Each year, thousands of British citizens head to the continent of Australia for a wide number of reasons. Some recent graduates go to tour the country and enjoy an exciting gap year, while others go there to study or find work. While Australia and Britain share a common heritage and language, there are still plenty of differences between the two countries to consider. In order to have the best trip possible, be sure to bear in mind these 10 things that all British citizens need to know about spending a year in Australia.
The Sun is Much Stronger in Oz
Many Brits get excited over the prospect of returning to England after a year in Australia and proudly displaying a tan physique after hours in the sun. While it is certainly likely that you will return home darker than when you arrived, it is also important to remember that the sun is much stronger in Australia than it is in the United Kingdom. If you haven't packed any sunscreen or sunglasses with you for the trip, be sure to purchase some right away! Many foreign travelers are easy to identify in Oz thanks to their bright red sunburned skin. Don't let that be you!
Familiarize Yourself with the Exchange Rate
It can be easy to spend more money than you anticipated when you don't know exactly what the exchange rate is between British pounds and Australian dollars. However, before you commit to signing a lease, buying any larger items or opting for a job, use a currency converter
to ensure that you understand exactly how much something costs.
Internet is Less Accessible
Travelers from Britain are often surprised to discover that the internet is much less accessible in Australia that it is in the UK. While at home it might be common to get free wireless internet from cafes and restaurants, that is much less likely in Australia. Hotels or hostels where you plan to stay often advertise free internet, but that might mean a limited amount. It can also be much slower than you might be used to, even in the larger cities like Sydney and Canberra. Perhaps most surprisingly, the internet in Australia is censored
by the government, meaning not all websites will be readily accessible.
Differences in Driving
Although it might be a welcome similarity to realize that Australians also drive on the left side of the road, there are still major differences between driving in the two nations. Speed and distances are signposted in kilometers rather than in miles, which might take some getting used to at first. In addition, there are many cameras to catch speeders on the highway. Take extra caution not to get captured by these cameras, which result in heavy fines. It is recommended to switch your UK driver's license to an Australian or international license if you plan to drive in the country for a full year or longer.
New Public Holidays
Australia and the UK have most of their major holidays in common, such as Christmas, Easter and New Year's Day. However, many of their bank holidays can be slightly different from in Britain, so keep that in mind. Australia also has a few extra public holidays that are specific to their nation. These include ANZAC Day
, celebrated on the 25th of April each year, as well as Australia Day, which is celebrated on the 26th of January.
Drinking in Australia
Australia is known for having high quality local wines, and they are certainly not a disappointment. However, for students and budget travelers, it might be more common to find yourself drinking goon drinks rather than fine bottled wine. Goon is low quality wine packaged in a cardboard box and plastic bag interior. Beer is also a common drink, especially during the hot days. Many restaurants specify that they are BYOG, which means patrons can bring in drinks to enjoy rather than buying them in onsite by the glass.
The Seasons are Reversed
If you have yet to do much traveling outside of the Northern Hemisphere, you may not know that the seasons in Britain and Australia are completely reversed. Many travelers forget this important detail, and arrive in the months of July and August ready to head to the beach only to wind up very disappointed. Like other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia has its warmest months
in December and January, while the coolest months are in July and August.
Your Electronics May Not Work
Luckily, most electric items purchased in Britain will still work when brought to Australia. However, that is not the case for each item. Many people prefer to simply buy electrical items in Australia to keep things simpler, especially if they are going to be in the country for a year or more. Cell phones are especially unlikely to work abroad. Check with your individual cell phone carrier and ask about roaming prices and whether or not it will work abroad.
Food in Australia
For the most part, food in Australia will be very similar to that which you expect in the United Kingdom. Fast food, in particular, is almost identical and actually significantly cheaper in Australia when compared to Britain. Australia takes pride in their dining and chefs, so the prices will reflect that. You can't expect to have a sit down dinner with the prospective girlfriend and expect to get out cheap. Grocery shopping can be a challenge at first if you are used to purchasing the same brands. Some UK brands are available in specialty shops, but they are generally more expensive than the local Australian brands. One marked difference that many British travelers notice is the Indian food in Australia, which tastes less authentic to many people.
You Will Need a Tax File Number to Work
For those who plan to spend a year in Australia, it is likely that at some point you will need to work. While employment is relatively easy to procure in most of the cities, you will need to have a tax file number, or TFN. It is easy to arrange, and can even be done online
before you arrive in Australia.
By keeping these 10 key pieces of information in mind, heading to Australia from the United Kingdom will be an easy and exciting experience.