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Things I Wish I’d Known Before Visiting Australia

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Six months ago, I took my family on a trip to Australia. While it was one of the best trips we’d ever taken, there were quite a few things I wish we’d known ahead of time. From breaking down Queensland to getting ketchup when we asked for tomato sauce, we weren’t prepared for every aspect of the trip. Take it from me: this is what I wish I’d known before visiting Australia.

It’s a Continent

Of course, we knew Australia was a continent before we left, but we didn’t consider all the implications. Australia is ENORMOUS. It’s a country and a continent, and getting from one end to the other can be a five-hour plane ride.

You’ll Want to Take Everything Home

You’ll fall in love with parts of Australia, and you won’t have room in your luggage for the things you want to take back. My family would have filled six suitcases with Tim Tams if we could have. Thankfully, I was able to ship home plantation shutters in Melbourne after falling in love with the ones in our hotel room.

Be Ready for Emergencies

You don’t expect to have a medical emergency while on vacation, and, thankfully, we didn’t. We did have an emergency on the road, however. We broke down and needed towing in Greenbank, Queensland. After the ordeal of finding the right company, I wish I’d had telephone numbers written down ahead of time. It’s also important to remember that Australia’s emergency phone number is 000.

Know the Slang

Australia has some funny words, and it can be fun and useful to learn them ahead of time. Mix-ups can happen if you don’t! When my daughter asked for tomato sauce she was given a bottle of ketchup, and I confess to turning beet red when someone told me they liked my thongs. (Flip-flops.)

The Sun Is Intense

No, really. If you’re used to northern climates, you’re in for a rude awakening if you leave off the sunscreen in Australia. If you can enjoy an hour at the beach where you live, sunscreen free, and leave with nothing more than a tan, beware of Australia. Australia has a thinner ozone layer, and you’ll want to slather on the sunscreen.

You Will See Kangaroos Outside Your Window

If you’re bringing kids to Australia, they’ll probably be enthralled at the idea of seeing wildlife. While you can definitely spot a wild creature or two if you head into a wildlife preserve, you may be surprised to learn that kangaroos are considered pests in Australia, and if you’re outside of a city you may well see some on the side of the road or even hopping through someone’s backyard. Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the beauty of Australia’s nature: but temper everyone’s expectations. You might leave having never spotted a Koala.

If you can stick to these tips, you’ll have a much easier time in Australia than I did! Have fun learning some slang with your family, leave room for Tim Tams, and make sure you pack boatloads of sunscreen.

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