Australia. How to prepare for your trip and what to see

Traveling to Australia: ten tips for the tourist

Every tourist, going on a long trip, hopes that it will be the trip of his dreams. And, of course, thinking only about the pleasant aspects of the upcoming trip, often forgets to get acquainted with the specifics of the chosen state. Australia – a large and very beautiful country, but every little-educated people have heard about the specifics of the continent. In this article – ten tips, following which you can make a trip to Australia more comfortable and enjoyable.

Tip one: “Leave your burger, everyone who enters here,” or “Customs does not give good. Australians are very caring about their environment, respectively, the laws protecting flora and fauna begin to work right at customs. So you’d better part with your favorite sandwich or glass of kefir as soon as you enter the airport building. The thoughtful Australians have prepared dustbins for those who are ready to throw away forbidden products and lockers for “stuffed animals” who want to save a half-eaten roll for the return journey. It is forbidden to bring food, pets or wild animals (even stuffed animals), plants into Australia, and the importation of medicines is restricted. If you luggage contains anything that should be declared it’s better to walk through red corridor and show everything to customs officer, otherwise you can get a big fine or even prison because of accidentally left in your pocket biscuits.

Tip number two: “The smoke of Belomor is not pleasant for everybody. Australia is a civilized country, trying to correct the fatal mistake of Christopher Columbus. Smoking is strictly prohibited in most public places. You will not be allowed to smoke a cigarette in hospitals, in shopping centers and stores, restaurants, offices or on public transport. Even in bars smoking is forbidden. Remember that, because there may not be a sign prohibiting smoking. And it is better to admire the Parliament building with a camera in hand and not with a cigarette in your teeth. By the way, thrifty tourists better bring cigarettes, as in Australia they are quite expensive. But keep in mind that only 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco can be taken through customs.

Tip three: “Don’t let the green serpent overshadow the beauty of Australia”. The history of Australian wine making goes back to the 18th century with the arrival of the British. Nowadays the local wines are not inferior in taste to the creations of French or German winemakers, they are just not so well advertised. But to abuse alcohol is allowed only if you are over 18, otherwise drinking strong drinks is a crime punishable by law. To get drunk here is simply not accepted. But the local restaurants have a very good custom – here you are allowed to bring your own alcohol (such places are marked with the words Bring Your Own). But remember that these places are very careful about their license and reputation, so a tourist who has had too much alcohol can be very politely asked to leave the room.

Tip number four: “In Australia, a car is not a luxury, but a means of sightseeing. Those who wish to travel around the country by car can rent one. But do not forget that in Australia, left-hand traffic, the position of the steering wheel still have to get used to. The country has high-speed roads, “highways” on which you can drive at a speed of 100-110 km. per hour in towns – 50-60km. Do not forget to make sure that the seat belt is fastened not only to the driver, but also to all passengers, and a small child should always be seated in a child car seat. And also do not forget that at any moment kangaroos or other animals can appear on the road.

Drivers are monitored by ubiquitous security cameras. So if you don’t want to get a pile of bright pictures of you violating traffic rules and a hefty fine on your way out of the country, you better drive carefully. Besides, if you take the car with a full tank of gasoline – you must return the car with the same full tank (then you will get the “gasoline deposit”).

Tip number five: “Be at home, but remember you are a guest. In Australia, nature and clean streets are protected by law. Civilized people don’t spit on the ground and on passers-by, if you have a cold they use a handkerchief (though what can have a cold in the land of eucalyptus?), garbage is thrown in urns, not on the ground, do not make noise at night, do not use foul language, do not pester kangaroos and use private and public toilets. Failure to follow these uncomplicated rules in Australia can result in a fine, which can significantly lighten a tourist’s pocket or credit card. Australians are very fond of visitors, but they simply adore their unique nature. So if you want to be welcomed on the continent, learn to appreciate and cherish your surroundings.

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But the staff is not spoiled with tips. You can take all the change with a clear conscience. But of course, no one will refuse an extra dollar if you like the service. It is not customary here to bargain.

Tip number six: “Overcooked in the sun careless tourist is the best snack for the shark. As in any other country, while in Australia, you need to follow the basic rules of safety. The first applies to tanning and swimming. When tanning, it is better to use a cream with maximum protection, the sun’s activity is very high. But be careful – the cream kills coral at a touch. Swimming is advisable only on equipped beaches (where there is a fence mesh). Swimming and diving in other places, no one forbids, but you always risk becoming breakfast for sharks or test the strength of the teeth crocodile. Do not forget about the ocean waves.

Keep in mind, the sun in Australia is very bright, and if you’re not used to wearing sunglasses at home, in this country, it’s better to get ‘clothes for the eyes. The sunglasses will save your eyesight and prevent you from going blind.

Tip seven: “Do not molest koalas and do not feed dingoes. Who hasn’t heard of Australia’s amazing animals? Don’t forget there are koalas dozing peacefully in the eucalyptus trees, but also creatures dangerous to man. The male platypus has a deadly poisonous spine, so you’d better not make friends with this beast either. Wild dingo dogs are dangerous mainly for children. They are also masterful at stealing food, and it is simply forbidden to feed them. Dingoes rarely attack first, so it is best not to provoke animal aggression.

From the family of birds one should be wary of giant cazoars and black swan, it is better just not to touch these birds. Car drivers can spoil the mood and the appearance of cars numerous pelicans, or rather not the birds themselves, but their waste products. Well, it depends on your luck. In addition, the country is inhabited by poisonous amphibians and reptiles, and the inhabitants of the sea depths, and even better to admire from afar. The main rule – do not touch the animals, and they will not hurt you. Even peaceful koalas and wombats can unintentionally scratch your skin.

Tip eight: “Don’t get burnt, lest you get burnt. Australia is a vast country with large fields, forests, and desert lands. And in that country, fires are by no means uncommon. Some plants have even adapted to reproduce in times of fire, their seeds opening only in the fire. But nevertheless, a fire in the forest is a tragedy, and often the culprits and victims of fire are careless tourists. An abandoned cigarette butt, an unextinguished fire, can all lead to a fire (add the dangerous effects of an arid climate). This applies especially to tourists traveling with tents. Be extremely careful. Because of the vast distances and remoteness from cities, help may simply not come. If the park you were going to visit, raging fire, the tour is likely to fail.

Tip number nine: “Electricity – be or find a socket. Residents of the twenty-first century is practically unable to exist without such a boon of civilization as electricity. Every tourist brings with them a favorite laptop, which is so convenient to rewrite the photos made during the day, and the batteries from the camera and cell phone would also be nice to put on a recharge. But here’s the problem, the voltage in the network coincides with the European parameters, but there may be problems with the plug. The reason is that in this country use an unusual three-pin (“Australian”) sockets and standard plug simply will not fit. To solve this problem, you just need to go to the store and buy a special adapter. If you live in a hotel, you can approach the staff and borrow an adapter.

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Tip ten: “I’m just going home, or how to get through customs a second time. When it’s time to return home, you’ll have to have another interaction with Australian Customs. To avoid getting a “pleasant experience” in the form of a hefty fine, remember a few rules. It is forbidden to take animals and plants out of the country, and for a broken piece of coral you can get in serious trouble. So it is not possible to bring a live koala for your child, it is better not to even try. But you can buy plush copies of this funny animal. And good for nature – and the child will be happy.

Tourists who are used to counting their money will get moral and financial satisfaction from the “Tourist Refund Scheme” program, you’ll just get a VAT refund included in the cost of goods. The system works very simply: in any store you buy goods worth up to 300 Australian dollars (for example, updating your closet) and be sure to keep all receipts. After passing the transport control you go to the TRS and show the purchased items and receipts (all the goods should be in hand luggage), as a result you will get back about 13% of the cost. As the saying goes, it’s a small thing, but it’s nice.

And the last, most important reminder. Packing your bags, do not forget to take a camera! After all, in no other country in the world would you have a unique opportunity to capture in photos amazing kangaroos, wombats, colorful parrots, as well as leave a memory of the brightest pictures of the beautiful nature of the mainland. Have a great trip to Australia!

Australian Autumn in May on the Continent of Green

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There are people who from year to year are sent to holiday in the same favorite hotel in Turkey or Thailand, and there are those who are greedy for new experiences and distant unexplored places. The whole world is not enough for them, and the only thing that keeps them from traveling to Mars, perhaps, is the technical impossibility of it at the moment. The hero of this article, Nikita, is one of the latter. He has already written for our site about volunteer work on Kamchatka. Today we will talk about an even more distant place on our planet – Australia. A word to the author:

Planning the trip and the flight

It is priceless, when you throw in a public chat with friends the link to cheap tickets to Australia for May holidays with an appeal to fly, and literally within a day 8(!) people take tickets to the other side of the globe. Only for the sake of it was worth graduating from Moscow State University’s geography department (6 out of 8 people were from there). Speaking of the price – 30 thousand rubles for tickets to Sydney, and even for the May holidays! With one “but” – the flight from Stockholm. But would that stop the geographers? Just another city bonus (though wildly expensive). Anyway, thanks to British Airways for the mistake in the reservation system, and to PiratesRU.com for the information about it.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that it takes at least a month to get a visa to Australia! But it is not necessary to go to the visa center or embassy, even the original documents are not needed – only the questionnaire via the Internet and scanned copies. And then the visa comes by e-mail. Convenient!

More months were spent on drawing up the route, crying from the cruelty of the world, when you can not cram all the desires in the budget, which would all be satisfied and not to turn the holiday into something between a military march and a trip trucker (one option was to travel 11,000 km by car). In the end we decided to limit ourselves to Eastern Australia, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef.

There is no visa or even a stamp in your passport when you enter or leave Australia! So you can’t brag about how far you’ve come.

Beware of critters.

This topic has been raised by everyone to whom I have told anything about this trip. Wildlife in Australia can be divided into three types:

  1. The kind that wants to kill you.
  2. The ones that generally don’t want to, but may do so because of their own stupidity.
  3. The ones that are too slow to get into group #2.
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So, the good news is that Eastern Australia has a minimal number of Group #1s, especially in major cities, so your chances of being fatally bitten are minimal. But there is a chance… of being eaten by a saltwater crocodile! In the Cairns area there are plenty of warning signs that you can’t swim here, because human limbs are limited. But in the Northern Territory (that’s the pathosy name of the state), vicious animals, reptiles, and insects are plentiful. It is the backs of the country with landscapes a la Mad Max – the purpose of the next trip.

The car rental agreement expressly states that it is forbidden to drive outside cities after 6pm in Western Australia and Northern Territory. Conclusions are up to you.

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Crocodiles want to eat too. Sometimes people do, too.

Group 2 is made up of animals who have no personal relationship with Homo Sapiens, but their dickishness and lack of traffic knowledge can greatly shorten your personal journey to Valhalla. So driving through the woods at night is a lot of fun, and it tests your vigilance to dodge kangaroos and wombats. That said, these cute animals can be baited, petted, and fed (with some patience and persistence).

Australian tip: Kangaroos are great at baiting bananas.

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Selfies with kangaroos are a must do in Australia

Koalas, as you might imagine, are group number three. They are hard to find in the wild, much less get close. But! You can touch them and see them up close at the Sanctuary (kind of a less torturous version of a zoo). We went to Sanctuary, located in the city of Brisbane. The entrance fee is about $30, plus more for photos, etc. You can feed and mingle with kangaroos there, but compared to the wild ones these look like the Russian national soccer team (stupid and not moving).

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Soft koala butt, smelling of eucalyptus

Sydney

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Huge liners the size of houses are parked in Sydney, in the middle of nowhere

The feeling of Sydney (and the rest of Australian cities) is something between American and European cities: an organic intertwining of American layout and appearance and European thoughtfulness and cleanliness. In general, Australia is about comfort, starting from the urban environment, ending with the national composition of the population. Not for nothing crowds of British pensioners move here (especially in Perth, where more than 50% of the population is already British).

Sydney is spread across a beautiful and very winding bay, so a great option to see the city from excellent angles – is to ride the ferries, which there quite normal public transport.

There is nothing to do more than a couple of days in the city itself, as all the conventional attractions are bypassed during the day. There are of course the historic neighborhoods, even a museum of Judaism, but it’s for those who want to get to know the city.

There are nice suburbs with beautiful beaches, where it is worth to go surfing or to look at those who surf (girls are more relevant than boys). One such iconic place is Bondi Beach. There is also a pool, which likes to post photos in various stupid publishers – like it pours the waves (in fact, very rarely).

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Blue Mountains.

A 1.5 hour drive from Sydney is Blue Mountains Park. There, nature first reminded us that actually in the southern hemisphere, May is the month of autumn. It’s a classic golden autumn on the plateau, but down in the canyons there are evergreen, wet and variable forests with waterfalls. In general, this park is worth the trip: there are both beautiful views and hiking trails in the rainforest past rivers and waterfalls.

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View of the waterfall and valley

Moving around the country, lodging

In total we traveled about 2,500 kilometers by car, renting an 8 seater minibus, which was not much of a drive, but it accommodated everyone. On a per person basis, 3 cars (in Sydney, Cairns and Brisbane) cost 250 local dollars per person (and twice was a one-way rental, which is more expensive).

In general, the “development” of the country can often be easily assessed by its intercity highways / autobahns / interstates (underline the point). And although eastern Australia is quite close to California in climate and a little bit in entourage, as soon as you start out of town by car you realize that it is still a village. You bet! The whole of Australia has half the population of California. Therefore, the road Brisbane – Sydney in some places looks like the Russian federal highway, which pass among the villages with a limit of 50 km / h, construction sites and other niceties.

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Of course, travel in eight people can save a lot of money on almost everything: from accommodation, ending with transport, but overall the country is relatively inexpensive (especially after Stockholm). In terms of overall price level, I would compare Australia to Northern Italy.

Of course, there’s a huge plus in traveling with 8 people, such as the ability to luxuriate and rent an incredible house on the oceanfront, on the first line for 800-something Australian dollars a night (which is more or less adequate per person).

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It’s only about A$4.5 million and you can wake up with that view. A residency permit is a gift.

Australia is the land of meat. They don’t just put it in ice cream here. Every house we rented through Airbnb always had barbecue (well maybe except for a high-rise apartment in Melbourne, but that would be weird there). So several times we bought meat from the store and cooked at home.

By the way! In Australia, not only in restaurants, but also in the store you can buy and try kangaroo meat (it tastes like weathered turkey), crocodile meat (which is like tuna with chicken flavor), ostrich Emu (again turkey).

In Australia you can always find excellent local wine (especially white) and beer, but it’s all sold in separate stores, where the passport for age verification will ask even if you look like Novodvorskaya, and on everyone who buys!

Kosciuszko and Snow y Mountains.

From Sydney, we headed south toward Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko (the heart of geographers must cringe). It’s located in the Snowy Mountains National Park, as the name would suggest – it’s the only place in Australia where it snows and even has a ski resort. Our plan was to make a “climb” on Kosciuszko and “conquer” one of the seven peaks, thanks to the decking, which even pregnant women and disabled people can reach the top. But… if there is no strong wind and wild cold. I remind you that May in the northern hemisphere is November in Australia. Unprepared for this cold and time constraints did not allow us to climb, although from the elevator to the top is only 2.5 hours each way.

The region itself is beautiful and quite harsh (especially by Australian standards), somewhat reminiscent of Sheregesh or Khibiny.

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Snowy Mountains. Album cover of the best indie rock band of 2017.

Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

As the locals told us, Melbourne in Australia is a kind of St. Petersburg, the climate sucks worse, but for some reason many people want to move there, which with Brisbane and Gold Coast in the country is especially incomprehensible. That’s where we went after Kosciuszko. The city itself is picturesquely located along the banks of the river and in general we did not notice any dramatic differences from Sydney.

There are a lot of vineyards around Melbourne (only Adelaide is bigger) where you can come for a tasting, buy some wine or just have a good time enjoying the views of the green hills. But you have to understand that it’s all more “American” style – that is, you just pay 20-25 dollars for a tasting and actually tasting, but it doesn’t turn into a learning process.

Southwest of Melbourne begins the Great Ocean Road, which eventually leads to Adelaide (and beyond that all the way to Perth is an awesome coastline, judging by the photos). It’s essentially some equivalent of Highway 1 and Big Sur in California – constantly shifting views of the rocky ocean coast with long white waves, cliffs and winds. You can stare at it for hours, pondering that only Antarctica is further south and those waves came from somewhere else. This is one of the best viewpoints in Australia, and probably in the world. The most famous photos are of the 12 Apostles, picturesque cliffs scattered along the coast.

Allocate two or three days to the ocean road. It’s well worth it. Don’t make our “see everything in one day” mistake.

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Views on the Great Ocean Road

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Nimbin

I’m not sure Roskomnadzor would approve putting a few paragraphs of text on a travel site about easy drugs… Anyway, stop by this town and you’ll see for yourself. It is lost among the picturesque, forested mountains, a hippie commune with all the consequences. You won’t regret it, I guarantee it! It’s about 2.5 hours drive from Brisbane, and the farther you get from the coast, the more the roads resemble Russian ones. The city is not very visited by tourists, so what the locals live on is not very clear (or vice versa too well understood).By the way, there’s an excellent pizzeria, and you may need it!

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Nimbin. Guess which stores have the most items here?

Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

When planning the trip, it was almost mandatory to dive the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), although the diving experience was 3 dives for 8 people. The main points from which ships go to the GBR are Cairns and Townsville. We lived in Cairns. It is at the latitude of Goa, so it is a comfortable +30 in May (November). Swimming here near the shore is not that pleasant, as the water is somehow muddy and reminds of Sochi or Gelendzhik after a storm, and the presence of sea crocodiles does not add to enthusiasm (however, holidaymakers in Gelendzhik cause even more apprehension and dislike). There are a lot of diving offers on GBR, I’ll give some key tips:

  1. There are no individual tours (even for 8’s), as to a reef approximately 80-120 km of travel. Or it will cost as much as a whole ship.
  2. Do your research on which spot the ship you choose goes to. The cost depends on that, too. We fooled around a bit and picked the cheaper option on the nearest reef and were left with the impression that there are more interesting spots. But that’s not for sure.
  3. Better to choose a ship newer and faster. There will be more time for the actual swim. Don’t spare the 50-70 extra dollars!
  4. The ships are designed for 70-200 people. In general, there is enough space for everyone, but there is some feeling of “crowd” and there is frankly nothing to do all the way to the BRB.

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Behind the stern is the Green Continent.

There is nothing to do in the city itself. In addition to diving, you can drive to the surrounding waterfalls and animal parks. We took a ride to one, but it wasn’t particularly impressive. Ah yes, in the city instead of birds – flying foxes (it’s like mice, only fat).

Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast is the quintessence of what Australia “should” look like in the eyes of a person from the Northern Hemisphere: skyscrapers on the ocean, huge waves, giant beaches, and warm ocean. Surfers (yes, yes, just like in the picture) come out to the beach in the morning. The main plus of this place compared to, for example, the south of California is the warm ocean, where you can surf in November without a wetsuit and the risk of freezing your valuables off. There we rented the best house of the trip, which even had surfboards, which we used with the grace of Kobzon. But we took pictures.

Naming the town (!) Gold Coast is cool in its own way. We ate at a skyscraper in the city itself with a view of the ocean coast.

This is another place I wanted to stay longer in relaxed-surfer mode (especially with shopping from Nimbin!).

Victoria’s motto ” Stay alert – stay alive.” Speaks volumes.

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Gold Coast. A view from a skyscraper.

Conclusion

Artful and boring traveler can be surprised by no surprises in Australia, especially if you have ever been to California, but a true geographer (or country expert) finds every feature, and you have enough of those here – from unusual animals to new cities.

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Our Dream Team

And for a complete exoticism, of course, should go to the center of the continent, where the entourage is much more: deserts, dangerous animals, endless straight roads, abandoned cities, and so on. Well, in the end, the thought of how far you got from your usual place of residence in any case generates tons of curiosity.

A bonus for those who read this long article to the end – a cool video report about the trip. Watch it, enjoy the scenery, and mentally start planning your trip to Australia:

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