A Travellerspoint blog

Things they never tell you before you go travelling in Oz

Some of these I wish I'd known beforehand, others were just stuff you had to see for yourself

sunny 28 °C

Australia is big. Like REALLY big.
When you come to Australia you inevitably see the postcard of all of Europe fit onto the top of the Australian map. And according to Google, Australia is nearly three million square miles (2,941,299 sq mi or 7,617,930 km sq) of beach, dessert, rainforest, farmland, mountain, valley, city and outback. But even quoting the figures doesn't really do it justice. It's like, well big.
For example, Newcastle is practically next door to Sydney on the map. But it takes about three hours by train and just over two-and-a-half hours by car. That's not next door! That's Doncaster to Bristol on a day where no-one has driven into the back of a lorry on the M5.
When you have been here a while and chat to newbies, you'll find yourself saying things like "Oh, it's not far away, just a ten hour bus journey".
Never again will my commute to see my brother in London or a trip to Scotland for a long weekend seem long and arduous.
England is tiny. Australia is huge. Fact.

Alcohol - the most elusive drink in the country.
No offence Aussies, but I thought you all supped beer by the barbecue all weekend? We associate you with Fosters and alcohol and getting drunk. So why have you made it so bloody difficult to buy beer?
Firstly, you don't serve alcohol in supermarkets. (erm.....why?) We love picking out a tender piece of sirloin and then finding the perfect red to complement the meal. Or, you know, shoving some Doritoes in the basket then seeing what vodka cocktails are on offer.
Secondly, when we do find said "bottle shop" and purchase afore mentioned goods, why are we then presented it in a brown paper bag without handles? Not only is this awkward to carry, I feel like some sort of hobo with a dirty secret who is heading outside to swig from my bag on a park bench. Are you trying to make me feel bad on purpose?
And lastly, nightclubs. My God, you have to be a mathematical genius to get in. You have to recount the night's consumption before you go in (by the way, "a couple of wines" won't do it. They want sizes and exact figures) and possibly even do some sort of balancing test which would be pretty much impossible sober, let alone after 3.5 pints of beer over a four hour period. Officer. You also usually need two forms of ID. I don't even think my own mother holds this much personal information about me.

Hostels - the best places in the world, and the worst.
I stayed in one for three months in Perth. It housed 140 people when full, which is actually pretty small for a hostel. I met the most amazing people there and I really hope some of them will remain friends for life. We had our little family. I couldn't walk anywhere without bumping into someone I knew. If I went in the lounge, they'd be ten different options of people I could sit with. If I walked into the bedroom, someone would be there to chat to about my day. I loved Perth and the people who really made it a special place for me.
On the flip side, there was one horrendous night in Darwin where I would have happily performed a savage attack on the owners if I'd been given the chance. If I'd thought I could get away with feeding their dead corpses to crocs and blaming nature's own fun form of Darwinism on their deaths, I would have happily done it.

You will hear sex. And probably not your own.
Speaking of nightmare stays in hostels, no trip around Australia would be complete without one romantic evening hearing the loving whisper of a new-found partner tenderly moaning encouragement, ooohing and making all the right noises that tells a girl she is doing it right.
Unfortunately, if you're like me, the Romeo in question isn't whispering in YOUR ear, but that of the slut in the bed below you.
And when you're right above them in a bunk bed, not only do you get nauseous from the sea-sickness of the swaying bed, the moaning, groaning and what can only be described as "wet noises" will be 100 times louder than it would have been in any other part of the room because you are right above them.
Now guys may elbow each other, wink and say "waaaaay, free porn" but it isn't.
I felt violated, knackered, sick and I think at one point a little tear escaped as I questioned why I gave up a full-time, well-paid job and comfy double bed in a room I occupied ALONE, to listen to some slag and her slaggy one night stand having slaggy sex in a room with eight other people.
I curse the people who can sleep through it. I really do. Slag.

Other people's night-time habits are weird.
I spent three months sleeping in a room with a guy who spoke Swedish in his sleep. (He was from Sweden, so the fact it was Swedish wasn't that random). He did it almost every night for 90 days, then one day said something in English. I couldn't get back to sleep after that. What if he suddenly revealed something juicy?
A friend had a dorm mate who liked to sleep with the door open to get a draft. Unfortunately, he didn't appreciate the fact there were nine other people in the room who were all shivering and praying they didn't get robbed.
There will also be people in your room who get up for work at 5am and others who currently aren't working and therefore get in from the club at 4am. You will wake up with all of them for the first three months of travelling. After that, you'll be so tired you'd sleep on a bed of nails next to train line in order to get some kip.
I once awoke at 3am to the person above me making a "nom nom nom" noise followed by the "piiiist" of a fizzy drinks bottle being opened. She was snacking on cookies and drinking diet coke. Weirdo.

You're no longer an adult, you're a kid again.
In some ways this is awesome. For example, not having a job for four months was like summer holidays at school where you can just play outside all day, make new friends and generally enjoy everything around you. I've seen jumping crocs, laid on the most beautiful beaches in the world, screamed my head off on thrilling rollercoasters, drank and danced until the sun came up, cuddled a koala, climbed King's Canyon, canoed down rivers, met creatures that live nowhere else in the world and tasted amazing fruits and fish.
However, every time I enter a new hostel, I feel like a kid again for all the wrong reasons. Having to break the ice with room buddies, figuring out which group you fit into in the hostel, being told to make your bed (a hotel it ain't, you get presented with sheets on arrival. Similar to that scene in Shawshank Redemption when Andy first arrives at prison. Luckily I didn't get flea powder thrown in my face too) and heading down to breakfast at a set time, because if you don't, the free jam and cups of tea have all gone.

Random weird stuff
These don't really go into any category, but these are things I've listed in my notes as they've cropped up. And they're just weird.

  • You can get your dog and car washed at the same place. Many of them are sister businesses where you pop your pooch in one end and your car in the other. But who wants a wet dog on newly valeted car seats? I don't get it.
  • Bottle shops. Why make alcoholism difficult? See above.
  • There is no such thing as a 1 cent or 2 cent coin. So basically, if you're poor like me, you choose to pay on either card or do cash, depending on which works out best. For example, a product for $6.99 will be $6.99 on card and $7 in cash. However, if your shopping comes to $7.82, pay cash. They round it down.

Cha-ching 2 cents. In your face corporate chain.

  • Saying "mate" to girls. You make us sound like butch labourers.

Please feel free to add your own observations in the comments below. These are just a few of mine. I'm sure I'll add to them in the next six months.

Adios!

Posted by emmaabroad 16:59 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches sydney australia outback hostels friends darwin travelling tips perth blogs

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Comments

All a necessary part of the experience I am sure!

by BrianandChris

Haha! I'm sure it is :-)
If it doesn't make a pleasant memory, at least it makes a story.

by emmaabroad

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