My first time visiting Australia was nearly two years ago! Since then, I’ve returned and have now been living here as an expat for a number of months; and I’m still absolutely in love with this country.
There were so many myths I’d heard and believed about Australia that were quickly squashed upon arrival. And there were even more things that I’d never even heard of or considered that I wish I had known about before coming.
I’m a Canadian, and despite both Canada and Australia being Commonwealth countries, in a lot of ways they’re still pretty night and day and have plenty of differences.
That being said, I’ve compiled a list of a few things I would’ve found helpful to know about before visiting Australia for the first time to help all of you out as you prepare for your trip.
Things To Know About Before Visiting Australia:
I arrived in Brisbane, Australia during their springtime, (Northern hemisphere’s fall season) and was horrified to learn that I had come just in time for “swooping season”. These devilish birds known as magpies, nest during the springtime and become very protective of their homes and their young.
And so, they take it upon themselves to swoop low and club any innocent passerby on the head. Although rarely causing actual harm, the sudden attacks often from behind are a huge scare when you’re not expecting it.
I was very confused to see cyclists with crazy helmets that had spikes and zip ties all over them. It made no sense to me whatsoever, but I learned my lesson pretty quickly and suddenly understood the strange looking precaution.
Although everything in Australia is on the more expensive side due to the high cost of living, coffee is a whole new level. As you will learn, coffee is a serious manner among Aussies, and they really do know what they’re doing.
It’s an art form, not just a cheap caffeine fix. I nearly fell to the ground when I first ordered a small black coffee and it came to $4.00. However, it was easily the best small black coffee of my lifetime, so I suppose it was worth it.
But in all honesty, enjoy all the coffee you can while you’re visiting Australia. It will ruin you and turn you into a coffee snob when you get home, but it’s seriously so good.
Okay, I knew before arriving that surfing is a major Australian sport and pastime, but my first trip to the beach literally swept me off my feet.
Running in the soft white sand towards the warm crashing waves, I had no idea just how powerful the surf was. Standing knee-deep, wading into the ocean, I suddenly fell to the ground when a wave and its undertoe knocked me over, nearly pulling my bikini bottoms all the way off. Oops.
With that being said, always read the posted signs and swim between the flags set up on the beach. You shouldn’t need to be fearful of the waves, just be mindful and use caution. Oh, and consider wearing a one piece to save yourself possible embarrassment 😉
Everyone knows the stereotypical, “G’day, Mate,” but in all honesty, it feels like Australia has its own language with the amount of slang used in day-to-day conversations.
I will never forget just arriving in Brisbane, and heading out to a cafe with a friend. I felt relaxed as I usually do when in an English-speaking country, confident that I could order myself a freakin’ cup of coffee by myself. Wrong.
Reading the menu itself made no sense. Long black. Iced chocolate. Toastie. What?!
Then, when I had “translated” the menu with the help of an Aussie, I proceeded to order my drink, just to have the barista ask me, “EFTPOS?” … Once again, what?!
Don’t be shy to ask questions, but definitely be prepared for a few clueless foreigner moments if you’re not familiar with speaking “Australian”.
When in doubt, just shorten the word and add an, “o” at the end, that seems to be the foundation of Aussie slang.
All over the internet, especially on websites like Tumblr, jokes and casually frightening stories are told about Australia’s especially dangerous wildlife. The “everything can and will kill you” mantra was embedded in my brain upon arrival.
And yet, I was pleasantly surprised to have had very mild visits so far.
Coming from BC, summer nights are a scary, even in suburbs! There’s the very real threat of bears, and I’ve had an encounter with a cougar that’s turned me off from camping.
Still do your research and use caution while in Australia, especially in country areas or the ocean, as that’s where most of the scary things are. But if you’re in a city or suburb like me, you probably won’t see much, which I consider a good thing.
That’s my grand list of things I wish I had known before I visited Australia.
This post by Birdgehl inspired me to write this, as she wrote about the Australian tourist “dont’s” but from the perspective of a local Aussie.
Those of you who’ve visited Australia before, what sort of things surprised you? I would love to hear some stories in the comments 🙂