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First time to Australia!

Hey Everyone,

This is my first time traveling to Australia! I am really excited but a bit overwhelmed with all of the information out there. The more I read the more I feel as if I am going to miss out on seeing something awesome.

I am travelling leaving mid April to mid May, for a total of a bit more than ~ 5 weeks.

I will be staying with my boyfriend who is living in Kirribilli Sydney, NSW. We are both in our mid 20s.

We have a week together where he has time off from medical school, but other than that I will be doing my own thing for the majority of the time during the weekdays, and with him on weekends.

Was hoping that people could provide some of their "must-sees" and "must-do" activities.

Looking forward to hearing from everyone :)

Posted by
350 posts


I spent almost a year in Australia on a work abroad program in my early 20's it was sometime ago but I loved it. I would take a trip on the Great Ocean Road. I did this with oz experience think it was three days in total. Fraser Island is a blast did a 4wdrive tour we camped on the beach again about three days. The Whitsundays Islands are beautiful, spent a few nights on a sailboat. Try your best to get to the centre some of the most amazing sites are there. Sydney is a great city you will have lots of things to do to keep yourself busy.

Posted by
32228 posts


As you may be aware, you'll have to arrange a Visa for travel to Australia. This can be done online, and I believe there's a fee payable. Be sure the information on the Visa application matches your Passport details exactly.

Posted by
693 posts


You will need an Electronic Authority to Travel. the following Australian Government link explains the process:

Regarding must sees, do you intend to stay in Sydney the whole time? Or will you be traveling out of Sydney (and if so, for how long).

I live in Australia and asking what the must sees are is like asking someone in the US what the must sees are. We are both huge countries and without a sense of the above it is hard to give sensible advice. For example, if you only intend to travel away from Sydney for a few days at a time, visiting the Great Barrier reef is not an option. If you had a week then a trip to Cairns and the reef would be great................

Posted by
693 posts

And another bit of advice. Our immigration officers are pretty strict, just like in the USA. If your boyfriend is Australian, then you may get questions about whether you intend to return to the US (they may think you are a risk of overstaying) and whether you have enough funds to independently support yourself (not being reliant on him). Make sure you have a return ticket and can prove you have enough money for your stay.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all your responses already!

I have applied and paid for the Electronic Travel Authority, making sure everything is accurate and matches my Passport.

I will be staying in Sydney for the majority of the time. However, with that being said him and I have one full week where he is off from medical school and was hoping to explore somewhere outside of Sydney. Other than that, I will be trying to plan weekend get-aways for him and I since he will be in school during the week. I will be exploring the city by myself for the majority of the time during the weekdays.

In summary:
- 1 week outside of Sydney
- 4 weeks in Sydney where I will explore the city independently during the weekdays
- 4 weekend "get-aways" either in Sydney, surrounding areas etc.

My boyfriend is Canadian, he is there on a school-visa attending medical school at the University of Sydney. But with that in mind I do have my round trip ticket already purchased.

Thanks for the heads up everyone, and I look forward to hearing more now that I have further explained any time constraints for travel. I understand that Australia is huge, and I would never be able to see everything Australia has to offer in that short period of time. Perhaps after getting a short taste of Australia I will have to come back for more :)


Posted by
693 posts

Laura. For weekend getaways near Sydney some options to think about are Newcastle, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast.

At the same there is a lot to do in Sydney on weekends with your boyfriend. I am not sure of your budget but you might like to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. As far as must see places in Sydney then you have the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and taking a ferry ride on the harbour. Going to the beach is also a great day depending on what time of year you are there. Taronga Zoo is probably the best zoo in the world in terms of location. You can also get out and see live music, theatre etc. There are also the Botanical Gardens, The Rocks and the NSW Art Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Art. For a taste of Australia's convict history there are the Hyde Park Barracks.

For a week trip away it depends on interest and budget and on whether you are happy to hire a car. Cairns is a great option if you like the idea of the Barrier Reef and there is plenty to do there.

Another option would be to rent a car and drive the coast road (not the inland route) to Melbourne and then fly back.

Posted by
360 posts

I agree with flying up to Cairns and seeing the Great Barrier Reef. We rented a campervan in Cairns and drove to Brisbane. Great way to see the countryside and meet the people. Adelaide is another favorite of ours and an easy quick flight from Sydney. Beautiful city. As said previously, it's like going to the US as far as what you'll be able to see and do - it's a big country. But you'll have a great time, just plan on going back.

Posted by
703 posts

You are coming to Australia at a nice time of year, not beach weather but not too cold in the days and over the hot summer time. Swimming at the beach is certainly doable the further North you go.
If you are travelling around Sydney etc, buy an Opal card for the public transport ( like the oyster card in London)
As suggested you don't have to travel far from Sydney for some great experiences.( approx 2 hours travel) The Blue Mountains and Jenolan caves etc to the west of Sydney and the Hunter Valley to the North around Newcastle, Port Stephens, the vineyards near cessnock/pokolbin

Plenty to see and do, without travelling too far. then for those 'extra special ' destinations fly by domestic flights. unless you enjoy driving thousands of miles/kilometers as the scenery can be a bit 'samey' by car.

Posted by
2297 posts

One of the highlights of our visit to Sydney was going to an Australian rules football game. It was great fun to see the Swans playing in the traditional Sydney Cricket Ground. And no, it has very little resemblance with NFL or CFL, it's much more athletic and faster.

Posted by
206 posts

There are a lot of good walks around Sydney. just google it and you will come up with a few.
I lived in Sydney until I was in my 30's, so am probably not interested in a lot of what a tourist would like, but my favourite ways to spend a day in Sydney are
- ferry to Watsons bay for lunch and a walk.
- fish and chips at Manly

Posted by
126 posts

G’day Laura,

Lucky you.

Something to be aware of when you get down here – all credit card transaction are now PIN only (for Australian cards) no signing required.

Have a read here
For international cards there shouldn’t be an issue as the card reader will prompt for a signature but some store people may think it strange and insist you key in your PIN. You may have trouble at railway stations etc when using a card requiring a PIN and there’s no person at the point of sale.

If your card already has PIN capability then there’s nothing to worry about, or if you have time try to get a PIN card before you leave home.

If you have the time and are flexible with dates sometimes you can get good deals in relocating campervans from one capital city to another – usually they give you a few days to get from A to B, sometime an allowance for fuel sometimes not. You then need to book a cheap flight back to Sydney or do it the other way and fly from Sydney to ?? and drive back. Have a look at these companies – Imoova, Apollo, Britz, Jucy, Wicked Campers.

Hope you have a great time down under.

Posted by
318 posts

went to Australia with my family last year in May/June. These were the highlights:
-Climbing the Harbor Bridge
-Wine tasting in the Hunter Valley
-Wild Animal Walkabout Park (day trip from Sydney)
-Sailboating around Whitsunday Islands
-Daintree Rainforest.

You will love it!!

Posted by
318 posts

Oh...I forgot. We also went to see an Aussie Rules Football (footie) game. Very cool. Nice crowd who explained all the rules to us. Definitely something you won't get to see in the USA.