The Sydney Opera House, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach.
Where do people get their ideas about Australia, and how does that match with reality when they get here? If you think there’s no such thing as a stupid question, you haven’t heard some of the things people ask about Australia.
Stupid questions aside, there are a few things you need to know before you travel in Australia
You will not drive, or even fly, from Sydney to Uluru and back in one day. Nor will you get to see the whole country if you only have a week. Sydney to Cairns (Great Barrier Reef) is approximately 2,500k. You can drive it in 3 days, as long as you don’t make many stops on the way, or fly in 3 hours. Then it’s 2,880km from Cairns to Uluru, and you’re still only half way across the country and haven’t even touched South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria or Tasmania.
If you want to see a lot of Australia (and why wouldn’t you) you need a lot of time.
- Yes, there are a lot of flies
Ever heard of the “Great Australian Salute”? Lift up your right hand, wave across your face. Lift up your left hand, wave across your face. Repeat. Wave both hands rapidly across your face as you do a little dance. Don’t stand still too long in the outback or you will look like you have a bad case of black measles.
Some insect repellents work but they have to keep being applied. They might look ridiculous, but a hat with a net covering your head & neck works if you don’t want to get flies in your mouth, in your ears, up your nose or in your eyes.
- The sun is hot & strong
Remember that hole in the ozone layer? It’s over Australia. And it’s only getting hotter here. Seven of the warmest ten years on record have occurred since 2003.
If you have come from winter and aren’t used to the sun, even 5 minutes in the Australian summer sun can give you a sunburn. Slip, slop, slap is a mantra here. Slip on a t-shirt, slop on the sunscreen, slap on a hat. Always, even in winter.
If you are out and about in the heat carry water, and drink it, even if you’re not doing anything active. If you are walking anywhere try to do it either early morning or late afternoon, and carry plenty of water. Up to a litre of water per person per hour is recommended. And wear a hat.
- It does get cold
I know it never looks like it on Neighbours or Home & Away, but we do have winters. And mountains with enough snow to ski on.
Deserts get very cold in winter, particularly at night. While daytime temperatures in Alice Springs in winter (July/August) can still reach mid 20s, at night it can drop below freezing. I was out camping in outback Queensland last winter. During the day it was mid 20s and I was wearing shorts & singlets. One night I decided to leave the top off the tent so I could lie in bed and see the stars. Stupid mistake. It dropped to 2 degrees that night and I got so cold I was wearing uggies, thermals and a beanie in my sleeping bag!
It has even snowed at Uluru.
Sydney also gets cold in winter, and Australian houses tend to be designed to stop the heat, not to stop the cold. That means it can also be cold inside and very few people have central heating.
Interesting fact #1: In Australia you’re never more than 6ft from a spider
Interesting fact #2: 3 of the 7 deadliest spiders in the world are found here.
We also have almost all of the world’s deadliest snakes, plus crocodiles ,sharks and angry emus.
Go to youtube and search Australia’s deadliest animals. There’s a 47 minute video from National Geographic on Australia’s deadliest dozen.
- The outback is amazing
Sydney has the harbor, the bridge & the Opera House. Melbourne has laneways, cafes and streetlife, and Adelaide is one of the most liveable cities in the world and only a short drive from amazing wineries. The Great Barrier Reef is stunningly beautiful, and all around the country you can find some of the best beaches anywhere.
But there’s nothing like the outback.
The red earth, blue skies, and sometimes surprisingly lush green vegetation are amazing. Add in wide open spaces, rocks, gorges, rivers & waterfalls and you have some of the most beautiful places on earth. With the time, space and lack of crowds so you can enjoy them.
Not to mention the sunsets!