Australia is renowned the world over for its offering of many fun and exciting vacation destinations. It appeals to the adventurous and the curious alike, but many people arrive completely unprepared for what life in Australia is really like. For those who are interested in paying this marvelous landscape a visit, here are four things you absolutely must know before you start packing your bags!

Australia is Bigger than You Think

Many people focus on the fact that Australia is the world’s smallest inhabited continent. In so doing, they forget that it’s also the world’s sixth largest country. With a land area of nearly 8 million square kilometers, it’s larger than all the member countries of the European Union combined. Don’t expect to "see it all" in one visit, and don’t plan a road trip across the interior: most of Australia’s population lives along either coast. The interior represents several days of driving without anything—or anyone—to see, and no towns to stop in at the end of a long, hot day. 

If your trip requires crossing the interior of the country, you would be well-advised to opt for taking the 5.5 hour airline flight. 

Don’t Expect to be Surrounded by Wildlife

Australian wildlife is plentiful, but it’s got plenty of room to avoid you. You might drive for hours without spotting a kangaroo. Independent searches for wildlife are more likely to turn up snakes, spiders and bugs, all of which should be treated with the utmost of caution and respect.

If you want to have the best shot at spotting native Australian wildlife of the type that you actually came to see, consider one of the country’s several world-famous parks and zoos, or a designated wildlife sanctuary with a guided safari tour.

Remember to Drive on the Left

Some of the most common misconceptions about life in Australia are cultural. One of these, which American tourists often find confusing, is that Australians drive on the left side of the road and yield to the right. The latter, in particular, takes a certain amount of personal adaptation to adjust to. 

For Long-Term Relocation, Be Prepared for the Visa Process

Getting a visa to live in Australia, even on a temporary basis, can be a difficult process. Australia has tightened its immigration policies in recent years. The best option is to shoot for a working holiday visa (WHV), which gives you one to two years to decide on whether or not you wish to pursue further residency. For anything longer than a short vacation, you’ll want to contact a local legal agency, like Ramsden Lawyers, to help you with the legal process of staying in-country. For some, this is the vacation opportunity of a lifetime (work and all), but don’t shy from retaining advocacy.

Enjoy Your Stay!

All concerns aside, Australia is a diverse and friendly place, with a lot of unequaled natural, biological, and cultural encounters the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to take a trip to Australia, the best advice we have to offer might be this: have a good time, and expect to fall in love with the land down under.