Australia survival guide

Photo of an Australian koala

As an Australia expat living in the UK, I often get asked by friends and colleagues “how did you survive?!” to which I respond: if my dog Jack can handle it, I’m sure you can!

We may be home to some of the world’s most venomous snakes and spiders, but you’re much more likely to be stung by a “bloody mozzie” or by a random breath test. πŸš“

That being said, there is a thing or two to know before you go. πŸ‘‡

Beachgoer basics

Photo of swimmers between the red and yellow flags

Australia is known for its sandy beaches, sunshine and surf for good reason! β˜€οΈ

To make the most of your time at our world famous beaches, keep these tips in mind and you won’t find yourself thrown into the deep end.

  • Swim between the flags at beaches patrolled by Surf Life Savers. The flag system protects us from rips (powerful currents)
  • Shark attacks are rare, so to keep it that way by swimming at patrolled beaches alongside other swimmers and avoid sunrise and sunset when sharks are most active
  • Box jellyfish and the blue ringed octopus are the ones to watch out for in the water
  • The ozone layer is thin over Australia, so remember to slip, slop, slap to avoid getting sunburnt in a “sunburnt country”
  • Temperatures can soar, especially in summer, so always keep hydrated and seek shade where possible.

Wrestling reptiles

Photo of an Australian saltwater

Crikey! If you’ve ever enjoyed the famous Crocodile Hunter series, you’ll recall the take home message that when you respect nature it respects you back. 🦎

  • Crocodiles inhabit the northernmost part of Australia. Attacks are rare, but when in croc country follow steps to be crocwise and only swim where there are designated safe swimming signs
  • Snakes are more scared of you than you are of them and only strike when they feel threatened. Stick to the path when bushwalking, and keep your distance if you spot one at home and call a professional
  • Of Australia’s 10,000 spider species, only two types should be of concern: the Sydney funnel-web and redback spider. If you encounter one, call a professional to have it safely removed: pest control, the Australian Reptile Park or the Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26).

Cute critters

Teeth and scales aside, Australia is home to some of the most unique and adorable critters on the planet; koalas, kangaroos and smiley quokkas come to mind. Cute, yes, but looks can kill:

  • Kangaroos are colour coded! Grey kangaroos are smaller and mild-tempered compared to their red cousins, so keep this in mind when approaching one for a photo 🦘
  • Tasmanian devils appear cute and cuddly but are skittish and feisty, so heed their guttural growls and keep your fingers out of reach
  • Dingoes may look like a family pet but respect this rust-coloured wild canine like you would a wolf
  • You’re unlikely to spot a duck-billed platypus in the wild, but if you do admire it from afar as their toxic stingers can be painful.

What Australians actually fear

Photo of a kookaburra and a magpie in an Australian backyard

While crocodiles and sharks won’t really bother you, magpies in swooping season certainly do. And nothing is worse than the sting of a bluebottle at the beach, or the sight of a huntsman spider scurrying up the wall. 😨

If you’ve ever wondered what Aussies actually fear, it’s the dreaded email alert from MyGov in your inbox signalling tax return time…

So now that you know the basics, enjoy your time Down Under!


Ever heard of the infamous drop bear? Share some of the “scariest” things you’ve heard about Australia in the comments! πŸ‘‡


More in Sydney

Photo of Bondi Beach ocean pool

Sightseeing in Sydney

Hotspots around Sydney that offer a truly memorable experience for locals and visitors. ⛴️

What to pack when you move to London

Photo of a girl packing clothes

With limited baggage allowance, packing up all your worldly possessions into a suitcase might seem impossible but it doesn’t have to be. Each item just has to earn its place, and this guide will show you how! 🧳

Clothes and accessories

Photo of a woman's outfit

Did you know the term “capsule wardrobe” was coined by a Londoner? Essentially, it’s the essentials: a collection of timeless staples which can then be paired with seasonal pieces.

For example: coat, jeans, white shirt, black blazer, pencil skirt, little black dress, sundress, jumper, scarf, hat, flats, heels and boots.

Aside from the staples, bring about a week’s worth of underwear, socks and sleepwear. The rest you can cheaply stock up on once you’re here. πŸ›οΈ

I also found it handy to bring a set of activewear and trainers as you’ll be doing a lot of running around in the early days.

Key considerations

  • Quality over quantity is key. Leave the bargains and synthetics back home and bring only your best pieces.
  • Prioritise versatility. Your typical rented room in London is cosy, so ideally each piece can be worn for different occasions, including at work.
  • Practice some self-love. If you haven’t worn something in months because it’s uncomfortable or makes you feel self-conscious, donate it to charity.
  • London is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so you have loads of options to look forward to!

Toiletries

Photo of toiletries

Toiletries take up a surprising amount of space and the weight quickly adds up. Unless you have a skin allergy or particular hair care needs, don’t bother bringing your cosmetics collection.

Pack around a week’s worth of shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste (travel size is perfect) and stock up when you arrive. You’ll be surprised how cheap toiletries are in the UK, however makeup prices vary greatly.

You might even score a few freebies from the airline or hotel! 🧴πŸͺ’

Key considerations

  • If you use over-the-counter products, ask your doctor to cover your prescription for the next few months so you can stock up before you leave. Getting a local GP in the UK can take time (a permanent address is essential), so it’s best to prepare in advance.
  • Not all products have the same retail name in different countries! Might be worth double checking online for specific products.

Tech devices

Photo of various tech

Tech is important to get right early on. Having data on your phone for navigating and a reliable laptop for forms and applications are crucial for hitting the ground running. πŸ§‘β€πŸ’»

What to bring: mobile phone (unlocked SIM!), laptop computer, portal power bank, charger per device, adapter (AU to UK is essential, and AU to EU is useful for trips) and a USB stick (you never know).

Key considerations:

  • If you’re planning to upgrade in the near future, consider waiting until you arrive so you’ll be covered by warranty in the local region. I bought my mobile phone on my first day in the UK!
  • Consider bringing a power board to avoid over-relying on adapters.

Important documents

Photo of an Australian passport and flight ticket

Get your life admin organised before you go anywhere near Departures. πŸ›«

You’ll need originals and photocopies of all your important documents and, ideally, digital versions backed up in cloud storage and synced to your devices just in case.

What to bring: passport (visa vignette included), various forms of ID, visa approval letter from the Home Office, proof of funds document (valid up until 3 months), and any professional accreditation documents (university degree etc.) required for your field of work.

Key contacts:

  • If you get into trouble and require passport or consular support, contact the Australian High Commission: United Kingdom on +44 (0) 20 7379 4334.
  • Register your journey on Smart Traveller and follow their recommendations for the United Kingdom.
  • Dial 999 to reach emergency services in the United Kingdom.

Food and confectionery

Before you stuff your face or fill every compartment with TimTams, relax. Australian confectionary, even lamingtons, are relatively easy to come by in London.

Pay Clapham a visit and you’ll get a decent (albeit pricey) flat white and ANZAC biscuit in no time. πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί

Key considerations

  • Ask your friends and family to bring a goody bag when they come to visit.
  • Admittedly, there are a few things you won’t find like Weis Bars. Have a go at making your own! 🍨
  • Australian brunch is hugely popular in London. Check out my top picks to get your avo on toast fix. πŸ₯‘

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful. Let me know in the comments below if you think I’ve missed anything! πŸ‘‡


More in London

Photo of a squirrel in London in autumn

Fall for London in autumn

London in warm autumnal hues coupled with fun activities and events will make you think twice before swapping hiking boots for slippers. πŸ‚

Australian brunch in London

Photo of brunch menu sign and pot plants

Australian brunch is world-famous, and that’s no exception in the Capital. But what is Australian brunch, anyway? β˜•πŸ₯‘

Bright mashups of foods that are healthy, natural and luxurious all at once … Cafes serve plates of organic porridge with raw honey and grass-fed cream, free-range poached eggs with local bacon and roasted broccoli, and all manner of avocado toast, garnished with everything from pickled onions and hoja santa to sesame seeds and shiso leaves.

The New York Times

Australian brunch is more than just what’s on the menu. It’s the industrial-chic decor, the coffee aroma and friendly welcome from bearded baristas.

Intrigued? Read on for my tried and true blue Australian brunch hotspots in London.

Kiss the Koala

About: a great place to brunch in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. You will find great coffee and the most beautiful plates that taste as good as they look.

We ordered: waffles with Prosecco poached strawberries and the English breakfast.

Find them in: Crouch End, north London.

Granger & Co.

About: reflects the “Australian” spirit: sunny, easy-going and generous. From first opening in Sydney’s Darlinghurst in 1993, Granger & Co. has gone global with restaurants in Sydney, Seoul, Tokyo, Honolulu and London.

We ordered: ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter, sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach, and bacon.

Find them in: in central London (Chelsea, Clerkenwell, King’s Cross) and a little further out in Notting Hill.

Farm Girl

About: Farm Girl is a group of stylish, health-focused cafes and restaurants serving holistic, fresh food and good coffee, Australian style.

We ordered: their staple rose lattes! 🌹

Find them in: central London (Fitzrovia, Knightsbridge, Soho) and spread around (Notting Hill, Hoxton).

Antipodea

About: all-day Australian brasserie that converts from a laid back Melbourne affair to a hustle and bustling night time dining spot.

We ordered: green pea arancini, Aussie burger and lamingtons!

Find them in: Richmond and Kew down south.

Brew

About: serving Australian food day, noon and night. They also stock iconic confectionery and make fresh ANZAC biscuits and lamingtons.

We ordered: sweet corn fritters, avocado with cottage cheese, lemon, salt and Vegemite on pide, and toasted banana bread with hung honeyed yogurt and pistachios.

Find them in: south London at Clapham, Wandsworth and Wimbledon.

Lantana

About: all day dining including Australian brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner of world fusion small plates & mains. They also serve vegan wines, craft ales, alternative cocktails and house blend coffee.

We ordered: pulled Chicken shawarma grain bowl and smashed avocado.

Find them in: central London at Fitzrovia, London Bridge and Shoreditch.

Highly rated

While I’m yet to brunch my way around London, these places come highly recommended by trusted sources:


Discovered a fab new Australian brunch place recently? Sharing is caring! Tell us all about it in the comments. πŸ‘‡


More in London

Photo of Oxford's skyline

Day trips from London

There’s nothing quite like strolling along a tree-lined canal or cobblestoned village lanes. πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

Photo of Tower Bridge and London's skyline

First impressions of London

If expat life feels like home then you’re doing it wrong πŸ˜… This is my ever growing list of culture shocks I’ve experienced since moving to London.