Despite being the other side of the world for many travellers, Australia is still one of the most popular holiday destinations. It is the sixth-largest country in the world, and it is known for having dense urban areas like Sydney and Melbourne as well as vast unpopulated land in the Outback.
There is something for everyone, whether you’re interested in wildlife, beaches or culture. Australia has unique opportunities to see penguins, kangaroos and crocodiles in the wild, while the country also has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches.
Do I need travel insurance when going to Australia?
Travel insurance is important if you plan to head to Australia for your next holiday, and you will need to ensure that you have the right cover for what you plan to do once you are there.
British citizens can get limited subsidised health services from Medicare while in Australia, and we will waive the excess on medical claims where Medicare has been used. Unlike EHIC, you don’t need to register for Medicare before you travel, and you can instead sign up after you have received your treatment. You will need your passport and a valid visa to apply, and you will be required to complete an enrolment form.
Travellers are advised to still get comprehensive medical insurance to ensure that all potential fees are looked after. If your needs aren’t covered by the healthcare arrangements between the two countries, then you could face high costs.
If you already have annual multi-trip travel cover for Europe, you should check the policy ahead of your trip, as you can often contact your insurer and upgrade to worldwide insurance before you go to Australia.
What documents and vaccinations do I need for Australia?
British citizens who are travelling to Australia on holiday require an eVisitor visa, which is issued by the Department of Immigration & Border Protection, or an Electronic Travel Authority from their travel agent or airline.
There are no specific vaccinations required ahead of your trip, but vaccines for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are recommended for individuals who might be at a higher risk. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is also required if you are travelling from or through high-risk areas like most of South America and the Caribbean.
What are the risks of travelling to Australia?
Australia can experience bushfires during its summer months, which usually take place between November and February. If you are travelling to high-risk areas, then you should stay vigilant and be aware of the latest bushfire information and emergency contact details. There is also a Fires Near Me app that was set up by the New South Wales rural fire service which provides up-to-date information. Tropical cyclones and flooding can also occur in some areas, including Queensland and New South Wales.
When it comes to the infamous wildlife of Australia, holidaymakers should generally be safe in places like Sydney and Melbourne, but there could be potential dangers in rural areas. The country is home to various spiders and snakes that can be potentially deadly but anti-venoms have made deaths much less common.
The box jellyfish is one to be careful of if you decide to go swimming at the beach, so it is worth sticking to areas with nets in place to prevent jellyfish from reaching you. Mosquito bites can also lead to you getting Dengue fever, which causes flu-like symptoms for up to seven days.
Driving in Australia
In Australia drivers travel on the left-hand side of the road, making it easier for UK drivers to adjust to travelling in the country.
Temporary visitors can use their UK licence to drive in the country, and you should always have your driving licence and passport with you when driving, as well as sufficient insurance.
Drivers are advised to be cautious if driving on arrival in the country, as you are likely to experience jetlag, and could be tired following your long flight. Caution should also be taken if driving in more remote areas, and you should ensure that you have water and enough petrol, as well as maps and a suitable GPS. It is also advised to notify you hotel or friends of when you intend to return, so that they can notify emergency services if you are gone for longer than expected.
The waters in Australia can be dangerous for several reasons, including the wildlife and the currents.
Rip currents can be a hazard for swimmers at the beach, and the can be particularly dangerous for surfers, as they can overwhelm even strong swimmers. The narrow channels of water are powerful and can move at a speed of eight feet per second, making it very difficult to overcome.
Beachgoers are advised to swim with friends if possible and pay attention to safety signs as well as red and yellow beach flags which indicate where it is safe to swim. Red and yellow flags mean that lifeguards are on patrol in that area, and you should swim within that area, while red flags mean that it is dangerous to go in the water there. You should also look to swim at patrolled beaches when possible and avoid diving into the water as you can risk hitting a shoal and suffering spinal damage.
Jellyfish like bluebottles, Irukandji and box jellyfish usually pose the biggest danger when swimming, while shark bites are quite rare.
Backpacking in Australia
Young people on gap years, and travellers looking to get the most out of Australia often decide to go backpacking around the country for several weeks or months.
If you decide to spend more than a few weeks in the country then it is important to ensure that you have backpacker travel insurance to cover you for the entirety of your trip.
If you’re travelling during the summer months, then you will need to be particularly careful of the heat and try to avoid burning or suffering sunstroke. You should look to regularly apply sunscreen, drink water and sit in the shade where possible.
If part of your adventure involves hiking or going on a bushwalk, then you should make sure that you have all necessary supplies and research the difficulty of the walk so that you can be prepared. You should avoid hiking alone and are advised to stay on the track and avoid cliff edges during the journey.
If you plan to do some work in Australia, our backpacker policy includes cover for certain work abroad, excluding manual labour. This means that you would be covered working in bars or restaurants, as well as working as a fruit picker if you don’t use machinery. However, this protection doesn’t include personal liability in the workplace, so it is worth checking your employer’s public liability cover before taking on the job.
Travel with confidence with Columbus Direct
With over 25 years of experience, we know what you need from your travel insurance. You can travel with peace of mind, knowing we’re here for you and your family with cover for everything from lost baggage and flight delays, to stolen items and medical bills while you are on holiday.