Mistakes first-time visitors to Australia make, according to locals

As someone who grew up in Australia and worked in tourism, I have seen many visitors make the same mistakes.
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I am Australian by birth and have been fortunate to work in the travel and tourism industry, promoting Australia to international visitors. For many years, I attended international conferences, gave presentations at universities and organised seminars about Australia.

Tourism is a major part of Australia’s economy and is expected to generate $265.5 billion this year. But it’s also an incredible way to show travellers everything the country has to offer.

Unfortunately, whilst working in the industry, I have seen visitors who believe the same misconceptions about Australia and make similar mistakes time and time again.

Here are the five most common mistakes I see when tourists visit the country for the first time.

Underestimating the size of Australia

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world and the only one that occupies an entire continent. Despite this, many travellers try to cover it all in a short holiday.

When tourists try to do too much in one trip, they end up spending more time in airports than enjoying the sights.

Focusing on Sydney and ignoring other parts of Australia

I recommend visiting other areas outside of Sydney.
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The first place most people think of when they hear about Australia is Sydney. However, I think Sydney lacks the depth and culture of other Australian cities.

For example, if you travel to Sydney, you’re likely to meet a lot of other tourists. For a truly authentic Australian experience, I recommend visiting other cities, such as Melbourne. After all, there’s a reason it’s been named one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Although I am biased, I think my hometown of Melbourne offers much more to tourists and always surprises any visitor I speak to. Here, tourists can expect Numerous festivals and events throughout the year, a vibrant café culture, a renowned art scene and friendly people.

I also recommend taking a trip into the interior of the country before leaving. Despite covering 81% of the country, few people visit this vast unpopulated region, full of wildlife and natural wonders such as the stunning pink lakes. The crystal-clear skies are also magical for stargazing at night.

Visiting Uluru is also a must as it offers an interesting insight into our indigenous history and culture.

Thinking Australia is hot all the time

Another thing that most tourists don’t know is that Australia is not always warm. The southern half of the country has cold winters and in some mountainous areas it snows.

Many tourists arrive in the middle of winter unprepared and are forced to buy warmer clothing because summer in the northern hemisphere is winter down there.

The good news is that if you live in the northern hemisphere, you can take advantage of the end-of-season winter sales in your home country before your holiday in Australia.

However, when it’s hot it’s important to wear sunscreen. The sun in Australia is stronger than anywhere else I’ve been and it’s easy to get sunburned.

Even my Texas wife covers herself in lotion, and she’s used to the sun and extreme heat.

Not experiencing the local cuisine

I always recommend visitors to try local foods like Vegemite on toast.
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Australia has a huge variety of excellent food and tourists do themselves a disservice by not trying the local cuisine.

For a truly authentic Australian experience, I recommend trying a meat pie at a sporting event, a parma (aka chicken parmigiana) at a pub, and of course a Vegemite on toast.

Being too paranoid about deadly animals

When I was working in tourism, many potential travelers would ask me how I survived all of Australia’s deadly animals. While it’s true that Australia is known for having deadly snakes, sharks, and spiders, I had never seen one outside of a zoo.

In fact, many animals are afraid of humans and stay away from big cities and places where there are humans.

Of course, tourists should always be careful around wildlife. However, the chances of encountering a deadly animal are quite slim.