35 Facts about Australia to know before you travel there

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Australia, Oceania

Interest facts about Australia that you 100% need to know before you visit the country. Or did you already know everything about drop bears and magpies?

Are you planning to travel to Australia? If the answer is yes, all facts about Australia are things you should know before you visit the country. Some of these facts about Australia will make you laugh, while others contain crucial information that might your life easier.

Based on my own experience, these are the most important things to know before you travel to Australia. Knowing them will both help prepare your trip there and it will give you a better understanding of the country, its animals and the people that live there. Something that is quite important, as Australia is unique and sometimes quite different from what you expect it to be. But that is what makes it such a worthy bucket list destination. You go there and get so much more than you expected.

Of course, there are many more facts about Australia. And while I would love to share all of them, it might be best to give you the chance to learn them as you explore this amazing country yourself. After all, that is what I did, and every single fact I learned made me fall deeper in love with the red country, that I was lucky enough to call my home for a while.

Australia Facts

1. Australia is large!

One of the things I wish I had known before I visited Australia and went on a road trip was how big the country really is. With a total size of 7.692.000 km², Australia is about 0.76x as big as Europe or 32x as big as the United Kingdon. This makes it the 6th biggest country in the world. The distance between Sydney and Melbourne alone is 878 km. And if you want to get to Perth from Brisbane, your flying time will be 4.5 hours eastwards or 5 hours and 15 minutes when flying westwards.

2. Australian English is different

There are accents of the English language and then there is Australian English. A lot of words in Australia are shorter and even McDonalds has a different name. Here is a short selection of words:

  • Brekkie – Breakfast
  • Barbie – BBQ
  • Biccy – Biscuit, cookie
  • Avo – Avocado
  • Thongs – Flip Flops
  • Bushwalking – Hiking or Trekking
  • Mozzie – Mosquito
  • G’day – Hello: hereby g’day is a lot more common in some parts of Australia than in others
  • Maccas – McDonald’s

And in addition to that, you have wonderful words like ‘billabong’, which is a pond in a dry riverbed.

3. Seasons are reversed

Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so summer is from December to March. In some parts of Australia it can rain a lot and in the North entire towns are flooded regularly. Winter is from June to August. So plan your trip accordingly and look up the best time to travel to Australia.

Wildlife facts to know about Australia

4. No, most things do not want to kill you

Except for drop-bears! Those are deadly. I dare you to google them.

But to be honest: The tales of dangerous animals that are only waiting to kill you are not true. While many of the deadliest animals in the world do live in Australia, you will not die when you encounter them. In fact, no one in Australia has died of a snake or spider bite since 1979.

I spend more than half a year in Australia and have camped in the Outback. And in that time I saw no more than three snakes and no deadly spiders. And the snakes that I did see were not venomous.

5. You will end up looking into your shoes before you put them on for the rest of your life

While you will not die because a spider kills you, they do like to hide in shoes. Therefore, it is normal to look into your shoes before you put them on or to store them in a way that prevents spiders from entering your shoes. I left Australia back in late 2017 and I still check my shoes all the time.

6. There are more kangaroos than people

‘Roos’ are an Australian icon and can be found on the 50 cents and 1 dollar coin, and these days also in grocery store fridges. Kangaroo meat has become more popular in recent years.

There are four species: the red kangaroo with its impressive muscular body, the eastern grey kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo, and the antilopine kangaroo. While you are not likely the see a kangaroo in the city center of Sydney, your chances get a lot higher as you move towards the suburbs. And if you drive in the middle of nowhere, it is only a matter of minutes until you spot a kangaroo. At least, if you keep your eyes open, as they tend to hide in the shade.

Due to the often high temperatures, the kangaroos tend to sleep or relax during the day and become active as the sun starts to set. Therefore, it is best not to drive outside of cities once the daylight starts to fade and kangaroos take over the wide landscapes of Australia. Please be careful so your car does not get up close and personal with a ‘roo’. And if it does happen, you should always check the pouch for a joey. Call the local wildlife service if you spot one. The young ones cannot survive without their mother and need help.

7. Australian Magpies are evil demons from hell

It might not seem like it is one of the important things to know before you visit Australia, but it is. After all, you have not really been to Australia if you have not been attacked by one. Australian magpies are incredibly territorial and their attacks are no joke. If there is one animal to fear in Australia, it is magpies.

8. Australia has the happiest animals in the world

Or at least that is what the people say. After all, Australia’s native quokka always seems to be smiling. Visit the amazing Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth to meet these happy marsupials and take a #quokkaselfie. Quokkas are amongst the cutest animals of Australia and that says a lot: after all, Australia is a country full of kangaroos, koalas, and even dolphins like those in Monkey Mia.

Quokka on Rottnest Island

9. Emu 1 : 0 Military – The Great Emu War

And while we are talking about facts about Australia and its animals, one cannot forget the fact that the Royal Australian Artillery once lost a war against emus. Believe it or not, but the event known as ‘the Great Emu War‘ took place in 1932. The goal was to eliminate emus that kept destroying the crops. But it turned out that the emus seem to be somewhat bulletproof thanks to their feathers. After all, 10K rounds of ammunitions only managed to eliminate a meager 100 emus. Therefore it is safe to say that the emus won the ‘war’ as the eradication efforts were a total failure.

10. Australia is home to the world’s biggest wild camel population

This fact about Australia might surprise you, but if you explore the Australian Outback, you are likely to spot wild camels. In the 19th century, camels were imported to transport goods. The very first one arrived in Australia in 1839, and between the early 1860s – and 1907, 10K to 20K camels more camels were imported. It was thanks to them and the cameleers, that Australia was explored and that settlers were able to move inland. After the construction of the railway in the 1930s, the camels were released as they were no longer needed. And sadly, no one considered the environmental impact of doing so.

Today, Australia is the only place in the world with big wild camels herds. An estimate of at least 1 million wild camels live in most Australian deserts. In fact, there are so many camels, that their population has to be controlled to avoid severe damage to the environment. In recent years, Australia has even started to sell its camels to Saudi Arabia.

If you want to follow the old route of the cameleers and Australia’s first camels, you can catch a train ride on the Ghan. The train route follows the permanent trail into the Red Center that was forged by these pioneers.

11. You might discover that a fly net is the best thing in your suitcase

When someone first mentions that they just bought a fly net that you wear over your head in preparation for an upcoming road trip, you might laugh. But then you leave the bigger cities behind and enter the hinterland or even the Outback. And suddenly you will start to question your life choices. After all, you have to face the fact that a fly net should have been on your shopping list.

Believe it or not, but I have seen a white minibus turn 50% black within a minute in Western Australia’s Pinnacles Desert. It is hard to predict where the flies will be, but once they find you, a fly net is your best friend that ensures that you do not constantly swallow flies. So buy one to be on the safe side. Not having one is not a good idea – unless you want to try a fly-only diet.

12. Australia has two large coral reefs

While the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast is a lot more famous, the Ningaloo Reef on the west coast is just as amazing. Snorkeling or diving in the Great Barrier Reef might be a bucket list item, but the amount of corals and the abundance of fish in the Ningaloo Reef is incredible. Therefore, you should try to visit both of them.

13. There is a jellyfish season

The animals in Australia might not be out to kill you, but you should still be cautious. Especially when you plan to swim, snorkel or dive in the tropical areas of Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef. After all, there is a stinger and jellyfish season that lasts from November to May, tho stingers can already be common in September. During this time you should wear a stinger suit while swimming.

During these months, there are also box jellyfish, whose venom is amongst the deadliest in the world. Therefore, you should always look for signs that might be posted at the beach to warn you about a large amount of box jellyfish in the area. After all, no dip in the ocean is worth dying for.

Fun facts about Australia

14. Canberra is the Australian capital

Most people tend to assume that the Australian capital is either Sydney or Melbourne. After all, they are the most famous Australian cities and are both incredibly popular. And said popularity happens to be the reason why Canberra is a capital. Both Melbourne and Sydney wanted to be the capital cities of Melbourne and the competition was so intense that it was eventually decided to choose Canberry as it is situated in the middle of the two feuding cities.

15. There is an ongoing competition between Sydney and Melbourne

You would think that the Australians would have stopped the competition after neither Sydney nor Melbourne got to be the Australian capital, but this is far from the case. The competition is as alive as ever. And if you are in Australia, there is no in-between. You either love Sydney or Melbourne. Being a fan of both is not an option. There are many things to know about Australia, but this one is the most important one.

The Sydneysider in me would love to say that it is Sydney is by far the best Australian city, but I know that not everyone will agree. Ultimately, it is hilarious to get involved in the competition between the two cities, so choose your side and have fun!

P.S. Sydney! Sydney! Sydney!!!

Interesting Facts about Traveling in Australia

Let’s hit the road in Australia…

16. It is the ultimate road trip country

There are several countries that are great road trip destinations, but Australia might just be the best of them. After all, the seemingly endless roads and hundreds of kilometers between big cities make for amazing road trips. Especially as the landscapes of Australia are very diverse and offer a lot of intriguing stops along the way.

If you plan a road trip in Australia it is crucial to plan ahead or you risk stressing out when you realize that what you roughly planned is not working out. Some of the best Australian road trips are the routes from Cairns to Sydney, from Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road, and from Perth to Broome. And of course, there is also the ultimate road trip aka a full Australia loop.

Australian Highway
Highway at the Tropic of Capricorn, Western Australia

17. You need a visa

If you are not sure whether or not you need a visa to enter Australia, the answer is yes. After all, only citizens of Australia or New Zealand, do not need a visa to enter Australia. Thankfully, citizens of most countries can easily get an e-visa on the Australian immigration website. You can get a work and holiday visa on the same website.

18. You might need an International Driver’s License

If you plan to drive in Australia and the text on your driver’s license is not in English, you have to get an international driving license before you come to Australia. Said international license is basically a booklet that translates whatever your actual license says into a variety of other languages. You have to carry both the international license and your normal driving license, so be sure to bring both.

Also know: Depending on how long you stay in Australia and in which state or territory you will be driving, you might have to get an Australian driver’s license. In all states and territories except for Victoria, you are obliged to get an Australian license after three months of living there. In Victoria, you do not have to obtain a local license until you have been there for six months. Thankfully the process is quite easy, and you only have to visit a local office to get your new Australian card.

19. You have to drive on the left side of the road

The clutch is also on the other side if you are driving a manual. It takes a short while to get used to it, but once you hit 100 km you will barely notice the difference.

driving over the Harbour Bridge
Driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge

20. There are restrictions on what you can bring to another state

There are interstate quarantines concerning fruits and other goods. So it is best not to cross any state borders with apples, bananas, or other fruits. In addition to restrictions when crossing state borders, there are also biosecurity and quarantine zones within states or territories. The regulations are in place to prevent the spread of pests, diseases, and weeds, so please abide by the rules and help protect the Australian biodiversity and agriculture.

The most common restricted items are fruits and vegetables, honey, rice, potted plants, and equipment that is contaminated with soil. You are obliged to ‘bin it or eat it’ before you cross state lines. Be sure to look up the exact Australian Interstate Quarantine rules before you drive to another state. The website linked also links to the most recent version of the Australian Interstate Quarantine Travelers Guide, so be sure to download it.

21. Australia is not a budget-friendly destination

Australia is many things, but it is not cheap. You can easily spend 100 AUD per day even if you are staying in a hostel. If you manage to spend less than 50 AUD per day, it usually means that you spend the day doing free activities or free camping. Most activities like diving, skydiving, or group trips to places like Fraser Island (K’gari) are incredibly expensive. Even a cheap camper van rental alone costs 65 AUD per day. Therefore, even road trips can easily kill your budget if you do not plan ahead or try to split the costs with others.

22. Mobile phone service can be spotty

Australia might be known for many things, but a good cellphone reception or internet connection is not amongst them. In the cities, it is often better to use your phone as a mobile hotspot. Most airports have a stand with tourism brochures in the arrivals hall that also offers sim cards. Grab one of them to avoid having to pay for the sim card itself.

While the most expensive phone provider, Telstra tends to be the best option if you want to spend time outside of the cities. But always keep in mind that there is a great likelihood that even Telstra will fail you if you explore very remote national parks in Australia.

Important Things to Know About Australia

23. Respecting the Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders is a must

They are the traditional owners of the land and it is in their culture to take care of it. Do not call Uluru by its’ Western name. It is disrespectful to do so as it takes away their history. The Aboriginal People first settled in Australia more than 50.000 years ago and have an incredible history. So take the time to learn more about it and their Dreamtime stories.

Respect sights that are of great importance to the Aboriginal People. Do not take photos of the forbidden angles of Uluru and be quiet when enjoying places of cultural importance like Fern Pool in Karijini National Park.

Fern Pool, Australia

24. Using sunscreen is a must

It is essential and if you spend a day in the Australian sun without it, you will end up looking like a lobster. It might be entertaining for others, but do what you can to prevent it. The Australian sun is very strong and not using sunscreen is a skin cancer risk.

Do not even bother to bring sunscreen from your home country. The sunscreen you can buy in the country is more suitable. If you enter the water to swim, surf, or dive, you should opt for a reef-safe option.

25. Only swim between the flags

Learn how to spot a rip current and how to escape it. Do not attempt to swim alone if you do not know how to do it or if you are not a strong swimmer. Especially, if you are at a beach without lifeguards.

Rip currents occur when waves break over sandbars and the water escapes sidewards towards a spot without a sandbar. This movement of the water causes a fast-moving rip. Most of the time the movement of the water itself is not visible from the shore, so look for a gap in the breaking waves. The waves break at sandbars so a gap is an area without a sandbar. Therefore, it is where you should expect a rip current. Also, keep in mind that sandbars tend to move with the currents, so observe the water whenever you visit a beach.

Do not fight the current. Swim sideways instead of towards the beach to escape a rip current that pulls you away from the beach. You will eventually exit the current the pulls you towards the open ocean and that is when you can swim towards the beach. Tread water or float if you are exhausted. And do not hesitate to shout for help if you need it!

Do not be like Harold Holt, the Australian Prime Minister, that walked into the water and vanished. Likely, because he drowned.

Also, mind other warning signs at the beach. Sharks are not out to kill you, but accidents do happen. So do not enter the ocean if a sign indicates that there has been a recent local shark sighting. Or if saltwater crocodiles (‘salties’) have been spotted.

Bondi Beach Sydney
Ocean Rottnest Island Western Australia

26. Australian Border Control is no joke

If you are not sure if you have anything forbidden on you, it is always better to use the red channel. It is better to be save than sorry. And ensure that you have the right visa. You cannot work at all if you enter the country on a tourist visa. If you do, they will most likely catch you and you will not be allowed to return for at least three years. In addition to that getting a visa for other countries will also be harder, as you will have to list the visa violation.

27. Rent is paid per week

That amazing 300 AUD apartment you saw in a Facebook group sounds like a great catch. However, it does not cost 300 AUD per month, but 1200 AUD as rent is paid weekly. So keep it in mind when looking for places to stay.

Fun Facts about Australian booze and food

28. Cheap wine is called ‘goon’

There is a lot to be said about amazing Australian wine, but I would not include goon in the category. Goon comes in a plastic bag within a paper box and 4 liters cost between 9AUD and 15 AUD. And while the price sounds tempting, the fact that all goon boxes say ‘may contain traces of fish‘ should make you somewhat hesitant.

Try it once, so you have experienced it, and then visit one of the Australian wine regions like Hunter Valley or the Margaret River region. Goon might be the cheapest wine available, but spending a little bit more a well worth it.

29. You can only buy alcohol at Bottle-Os

In Australia, you cannot buy alcohol at the supermarket. You have to go to the bottle shop, also known as ‘bottle os’. In some parts of Australia, you can only buy things at a bottle shop once a day and only a certain amount of alcohol. So be sure to read the signs at the door before you enter it.

30. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18

The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 and if you are under 30, it is very likely that you will have to show your ID. Keep in mind, that you should never buy alcohol for a minor. There are hefty penalties upwards of 10.000 AUD and even a jail sentence in some states. If you are in a private home, parents and guardians are permitted to serve those under 18 alcohol.

Australian wine bottle at the beach during sunset
Sweet Treats in a restaurant in Sydney

31. You have to try Tim Tams & Vegemite

It is an undeniable fact about Australia, that the country has unique snacks and treat. Tim Tams and Vegemite are at the very top of the list. The latter is made of yeast extracts and additives of spices and vegetables. Meanwhile, Tim Tams are the Australian cookies. An Original Tim T consists of two malted biscuits that are separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of chocolate. However, there are many different flavors including Tim Tam White and Tim Tam Sweet Surrender Black Forest Delight.

While in Australia, you should also eat fairy bread and maybe even a Golden Gaytime on a hot summer day. And in case you are wondering: it’s ice cream.

Be sure to stock up on your favorite Australian sweets before you fly back home. Depending on where you live, it can be close to impossible to get them. And if they are available, they are incredibly expensive.

32. BBQs are a big part of Australia’s foodie culture

Aside from sports, BBQs or ‘barbies’ are essentially Australia’s favorite activity. Therefore it is no wonder that there are free public BBQs everywhere. From beaches to rest stops to free camping spots – bring something to barbecue wherever you go and you won’t have to look for a free BBQ for long.

33. Some restaurants are BYO

BYO restaurants are restaurants where you have to bring your own wine or even beer. Sometimes you have to pay a corking fee to pay for the glasses and opening of the bottles, so check the regulations of the individual restaurant to avoid surprise charges. Most BYO restaurants have no or only a partial alcohol license, so this rule helps the restaurant save money and allows you to bring your favorite wine, which can be quite amazing.

34. Tipping is not required

In Australia, it is normal to tip for exceptional service only. Unlike in some countries, the minimum wage in Australia is high and service personal do not have to rely on tips. You can just round up the bill if you eat at a fancy restaurant or if the waiter did an incredible job, but you are not obliged to do so.

The most important fact about Australia that you need to know

35. You will never want to leave the country!

Once you arrive in Australia, you will quickly start researching ways to permanently or at least semi-permanently move abroad.

Believe it or not, but I personally did not even want to visit Australia before I ended up moving there for university. And like almost everyone that visits the country once, I absolutely fell in love with it.

And what is not to love? There are so many amazing beaches, the ocean, wonderful people, great BBQ and wine, incredible animals and so much more. And of course, there is also a much more relaxed way of life! After all, Australians do not consider their job as the defining part of their life, and spending time outdoors is essentially a national hobby.

Planning a trip soon? Check out these useful websites and resources that I use to plan my own adventures

More about Australia

If you are making plans for your Australia trip, these travel guides might be useful to you:
Australia Travel Guide

Did you already know any of these interesting facts about Australia?

Or do you know any other facts about Australia that surprised you?
Let me and others know in the comments down below!

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Things to know about Australia

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Steph Kloeckener

I am the founder of A Nomad's Passport and a solo traveling digital nomad, photographer, and writer. Originally from Germany, I have lived in several countries around the world. My goal is to explore every country in the world while promoting ethical and sustainable traveling. And of course to write as many destination guides, itineraries, road trip guides, and content about scuba diving.

6 thoughts on “35 Facts about Australia to know before you travel there”

  1. Favorite part of this article is that you included specifics on how to buy wine and liquor! lol anytime we’re traveling in a new country – the first thing we do is buy wine!

    Reply
    • It’s crucial information, so it had to be included haha
      I love Australian wine (and some of the liquors), so I just had to add this valuable piece of information. Gotta know where to buy that bottle of wine before yoh head to the beach!

      Reply
  2. I am Australian and have admit I did Google “drop-bears” because I have never heard of them. Obviously a furphy!

    I live in a regional city and go red back hunting a night around my house. They come out at night and are easy to kill. On a brighter note, my area is also know for brown snakes (venomous) but have never seen one.

    Our seasons aren’t reversed, it’s all those countries in the northern hemisphere where the seasons are reversed. Much of Australia has four seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring. Norther Australia only has two seasons – wet and dry.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.

    Reply
    • I’ve seen so many ‘drop-bear’ warning signs in hostels that I just had to mention them haha

      Everyone was telling me that there’d be spiders and snakes all over the place… and then nothing. Had to fly uo to QLD to see the first snake

      Currently struck in Europe, so from my current POV the seasons are reversed. Tho I sure wouldn’t mind arguing tht the Australian seasons are the ‘real’ ones – Australian winter (Sydney-version) sure is better than the European one. Tho I’ll happily skip Tassie or Melbourne winter

      Reply
  3. Hey Steph, great summary! A few things I’d say though, you might not have had many snake experiences, but that is often not the case. Same goes for spiders. At my old house we had red belly black snakes, brown snakes, carpet pythons and even the occasional green tree snake frequently. Easy 3 or 4 either in the house or yard per year. Sometimes more. The browns are the worst, but far less daunting than the 3.5m long carpet snake that we found in the back yard that one time… just depends where you are. At our current house we have only had 1 snake but we are constantly getting Redback spiders and the occasional funnel web…. Trade offs right?

    I’d also note that you can indeed buy alcohol at some supermarkets, but not the two big chains. Many if not most, Aldi’s do have liquor and some IGA’s also have liquor, particularly larger ones. Coles and Woolworths don’t sell alcohol, but there are some that have interconnecting entrances with the alcohol brands they also own. Eg it’s not uncommon to find a Woolworths with an adjoining BWS that you can walk between. Of course, you must pay for groceries at Woolies and booze at BWS though.

    Oh and rent isn’t always paid per week. Sometimes it is fortnightly or monthly. Most ads and lease agreements are based on weekly rates but they aren’t always. I’ve had fortnightly in Brisbane and monthly in the Gold Coast.

    Reply
    • Thanks for adding the info, Matt!
      You sure might encounter more snakes than I did, but let’S be honest… it’s not nearly as many as they tend to tell international travelers haha
      I was expecting a snake and spider-infected country when I arrived in Australia as everyone kept telling me that they were EVERYWHERE!

      Inquiring minds are wondering where those IGAs are, as I never stumbled upon one that sold alcohol. Did I somehow manage to skip those?!
      The adjoining BWS part is something I definitely could have added, but it honestly slipped my mind. Could have also added that some of them have a daily limit on how much alcohol you can actually buy there. Especially further up north…
      oh the things you remember after you have already published the post

      Reply

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