This post was originally posted on Homestay.com.
Australia has a special place in my heart because, among other things, it's the first country I travelled independently both to, and around. Sydney was the destination I spent most of my time, but I also managed to explore the rest of the country. Due to the amount of time I spent in this country (I returned twice after living there), I picked up lots of insider tips for Australia.
Here are 10 insider tips for those traveling to the land down under!
1. Sydney – Spend an evening in Newtown
Oxford St, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, The Rocks and Bondi are all great for bars and restaurants, but they're not really off the beaten track. While there are quite a few locals in these areas, there are heaps of tourists too. If you want to spend an evening where you know you'll be among Sydneysiders, spend an evening in Newtown. I recommend having a cappuccino in Brewtown Newtown (6-8 O'Connell St) that specializes in coffee, grabbing a bite to eat in Doytao Thai (543 King St) where you'll get a delicious Pad Thai, then ending the evening with a cocktail in Kuleto's Cocktail Bar (157 King St) where there's a great rooftop bar.
If you're planning on spending a day exploring Melbourne, it's good to note that tram No. 35 is the free tourist tram. Looping the CBD (Central Business District), you can hop on and off at destinations all around the city such as Flinders Street Station, the Queen Victoria Market and the Melbourne Museum.
3. Nationwide – Eat in 'BYO' restaurants
All over Australia's main towns and cities are restaurants that are 'BYO' which stands for 'bring your own'. In these restaurants you don't need to worry about what wine (or beer) they have as you can literally bring your own, making them a really affordable option for eating out. Some BYO restaurants have a corkage charge though, so check before dining.
4. Adelaide – Visit the South Australia Museum
Located on North Terrace in the heart of Adelaide's cultural precinct, the South Australia Museum is committed to making Australia's natural and cultural heritage accessible, engaging and fun. The fact that it's free to enter certainly helps them with their cause. Galleries include those focusing on ancient Egypt, minerals and meteorites, whales and dolphins, and Australian aboriginal cultures. Even if there was an entry fee it would be worth visiting.
5. Brisbane – see the city from the 'CityHopper'
Brisbane's answer to Melbourne's free tourist tram is the 'CityHopper' – a ferry that began its service in July 2012 and has carried thousands of passengers since. Operating between 6am and midnight, 7 days a week, a trip on the ferry is a great way to take in the sights of the Brisbane River as well as the looming skyline.
6. Darwin – Enjoy a sunset you won't forget
While the national parks that Darwin is the gateway to are extremely memorable, you won't forget one of Darwin's sunsets either if you're lucky enough to catch one – the sun goes a fiery red that is unforgettable. Mindel Beach just north of Darwin's CBD is the place to catch one.
7. Nationwide – Go to the cinema on a Tuesday
If you fancy going to the cinema during your time in one of Australia's cities, try to go on a Tuesday when tickets are cheaper. For instance, a ticket to a movie in Melbourne's Cinema Nova is AUD$13 on a Tuesday as opposed to AUD$19 the rest of the week. In Sydney's Dendy Cinemas (Circular Quay and Newtown) it will cost you AUD$11 to see a movie on a Tuesday instead of the AUD$13.50 it would cost any other day of the week, while in Perth's Luna Palace Cinemas a ticket that normally costs AUD$17.50 in their Windsor Cinema or Cinema Paradiso is discounted to AUD$11.50.
8. Perth – Get around using the CAT bus services
Perth is another Australian city that has a free transport service, their one being a bus that is known as the CAT (Central Area Transit). There are three services in operation – the red CAT, the blue CAT and the yellow CAT. Between the three lines, many of the city's suburbs and attractions are passed.
9. Cairns – Take advantage of 'Early Bird' specials in restaurants
When dining out in Cairns, try to plan your day so you'll be sitting down to order before 6pm. This way you can take advantage of one of the city's 'Early Bird' specials. In Dundee's On The Waterfront (1 Marlin Parade), you get 10% off your bill when you order before 6pm between Monday to Thursday, while Bushfire Flame Grill does a unique Brazilian 'churrascaria' experience for AUD$39.95 when you dine between 5.30 pm and 7pm.
10. Alice Springs – Enjoy sunset (or sunrise) from Anzac Hill
If you're feeling energetic and fancy going on a hike, or if you're not but still want to go to a lookout, you can either walk or drive to Anzac Hill – a landmark in Alice Springs that boasts breathtaking views. Any time is good to visit, but the vistas are particularly stunning as the day breaks or as it comes to an end.
Colm Hanratty with
Colm is a blogger for Homestay.com. He first got the travel bug when he went to Australia in 1999 on a working holiday visa. Since then he hasn't looked back. He once visited every continent other than Antarctica in less than 2 years! When he gets to a destination he likes to dig deep, discovering local secrets, top tips and doing everything he can to experience a destination like a local.