Far far away from literally anything, you'll find the Land Down Under, Australia.
It's a well traveled country and for good reason, but before you make the long trip out here, take a read of these local tips first!
1. It's big - like really big!
Like, huge! Australia is it's own continent and for a good reason, most of Europe can quite literally fit into the same land mass that Australia occupies. This is a really important factor when you are considering the time and number of destinations you want to visit whilst in Australia.
Don't underestimate it's geographical size, this is NOT a country that you can just jump in a car and drive around in a matter of weeks. To be precise, the drive around Australia is approximately 14,500 kilometers, or 9,009 miles for those of you playing from the UK and the States.
That's double the distance from Europe to China, and double the distance between the United States and South America, it's also almost half way around the world - convinced yet?
Although it's big, Australia's size brings with it some amazing advantages. From East to West, North to South Australia's landscapes vary to take in every possible climate in the world. From the snow capped mountains in central New South Wales, to the rain forest of North Queensland, to the stunning corals reef of Western Australia and into the centre of Australia where you'll find one of the most arid and open deserts in the world, Australia is a country of diversity.
Hot tip: research where you want to go before heading here, get a good understanding of the distance between places and the best mode of transport to get your there in the time you have, that way you won't be wasting precious travel time planning once you've arrived!
2. We don't speak English... we speak 'Strayan'
Ok, so it's a variation of English, but it's very much a language that we've worked hard at developing over time, so we're going to claim it!
'Strayan' mostly consists of abbreviations of real English words mostly adding 'z's or 'y's to shorten the word and make it sound more Aussie.
Here's an example of a typical Australian sentence, "Mate, let's hit the frog and toad this arvo to grab a few tinnies at the local with Shazza and Baz" Translation: "Friend, let's hit the road this afternoon to enjoy a beer at the pub with our Sharon and Barry." (I'm laughing as I write this, it's literally ridiculous and we normally try not to be SO Australian in one sentence).
In conjunction with our slang, we've got our own accent going on which can decrease your ability to understand what it is we're talking about. Think long drawn out vowels, example 'maaaaaaaaaaaate' would quite literally be said with that amount of emphasis on the 'a' - it adds drama and it makes it Strayan, it also gets worse if we've had something to drink.
3. We do have loads of dangerous animals... but just as many cute ones
One of the first things tourists seem to question when going to Australia is how many animals have the capacity to kill them, and it's true, we have loads of things that can bite, sting, scratch and quite literally eat you, but we have just as many cute and cool ones.
Not to mention your chance of being killed is pretty much zero, statistically, if you're killed by a shark in Australia you've literally won the natural selection jackpot!
Exclusive to Australia are also a number of native animals that can not be seen literally anywhere else in the world, this includes kangaroos, platypuses, quokkas, emus, koalas, dingos, wombats and a number of snakes and amphibians - it's like our own VIP animal club.
The best part about Australian animals is that there is a plethora of opportunities for tourists to see them both in the wild and at many of our wildlife parks and sanctuaries. We've got a lot of open space, we get that, so we've built many of our animals parks to me immersive for tourists yet still wild enough for the animals to roam free and live in the most natural habitat possible. Most of the animals have also been rescued for various reasons or are part of breeding programs designed to keep a healthy number of our animals to be released into the wild.
If you're an animal lover, this is the place for you.
4. We're extremely sarcastic, don't take it offensively
This is a really really important thing to remember as it will totally effect your overall satisfaction with your visit to Australia. Ok so in short, we take the piss of literally everyone, so don't feel exclusive. We rip on our mates, we rip on our colleagues, we rip on tourists, there is no one safe from the sarcastic humor Australia is famed for.
For those not so familiar with sarcasm, to get your up to speed really quickly, if someone in Australia says something to you that you deem to come across offensively, or it seems to be the opposite of what has actually happened, then it was probably intended as a joke. Don't worry, when we are actually angry, you'll also know.
A few examples for those still lost, if I were running late to catching up with mates and, upon arrival, one said to me 'Lucky we weren't waiting on your or anything mate', this is their way of sarcastically telling me I was late because they were quite literally waiting on me - get it?
If not, just get down under and you'll get the hang of it soon enough, if English is your first language even better, you're one step ahead of those who need to learn English and then need to learn Strayan.
5. It's a damn beautiful country, and we like to keep it that way!
Aussies are a proud bunch, we love that tourists think our country is beautiful, because we do to! Any for the most part we deeply respect this beauty and want to preserve this!
Keeping our beaches, rain forests and towns clean is important to us, generally we are pretty conscious of our environment and we like to keep it looking as beautiful as we can, when travelling to Australia be sure to only leave footprints and create memories, take your rubbish and waste with you!
6. It's quite expensive, relative to where you're from
We're geographically isolated, that's no secret, which means whatever we don't produce needs to be imported from other countries, and we're further away than most!
In particular if you're from Europe, the United States, Asia, South America, Central America... pretty much everywhere actually, you'll find our food and drinks prices higher than what you're used to.
In certain parts of Australia such as in the West, supporting local producers and farmers is also the norm, which again tends to fetch a higher price but the quality and stability of the Australian economy is the trade off.
Accommodation costs vary from central metropolitan areas to the country, but again it will likely be higher than what you're used to. If you're from Asia or Central/South America this is likely to be anywhere from double to four times higher than what you're used to, for Europeans you're probably look at anywhere between $20 to $50 more than the norm - however when you factor in your currency conversion it's probably pretty relative.
Hot tip: Buy your food at the local grocery store or supermarket, stock up on alcohol in bulk at liquor stores and have a few drinks before heading out for the evening! Websites such as Wotif and Trivago will be your best bet for discount accommodation.
7. We'll put sauce on everything & anything
That's right, we love our condiments and you'll be stretched to find an Aussie that doesn't have a pantry full of sauces for every occasion. Tomato sauce or 'Tomata Sauce' as we pronounce it has been a staple of the Australian diet for years, it brings anything to life and ensure's our diets are packed with unnecessary sodium (sarcasm).
Got steak? Chuck some tomata sauce on it.
Eating a meat pie? Tomata sauce it.
Hot chips? Plenty of tomata sauce
Anything else at all edible? You got it, tomata sauce!
8. We're a culturally proud country
And when I say culture, I mean the values and morals that as a country we choose to embrace.
Australia is a multi cultural country with a rich history dating back thousands of years with our First People who lived in harmony with the land long before it was discovered by European influence.
Today Australia proudly embraces all cultures, from our First People to European influence, nowadays you can expect to meet people from literally all over the world including North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The one thing that remains however, is that we believe in helping out our mates and we believe everyone should be given a fair go.
We're a laid back, (mostly) friendly country which seems to be how were are viewed by the rest of the world, and it's certainly the image we intend to continue portraying!
9. Our national religion is football
Well any sport actually, we're built for the outdoors and that's where we like to be!
If you haven't heard by now, you probably live under a rock, but it's true Australian's love sport. So much so that we actually have public holidays in a number of our states to celebrate sporting events such as horse racing and football finals.
Australian Rules Football is by far the most popular sport in Australia and is watched by many religiously, that's right, they will worship football players over 'real' gods any day.
On the religious front though, Australia is truly a mix, although Christianity is currently our largest practiced religion, Islam, Buddhism and apparently 'Jedi' are all proudly part of our society.
10. We don't ride kangaroos...
Contrary to popular belief, in Australia our favorite mode of transport isn't in fact kangaroos, some time ago, must have been around the time of the industrial revolution these four wheeled things called 'automobiles' found their way to our shores... have you heard of them?