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Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia

Australia Travel Guide

A vast and diverse country, Australia is one of our favourite travel destinations. Explore Sydney with its iconic Opera House and golden beaches. Discover Melbourne's vibrant culture, culinary delights, and thriving arts scene. Dive into the Great Barrier Reef and witness the wonders of vibrant coral reefs. Venture into the Outback to admire Uluru's majestic beauty. Australia's wildlife, from cuddly koalas to bounding kangaroos, adds enchantment to your journey. With stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and unique wildlife encounters, Australia promises an unforgettable adventure.

One of the most exciting parts about travelling in Australia is exploring its breathtaking natural wonders. Drive along the Great Ocean Road or Western Australia's coastal drives. Immerse yourself in the rainforests of the Daintree or hike Tasmania's Cradle Mountain. National parks like Kakadu and Freycinet offer stunning vistas and diverse ecosystems. Thrilling adventures, serene landscapes, and encounters with unique wildlife await. Get ready for the beauty and adventure that Australia has to offer.

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Key Facts

Time Zone

Varies by state

Money

Australian Dollar (AUD)

Dialing Code

+61

  • Amazing weather and year-round sun
  • A working holiday visa means you can work legally to pay for your stay.
  • Very welcoming to travellers, Australia is the original gap year destination.
  • Awesome places to visit
  • The Aussies speak English, and “get” our culture, so it’s an easy place to start a gap year.
  • Lively nightlife with a huge number of good bars to visit!
  • Lots of great adventures to be had!

The capital of Australia is Canberra, the political and cultural heart of the country. Surrounded by mountains, it is the only major city in Australia that doesn’t border the coast, and its vibrant, urban buzz will provide you with a change from surfing and sunbathing. So if you want something a bit different on your gap-year experience then a detour via the capital is well worth your time!

  • Sydney is full of a vast variety of things to do and see and was host to the Millennium Olympics. Visit the Opera House, climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, enjoy a coffee at the Rocks or take a cruise around the impressive Sydney Harbour. Sydney Opera House is a modern icon of architecture and culture; its glittering, silver sails sit guard in the harbour.  The impressive stature of Sydney Harbour Bridge offers an exciting opportunity for you to climb it and gives you incredible views across the city. Sydney also offers fantastic beaches and harbours for you to relax in - explore great beaches including Bondi and Manly. Take advantage of the outstanding nightlife and party in the bars and clubs, or go on a shopping spree in one of the fantastic malls.
  • Go to Melbourne and visit famous sporting venues, excellent shops, restaurants and the popular beachside suburb of St Kilda.
  • Another Australian gap year must-see is the largest rock monolith in the world: Uluru or ‘Ayers Rock’.  This sandstone rock formation sits in the desert 440 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs.  It is of great spiritual significance to Australia’s aboriginal population and is also the location of some stunning Aboriginal cave art. See it at dawn or sunset when it glows an extraordinary red in the Australian light. 
  • K'gari is the world’s largest sand island, covering four hundred acres. Tall sandy cliffs, sand dunes, freshwater lakes and lush rainforests make K'gari a memorable place to explore.
  • Byron Bay, a laid-back town, is a twelve-hour drive from Sydney. It’s a great place to surf, chill out, party and catch some sun.
  • The Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef lie off the coast of Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the wonders of the world which has to be seen to be believed! A must for any visitor, it is the world’s largest system of reefs and is teeming with marine life. With its fragile ecology, it is home to many endangered species. Expect to see dolphins, whales and even sea turtles alongside the schools of brightly-coloured fish.  A hit with scuba diving fans across the world, and if you’ve never dived before where better to take the plunge! 
  • Australia’s cities are vibrant and buzzing with life, but if you want to search for relaxation then head to the Blue Mountains, so-called for the blue haze that lingers over the trees and gives the place a truly mystical quality.  To the west and northwest of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a scenic delight far removed from the coastal culture. There is much to see and do in this World Heritage-listed region, which you can explore in a day trip from Sydney. Visually stunning with a chilled-out, natural beauty, luscious greenery mixes with impressive sandstone cliffs to create a combination unlike anywhere else in the entire nation; and in a nation of such epic proportions that’s really saying something.
  • If you want to get more in touch with the indigenous people then Kakadu National Park is of great significance to the Aboriginal People. This region hosts one of the oldest known living societies on earth. The landscape varies from lazy rivers slowly making their way to the sea, to rocky outcrops. This is Crocodile Dundee country! If you are attracted by Australia’s claim of being the home of the oldest human society you can make your own connection with the land at Kakadu.  Take a bushwalk or just soak up thousands of years of history in this astonishing landscape.
  • Kings Canyon is famous for its huge red smooth sandstone cliff face, but there are many other scenic spots to see too. The Garden of Eden is a sheltered valley with a permanent waterhole, and the Rim Walk is well worth doing!
  • Hunter Valley, New South Wales is probably the best-known wine-growing region in Australia. Situated about 200 kilometres north of Sydney, it’s doable on a day trip, but a much better idea is to spend a couple of nights there and take in several winery visits!
  • Cape York is in the far north of Queensland. It is a wild, untamed region - not the easiest place to get to, but well worth the effort.
  • The city of Cairns is located on the North Queensland coast about 2400 kilometres from Sydney. This is a tropical destination and is bursting with lush greenery. Cairns is the starting place for a large number of tours and is also a main gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Great Ocean Road is a wonderful drive along the Victoria Coast and is regarded as one of the world’s top scenic drives, comparable with the famous Pacific Coast Highway in California.
  • Head over to Western Australia. Highlights include Perth, Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, Monkey Mia, Karijini National Park, Kalbarri National Park and The Kimberley to name a few.

As you will probably already know, Australia is famous for its barbecues, so an appetite for steaks and beer is a bonus! However, with such a fantastic coastline there is also plenty of fresh seafood on offer and a wealth of fresh fruit.  There are many excellent dining choices in the cities, and with Australia’s proximity to Asia, there are plenty of opportunities to try some spicy Asian food too.  If you are feeling adventurous you could go in for a nice Kangaroo steak or maybe get stuck into some ‘bush tucker’ in the outback. One of the best features of eating out in Australia is the popularity in many restaurants of Bring Your Own Booze where diners bring their own alcohol to restaurants, which can greatly reduce the price of your meal.

The weather is Oz’s major drawing card. Australia spans three time zones and a range of different climate zones from sub-tropical in the north to temperate in the south. If you are considering a year in Australia then you are probably already excited by the prospect of the glorious Australian sunshine. The North of Australia is almost consistently hot and Australia as a nation has the least rainfall.

The south does experience winter but not on a British scale – there are not the same extreme temperature swings that we have come to expect in the UK. And don’t forget, in Australia our winter is their summer and our summer is winter! 

Working Holiday Visa

Gaps 360 are accredited Aussie specialists so applying for the Australian Working Holiday Visa couldn’t be easier!  Our application process can be completed in three simple steps, making it a straightforward, hassle-free way for you to secure your Working Holiday Visa for Australia.

Visas

Visas may be required in order to enter or transit through certain countries depending on your passport nationality, your reason for travel and how long you intend to stay.

Visa, passport and entry rules are subject to change and you should check the most up-to-date information from the relevant embassy or visa specialist.

To make things easier we have teamed up with The Travel Visa Company who are one of the UK’s leading travel visa specialists. You can use their website, alongside embassy websites,  to find out the specific entry requirements for the countries you intend to travel to.

For a fee, their dedicated team of experts can also apply for visas on your behalf, taking away the hassle and streamlining the process for you if you wish. For more details on the services they provide please click here – The Travel Visa Company

Passports

Passports must be kept in good condition. Damaged passports can lead to entry refusal at immigration. It's the traveler's responsibility to ensure all travel documents are in good condition before departure. Many countries also require passports to have at least 6 months validity beyond the trip's end.

Further Entry Requirements

Some countries will require proof of certain vaccines, such as yellow fever or covid, in order to gain entry. Please check with the relevant embassy or a visa specialist before travelling.

Study Abroad and Migration Visas

Lots of travelers love their working holiday in Australia so much they want to stay longer. That's why Gap 360 teamed up with Pathway to Aus to help make your dreams of studying or living in Australia come true! Pathway to Aus is a registered education and migration agency that has been helping travelers and students from all over the world study and move to Australia since 2012.

Find out more about the opportunities to study in Australia here

The first language of Australia is English.  This makes the country a perfect destination for those of us who didn’t pay attention to language classes at school!  Not only do the Australians speak the same language as us but they also share many of our nation’s passions, particularly sports. The Brits and the Australians share a love of cricket and rugby but we still have some sporting differences; if you have a spare few days you can try to figure out just how ‘Aussie rules’ football works! Don’t worry, a shared mother tongue doesn’t mean that time in Australia will be just England with the sun - this is a very different country, with its own unique culture and history.

The electrical current is the same as the UK (240 volts), but the actual plug is different, so you will need a plug adapter if arriving with UK appliances.

In recent years there have been various attempts made by the Australian Government to make up for past mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of Australia. The aboriginal peoples have a great history and culture which you may want to learn about and explore on your trip, but this must always be done with respect and consideration.

Smoking

It is against the law for anybody under 18 years old to buy cigarettes or enter a designated smoking area in Australia.

Drugs

The Australian authorities will take action against anyone who imports or is found to be trafficking illegal substances. Prosecution can lead to a lengthy jail sentence and non-Australian nationals are usually deported at the end of their sentence. Deportation may lead to a ban on returning to Australia for several years. Laws, and the penalties for breaking them, can differ from state to state.

Alcohol

The minimum age for consuming alcohol is 18 years old.

Sexuality and PDA

Australia has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality; however, there are still isolated incidents of homophobic-related crimes. Gay and lesbian travellers should be aware of local sensitivities, particularly when visiting rural communities.

Australia is an exciting and amazing place to travel and it still remains a safe travel option. We have selected what we believe to be the key points that you should be aware of when travelling in Australia.

Please note: Gap 360 follows advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and we recommend that you frequently check the FCDO website for updated travel advice. You can find the website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office

Crime

The level of crime is no higher than in the UK, so you should feel safe during your Australia trip provided you take the recommended safety precautions. Take care of your personal possessions and travel documents when in cities and visiting popular tourist destinations. Avoid keeping everything in one bag and don’t leave bags unattended. Thefts from safety deposit boxes in cheaper hostels and hotels are common.

Take particular care when walking at night in some of the busy tourist areas of Sydney, such as Kings Cross, downtown George Street, Hyde Park and Centennial Park. Take care in the town centre of Alice Springs at night; there have been a number of incidents of harassment, robberies and attacks (including sexual assault) on foreign tourists and backpackers.

Beware of online lettings scams in which prospective tenants are asked to transfer a deposit to an overseas bank account in return for keys to a rental property in Australia. A number of British and other foreign travellers have fallen victim to such scams.

Passports

If your passport is lost or stolen you may be able to get an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) from the nearest British Consulate. A proof of age card is an accepted form of ID and can help you open a bank account in Australia or offer ID when entering licenced premises. Getting a proof of age card is recommended as a way of reducing the risk of losing your passport. If you get a card soon after you arrive in Australia this limits the need to carry your passport.

Alcohol and drugs

Alcohol and drug consumption can make you less alert or in control and less aware of your environment so drink responsibly and know your limits. Please be aware that drinks served in bars in Australia can often be stronger than in the UK.

Bushwalking

If you intend bushwalking in or exploring national parks you must be aware that the majority of these are in remote areas and it can take hours to reach help. This has resulted in a number of deaths. The terrain and intense heat can have a severe impact in reducing your capabilities. Take plenty of water with you and a means of rigging up a shelter from the sun.

Wildlife

With such a diverse environment, Australia can offer you lush rainforests, arid deserts and stunning underwater reefs and this extensive landscape is home to a wide variety of creatures. There is a lot of fantastic wildlife out there which is all part of the vibrant texture of Australian life; a koala nestling in a eucalyptus tree, a kangaroo skipping in the baking sun, a host of dazzling, tropical fish darting in and out of the Great Barrier Reef. You wouldn’t want to travel to Australia without the chance of seeing some of these extraordinary sights, but just remember some of the less friendly creatures and insects that live alongside them, and always approach with caution!

Australia is home to a number of dangerous animal species, from crocodiles, jellyfish and sharks to poisonous insects and snakes, so take care and keep an eye out. Take care if swimming in lakes or ponds as there may be unseen crocodiles or other wild animals present. Never enter a lake that has animals bathing in it.

Swimming

Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beach users. They can occur at any beach and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Rip currents are directly responsible for 20 coastal drowning deaths and over 15,000 rescues in Australia each year. There are more British victims than any other foreign nationals, with as many as 400 British swimmers rescued and up to four drownings each year.

Always swim between the red and yellow safety flags on beaches, which are supervised locations with lifeguards on duty. Never swim in unsupervised areas or when there are warning flags. Read the safety signs and ask your local lifeguard for advice if in doubt as to the safety of the swimming conditions. Never swim alone and if you do get into trouble stay calm and attract attention by calling out and waving your arm above your head.

Never swim after drinking alcohol or taking drugs as your ability and judgment will be severely impaired. Take care when swimming in, or crossing, rivers and pools as these can be subject to sudden flash flooding as a result of heavy rain elsewhere in the area. There have been cases of British nationals being injured by diving into the water, which was too shallow. Make sure that there is sufficient depth of water before diving, and always follow warning signs if present.

Natural Hazards

Flooding

Heavy rain and cyclones can cause local flooding in some areas so check with local state authorities and listen out for media reports for up-to-date flooding information.

Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclones can occur in some parts of Australia, mainly Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, mainly during cyclone season between November and April.

Bush Fires

Be aware of the risk of bushfires, especially at the height of the Australian summer (November to February). Bushfires can begin and spread in different directions suddenly with no warning. Follow advice from local authorities if you are travelling in a high-risk bushfire area.

Health

The risk to traveller’s health is very low but make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations before you leave. Cover up in the sun and use high-factor sun cream. Through Medicare Australia, any travellers with a British Passport are entitled to treatments for any non-pre-existing medical conditions whilst they are in Australia. Please check our general Travel Advice section for more detailed information and general health and safety advice.

Vehicles

We do not recommend hiring motorbikes, scooters, ATV vehicles, quad bikes or other types of motorised vehicles whilst abroad. Safety and quality of vehicles vary considerably and the traffic conditions can be much more dangerous than what UK travellers are used to. Should you wish to go against this advice, you should ensure you are hiring from a reputable company and that your travel insurance covers you for such activities..

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