Travel Tips for the First Time Traveler to Australia.

If you are traveling to  Australia from the Northern hemisphere there are some obvious and some maybe not so obvious things to prepare for.

The first important fact is that it is a very long journey. If traveling by  plane it is a good idea to break the journey with a day or two stop-over at a destination about half way. As an example if you were traveling from Rome to Brisbane or Sydney, book a stop over in Singapore or Kuala Lumpa.
Another option would be to fly from Rome to Singapore and book a cruise ship from Singapore to Brisbane or Sydney.

Wear loose fitting clothes – long sleeved cotton track suits are ideal, over a short sleeved T-Shirt. Long sleeves because  the air conditioning in a plane can get quite cold. By wearing the T-Shirt under your track suit , you can take of the track suit top if you get too hot on or off the plane.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Long hours of sitting and climate changes can cause your feet to swell. Also walks to terminals can be lengthy.

The Bum Bag

Bum BagIn Australia we call a bag attached to a belt and worn loosely around the waist a “Bum Bag”
pictured here on the left.

Bum Bags are very useful for storing your passport and boarding documents as well as other small items needed on route. Far better than handbags for ladies or jacket pockets for men. Handbags and jackets are easily left hanging on the backs of chairs during a coffee break at airports. A Bum Bag assures you have your documents handy at all times – hands free.
Another big advantage is that a Bum Bag does not  count towards carry on luggage or Personal Items.

Items I usually carry in my Bum Bag :

  • Passport, boarding pass, pen and change in the front pocket.
  • Sunglasses, small digital camera and wallet , in the rear pocket.

Make sure to check with your carrier what your luggage requirements are in both size and weight and make sure to stick to their guidelines.
International luggage allowances are far stricter than domestic luggage allowances.

When purchasing luggage know in advance what you can carry on your flight. Some luggage marked in stores as suitable for airline carry-on luggage exceed all airline carriers size and or weight limits.

Carry-On bag size

The safe maximum size is 45″, in the form of a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ bag.  Some airlines allow up to as much as 55″, but most do not.

Some weight limitations are lower than a lot of bags actually weigh empty ei; 11lbs.

As well as your carry -on bag most airlines allow you one ‘personal item’. Examples of  personal items;


  • Briefcase
  • Camera
  • Handbag/Purse
  • Laptop
  • Items not over 36″ in total dimensions
  • Reading Matter
  • Small backpack
  • Umbrella

Items usually exempted – if you are traveling with a baby; Child safety seat and diaper bag.

Items I usually pack in my Carry-On Bag.

carry on bagI try and pack as little as possible into my carry-on bag, leaving room for my duty free shopping items.
However I make sure that I pack  the essentials to see me through if my checked in luggage does not arrive on the same plane [has happened to me twice over the years of travel.]

I like to place all the items into separate see through plastic bags for packing. there are three reasons for this.

  1. Avoids leakage of items like toothpaste, moisturizer and any other liquids onto other items.
  2. Speeds up the process through customs – items are visible.
  3. Stops my items from getting jumbled up when I rummage through my items.


In the main compartment:

  • I pack one set of spare clothes suitable to the climate of my destination.
  • Three sets of underwear and a swim suit.

In the front pocket:

  • I pack a clear plastic toiletry bag, containing tooth brush, tooth paste, facial soap, face washer and make-up.
  • small hair brush
  • 1 pack of moisture wipes
  • 2 packets of butter menthol
  • sleeping pills.

Note: Sucking on a sweet if your ears are sensitive to cabin pressure changes really helps – I like butter menthols, you should choose what you like.
Normally I never take sleeping pills – I rarely take them on a plane trip, however they are good to have on hand if you get overtired whilst traveling.
if you want to take a manicure set, pack it with your check in luggage, scissors and sharp objects are not permitted in carry-on luggage.

Check-in Luggage
check in lugageGeneral guidelines  [check with your carrier].
Each piece of your baggage must not weigh more than 32 kg and must not exceed a total linear dimension of 140 cm (add together depth, width and length).

Free check-in allowance 20kg, then excess baggage charges will apply.

Packing tips – Less is best.
Remember to leave room for your return journey, you will probably want to do some shopping along the way.
Don’t pack towels, they take up a lot of room, are weighty and are supplied where ever you stay.
Take one set of neutral color co-ordinated accessories ei; shoes, handbag and belt , which you can wear with all your clothes.
Packing groups of items in clear plastic bags makes it easy to take things out of your bag without disturbing other items, protects your clothes and speeds up customs checking.

General dress code for Queensland – smart casual. Take comfortable walking shoes and a wind cheater , jacket or jumper – even though it is generally a warm climate, it can get quite cool at night.
The sun is very strong so make sure to bring or purchase a good sunscreen and a broad brimmed hat on arrival.
Quarantine is very strict in Australia so don’t attempt to bring in any plant or animal products. Even wooden objects like picture frames will be held by customs for fumigation.

Always make sure that you arrive in plenty of time to check-in your luggage. Running late at airports can cause a lot of unnecessary  stress.
When traveling with children bring something to entertain them whilst waiting in departure lounges and on the plane.
Check with your doctor and get him to subscribe suitable medication for your children and babies in case they suffer with ear problems during the flight.
Take your own water for babies during the flight – water can vary from country to country and is the most common cause of upsets in young children traveling.
Don’t let your children drink from bublers or taps at airports – buy bottled water or bottled drinks.

Make sure that you get up and walk on the plane, this is especially important for older travelers to avoid blood clotting. When seated prop your feet up
on  your carry-on luggage, this will prevent pressure build up to your upper legs from the edge of your seat.

If sitting by the window seat, wear your sunglasses. Sun reflected on clouds creates a lot of glare.

Visa & Passport Requirements.
All visitors to Australia need an Australian visa or Electronic Travel Authority [ETA] and a valid passport.
Depending on your length of stay and the purpose of your visit will determine the type of visa you need to apply for.
To find out more pleaase visit  the Immigration website.

Australia fondly known as the “lucky country”, is a huge island, devoid of a lot of diseases that plaque other countries.
Therefore quarantine laws are taken very seriously here – for good reasons.
The health of our animals, plants and primary industries rely heavily on your honesty in declaring anything that could be hazardous.
Please declare any plant material and organic substances – includes herbal medicines, food, products made of wood, coral, shell and any animal
Ask  if  you are not sure and check out the customs website   Here you will also find information  on DUTY FREE and business travellers permits for carrying commercial goods through customs.

Tips for traveling within Queensland.

Generally speaking, the Queensland climate is very mild, summer clothes will suffice for all year round. However nights can become chilly especially in the winter months, so make sure to pack a warm jacket or pullover. Also if you are going to visit the hinterland on the Gold Coast [not to be missed if you are a nature lover], you will probably need a warm jacket in the late afternoon.

Drinking Water.
The drinking water throughout Queensland is very safe but strongly chlorinated in some areas. To get rid of the chlorination stand a pot of water overnight this will evaporate the chlorine.

Beach Safety.
If you are visiting in the summer months, visit beaches in the early morning and leave by 10am till you get used to the sun. Use a good sun block and wear a hat. Remember you can get sunburned even if  it is cloudy. Only enter the water between lifesaving flags. Nearly all the beaches on the Gold Coast are surf life saving patrolled. Never swim in the canals or un-patrolled estuaries – unless you want to become shark bait.

If you take a trip to the islands make sure to take insect repellent against mosquitoes and sand flies. I found the best  sand fly replant is one part of Detol to six parts of olive oil – just in case you are allergic to store bought repellents like “Rid”.


The Box Jellyfish and the Irukandji jellyfish. [not on the Gold coast]


Dangerous marine stingers found in far North Queensland  can be lethal.

  • Death can happen very quickly, so act immediately!
  • Call an ambulance.
  • Flood the affected area with vinegar. Vinegar neutralizes any undischarged stinging cells. If you don’t use vinegar, more venom is injected after the initial sting.
  • Keep the victim calm.
  • Apply cold packs to the sting for local pain.
  • Administer CPR if the victim stops breathing.

Found from CapeYork to Townsville in the months of October to June.
From Townsville to Gladstone in the months of December to March.
Do not  swim on any beach that does not have a stinger net in place.

These jelly fish are in greater  numbers after heavy rain, when they get washed onto the beaches from the mangroves.
Also Northerly winds in the summer months are often followed by huge numbers of marine stingers .

Bluebottle or Portuguese Man O ‘War   

blue bottle


Found along the whole Eastern Australian Coastline.
If you see these washed up on the beach don’t pick them up or let your children touch them – they can give a very painful sting long after they are dead.
Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin which normally last about forty-five minutes after which it should subside. However the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause, depending on the amount of venom, more intense pain. A sting may lead to an allergic reaction. There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung action. There have even been deaths, although this is rare. Medical attention may be necessary, especially where pain is intense or there is an extreme reaction.

Research suggests that in the normal course the best treatment for a sting is:

(a) to avoid any further contact with the creature and carefully remove any remnants of the creature from the skin using an object (taking care not to touch them directly with fingers or any other part of the skin to avoid secondary stinging); [protect hands with sand if there is no object handy] then

(b) to apply salt water to the affected area (not fresh water, which tends to make the affected area worse); then

(c) to follow up with the application of hot water (45°C/113°F) to the affected area, which eases the pain of a sting by denaturing the toxins.; and finally,

(d) to apply ice, preferably in the form of an icepack as this should be effective at suppressing any swelling and pain through reducing the activity of the toxins and reducing the sensation, and therefore pain, of the area of skin around the ice. Additionally, ice constricts blood vessels, reducing the speed at which the venom travels to other parts of the body.

The Portuguese Man O’ War is often confused with other jellyfish by its victims, which may lead to improper treatment of stings, as the venom differs to that of true jellyfish.

You do not need to fear these creatures if you swim at patrolled beaches – easily spotted the beaches get closed if they are about.

Rock Pools

Blue Ringed OctopusI have spent hours gazing into rock pools along the Australian coastline.
These miniature wonder worlds, full of mysterious , colorful creatures hold
a special fascination for me as they do for many  small children. 

These special little pools are definitely a place of  ‘look don’t touch’ one of the most
beautiful and most deadly creatures lives there – the ‘Blue Ringed Octopus’.

Also the incredibly well disguised super toxic ‘Stone Fish’ stone fish



Camping and Bush Walking.

If sleeping on the ground or in a sleeping bag spread cold ash from your campfire around you. Snakes and creepy crawlies won’t cross an ash barrier.

Step on your shoes before putting them on in the morning in case a venomous creepy is lurking inside.

Never step over a log – rather step on the log in your path and look on the other side before stepping to the other side – avoids your stepping on a snake. There are a lot of venomous snakes in Australia but they are shy creatures and you can go for years without ever spotting one.

Australian Snake Bite Identification and Treatment.

Carry a map and be aware of were you are to avoid getting lost. Let people know where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Remember mosses grow on the southern side of trees here – in case you don’t have a compass.

wear suitable walking shoes and clothing. Some bush can be quite thorny – so wear long sleeves and trousers to avoid scratching.

In arid areas make sure to take a plentiful water supply and a plastic sheet to condense water from the ground or vegetation in an emergency.

Take an emergency medical kit.

There are no dangerous animals in the Australian Bush and besides getting lost or snake bit it is a relatively safe place.

There are two venomous spiders;

Funnel Web Spider

  1. the ‘Funnel Web’ [deadly] mainly found around Sydney.

 Can be very aggressive if disturbed. Loves damp places, like a wet swimmer or face washer
left on the bathroom floor, or shoes left outdoors overnight..
They are often found in swimming pools where they can survive for several hours.
Removal by hand from swimming pools has been the cause of some deaths in Sydney.
If bitten get emergency medical help immediately. Treatment – Anti Venom.
If you spot a funnel shaped web in a hole in the ground don’t go poking at it.

Redback Spider
2. The ‘Red Back’ very toxic spider. Can cause death [rarely] in some circumstances.
This spider is not aggressive and bites only occur if you touch the spider.
commonly found in discarded food tins or tin sheets on rubbish dumps.
Under benches or eves of buildings. In shoes left out doors overnight.
If bitten seek medical attention immediately for anti venom treatment.

Look at our other information on our main menu at the top of this page to help you  to have
a wonderful stay in Australia.



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