I have now spent almost a week in Australia. As the start of my post-university travels, I am pretty excited to be here and to visit all of my family here. So far the trip has been enjoyable. The natural landscape here is amazing and honestly it is beautiful. So far I have spent some time in Sydney with relatives. I have also driven to Melbourne to meet more relatives there and see the beautiful Great Ocean Drive. Great Ocean Drive is a winding highway that follows the coast and I even saw a wild koala while driving along it! I did a quick drive through of Canberra, but unfortunately, by the time we arrived there, everything in the city was closed (as expected of a purely government city) and I did not get to visit the attractions. I definitely wish that I allocated more than 3 weeks to visiting Australia, but I cannot change my flight back to Canada because I have another flight to Europe a few days afterwards.
There are a few things that I noted that I think all visitors should take note of while they are here:
1. Cars are right-hand drive
This is the opposite of North America and most of Europe. As a result, driving cars is kind of weird since you have to constantly remember that you need to keep on the opposite side of the road than usual.
2. Winter in Australia is from June to August
This again is the opposite of North America and Europe due to the fact that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere. A lot of my relatives who visited Australia also forgot this fact and was met with an unwelcome surprise of colder weather. This is not like winter in North America, it is still pretty warm and there is no snow in most places. Sydney right now is hovering around the mid tens and sometimes goes up to the 20 degrees Celsius However, it gets pretty windy and the wind can be pretty cold.
3. Most older houses in Sydney (and probably elsewhere) have no central heating and poor insulation
This combined with the winter weather can really suck if you visit. Since older houses in Sydney don’t have central heating and poor insulation, it can sometimes be colder inside the house than outside the house. Heavy quilts are used by most of my relatives here to deal with the cold. Plan to wear stuff like long sleeve shirts, multiple layers or hoodies to deal with the cold temperatures inside. This is also something to be wary of when you use places like AirBnB to rent out houses for vacations in Australia. Houses in colder areas like Melbourne have much better insulation and have central heating so it is not that bad in those areas.
4. Things are more expensive here
Fuel and food are both more expensive in Australia than places like Canada or USA (I am not sure about Europe). As a result of fuel being more expensive, other items will also tend to be more expensive than North America. So you should plan your budget for things to cost more than North America.
5. Highways are not as large North America
Most Australia highways are two lane roads with one lane dedicated for one direction and the other lane dedicated for the other direction. This is especially true once you leave the cities. The government is slowly improving the busier links between cities, but since there are not that many cars going between cities, they are only improving a few highways. Also as a result, food and fuel stops can be separate by far distances even on the more densely populated southern part of the eastern coast of Australia.
6. People are incredibly friendly here
People here are incredibly friendly, even in cities. They smile and nod at you as you walk by, and are always willing to help you out with directions. Don’t be shy to ask a local for directions to something. They may even have tips on what to do once you get to your destination or things to avoid!
7. Hungry Jacks = Burger King
Don’t go to Hungry Jacks if you are expecting a unique Australia style of burger. It’s just a rebranded Burger King.
8. Be careful of wild life on motor ways
If you are driving on an expressway/highway/freeway/motorway, then be careful of any wildlife. Koalas and kangaroos tend to stray onto highways in rural areas on occasion and it can be a messy result. Be careful of kangaroos which stray onto highways more frequently at nighttime. If you are driving at nighttime on a highway, you probably should use high beams when there are no other vehicles on the road. Kangaroos can destroy your radiator if your car hits the animal and as a result, you will probably be unable to drive the vehicle further. A lot of SUVs and trucks have bars that are designed to protect the radiator against kangaroos.
9. Eating kangaroos is actually a thing
It is not a joke and it is legal to consume kangaroo meat. I am not sure about how hunting works for them, but apparently their population is fairly abundant in the country so the government allows people to eat kangaroos.