually pretty good for you. And it is still the national animal.

Koalas are adorable bears. Koalas, while for sure adorable, are not actually bears, but were mislabeled when the country was colonized. They are actually marsupials.

Throw a shrimp on the barbie. Ok Australians do really refer to the barbeque as a barbie, but they don’t use the word shrimp; they call them prawns. Strike one against Crocodile Dundee.

Australians are uncouth criminals. For sure false. While some of their humor may come off to Americans as pretty uncouth, they just don’t have the same views on propriety that Americans do. But they are still well-educated and very much a presence in the international business world. The criminal jab dates back centuries to when England was shipping off criminals to Australia as their jails had become overrun. There were about 162,000 criminals who were shipped off to Australia from 1788-1868. Keep in mind, however, that rapists and murderers were considered capital offenses and were not shipped overseas. Instead, it was more petty crimes or political prisoners. And, the biggest point of all, that was hundreds of years ago. Do you want to be held accountable for the crimes that your great-great-grandfather may have done? I know I for sure don’t.

Good Things to Know

Australia is very diverse. While most media seems to want to look back at the “golden days” of Australian history where there were English colonists and the native aboriginals, there is actually a huge diversity there now. Races and nationalists from all over the world reside in Australia. In Melbourne, there is even a massive Greek population.

New Zealand is not really that far. Yes, it is still an hour to three-hour flight from Australia, but if you were really into seeing the sights of the South Pacific, you could combine the trip and hop over and visit the neighbors.

Budget your trip. It is really easy to overspend in Australia. The major cities of Melbourne and Sidney are incredibly costly. While there is a wide misconception that Australia is still behind the times or is more like an outback, which is really not true. You need to budget for your vacation there as you would plan for anywhere else in the world.

Australian has its own dialectic. Yes, they speak English in Australia, but there are a few words that may take someone used to the American dialect to understand what is being said. Some fun examples are “swimmers” = “bathing suit,” “ketchup” = “tomato sauce,” “bushwalking” = “hiking,” and “bonnet” = “hood of a car.”

Don’t tip. I know this is going to sound rude to a lot of people, but actually it is not common to tip servers in restaurants or bars, or even tip your taxi driver. If you leave change at a bar, someone will let you know you forgot it. Don’t feel bad though. Service workers in Australia are paid much better than people elsewhere in the world.

Sunscreen is your friend. The sun is extremely strong in Australia, even if you don’t realize it at first. You need to be diligent about sunscreen. Even being exposed a few minutes can give you a nasty sunburn that will make the rest of your trip pretty miserable.