|Australia||Main pages||Places||Other links|
Where else in the world will you see an otter-like duck that lays eggs? Yep In Australia! Australia is a popular destination because we have sun, surf and sand, gorgeous weather, lots of space, weird animals, deadly animals and we talk strangely, calling our shoes 'thongs' and our trousers 'pants'.
Australia is a country in Oceania, it is divided into eight states and territories. We are the world's biggest island with many different types of environments to explore such as our beaches, deserts and rainforests. Australia has 6 states and 2 mainland territories: Australian Capital Territory (ACT - capital Canberra); New South Wales (NSW - capital Sydney); Northern Territory (NT - capital Darwin); Queensland (Qld - capital Brisbane); South Australia (SA - capital Adelaide); Tasmania (Tas - capital Hobart); Victoria (Vic - capital Melbourne); Western Australia (WA - capital Perth).
Australia also has 7 external territories: Australian Antarctic Territory; Coral Sea Islands Territory; Norfolk Island; Territory of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island; Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands; Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Territory of Christmas Island
The purpose of this page is to give Couchsurfers an overview of Australia and to provide links to more detailed information. For specific information on stuff to do, best places to stay etc contact individual couchsurfers, look in a guide book, surf the net or look at the links below.
Australia is a BIG country, therefore you should consider your transport needs before you come. Are staying mainly in cities? Do you like the structure of bus pass or would you prefer to be a free spirit and do your own thing? Check out the different types of transport in Australia, search the Yellow Pages for bus/coach companies, compare and book shared and private transfer prices from all Australian airports with Jayride, car hire companies or airlines and airline agents (travel agents) throughout Australia.
There are a few things to be aware of if you want to drive around Australia. Because Australia is such a large country it is important to be prepared when driving long distances. To get an idea of some distances check out a useful trip planner or search Google maps and read this WiKi carefully!
If you are from overseas it is useful to read about driving in Australia with an overseas drivers licence
If you’re a visitor and hold a valid driver’s licence (in English) from your own country, fine, you’re allowed to drive throughout all of Australia. (But an international driver's permit, if you have one, does not by itself give you the right to drive in Australia.)
If you do not choose to obtain an International Driving Permit and your "home" driver's licence
If you come from a country where motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road, there’s not much more to know, and you should easily adjust to driving in Australia by following local driving customs and laws.
If you come from the US, or from another country where people
Buying a Car
The first thing to do when buying a car is to do a REVS check, if you buy a car with money still owing on it, then you become responsible for that debt! A REVS check will tell you if a car you are considering buying carries debt!
All cars require registration & third party insurance(rego) which has to be renewed every six months or yearly. Cars can be registered in any Australian state or territory - however there are different rules and prices accroding to the state (Generally NSW and VIC are more expensive). Try to buy a car with as much rego as
Check out the different road, rego and licencing authorities for each state below:
- DIER (TAS)
- Licencing Services (WA)
- NT Transport (NT)
- Rego ACT (ACT)
- Roads and Traffic Authority (NSW)
- Transport QLD (QLD)
- Transport SA (SA)
- Vic Roads (VIC)
Driver fatigue is a major killer in Australia. This is a big flat country, so take breaks every two or three hours and swap drivers if you can. Rest every 2 to 3 hours for 15 or more minutes. You may come across Driver Reviver stations during school holidays. Projects such as this aim to reduce driver fatigue by encouraging frequent breaks. Stop off and get a free coffee and biscuit.
If you are driving in areas likely to have Australian animals nearby, be aware that a lot of activity and feeding happens at dawn, dusk or at night. Animals such as wombats, koalas and possums are very active at night and kangaroos feed around dusk or dawn. If you are not aware then don't drive - you may hit an animal or seriously injure yourself by swerving into a tree at high speed. The RSPCA is a great charity that has useful links about animal first aid. If you kill an animal (that is safe to approach) and if it is safe to do so, drag it off the road and check any pouches for babies. If you find a baby call the RSPCA or try and get it to a vet and keep it warm and dark if you have to move it.
When driving in the outback, be aware of heavy transport road trains. Road trains are trucks that carry two or more trailers. Driving such heavy trucks are only possible over really flat and straight areas. Road trains travel at very high speeds and they can be up to 200 tonnes, driving around or stopping for your car is not possible. It is dangerous to overtake them, if you are unsure, pull over to the side of the road and let the road trains pass you by.
Other people's cars
Hitch-hiking is not commonplace in Australia any more, but still a viable means of transport that can expose you to the (secret) lives of real Australians while getting you around. Moreover it is the automotive equivalent of couch surfing!
There are some things to consider before setting out by thumb cross country, but none would be so crucial as to maintain some sense of independence against the elements: take a good wide brimmed sun hat, warm and cool clothing, rain gear (if only an umbrella), a water bottle and keep some food on you in case you get hungry. That's the basic minimum that ought not be forgotten when waiting by the roadside in Australia.
Hitchhiking is illegal in Victoria and Queensland. It is also illegal to stand on the verge of motorways in all states (even though many are now permitting pedestrians and cyclists on them). If you are going to hitchhike, be careful of main roads and if in a state where it is illegal, be discreet. You are unlikely to draw police attention as long as you're not a danger to traffic (standing in the roadway).
Consider you safety - road safety and being safe around strangers. Like many other activities while traveling, there are indisputable risks involved in meeting new and unknown people in relatively private confines. If that frightens you, you would be ill advised to hitch-hike. If it excites you, then hitch-hiking Australia has a great many rewards to offer.
Google will point you at any number of resources and travel tales about hitch-hiking Australia. Try these for starters:
- Outback Australia Travel Guide
- Australia on Hitchwiki
- The Backpacker's Ultimate Guide
- Jayride Rideshare and Hitchhike
- Anywhere But Here: The Memories of a Hitch-hiker
Australian Customs places restrictions on plant and animal goods entering and leaving Australia. You can find a useful list here of things you should be aware of. Australia is an island, it has a fragile ecosystem
Cheap Domestic Flights
Not everyone is aware of the cheap domestic carriers in Australia, see our list below (note there is a rural service which is not listed here. More information will be available soon!)
- Virgin Blue
- Tiger Airways
- WebJet - Use this to find the best deal from the cheap airlines, but book through the airline website (otherwise you will be hit with the WebJet "finders fee")
- CheapFlights - Offers a booking engine where you can search by date and choose the best flights with specific partners.
- AirfaresFlights - Compare domestic flight deals online
If you do not get your flight seats on sale, or you are buying your ticket last minute you should always compare with QANTAS. While QANTAS is often the more expensive carrier, they include food on most flights, offer frequent flyer miles and serve a much larger range of destinations.
If travelling by train is your thing, find below a list of state train companies. If you prefer to travel in style why not consider The Ghan (Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin), Indian Pacific (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth) or The Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide)!
- Queensland Rail (QLD - Brisbane)
- Countrylink (NSW - Interstate or regional train travel)
- Cityrail (NSW - Sydney and meteropolitan train travel)
- V-line (VIC - Interstate and regional train travel)
- Northern Terriory
Working, Studying and Volunteering
Most travelers come here with a one year working visa, if you want to see the options available to you see the Department of Immigration website which is quite useful in describing visa types. If you are interested in studying in Australia take a look at the Complete guide to Australian universities and colleges. If you are interested in volunteering in Australia have a look at the national network Go Volunteer or for specific volunteering like WOOFING just search the internet.
Getting money back when you leave
There is a tourist refund scheme that refunds the Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is included in most products, for more information see the Australian Customs website. You can also claim back your superannuation as a visitor, you can APPLY ONLINE or see the Australian Taxation Office website. For general information about tax for international visitors can be found at the Australian Taxation Office website.
Working in Australia
You will require a Tax File Number (TFN) or you will be taxed a lot of money. You can work without a TFN and when you finally get your TFN you can tell your employer and claim back the extra tax you paid at the end of the financial year. A bank account will also come in handy, you will need your passport or driving licence (not sure if an overseas driver's license is accepted though) and proof of an address in Australia.
Below is quite a comprehensive list of links that will help you look for employment from office jobs to following the fruit-picking trail:
- Seek Australia, search for jobs online
- My Career, search for jobs online
- Careerjet.com.au Australian job search engine
- Australian Job Search
- For work on farms and stations
- Fruit Picking Trail
- Seasonal Work In Australia
If you have a GSM phone, you can get a prepaid SIM card in Australia. If you plan on traveling to remote areas please ask your provider about the coverage. You might need a special phone for very remote areas. For safety reasons you might consider to add an "In Case of Emergency" entry to your mobile phone!
Animals and Wildlife
Australia has many unique and interesting animals that live in our delicate environment. Tread lightly when you travel Australia, don't leave your rubbish behind, don't touch wild animals or try to feed them and be very careful when using fire in the bush.
Lions and tigers and bears. Oh My!
Contrary to popular belief dangerous Australian animals will not be waiting to get you at the airport, in your bed, in the dunny or lying in wait in other places thought up by your paranoia! Most Australian animals are happy to be left alone and you will find unless you are forcing your finger in an animal's face they are happy to stay out of your way. Of course there are aggressive and poisonous animals out there so research before you get back to nature. Most likely you will find our insects will be your number one irritation.
Most snakes and spiders do their best to stay out of your way. If you come across a snake, you have probably caught it by surprise sunning itself on a rock or a bushtrack. Back away immediately until you are out of sight of the snake, wait a minute or so then carefully peer around the corner and see if it's gone. Chances are it will be so continue on your walk, unless it is a brown snake, in which case run like hell.
What you're most likely to come across as far as dangerous critters are concerned is a Redback spider. These guys will be found in dark places low to the ground. If you're staying in the bush check your shoes each day before putting them on. Redbacks are very dangerous and do live in urban areas - if you see one you should let someone know, and hopefully that person will hit it with their shoe. This doesn't go for most spiders who should be left alone to go about their businesses, but Redbacks you do need to get rid of as they have been responsible for deaths in the past.
WARNING - DROPBEARS (These mythical creatures will make you look foolish if you believe in them.)
Sun, surf and sand
Australia is famous for it's sun, surf and sand! If you are from Europe you will learn quite quickly that the sun is very strong here, you can begin to burn within 10-15 minutes. In general during summer the high-UV periods are between 10am and 4pm though this varies from day to day so check weather reports.
Our beaches can be dangerous to swim in if you don't know the area. We have rips and undertows which can drag you out to sea, the best advice is to swim between the flags set up by the local Surf Lifesaving Australia club. If you feel afraid you can signal a lifesaver by waving in water. If the distinctive red and yellow lifesaving flags are not on display, this means the beach is not being patrolled by lifesavers and if you get into trouble there may not experienced lifesavers to rescue you.
A menace to the beaches of northern Australia are box jellyfish or 'Portuguese Man of War'. These are seriously dangerous if they sting you. They have very long tentacles which are hair thin, but if they get wrapped around you they can sting you severely enough to kill you. Blue bottles are the other common jellyfish you'll see washed upon the beach all over Australia - these guys are small, and though they'll give you a bit of a sting if they touch you they're not dangerous. Their sting can be treated with vinegar or ice to help stop the stinging. In general read about the beaches you are going to visit to check if there are any dangerous animals in the water, and if you don't know what it is, don't touch it (including shell fish).
- The Australian CS Safety wiki
- Australian CouchSurfing Ambassadors
- Australia New Ambassadors Welcome Kit
- Australian Tips Hints and links to better CouchSurfing
- Aboriginal Australia
- Australia on Wikipedia
- Australia on Wikivoyage
- Share accommodation listings in Australia
- Share accommodation listings in Australia
- Search for Accommodation in Australia
- Australian School holidays. Avoid School Holidays and you may pay the cheaper off-peak prices.
- Department of Immigration and Citizenship
- Tourism Australia (Official tourism website)
- Cairns - gateway to the Great Barrier Reef