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The ultimate guide to visiting or moving to Australia

If you're visiting Australia or setting up down under more permanently look now further! Find out what to do, how to get around and how to get set up.

Shannon Barker

Whether you’re in Australia for just a few weeks or setting up home longer-term, there’s a lot to work out about the land down under – where to go, what to see, how to get around, and how to get the most out of your time here are just the basics. If you’re planning to stay for a little longer you’ll also need to find somewhere to live, work out what bank to use, how the health system works and the best ways to meet new people.

See the best of Australia

With over 7.5 million square kilometres there’s a lot of Australia to see - from the classic sights like the Opera House and Great Barrier Reef to something a little more outside the square.

Classic Aussie activities:

  • Visit Sydney Harbour - for a classic postcard perfect shot
  • Take a dip at Bondi Beach - Australia’s most famous stretch of sand
  • Explore Melbourne’s laneways - see some colourful street art
  • Take in some culture - visit a Melbourne festival
  • Drive the Great Ocean Road - get your fill of cliffside ocean views
  • See some local wildlife - they’re weird and wonderful
  • Visit a natural wonder of the world - see the Great Barrier Reef first-hand

Underrated Aussie adventures:

  • Go tree surfing
  • Visit a miniature art gallery
  • See Australia’s oldest fishing village
  • Snorkel at Bushrangers Bay
  • Walk along the treetops in Lamington National Park
  • Chase glow worms
  • Take a wine spa

Make sure you do your research - Australia is a big country with a lot to offer and you don’t want to miss out on anything.

How to get around Australia

As you’re zipping from one beautiful place to the next (or finding the best route for your working holiday commute), you’ll want to the find the quickest, easiest and most direct route for every trip. Getting around Australia is pretty easy, especially within big cities. If you’re travelling further afield, you might need to hire a car (or spend a long time on a regional train or coach).

Public transport
Best for getting around within a major city
Australia’s public transport system is generally reliable and fast (although nothing compared to the Japanese bullet train) in the main capital cities. Depending on the city, you’ll have the choice of trains, buses, trams and ferries. Each city has its own ticketing system and different apps to help you plan your route.

Best for leisure or commuting short distances
Cycling isn’t as common in Australia as it is elsewhere in the world, but you’ll still see plenty of people getting around by bike, especially in the inner suburbs. Look out for roads with bike lanes (indicated by an icon of a bike painted on the ground, and in some areas green paint on the road), or dedicated cycle paths to make your trip as safe and smooth as possible. On a nice day, a cycle along a parkland or beachside bike path makes for a pleasant afternoon. No bike? Many bike shops offer bike hire, or you can borrow one cheaply from a bike sharing scheme like Mobike or Lime. Melbourne Council also runs its own docked bike share scheme.

Best for short distances
Foot power is free, good for you, and great for the planet. If you’re travelling a short distance, consider getting there on foot. Most streets in Australia have good footpaths, and there are many shared bike and pedestrian paths that cut through parks or along the beach. Stay safe by crossing at designated pedestrian crossings - these are indicated by white stripes across the road (a ‘zebra crossing’) or traffic lights (push the button on a nearby pole and wait for the pedestrian light to change to green).

Best for travelling further within a city
Taxis can be pre-booked or hailed from the street. To hail a cab, wait on the side of a main road where there’s room the car to pull over and stick your arm out as you see a cab come by. Most cabs will have lights on the roof that light up if they’re available. Ridesharing is usually a cheaper option than taxis, and there are plenty to choose from. The most popular ones are Uber, Ola, Taxify and Shebah (for women only) - just search in your app store to find and download the apps.

Best for travelling out of the city or transporting things
If you’re heading out of the inner suburbs or escaping the city all together, driving is usually the quickest and easiest option. There is some public transport to regional areas, it’s often infrequent and slow. Thankfully you can easily access a car without needing to buy one. There are several car hire operators, and car-sharing is a convenient and affordable option. Uber Carshare lets you hire cars in Australia by the hour or day with no membership fees, so you can drive when you need to and save your money when you don’t. If you’re going to drive in Australia, brush up on road rules to stay safe and avoid fines.

Getting set up in Australia

Planning to call Australia home for the next little while? Great choice! There are lots of things you’re going to need to know, but the most important are:

  • Finding a place to live
  • Finding a job
  • Organising a bank account and phone plan
  • Navigating the health system
  • Making new friends

When Santiago came to Australia for a working holiday, he and his girlfriend needed to get set up in Sydney. His top tip?

“First, do your research. When we first came to Sydney, we stayed right in the CBD - right in the middle of all the chaos. We didn’t really like it that much. Now that we have had time to explore and get to know the city, we realise how big it is. There are a lot of suburbs that are still really central and well-connected, but not right in the CBD.”

If it’s all feeling a little overwhelming at first, don’t worry! Moving to a new country is a big step, and there’s so much to figure out. Do your research, prepare as much as you can, and then enjoy exploring a new country - we might be biased but we think Australia is the place to be!