Mini Travel Guide: Australia

Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Australia? You’re in the right place! Of course, Oz is huuuuuge, but this bite-sized travel guide will when your appetite, get you pointed in the right direction and if you read all the way to the bottom, potentially save you hundreds of dollars!

Must do in Australia

Take surfing lessons

Sure, it’s a little intimidating to straddle a floating board in the company of a painfully hot blonde dude whose accent you might not understand.  But if all else fails, you’ll still have a lot of fun, get heaps of great pictures and be able to start stories with “This one time, when I was learning how to surf in Australia…”

Snorkel the great barrier reef

There are heaps of companies that run snorkeling trips to the great barrier reef.  You can also do  a scuba trip if you’re certified or even take classes to become certified, but if you have neither the patience nor the dough for a scuba course, snorkeling is a cheap, easy substitute.


Australia is almost 3,000,000 square miles (!) and host to desert, beaches and rain forest.  If you’ve got a good bit of time, rent a car or a camper van with your friends and explore.

Hold/pat one of many ubiquitous Australian animals 

Policies have changed regarding koala cuddling and many places now only allow you to pat them sedately on the back while you have your photo taken. (Though, to be fair, I wouldn’t want to be passed from stranger to stranger all day).
There are also heaps of parks where you can feed wallabies.  And yes, feeding a wallaby is about as awesome as you’re imagining it to be.

The Sydney Opera House

It’s on every postcard for a reason.  It’s gorgeous and luminous and positively clam-shell-y.  Amazingly, the opera house has a ‘studio’ theater where they run more cutting-edge, dynamic pieces and you can frequently get tickets for as little as $25!  I went to a show there for my 28th birthday.
Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must eat in Australia


Cubist, cakey, chocolatey, coconutty goodness.  And sometimes you can get a pink version as well!  Americans, imagine a grown-up version of those snowball cakes we used to buy at gas stations in middle school.


Contrary to popular belief, Aussies do not actually strut about crowing “Throw another shrimp on the barbie!”  Shrimp are called prawns here and they’re delicious, enormous and served in soups, salads and pastas.


Do not let the fact that Vegemite is a “a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract” prevent you from trying it.  It is something of an acquired taste but you’ll be more likely to acquire it if you put the thinnest smear of it atop a buttered, toasted slice of white bread.
Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cultural tips for Traveling in Australia

Aussies are about three times more sarcastic than Americans are – at least the Americans that I know.  (That even includes my BFF who actually lists ‘sarcasm’ in the interests/hobbies section of her resume).

So don’t feel flustered or offended if an Aussie you don’t know teases or good-naturedly hassles you.  It’s a cultural phenomena known as “taking the piss.” Also?  “Pissed” means drunk, not “angry” and “biscuit” means cookie not “bread.”

Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cheap travel tips for Australia

Seeing the country in a camper van is lovely and about a gajillion tourists do just that. every year.  Most tourists only drive their vans one way, flying into Melbourne, driving up to Cairns and then flying out.  But what happens to all those camper vans stuck up in Cairns when people want to rent them in Melbourne?
Rental companies rent out vans for $1 a day to tourists willing to drive the vans back to their original location!  Google ‘rental relocations Australia’ or even try walking into rental agencies and asking!

Airbnb is cheaper than most hotels and nicer than a hostel. Here’s a whole apartment in Brisbane for $56 a night and here’s a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment in Adelaide for $60 a night. If you’ve never used Airbnb, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

100 words from an Aussie

From Carly: Have a BBQ on a beach, eat incredible multicultural food, go bush-walking, see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, eat amazing seafood, wear zinc and sunscreen, go snorkeling, go camping, learn to surf.

Have Vegemite on toast, drink beer in a beer garden, see live gigs in our rural pubs, go on a massive road trip, stargaze, shop, relax.

Aussies!  Tell us what we’re missing!  If you’ve traveled to Australia, what did you love?
Photos by Sam Wermut // wikipedia // Cris Saur // Jeremy Bishop // Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

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  1. La

    One of my favourite things to do here is to camp at one of the national parks. A lot of the national parks throughout aus have really cheap camping rates so you can camp (as long as you have a tent) for only a few dollars a night. It's so nice and relaxing and also means you get away from the regular tourist traps like bondi. Also if you're driving there are many, many tourist routes signposted nationwide which generally showcase the best of an area.

  2. La

    Also 2 words: MANGO SEASON!

  3. Anonymous

    Sounds like you were on the East coast, do you mean East? Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane are all on the East. Perth is on the West.

  4. Rebecca


    The landscape, beaches, scenery, SEAFOOD (fresh oysters!! Like just in from the sea – fresh), fruit farms and animal sanctuaries.

    Must do: check out the boat cruises around Tasman Island. That's basically open sea out there with huge waves and awesome rock structures. Plus seals!! 😀

  5. Anide

    Our cities are great but we have a lot more to offer! From glistening beaches to dusty deserts we have it all!

    Would recommend a trip to Ayres Rock next time. Staying overnight to watch the sunrise. 😀

    Very impressed with your Vegemite knowledge. It must only be served with butter (and LOTS of it :P) – it's just awful otherwise.

  6. Marta

    I loved many things, I recommend:
    – a barbecue with friends
    – penguin parade (Phillip Island)
    – Healsville Sanctuary (Victoria)

  7. Lorra Fae

    I mostly was on the west coast! My favourite experience was a whale shark swim!
    I recommend that if you go to the west. Also, go see the Pinnacles desert, Kalbari, Margaret River, Caves Road, many wildlife parks, hold a koala, and if you can't afford the whale shark trip, at least snorkel around Ningaloo reef – the west coast answer to the Great Barrier reef.
    I wish I had gone cage diving with white sharks.

  8. Lape

    Hi Sarah,
    I really like your Mini Travel Guide posts. So far, I like the one about Greece best. Are you going to do one on an African country? Have you been here before?

  9. Morgan

    i loved climbing the bridge!
    and playing with wombats, koalas, and kangaroos.
    the homestay family almost ruined it for me by talking about how a kangaroo tried to drown the family dog though!

    i'd recommend going to everyone, and i'd love to go back since it was gloomy the day i snorkeled the reef, so it looked gray :/

  10. Rachael

    I was in Sydney years & years ago. I loved it – except I did not love my roommates in the hostel. I recommend a furnished apartment rented out weekly for long-term stays. I do love that their buses give you change! 😀

  11. Milou

    I really loved to read this post! It makes me want to go to Australia immediately 🙂 I've never been to Australia, but after my graduation I really want to go!

  12. Josie

    I've always wanted to go to Australia….
    I totally thought everyone referred to getting drunk as getting pissed. Everyone here in Canada does…
    And we call them prawns too. Shrimp are the little tiny ones!

  13. Arlina

    Mix with the locals as much as possible, Im an aussie and its still my favourite part about travelling around oz…we're quite a chatty people for the most part and you wouldnt believe some of the stories you will hear! Also I have found that the best places to be are rarely advertised hugely but are widely known by word of mouth and when you get chatting to people I have found them to be quite generous in letting you in on the local secrets.
    Oh and seriously WEAR SUNSCREEN!!! you can always pick a tourist coz they're the ones who look like lobster…even in winter the UV is extra fierce here!

  14. Jennifer

    My dad lives near Perth, WA and im going out to see him in 3 weeks 😀
    I love it over there, when i go shopping (which is a lot!) the people who work in shops are so cheerful and happy as opposed to what they're like in the UK. They also have some great op shops (thrift stores).
    Cavendish wildlife park is one of my favourite places, and found i prefered it to Perth zoo as it was much more open and i could spend all day with the roos.
    Another lovely place is Bells Rapids which is a wondeful place for a picnic or a hike (wear sensible shoes as its very rocky)
    There are some great views from the walkways in Kings Park where you can see most of perth 🙂

  15. Cassandra Vanderkop

    I live in Brisbane, Australia and I have to say the best thing about Australia is the people. There are so many people from all parts of the world here. And Aussies are pretty relaxed and love having a good time. Sarcasm is our way of life haha.

    If you're in Brisbane, check out the markets and op shops. Lots of handmade crafts and fantastic food. And we have some awesome live entertainment – lots of good local bands.

    If you ever travel to Melbourne make sure to check out the Graffiti all over the city! And the food markets is a must!

    Wherever you are in Australia, make sure to wear sunscreen! Even us Aussies get burnt occassionally.

  16. Kia

    @Anide – I think you mean Uluru 🙂

  17. Anonymous

    WESTERN AUSTRALIA! The entire west coast is just as beautiful as the east, there are so many serene, peaceful, stunning and tranquil white beaches dotted all along the coast – I am yet to discover a bad one. Visit some of the small country towns along the south-west corner – the Margaret River wine region is not internally-renowned for nothing! There are lots of cheese factories, chocolate factories, toffee factories – lots of good beaches and good food!

    Just had to rep my West Coast! 😉

  18. Nessbow

    Australia's awesome! I live in Melbourne and it's a brilliant place to call home. There are so many little laneways and sweet eateries tucked away, so a day in the city is a little like a treasure hunt.

    I totally concur with your advice on Vegemite. It's great if you only use a tiny smear. I've seen Americans spread it on like peanut butter and then wonder why it tastes so awful.

  19. Sarah-Rose

    Maybe it's more a New Zealand thing than an Australian thing but I think of Lamington as being the strawberry pink version originally, with chocolate brown being the less tasty and less ubiquitous version!

  20. Sydneysider

    Yes, please let's call it Uluru — and do visit it. This is a great post and rings true to me as an Australian. I hope we're not actually sarcastic — so many people use that word, but it hints at nastiness. I prefer ironic or tongue-in-cheek 🙂

    To add to the suggestions: visitors should be aware of Indigenous Australian history and cultures; even in places that now have cities built on them, there's a lot to find out about the people who have been here for tens of thousands of years, since long before anyone else turned up.

  21. Lynne

    Oh .. where to start? I've lived in Sydney all my life, but have seen a fair bit of the rest of the country
    ** sunscreen seriously . all year round.
    *** most Aussie cities accommodation costs dramatically if you're willing to stay a little bit out in the suburbs and get in by public transport.
    ** Taronga Zoo, Sydney. Not just great animals, but some of the most beautiful views of Sydney Harbour (the zoo is built on a hillside) we joke that the giraffes have the best piece of real estate in town
    ** Food. seriously. Sydney and Melbourne you can have almost any cuisine your heart fancies (except maybe American) But Most towns up and down the coast also have great cafes (be prepared to hear them called caffs) And Tasmania? the food is to die for! And far North Queensland? everything with luscious tropical fruit!
    ** If you go to tropical Queensland, don't stop at Cairns. Go up[ to Port Douglas (at least for a day trip) — one of the prettiest towns in Australia. And Daintree Rainforest (just north of PD is also a must-see.
    ** Kakadu It's worth the trip to Darwin (also an interesting place) just to go down and spend some time in this world-heritage forest. May-July is probably the best time. But do take the crocodile warning signs seriously. They're aggressive beasts — more dangerous than the American Alligator.

    Heck, I could go on forever ..

  22. Jessica

    Some things that haven't been mentioned, and that I'd absolutely recommend:

    * VICTORIA: Great Ocean Road (including Lorne, and Warrnambool), Phillip Island, Melbourne, and the beautiful rural spa-experience that is Daylesford…

    * SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Adelaide (great food, amazing festivals), Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley, Limestone Coast (Coonawarra wineries, Mount Gambier for the Blue Lake and caves, Beachport and Robe for the beautiful beaches), Flinders Ranges…

    * NORTHERN TERRITORY: Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Alice Springs, all the waterholes and communities around Alice…

  23. Elaine

    Also, if you're spending some time in Sydney, make sure you go out to the Blue Mountains! There are cute towns like Leura and Mount Victoria, but also amazing bushwalking, sights such as the three sisters, the beautiful Jenolan caves and some excellent food and coffee to be found.

    Excellent advice on the sarcasm, I find I constantly need to explain myself to people when I'm overseas!


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