Australia is a big and beautiful country, there is no questioning it. It is diverse in its natural landscapes from dense tropical rainforests to arid deserts and even white sandy beaches. Also famous for some unique species of animals and a relaxed people, it really is one of the greatest places to travel (but as I am an Australian myself, I may be a little biased). The best way to see Australia is like a local because if you’re travelling to here for the first time there’s a few things you should know.
1. It’s Big!
Okay so you probably know Australia is a big country but seriously it is! I live in Sydney and it is quicker and cheaper for me to fly to some international destinations than it is to fly to the other side of the country. So keep that in mind as you plan because the travelling between cities, whether you drive, bus or fly, can chew into precious vacation time.
2. Wear Sunscreen.
Again, sounds obvious but the sun is different here. You won’t have a nice bronzed glow if you’re in the sun all day, instead you will be emanating a bright red glow from being burnt to so badly. It is not a good look and it is terrible for your skin. There is nothing worse than starting a holiday red and sore and having every photo thereafter sporting awkward tan lines. Sunscreen that is SPF 15+ is okay if you’re not planning to be in the sun too long. However, a beach day warrants SPF 30+ and for it to be re-applied multiple times throughout the day while also wearing a hat, sunglasses and clothing. If you’re unfamiliar with Australian summers then it may sound extreme but the horrible truth according to the Cancer Council Australia every year in Australia:
- sun damage ages you prematurely
- around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers are skin cancers
- between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
- the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK
If you’re pale like me and burn easily all these precautions are necessary especially if you don’t want your shoulders to be in agony when you have to carry your heavy backpack or have them rub against your clothes. The sun is the most dangerous typically between 10am and 3pm so if you are out enjoying the wonderful natural beauty this country has to offer then you better protect yourself from the sun!
3. It Rains in Summer Too.
Typically, the time of year Australia receives the most rain is during the warmer months. Expect hot summer days and sometimes evening thunderstorms. My point is that a lot of people travelling to Australia for the first time don’t pack the appropriate clothing, thinking its all hot sandy beaches and shrimps on barbeques. You could be lucky to have perfect 30ºC days or you could also have a week of rain. It happens and its better to have something other than flip-flops packed to keep you dry and comfortable.
4. Bring Twice As Much Money.
I have been told on numerous occasions by other travellers that Australia is so expensive. And I say for me? Not really. But for you? Maybe. The cost of everything in Australia is relative to what we earn. An 18-year-old working in hospitality could earn on average around AU$20 an hour (a rough estimate). That may sound like a lot compared to an 18-year-old in hospitality in the US but then again, rent here is considerably more expensive, the cost of food and other goods are higher,and that also means that the cost of travel will reflect that too.
Travel can be stressful, especially if its 35ºC outside. We’re a land of friendly people and a smile can go a long way. I would go so far to say that people are more willing to help you out if you seem friendly. The best attitude to have is a positive one. Sometimes a flight might be delayed but there is no point stressing over the little things after all you’re on holidays!
6. Basic Slang
It’s always good to know a bit of the local lingo wherever you go.
G’day – Hello. (Not many people in the cities say this but the further away from the city you drive the more often you’ll hear it).
Thongs – Flip flops. (Thongs in Australia are those rubber shoes you wear on your feet not a form of ladies lingerie. It makes a lot of people giggle when they hear it for the first time but let me assure you if I tell you I killed that spider with my thongs, I mean my shoes, not underwear).
Heaps – A lot of. (I never thought of this word as slang until someone pointed out to me that Australians say this a lot. Basically, if there are a lot of flies around we would say “There’s heaps of flies around”. This word can also be used to quantify a feeling, “That’s heaps good” – meaning that’s very good, or “That’s heaps gross” – meaning that’s very gross).
Whoop Whoop – The middle of nowhere. (If you’re asking for directions and someone says this then it is a bad idea to go there. You do not want to end up in Whoop Whoop. It’s not a good place to be).
Finally, general rule with Aussie slang is that we abbreviate everything. If your name is longer than three syllables then expect it the be abbreviated. We even abbreviate abbreviations. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is shortened to the MCG. But we get lazy of saying it that way and just call it the G.
As your very basic guide on what to know before you travel to Australia these are the essentials. If you can even master the slang, well you’d practically be a local!
Are you planning a trip down under? Have any questions or more slang to run by me? Shoot me a comment below!