20 facts that will surprise first-time tourists when they visit Australia


Australia has a lot of surprises in store for first-time visitors from elsewhere, whether it’s the cuisine, the fauna, or the sheer size of the country. David Whitley, a frequent visitor to our shores and British travel writer, offers his top 20 must-see attractions.

The Sydney Harbor Re-calibration

The Sydney Opera House is a well-known symbol of Australia. It’s not as big or colorful as many people believe, however. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, on the other hand, is considerably bigger and far more magnificent than everyone expects. In the end, the views from Circular Quay are somewhat better than anticipated, but for unexpected reasons.

The Distances

The most frequent blunder first-time visitors make is attempting to “do” Australia in two or three weeks, forgetting that it’s a continent as well as a nation. It’s far better to focus on two or three regions well than to attempt to see everything in one trip. Otherwise, the majority of the journey is spent sitting in traffic.

In between the two poles is a void.

The distances between major metropolises are greater in Australia than they are in Europe or the United States — and there generally aren’t many tiny towns in between. This line between city and countryside is largely to Australia’s credit. After leaving the city, it looks as if you’re in the wilderness rather than a quick glimpse of greenery before another town appears.

The Seasons

Another popular misconception is that because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from those in the northern hemisphere. This is true in certain areas of the country, but not others. November to April might be the best time to visit Sydney, but visitors don’t realise that this is when things are exactly the other way for The Great Barrier Reef and Top End – when it’s monumentally soggy and sweaty wet season.

The Size of Kangaroos

Eastern grey kangaroos are far more robust, bigger, and leaner than most people imagine. And the red kangaroos are twice as huge. They’re still really adorable, even though they’ve doubled in size. Just keep away from one when it’s about to strike.

Wombats Trump Koalas

Koalas are one of the most well-known Australian animals, and for good reason. They’re heavier and sharper-clawed than you’d expect, but in Queensland, you can only ‘hug’ them. They exceed expectations in cuteness overall. Wombats, on the other hand, completely steals the show when they’re spotted. Between a guinea pig and a panzer tank, wombats are a strong contender for best animal title in the world.

Lower Ranking Natural Areas

Every inch of land in Australia is designated as a national park. It appears to be overzealousness on behalf of the government. But you go to them and they are, without a doubt, magnificent. The Grampians or Oxley Wild Rivers National Park in the Eastern US or Western Europe would get a lot of acclaim if compared to other places like that.

Educational sign-posting

The areas that don’t have a big wow impact are nevertheless decorated with a blizzard of educational signs educating what the trees are, how the ecosystem functions, and what creatures may be found living there. Australia has an ability to convert plain walks into something a little more compelling (Manly to Wynnum in Brisbane is a classic example).

Plug sockets

The Australian ones are different. They’re not the British variety, as might be expected owing to historical factors. But neither are they from the American or European nations. Australia has its own plug outlets, which are similar to those used in the United States but drunkenly leaned inwards.

No-one drinks Fosters

Only people from Castlemaine, Victoria, drink Castlemaine XXXX. Only Queenslanders enjoy drinking it because they consider themselves odd for doing so.

The Beetroot Menace

Due to a freak anomaly in nature’s rules, Australians have come to believe that piling huge spoonfuls of beetroot on sandwiches and burgers is not only acceptable, but also almost required. Visitors are the only ones who can do anything about it since the UN has yet to issue harsh penalties for this. ASK FOR NO BEETROOT AT ALL, whether or not beets are mentioned in the ingredients on the menu.

Quality of Ingredients

Australian food, on the other hand, has long shed its British stodge in Asia. This is due in part to a high-quality diet. In general, your average steak from a pub or café will be of higher quality than those offered throughout the world. Cheese, bacon, and chocolate are notable exceptions.

Cheap Thai Food

The recipe is only one part of the equation: a desire to embrace and incorporate foods from all around the world is crucial. The enormous number of Thai restaurants and take-outs is one example. Most are reasonably priced, and it’s incredibly unusual to get a bad meal.


This may be a good place to start when you’re looking for low-cost Thai food. Another thing in common with Australia’s other major contribution to the culinary industry: BYO (Bring Your Own). Simply stated, this means you may bring your own bottle of wine for a few pounds. It isn’t a global rule (and it won’t happen in expensive restaurants), but it is appreciably widespread.

The Sporting Divide

Australia is divided over which sport is the daddy, with some partisans of cricket and others of Aussie Rules. There’s a little overlap, but Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia will inundate you with excessive amounts of Australian Rules coverage. Queensland and New South Wales, on the other hand, seek to put everyone to sleep by blaring endless rugby league propaganda.

Tipping Ambivalence

The Australian tipping system is difficult to comprehend for many visitors, particularly Americans. In a nutshell, you tip if you want to, but no one really expects you to or pushes you to do so. Well done.

The World of “mate”

Australians use the word “mate” to address everyone, regardless of whether they know them or not. However, don’t get the impression that being referred to as “mate” indicates that they like you. The length of time the letter ‘a’ is stretched out has significance.  They may be preparing to punch you if it’s a brief, sharp “mate.”


Many Australian pubs are more than simply bars. Many have a sports betting section, as well as a place for the dead-eyed to put money into slot machines (also known as “pokies”). The pub business has a lot of clout and makes a significant amount of money from this.

The History

The most popular complaint leveled against Australia – that it has no history or culture – is nonsense. It’s not even that well-known. Visit virtually any Australian tourist attraction or monument focused on history, and you’ll find something fascinating. The Batavia shipwreck, the First Fleet, and Burke and Wills’ expedition are just a few of the remarkable stories that are worth learning about as an introduction – before you even get started on 50,000 years of Aboriginal civilization.

Author: Michaela Manuel

Michaela is a traveler at heart. She loves to explore new places and learn about different cultures. Her travel blog is a place for her to share her experiences and tips with other travelers. She hopes to inspire others to explore the world and see all that it has to offer.

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