10 Mistakes I Made in Australia

travel mistakes australia

"Hindsight is 20/20" - this phrase makes me wonder if time travel is real and future travellers were hinting about what was to come in 2020... But that's another trip for a different post. I left for Australia at 21, straight out of university with little life skills (other than a black belt and a maths degree), bushy-tailed and wide-eyed I naively did things I would definitely not do now, but we can't blame young Laura, she didn't know any better. Wise old 2020 Laura does though, and she'll use these shames to hopefully encourage others not to make the mistakes she did :) She'll also stop referring to herself in the third person, starting now:


#1. I hunted for koalas

animals in australia

So yeah, I never hunted for koalas in the traditional gun hat wearing sense, sorry for the clickbait... No, I hunted with my eyes: one of my first house-sits in Australia was in a beautiful treetop house with a seaside view. The house was perched on the side of a mountain, next to a nature reserve renown for being abundant with koalas. Every day we walked the dog here and searched for koalas (a koala hunt if you will). Every bushy tree was studied carefully, each leaf that moved was a koala.. The mistake was, that when you actually find a koala it's really f-ing obvious (see above photo).

Lesson: don't waste your time hunting for koalas, if there's one in a tree you will know

#2. I held a koala

australian animals

This was way worse. Some states in Australia won't let you hold koalas (like Victoria) but others (like Queensland) will. I held one at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and at the time I was like, "well the money goes towards the upkeep of the koalas, like they gotta do something for their supper right? And it's not like they're drugged like the tigers in Thailand, for example." I still felt kinda weird about tbh, but it was a thoughtful gift from two homeowners who spoilt us like we were their grandchildren, and knew how much we loved animals. The koala was put on me for the length of time it took to take the photo, and the claws dug into me like I was a tree. Serves me right. Nowadays I wouldn't support this industry, koalas shouldn't have to be p*mped out for us to look after them, imo, we should just stop cutting down their habitats etc. and leave them tf alone. But yeah. I'm still grateful for the experience, and especially so as it was a gift. But I do feel slightly guilty about it.

Lesson: donate to koala sanctuaries (and sanctuaries in general) without needing something in return.

#3. I hunted spiders

spiders in australia blog

This wasn't really a mistake in my book, but my dad was really, really mad at me for doing this, which I found funny, of course. But yeah, after six weeks in Australia and not one sign of a crazy-ass spider, I went on the hunt for one. I looked under a ledge in the garden and found this beauty (above), the size of a tarantula and, yes, poisonous (side note there have been no deaths in Australia from a confirmed spider bite since 1979 - many spider bites are 'blank' and a spider bite isn't even a notifiable medical emergency over there.. #straya) Then, a few days after my spider hunt, the universe must have heard my wishes and thrown them back in my face, because the spiders came hunting for me:
spiders in australia blog

We found this Huntsman in the kitchen of one of the houses we house sat in (the above mentioned koala park treetop one). Huntsmen (and women) are not poisonous but they are GIGANTIC. Like bigger than a dinner plate kinda of gigantic... Memorable moment of my ex Tanbay trying to put it in a Tupperware pot to transfer it outside, and the Tupperware not being big enough haha.

Lesson: don't go hunting spiders or they might end up hunting you / don't worry about them killing you, it's chill and that is not a good enough reason to avoid a country...

#4. I mistook every rock for a kangaroo

house sitting australia

Kind of similarly to when I went hunting koalas, when I first arrived in Australia I saw kangaroos everywhere.. I'd blame jet-lag but it was like I was wearing kangaroo goggles, every rock, every tyre, every clump of cr*p was a kangaroo.. Kangaroos aren't walking down the streets of Melbourne, but if you're out in nature they're pretty rampant (depends on the area though). And like the koalas if they're there you'll know it. Side note: I mostly spotted kangaroos on drizzly days.

Lesson: kangaroos are easy to spot, especially on rainy days.

#5. I ate kangaroo, crocodile and emu (and pig, cow, etc.)

animals in australia

This was way, way, way before travel made me go vegan so as well as eating the 'bog-standard' pig, chicken, cow, lamb and fish that used to be my 'varied' diet, I also tried kangaroo (gamey), crocodile (fishy) and emu (birdy). I feel mean about it now and shocked by the cognitive dissonance - how could I be so excited to see kangaroos in the wild (and in sanctuaries) one minute and then go off and eat one the next?

Lesson: go vegan ;)

#6. I supported SeaWorld :(

common travel mistakes australia

I was house sitting on the Gold Coast over Christmas and as a 'treat' we treated ourselves to entry into SeaWorld. Where they keep dolphins, sting rays and tonnes of other sentient beings trapped and forced to work for their supper. I can just about still understand how people can eat dairy and meat, but using animal's for entertainment is something we could all give up like yesterday.

Lesson: please don't support SeaWorld!

#7. I didn't trust my gut when it came to who to trust

Other than practicing in the UK for family before we went, Australia was the first place we house sat. Most of the homeowners we house sat went above and beyond when it came to being kind to us, and I'm still in touch with most of them today. But one was a bit of a nightmare, I didn't really like her when we spoke via email, but it was in such a beautiful place and for such convenient dates (between two other sits) that I didn't trust my gut. She did things like told us to eat everything in the fridge/freezer and then told us off for doing so when we got back. Lol. It was such a headache I decided to trust my gut from then on.

Then almost immediately we couchsurfed with this guy who I also had a bad feeling about who also turned out to be so awful we had to be rescued (by the above mentioned homeowners who spoilt us like grandchildren). Yey.

In the sum total I've my life I'd estimate that I'd not trusted people who deserved to be trusted way more than I've trusted people who did not deserve to be trusted.. But I do believe we have a sixth sense that we can tap into if we can be bothered. Trust yourself.

Lesson: Trust your gut, trust yourself.

#8. I vastly mis+underestimated how big Australia is

australia travel mistakes

The first house sit we scored was near Melbourne and the second was near Adelaide. I looked at the map and my Brit-ass was like "sweet, they look close, a couple of hours drive max". 10 hours. They look so close 😅 Turns out flying between cities is very common in Australia, and of course you'll probably be flying in. Hot tip, opt for a good airline like Cathay Pacific, because wherever you're coming from, it's going to be a long flight, you don't want to ruin your first impression of Australia with the hangover from an awkward flight. Side note, Cathay has a vegan option! Yey.

Lesson: It's not Europe. Australia is fckn big!

#9. We didn't get travel insurance

travel insurance australia

Nowadays we opt for SafetyWing, known among travel bloggers as 'the new and improved WorldNomads' but back then they didn't exist and I - and my then-fiancé, actually then-boyfriend (and now-ex) - didn't get travel insurance either. It worked well for about 6 months, I freaked out once when I cut my finger with a bread knife, and vowed to get insurance, but then just didn't. Then, on a slippery New Year's Eve, drinking illegally on the beach (not allowed to drink on the beach in Australia), Tanbay slipped on some sand and broke his arm. Nightmare. Luckily, I was able to bullsh*t his way onto the English reciprocal healthcare system with Australia. Otherwise the combined efforts of ambulance, x-rays, casts and two nights in the hospital would have cost us £20k. (And I don't think it helped that he threatened that Germany would sue anyone who used a needle on him - yes Germany, not him, needle phobia does things to a person; not to mention my drunkass running around trying to steal dr*gs. Haha). Get insurance.

Lesson: Most important take away from this rambley post - travel insurance is a must.

#10. I didn't stay forever </3

house sitting australia

After the arm breaking fiasco I got cold feet and booked the earliest flight home we could (aka 3 months later after we'd done the house sits we'd promised to do). We went back to the UK and I saw how it was no longer the land for me and probably never had been. I regretted leaving Australia immensely. Especially years later when we eventually broke up. But if we'd have never left I'd have never met Tamás, Bri, Timi, Sophie, Sabrina, Zsuzsi, Natalijas, Melinda, Alexia, Orsi, Julia, Abdullah, Zsófi, Devon, Matyi, Lena and all the other friends and loves that bring sparkle to my life.

"There are no mistakes, only lessons,
lessons are repeated until learned,
learning never ends"

Here is a video we made about trying to guess Aussie slang words - hope you enjoy :)

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillion. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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