Where to Go
Often mistakenly considered the country’s capital, there’s no doubting the significance of Sydney on the culture of Australia – or even on the number of visitors that travel here every year. Practically picture perfect, the modernised city has a long history that stretches back to its roots as a scenic harbour. In fact, the first inhabitants of Sydney lived along the banks of the harbour for thousands of years, and it was then used as a landing site for convicts sent to Australia during the late 18th century.
The highlights obviously include the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House, as well as Bondi Beach – a favourite among gap year students.
This thriving little metropolitan city is known locally and around the world as Australia’s capital of culture. That’s due to the sheer number of fantastic art galleries, incredible museums, and a lively music scene.
The city is known for having one of the best qualities of life around the world, which prompts people to flock to it from all corners of the earth, creating a multicultural population reflected in the beautiful cuisine, unique neighbourhoods, and more. The architectural style lends a European feel to the city, while the numerous green spaces will keep you entertained and content for a long, long time.
Another popular tourist destination, Brisbane is lucky enough to have sunshine pretty much all year round, and this sunshine is reflected in the sunny disposition of the people you’ll meet here. Home to just over 2 million people, it’s the third largest city in Australia, and it’s location in the Sunshine State means it’s a stop along for a lot of travellers as they make their way to the resorts and beaches that lie along the north and south coastlines.
The city has been built around the Brisbane River, and the fantastic climate means there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as biking, climbing, hiking and more. Plus, the city has a thriving music scene, to the point that it’s earned the reputation as one of the music capitals of the world.
The capital of Western Australia, Perth is fairly isolated from the rest of the country, which means it’s not the same Australia that you’ll be used to. Known as one of the most liveable cities in the world, the entire city has a true Australian laid-back vibe, with a number of incredible cultural sites, stunning beaches, and outdoor activities. Plus, there are tonnes of museums to explore, and learn about the history of Perth and the country as a whole.
Technically an island state in its own right, Tasmania is and has always been one of the best places to visit across all of Australia. At least half of the country is now under a protected status, which means its rich in natural wonders and beauty. From the desolate wilderness and alpine spots to the sweeping white sand beaches, majestic waterfalls, and dense forests, it’s the perfectly placed to set up camp for a few days and just explore. For animal lovers there’s the chance to take a boat trip along the coats, spotting dolphins, penguins and seals along the way, or head to the capital city of Hobart to enjoy some traditional delicacies.
What to Do
Royal Botanic Gardens
Set across 94 acres, the Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the most spectacular sights in Australia – especially of the man-made sights. Nearly 2 million people visit the gardens from all over the world every year, drawn to the Victorian-era landscaping, Indigenous rainforest, herb garden, mini ecosystems, and black-swan-spotted ponds.
During the summer months the gardens are home to the Moonlight Cinema, as well as a number of outdoor theatre performances. There’s also the Melbourne Observatory, first built during the 1800s, and the nature-based Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden.
One of the most spectacular points in the country, North Head is a dramatic skyline fo sweeping cliff edges, secluded beaches, pretty paths filled with native shrubs, and views across the blue ocean to the end pf the horizon. Standing at North Head, it’s easy to see why people used to think the horizon was the edge of the world.
Here, visitors can find former military barracks, WWII gun emplacements, a quarantine cemetery, and a memorial walk commemorating the military of Australia.
Sydney Opera House
First designed by Jorn Utzon, a Danish architecture, the Sydney Opera House is now a UNESCO World Heritage-listed building, and the country’s mist famous landmark. Designed to represent a yacht’s sails, the building is made up of five performance spaces for dance, concerts, opera, and theatre.
While the best way to experience the magnitude of the building is to attend a performance, there are also one hour tours that run regularly, showcasing the bets of the building and explaining some of its history.
Kakadu National Park
One of the best national parks in the world, let alone in Australia, Kakadu has an incredible range of activities and attractions. From the magnificent wetlands, to the mysterious rock art that dates back over 20,00 years, the national park is set on the traditional land of the Bininj/Mungguy, lending the area a sense of spirituality not easily found.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
One of the most impressive and famous parts of the Australian landscape is undoubtedly Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock. The rock itself is iconic, and instantly recognisable, and yet still nothing can prepare you for the absolute magnitude and stillness of it in real life.
A UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and the surrounding area are all of incredible cultural significance to the traditional owners and the Aborigine natives in the area. The pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal people, who officially refer to themselves as Anangu, own the national park, and lease it to Parks Australia.
Read More About Australia
Best Time to Visit Australia
Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, so knowing when to visit depends entirely on what you’re looking to do, and where it is you’re going. The seasons here are the exact opposite to the northern hemisphere, which means when Europe is basking in the summer sunshine, Australia is battling through winter.
Typically, the northern regions will still be fairly hot during the winter, with little rainfall, while the simmer it’s victim to oppressive heat with serious downpours. Contrastingly, the southern areas have cooler summers, and almost chilly winters in comparison.
If you’re heading to the south you want to go during January or February for great beach weather, and spot the baby kangaroos learning to hop around.
In terms of festivals and events, there is plenty going on throughout the year. March sees the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, while the Darwin Festival takes place in August and features outdoor concerts, dance music, theatrical performances, comedy and cabaret, workshops, films, and visual arts.
How Much Does it Cost?
Australia isn’t known for being the cheapest backpacking destination, but it is possible to do it on a budget if you plan ahead and make a note of things that will likely hike up the costs – such as day tours, and eating at fancy restaurants.
A daily budget here could be $45-60 a day, assuming you’re staying in cheap hostels – or camping – cooking most of your meals, and using public transport.
Typical costs while backpacking across Australia:
One of the easiest and quickest ways to save a lot of money is to cook all your own meals – where possible, so it’s worth looking for hostels and accommodation’s that have cooking facilities. Eating out in Australia isn’t cheap, even if you live off fast food.
Another good tip is to work for you room. Australia is fun in that sense as most hostels offer travellers the opportunity to work at the hostel in exchange for a room, and this will often involve a few hours cleaning or something like that.
Backpackers on a budget should also indulge in goon (box wine) rather than beers – 4 litres of wine costs $10, the same price as a six pack of beer – and book tours as a package through a hostel or tour agency, which will provide you with discounts.
What to Pack
The weather in Australia is almost consistently warm enough for shorts, but there are some areas that can prove to be fairly chilly – such as the Australian alps. That’s why it’s a good idea to pack for all possibilities, so you don’t get caught on the slopes in shorts and flip flops.
Some essentials to pack to deal with the weather in Australia include some form of hat – which protects your face and helps prevent sunstroke – flip flops, swimming costume, t-shirts and shorts, summer dress, waterproof jacket, dressier clothes for the evening, beanie, walking boots, scarf for the snowy regions, and thin layers.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got plenty of sun cream, aloe vera oil to help with the sunburn, insect repellent, allergy meds, hand sanitizer, travel towel, adapter, toiletries, and a first aid kit.
Australia is one of those fantastic locations that’s absolutely chockfull of backpacker lodges and hostels – which have the added bonus of being known as some of the most entertaining in the world.
Pretty much all of the hostels in Australia are of a very high standard, with many having been presented backpacking awards, and they will often organise events such as pub crawls, game nights, and communal dinners.
There’s also the option to go camping in Australia, either in an actual tent or using a campervan. The nature across the country is amazing, and there’s no better feeling that siting next to a fire in the bush, underneath the bright and shining stars.
Food and Drink
Known for its odd and unique food, expect to hear about and try some interesting dishes while backpacking through the country. One thing you’ll definitely be privy to is a good old-fashioned Australia barby, no different to regular barbecues except it comes with guaranteed good weather and the typical Australian atmosphere for fun.
Lamingtons are an Australian delicacy, known as the “National Cake” of the country, and consisting of square-shaped sponge cake dipped in chocolate and covered in desiccated chocolate.
There’s also something called barramundi, which means “large-scaled river fish” in the Aboriginal language in the Rockhampton area; fish served skin-side first, either grilled, fried, or seared, it’s Australia’s healthy alternative to fish and chips. Plus, no trip to Australia would be completely without trying a hearty piece of grilled kangaroo.
The drinking age in Australia is 18, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to drink then make sure you try goon, Australian box wine that’s delicious and incredibly cheap – 4 litres will set you back just $10. It’s also one of the best places in the world for craft beer.
Australian culture is vastly different to how it’s portrayed in Hollywood movies, TV shows and those infamous Foster’s adverts – but for anyone coming from a western country it shouldn’t be too much of a culture shock.
The culture here is a fantastic blend of Aboriginal traditions and what was left behind by British colonials. A few things to bear in mind when backpacking through Australia:
- It’s considered rude to infringe on someone’s personal space unless it’s absolutely necessary – such as on crowded public transport
- It’s not necessary to tip, and is only really done in more upscale restaurants
- Don’t use the word “G’day” – Australians are aware of the stereotype, and it can feel patronising coming from a visitor
Always treat everyone with equal respect no matter what their job is
Australia is a very well-connected country, and all of the cities have a great, reliable public bus system, which is an easy and effective way of getting around. In the bigger cities such as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide there’s also a great subway system in place, as well as trams everywhere you look.
As it’s such a big country it can take a long time to get around, so if you’re on a time restraint then it’s worth paying out for the domestic flights. They’re not cheap, but they cut your travel time exponentially so its definitely worth it.
The major airlines in Australia include Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin, and Tiger Airways – Australia’s budget airline.
There are a number of different types of tourist visas available, and which one you choose depends on what’s best for you as an individual. The three main ones are the visitor visa, Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa, and the eVisitor.
The ETA and eVisitor visas are the easiest ones to get hold off, and both enable travellers unlimited entries to Australia within the span of a year – although you can’t stay for longer than 3 months at a time. The main difference between the two is that they’re available for different countries: American and Canadian travellers, as well as a number of other nations, must apply for an ETA, while British AND European citizens must apply for an eVisitors visa.
The visitor visa is the most expensive of the three but can be used for visits of up to 12 months – which makes it worth the price.
Is It Safe?
Australia has a reputation for being home to a lot of deadly animals: tarantulas, poisonous snakes, crocodiles, jellyfish, even kangaroos aren’t the friendliest. While these are all things to keep an eye on, these are dangers that have been incredibly sensationalised by the media, and the risk is nowhere near as high as it’s been suggested.
The dangers in Australia are helpfully signposted, so make sure you listen to them – if a sign says an area is dangerous for any reason, then make a note, and head in the opposite direction.
The weather and natural elements are more dangerous in Australia than wildlife or even people. The waters are deceptively calm, which means drowning is actually the number 1 cause of death. In addition, temperatures here can soar to the mid 40s very easily, which causes forest fires, droughts, and atmospheric radiation.
A Brief History
Australia has been inhabited by human civilisations for at least 40,000 years, with a number of different Aboriginal people living here. It wasn’t until many, many years later that the land was discovered by Europeans, during the Age of Exploration. In fact, in 1770 Captain James Cook was the one to discover Australia, claiming it for Great Britain and naming it New South Wales.
In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip established the first colony in Sydney, which was initially used as a penal colony; Britain would send their criminals to the colony rather than jail, often consisting of people that committed very small crimes, or were simply wanted rid of.
Initially 6 colonies were established across Australia: New South Wales in 1788, Tasmania in 1825, Western Australia in 1829, South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859.
It wasn’t until 1901 that the British Government officially passed an act to create the Commonwealth of Australia, and it was in this year that the first federal Parliament was opened in Melbourne by the Duke of York.
- The average Aussie drinks 96 litres of beer a year
- It’s home to the longest national highway in the world, stretching for 14,500 kilometres
- There are more kangaroos than people
- Australia’s dingo fence is longer than the Great Wall of China
- It’s home to over 10,000 beaches
- The Australian Alps get more snow than Switzerland
- There are 8 sheep for every person
- Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world
- The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure in the world, and can be seen from space
If you really want to make the most of your time in Honduras, then check out these useful resources. When you’re backpacking, it’s always better to be safe and prepared than winging it.
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