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10 Things All Tourists Should Never Do in Australia

Picture of Alice Duffield
Updated: 4 January 2018
Sometimes Australia can feel like another world. We are isolated and have a completely different set of rules, wildlife, and landscapes compared to the rest of the world. We are a fairly relaxed lot as a nation but there are a few things tourists can avoid doing that will make their visit much more enjoyable and slightly less risky.

1. Never get off the bus without thanking the bus driver

We might be a rowdy lot who like a drink, but we weren’t raised in a barn (generally). As you jump off the bus, give your driver a friendly wave and make their day a little bit better.

2. Never think you don’t need to swim between the flags at the beach

You might feel as though you’re a strong and competent swimmer, or you might see our crystal clear waters and be tempted to dive in right away. But you must still be on the lookout for surf life-savers though and swim between the flags they have put up. Waters can turn nasty VERY quickly in Australia, and before you know it you’re being sucked into a rip and struggling to get out.

Australian beach
Australian beach | © Flickr / Geoff Stearns

3. Don’t head outside without sunscreen

The sun can be vicious in this part of the world. Ten minutes in the summer sun and you can be suffering from third degree burns (I know this from personal experience!). Don’t risk it – lather up with sunscreen and do your best to stay out of direct sunlight. Staying hydrated is just as important as there’s nothing quite like a severe episode of Aussie dehydration. It’s much like the worst hangover of your life, but may require hospitalisation.

4. Don’t talk loudly on a quiet carriage during peak-hour commute

This one is just purely following the rules. There are signs before you jump on the train stating which carriage is the quiet one. If you’re one of the few that dare to Facetime your friends while you’re on this carriage, don’t be surprised if you have people letting you know you’re in the wrong place!

5. Never drive fast or drunk

You may be able to get away with this in some countries, but it’s something Australia is REALLY strict about. The undercover police and cameras are sneaky and will emerge when you least expect it – especially during holiday seasons. Better to be safe than sorry.

6. Don’t stay anywhere suburban and away from public transport

Unless you’ve hired a scar, getting around suburbia can be difficult and you can feel isolated quickly. Your best bet is to stay near a train or tram line where you’re guaranteed a regular and reliable service. In some cities, even buses during the day can be a bit hit and miss.

Public transport
Public transport | © Unsplash / Jack Catterall

7. Never underestimate a storm warning

If there is one thing Australia does well, it’s putting on an impressive storm. Remember, a big chunk of the country is sub-tropical so we do get tropical storms and cyclones. If there are warnings for a storm, be on guard. Don’t attempt to drive through flooded roads, camp near big trees, or swim in closed waters.

8. Never swim at just any beach (beware of crocs, stingers, sharks etc.)

If you’re totally new to Australia it might be a good idea to do a quick Google search of the coastal areas you’re headed to before you swim. If you’re swimming close to the bigger cities – such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane – you’re generally good to go. However, if you’re on the West Coast (shark central) or anywhere else, do some research first. You will find some of the most inviting and stunning waters, but also some of the deadliest creatures.

9. Don’t assume kangaroos are cuddly creatures

They might be one of our most famous and cute-looking animals, but they have a pretty intense boot on them. You might find our sweet wallabies more your style if you want to get up close and personal, don’t try and take a kangaroo on!

10. Never hike in the Outback alone

Our rugged landscape might look appealing for a long weekend of camping and hiking, but you’re much safer going with a small group. There are so many factors to consider in the Australian Outback – dangerous weather, poisonous snakes and spiders, plus brutal dehydrating conditions. Just play it safe and don’t do a hike alone!