Planning A Trip Around Australia

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

So you’ve decided to take some time out backpacking, you’ve done your research and decided on Australia. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world by area, and yet it’s population is around a third that of the United Kingdom.

If you’re heading out to this vast continent you’re going to need to do some homework, Australia is home to some of the most dangerous animals, insects, terrain and extreme sports on Earth, so travel insurance is essential if you’re really going to experience everything the country has to offer.

Planning Your Trip

Australia really is an enormous country, don’t fall into the trap of following the well trodden tourist path of Sydney and the Gold Coast, yes these places can provide a fantastic holiday but there is so much more to experience in Australia.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island

Where you visit in Australia, will be determined by the amount of time you have at your disposal, and your available funds. If you’re backpacking then you may need to book ahead in hostels as they can get quite busy. Most hostels will allow you to book way in advance but they may require payment up front. When staying in a hostel you can pay for a single room with lock, this usually works out cheaper if there are two of you sharing, if you’re on a really tight budget then you will be sharing a dorm, these may be single-sex or mixed.

Hostels are a great way to meet other travellers, some people find love when backpacking, others are just happy to be on a personal journey of discovery. Hostels offer plenty of local sightseeing tours, from day trips to camping breaks in the outback.

Hotels are for those with more cash to flash, you may want to book a few nights in hotels as a break from the ‘rough-it’ nature of hostels, in some cases though, you may find better value in a hostel stay.

Darwin Sunset

You can research other travellers accounts of hostels and hotels on review sites such as Trip Advisor, beware though as these are often inaccurate and can be made up of fake reviews to promote certain accommodation.

Do your research before you visit a travel agent, decide what and where you want to see, build an itinerary of places you want to discover and then you can start talking to travel representatives to see which deals you can get. There are several great specialist backpacker companies who can help you build your journey down-under, visit your local city and talk face to face, but it may be worth checking your deals against a few of the top travel agencies on line.

Flying Around Australia

The flight to Australia is very long (roughly 24 hours), if you’re taking a direct flight then expect some serious jet lag, some people don’t suffer this but it’s best to try and adjust your time clock gradually towards your destination time zone as you fly. This may consist of several mini sleeps, and you’ll be watching a few films courtesy of on-flight entertainment screens.

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

If you’re breaking the journey up into two flights then you may want to stop off for a couple of days at an Asian city, this can be a journey in itself and really make your holiday one to remember.

Immigration in Australia is quite tight, it’s best to read up on current travel restrictions and adhere to their customs and excise policies which can be found here.

Once in Australia, if you’re travelling from one city to another, the distance by car can be epic, so many people use cheap internal flights. These can be booked ahead but most people will just book a few days in advance, you may get a better deal this way but if you’ve booked your accommodation ahead, you may have a headache if you can’t find a seat for your specific day of travel. A current passport is imperative for travel around Australia, and if you’re hoping to work, you will need to acquire a work permit, failure to do this could land you in hot water as the Australian government do not take illegal working lightly.

Dangers In Australia

Beach Warnings

Beach Warnings

Without wanting to scare any potential traveller, Australia is home to some pretty nasty animals and insects.

If you’re travelling in Northern Territory then you will be made aware about the dangers of Salt Water Crocodiles or ‘salties’, these large reptiles are responsible for several attacks and sometimes deaths in Australia. If in doubt keep clear of the water, the general advice in the north, is to assume there’s a croc about unless the area is declared ‘croc free’, tourists are advised not to crouch near the waters edge as crocs can mistake this for a small animal and will strike if they are within distance. Some beaches will have warning signs and beaches in the far north will have netted areas which are designed to keep crocs and other nasties out.

There are many species of snake in Australia and some of extremely poisonous but bites are very rare. Probably the most poisonous and deadly to humans is the ‘Fierce Snake’ followed closely by the ‘Common Brown’ (worth looking them up).

Stinging varieties of jellyfish can be found in Australia and one of the most dangerous is the box jellyfish, these appear off shore at certain times of the year especially in the north east of Australia and their sting can be extremely dangerous to humans. There will often be beach warnings when large amounts of box jellyfish are in the local area but tourists should still do their own research before swimming or bathing.

Crocodile Smile

Crocodile Smile

Spiders and wasps can deliver some nasty bites and stings all over Australia, but some are worse than others. The Red Back spider and Funnel Web spider of Sydney are notoriously dangerous and should be avoided, the larger spiders such as the Huntsman look terrifying but in actual fact they are relatively harmless to humans.

Perhaps one of the most important dangers to be aware of is the mosquito, this can transmit Dengue fever, Australian encephalitis, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. Dengue fever is the most dangerous and can range from a fever to more severe symptoms, this is mainly confined to Queensland but a chat with your local GP before you go will help put your mind at ease and they may offer some advice on how to best protect yourself from mosquito bites while backpacking.

Nature can be powerful and unforgiving in Australia, there are seasons which offer up cyclones and severe thunder and lightening storms, you can usually plan ahead for such events by keeping watch on the weather forecasts. You’re more likely to be affected by torrential downpours as a cyclone passes than actually being in the middle of one.

Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road

In all, Australia is a safe country, but you do need to arm yourself with the knowledge of what is out there to make sure your journey of a life time isn’t memorable for the wrong reasons.

Once you’ve decided on your itinerary you can start to plan exploring this vast and incredible journey, from the arid deserts of the Red Centre to lush palm covered gardens of Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef to the surf of Bondi, there is so much to experience with sub tropical climates and sun drenched coastlines, Australia is an amazing continent, plan your journey well and you’ll enjoy this fascinating land.

Article by Simon Lucas

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