Planning a trip to Australia?

Here's what you need to know before you head down under

2 minutes

Australia is a unique and diverse country in every way - in culture, population, climate, geography, and history - did you know that Australia was inhabited by indigenous people for roughly 50,000 years before the Brits arrived?

  • Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
  • National Language: English
  • Time difference: Mainland Australia is typically 8 to 10 hours ahead of UK time
  • Flight time:  18 hours direct from London Heathrow to Perth, Western Australia, or 21-24 hours with a stopover. 


Did you know? 

The Great Barrier Reef is visible from outer space

The Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living organism on earth.

The 2,300 km long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs, hundreds of islands and countless species of aquatic wildlife. It's also visible from space. 

Australia has more than 10,000 beautiful beaches. You could visit a new beach every day for 27 years! 


Learning new languages

More than 200 different languages and dialects are spoken in Australia, including native Indigenous languages.

The most common non-English spoken languages are Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Mandarin.

English is dotted with words from Indigenous Australian languages, for example, kangaroo, dingo, wombat and boomerang.


Largest island continent

The continent of Australia is referred to as an island because it's surrounded by ocean.

However, Australia also boasts more than 8,000 surrounding islands, including the island state of Tasmania.

Inland, Anna Creek Station in South Australia is the world's largest cattle station. At  34,000 square kilometres, it's larger than Belgium. 

Australia has so much to offer

Many people don't realise the sheer size of Australia: it's almost as large as continental USA. For example, travelling from Sydney to Perth (East Coast to West Coast) is comparable with travelling from New York to Los Angeles - the flight time is between six and seven hours. So, if you're planning to visit Australia, make sure you’re realistic about how much time you have and which cities and regions you'd like to visit. 


With a year-round tropical climate, amazing coastal beaches and lush rainforests, Queensland has it all. It's capital city, Brisbane, is home to around two million people. If you're looking to explore the tropics, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef Queensland should be top of your list.

New South Wales

As well as the iconic sights of Sydney, New South Wales has gorgeous coast, rugged mountains and traditional outback towns. If you're in Sydney, don't miss the Harbour Bridge Climb, Bondi Beach, a visit to Manly and, of course, the shopping and nightlife. 


Victoria is known as Australia's cultural capital, with hip, artsy city Melbourne at its heart. Studded with restaurants, cafes (Melbourne is especially famous for its coffee and award-winning baristas), it's also regularly dubbed the shopping capital of Australia.  Some of the best wine regions can also be found in Victoria - The Mornington Peninsula region is worth a visit if you fancy a tipple (or two). 

South Australia

South Australia is home to Adelaide, a cosmopolitan city of more than 1.3 million people, and has some of the best known wine regions in the world. The Barossa valley is northeast of Adelaide and renowned for its Shiraz, while Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, is a must for nature buffs: more than one third of the island is protected nature reserves. 

Western Australia

It may be a while away from the East Coast, but Western Australia has its own set of charms, including spectacular beaches and outback destinations. Perth is a vibrant city (with a buzzing music and arts scene) worth exploring, while Broome, in the Kimberley Region, is a bucket-list spot you shouldn't miss. 

Northern Territory

Quintessentially Australian and studded with amazing landscapes, the Northern Territory is often at the top of many travel wish lists. Don't miss the icons, including Katherine Gorge, Kakadu, the Olgas and of course, Uluru (Ayers Rock).



With some of Australia’s best wilderness areas, Tasmania is a laid-back mix of cool and quiet, with trendy markets and galleries in the main city, Hobart and stunning nature reserves to explore. Tasmania is also home to the iconic Tasmanian Devil. 

For further information about Australia, visit

As a responsible travel insurer, we always recommend you check for the latest Foreign Office advice before visiting any country. The latest FCO advice for Australia can be found here.


Is a wonderful alternative to the city life with a rich heritage and some of Australia’s best wilderness areas. Cool and quiet Tassie is a great escape destination.