The basics
Australia: Essentials

Essentials: Maps, apps and finding your way around Australia

Don't get lost in Australia! Read our guide to finding your way around, including what apps can help you...


Finding your way around a new country is always going to be a daunting challenge, particularly when that country is as big as the USA and there is a language barrier. Even if you’re the most practical person in the world, getting lost can cause all kinds of difficulty and stress.

So, in order to help you out, we’ve compiled a few tips that can make things easier and, more importantly, stress-free.



Despite all of the app and gadgets available, you just can’t beat having a physical map in your pocket or on the wall to cement your knowledge of the local area. Although reading a map isn’t as quick as using a GPS app, the way in which your brain processes information means that once the knowledge sinks in, you are more likely to retain it.

Similarly, the apps don’t always work. Did you forget to charge your phone? Has the signal cut out while venturing in the Outback near Ayers Rock? If so you’re pretty much stranded (with just Australia’s interesting wildlife to keep you company).

If you do decide to purchase a map, it is also important that it is a detailed one that covers all of the local area (or as far as you are planning to travel). You can invest in a Lonely Planet Guide to many of the key cities around the world from the Lonely Planet Website or from a local book store from about $15. These will not only include maps and guides, but will also have information on the culture and lifestyle of different regions.


Online planning and apps

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid apps together – far from it! They can provide up-to-the-minute, detailed information in the palm of your hand. There are a number of journey planners that will make life easier, one of which is Google Maps. This can be used either on your laptop or on your phone, and all you have to do is type in the address of your current location and where you want to be. The app will plan your journey for you.

Of course, there are other apps that offer the same services, but the benefit of the Google Maps journey planner is that it works no matter where you are in the world. However, if you own an iPhone you may want to consider downloading iMaps instead.

Some cities will also have their own online journey planners and apps which are run by local transport providers. For example, Visit Victoria has the following list of apps for finding your way around Melbourne. If this is the case, you will find out about these either from current students or from the university welcome pack which you will receive when you start your programme of study.


Local knowledge

There’s one thing you can’t beat when it comes to exploring a new area and that is local knowledge. It is also a fantastic way of making new friends. During some of your first weeks, you will meet so many people who can impart their local knowledge on you; it’s a great conversation-starter! If you’re planning on exploring, suggest to other first years (because they’re all equally as nervous as you) that you go exploring together – remember, Australia isn’t as campus-cultured as other destinations so you’ll have more of an excuse to go exploring outside of campus. Try not to explore areas you’re not familiar with on your own and definitely not at night – this is when you can get lost or run into trouble.



Many of the students in the years above will already have specific knowledge about the student life such as where to go to socialise or where to go to eat. And because many domestic students remain at home while studying, they'll have more to tell you about the area having grown up and lived there their entire lives.



Now that you’re more comfortable with the thought of finding your way around the country, begin your journey to studying in Australia.


Read more:

'The Australian higher education system....simplified'

'Tuition fees in Australia'

'Applying to study in Australia'

'Applying for a student visa in Australia'

'Student accommodation in Australia'

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


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