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Going to Australia for the first time? Things you need to know

An article that describes a list of things you need to know when visiting Australia for the very first time

Antony Chacko

Australia is a place where zoology alone could trick you into believing that you are on another planet! Some of the country’s best cities are Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin.

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You’d be pardoned if you feel, even in the slightest bit, intimidated about travelling to the land Down Under for the first time. Well most people would if you think about it. The island country and continent is a land separated from the rest of the world.

A land where the zoology alone could trick you into believing that you are on another planet! It’s mind-boggling, but compose yourself for now, as the journey could also be as exhilarating as shark cage diving. Well at least for you adventure junkies! Speaking of shark cage diving, pardon the irony, you just might get a chance to do that in Australia. In fact, it’s pretty common.

Where do we start?

The country has three time zones. Roughly about seven and a half million sq km, you could fit almost 3 Indias in there. Yes! I know what you’re thinking. That’s too much of country to explore, for any known mortal. So it all boils down to, where do you want to go? Well Australia has many fantastic cities that give you a “get way from civilisation” type feeling, at the same time provides you with all the great stuff and comforts of a thriving city.

It is perfect for people who want to escape from the rest of the world, but not too much, so as to get all “Man vs. Wild” on you. Some of the country’s best cities are Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin. That’s where the best restaurants, pubs, clubs, theme parks and other cultural madness reside. According to individual needs, you might want to spend most of your stay in one of these cities, but you’d definitely wouldn’t see the real Australia if you didn’t head down to “the outbacks” to soak in some good old country.

Whatever type of traveller you might be there is always a visa you could choose, and this link immigration should give you the entire list of all visas available and details about each. There are tourists visas, working holiday visas, business visas, student visas and many more. So be sure to check with your agent about what is the right option for you.

What to expect

Christmas in summer! As awkward and uninviting as that may sound, it’s true. After delivering all his gifts to the children of the world, Mr. Kringle lands his sleigh on an Australian beach to relax in the summer sun after the mad Christmas rush. But jokes apart, summer is from December to February, Autumn is March to May, Winter - June to August and spring – September to November. Temperatures are extreme and there are parts of Australia that reach 50°C, while there are other parts that receive constant snowfall during winter. So depending on which part of the year you are travelling, pack accordingly.

For my friends who drive on the left side of the road, you would find it easy renting a car to see the place and for people who drive on the right, well let’s just say that you’re better of using public transport. Australia drives on the left! The way God intended it to be.

Again, if you would excuse the tacky humour... speaking of public transport, while almost all major cities have cabs and well connected bus and urban rail services, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast also have trams, which is a good lazy way to explore the city. For you guys who are planning to rent a car and drive in Melbourne, this is where you stop whatever else you are doing and listen up. In the main part of the city, wherever indicated, you would need to do, something called a hook turn if you want to turn right at an intersection. The hook turn was implemented to keep the centre of the road free for the trams. Be sure to look that up (many YouTube videos available) and fully understand it before you attempt to do any sort of driving as it could be pretty confusing and dangerous.

Living Arrangements:

This would apply to students who are considering or have to find their own living arrangements. It would be best to search for options online before you land on Australian soil. Australia is the number one destination for students as they have world-class universities that are not very heavy on the pocket. So just like you there are roughly about 100,000 students from all over the globe, contemplating about studying in Australia every year, and accommodation is widely available in all cities.

Ok! Your best bet is to contact your university to enquire about accommodation. Because if a university does not provide on-campus accommodation for its international students, in most cases they would have a student-body or an association that would help them find one. If all else fails then there is the good old ‘www’. The internet is overloaded with different types of accommodation to suit everyone’s needs and budgets.

If you have your friends or family accompanying you, you might consider renting a house or studio apartment. Another financially viable option is ‘homestay’, where an Australian family rents you a room in their house. This is usually inclusive of food and laundry, but most homestay providers have a contract that needs to be signed. Apart from these there are other room or dormitory type accommodations. 

Make sure you choose a place that you can call home, because for the adventure you are about to embark upon, you are definitely going to need a place to rest. 

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Are you anxious about living in a new city?

Nupur Verma Nupur Verma,
Study abroad expert.
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