Tips and advice for an American visiting Australia for first time?

I will need to travel to Australia in November for work, likely traveling to Melbourne and Sydney. Are Americans well-received in Australia? I love Australian accents when I meet someone from AUS here in the U.S. Would my American accent sound strange down there? Any tips, advice on places to stay and things to do with my limited free time when I’m not working? I’d like to check out some famous places but also get a sense for the local fun scene like bars, restaurants, etc. Maybe catch an Australian football game at a bar or in person. Thanks for any help you can provide. Looking forward to visiting your wonderful country next month!
Reading the answers so far I’m getting more and more excited about this trip! Great advice. Please keep it coming. And don’t worry, I’m not an arrogant American, we’ve got as many or more problems here than anywhere else. Just looking forward to meeting a bunch of great people on the other side of the world and sharing a cold beer! :-D

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15 Responses to Tips and advice for an American visiting Australia for first time?

  1. Tony says:

    Hi, glad you can make it to Aussie land. Firstly I think you will find that most Aussies are down to Earth and happy to receive anyone – of good character at least!
    You need to remember, travelling to the Southern hemisphere in the months Dec to Feb is our Summer. Therefore you will not see any Aussie Rules football nor will you see any Rugby – Union or League. It is however, cricket season and I suggest you get yourself along to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) to see a one-day match. You don’t say how long you will be here for, but if you are still here for Xmas and are in Melbourne, head to the MCG on Boxing Day for the Cricket Test match – even if you don’t understand the game, the entertainment in the crowed and the atmosphere is enough!!!

    Again whilst in Melbourne you may want to take a trip down our world famous Great Ocean Road. The scenery is awesome.

    Anyway, I hope you have a great trip Down Under

  2. oh.helen says:

    Well all the footy’s finished sorry! Grand finals were recent. (My team got the biggest thrashing for a grand final in a hundred years. . oh the shame) Well to be honest I haven’t met many people that came from America or had an American accent, but I bet once you walk into a pub and say something they’ll all be all over you =P

    Well if you’re going to be in sydney, you have to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House, Bondi Beach (you HAVE to go there) and Darling Harbour! :)

  3. kingofaus says:

    yeah manly lost the grand final that made me sad =(

    anyway yeah people will take kindly to you and would be happy to show you things.

    also dont be afraid to ask someone to repeat what they said because of accents you might not understand the first time. I think you should avoid talking politics unless you find out something about Aussies politics like who the prime minister is.

    maybe check out bondhi beach which is in Sydney who knows you might even see a celeb there. and when someone calls you a mate it means they like you. not just anyone is called mate. don’t say G,day or people will just laugh at you,

    well yeah theres my lame tips.

    hope it helps and good luck in your job and have fun in your free time =D

  4. maharg says:

    1. Please don’t drive on the wrong side of the road !
    2. Wise to avoid talking politics or religion in a crowded area
    3. Don’t denigrate our Queen like Phyllis Diller did when she
    visited our country. (we are the only ones entitled to).
    4. Your accent won’t sound stranger than our own various
    accents, and is understood by everyone who has a T.V.
    5. Bring plenty of American dollars to spend !
    6. Be sure to have a great time, even although you will not be
    our most exciting State of Western Australia !

  5. mmdjaajl says:

    DO just be yourself & you will get on fine (we dont bite)
    DONT be a smartass know-it all or you will find us Aussies not very friendly we like people who are real

  6. Ken E says:

    Football season is just over, you will be in time for the beginning of the cricket season.
    1. You will not be able to use US dollars change it for Australian.
    2 . We drive on the left so be careful while crossing streets.
    3. If you hire a car, watch it. 40% of head on crashes in Australia involve someone from a country that drives on the right. We give way / yield to traffic on the right at intersections. A lot of traffic signs are the same as in the USA as they are a world standard. Speed limits are strictly enforced but unless you are madly above the limits you don’t have to go to court for a speeding fine.
    4. Beer is stronger on the average than in the USA.
    5. Hamburgers come with salad vegetables here, even at the golden arches. But try some Thai, Indian or fusion.
    6. We measure distance in kilometres, A kilometre is about 5/8 of a mile, so 100 km is about 62 miles, 80 km is about 50 miles, 60 km is about 37 miles.
    7. Volumes in litres. A litre is a bit more than a quart.
    8. Weights in kilograms, a kilogram is about 2 and a quarter pounds.
    9. Mastercard , Visa, American Express, Diners Club are used in about that order of popularity. automatic tellsers all over the place.
    10. Electricity is 240 Volts. Power sockets are nearly always switched and the switches are "down" for "on". An dual voltage electric shaver will work OK with an adapter plug but things like hair dryers will burn out before you can blink.
    11. Your cell phone may work with an Australian SIM card, check with your supplier. Some cell phone chargers work OK with 100/240 volts but again would need an adapter.
    12. Don’t tell us that you love our accents. It’s mildly irritating, and anyway you have the accent.
    14. Your portable battery operated AM / FM radio will work OK.
    15. Keep off the subject of Iraq. It is a sore point here. There is a federal election coming and the campaign will be on while you are here. It’s going already but hasn’t "officially" started.
    16. Get travel health insurance.
    17. Have a good stay.

  7. The_Mouse says:

    My two cents worth:

    - Your accent is NOT a problem. We don’t think it is strange. You speak english – we will understand you.
    - You can love our accent, but there is no need to keep telling us about it. When you are here – it is YOU who will have the accent.
    - enjoy yourself, relax.
    - don’t try to talk like us. We accept people of all colour, race, languages and accents.
    - DO NOT EVER… try to say "gidday" to everyone you meet the moment you get off the plane. We don’t do that here. It takes time to learn who to say it to and how to say it propely.
    - Treat us the way you want to be treated and you will get along fine.
    - Don’t come here and then whinge about how great or how much better the USA is for this and that. You will likely be told to go and get stuffed (or likely with more colourful language) and go back where you come from. We KNOW we are not perfect, but we live here and this is how things work here. We are NOT in the USA.
    - November is getting into the summer months here, so… if you want to socialise, get to know the game of cricket.

    And leave any prejudices behind. We are a multicultural society and we have people from all over the world living peacefully here. Any derogatory comment about ethnicity or races or skin colour WILL be met with great disapproval. You have been warned.

    Hope this helps.

    PS.. oh yeah… keep in mind that us Aussies are a sarcastic bunch. If someone who is drinking with you call you a "bastard" it means that they like you. You WILL KNOW when such terms is NOT an expression of affection, because it usually followed by a knuckle sandwich.

  8. raadsgirl says:

    lol, to the two people who wrote before me!!!

    Our humour is a lot different to yours i am sure!!

    Have fun!! You are going to have a great time!!!

  9. sexc_n_h0rny_now says:


  10. Oh great 1 says:

    if your here to drink beer you will do well with the local blokes but carefull how you go there is nothing more sporting than taking the piss out of a yank lol however you will be here for our spring racing carnival if in Melbourne and there is a fantastic buzz in the air for Melbourne cup it is the horse race that stops a nation and if your here it would be a shame to miss it and you would leave with magical memories. Enjoy yourself, Im sure it wont be the last time you visit.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t really improve on what’s already been said in the earlier fantastic answers.

    1. Sadly, you’ve missed the footy season, it’s cricket season now. (Summer)
    2. Do not talk about Iraq or George W Bush.
    3. The date is about to be set for our federal election, the campaign doesn’t go on for ever and a day like in the US.
    It will be called and probably about 6 weeks later we will be voting. All eligible citizens over the age of 18 will be expected to turn up to vote. That’s the law. So, if everyone is talking politics that’s the reason.
    4. Keep the web address, below, handy for checking out the meaning of whatever Aussie slang you hear.
    Do not use any Aussie slang unless you know exactly what you’re saying. You can get yourself into BIG trouble.
    5. Lastly, you will have a wonderful time.
    As previously mentioned, we don’t bite but we can be sarcastic.
    Also previously mentioned, for goodness sake, stay safe on the LEFT hand side of our roads. We want to see you go home happy and in one piece.

    Edit: Thought you might like to know, "thongs" in Australia are shoes/sandals eg. "flip-flops". Many people wear them during the summer and I didn’t want you getting confused.
    Especially, if someone says they’ll take their thongs off before coming inside or something like that.

  12. JLL1976 says:

    Sadly by November the Australian Rules Football season is finished. If you can extend your stay into December the Boxing Day test in Melbourne or the New Year’s Day test in Sydney(cricket) are cultural experiences not to be missed.

    In general, Australians are welcoming and friendly to people regardless of where you are from. As an American the worst you would have to worry about was a little good natured teasing…

    I live in Melbourne, and while I concede that from an international tourist perspective Sydney has the Harbour, the bridge and the opera house, Melbourne has more in the way of a local cultural scene.

    Melbourne is often referred to as the European capital. We have lots of little cafes and bars, with small boutiques and galleries all dotted around the place. Some of the most interesting haunts can only be found by wandering through the maze of lanes and alleyways- I still haven’t found them all!

  13. Caitlin M says:

    By November it is getting quite warm in Sydney (don’t know about Melbourne). Pack some sunscreen!!

    As others have said, there are things like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House to visit in Sydney. If you are looking for different and unique activities or things to visit, try the following:

    * Venture away from the CBD and visit places like the North Shore and Eastern Suburbs.
    * Have a look at the Aboriginal Rock Engravings in North Bondi
    * Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens
    * Travel by ferry (if possible)
    * Tumbalong Park (Darling Harbour)

    There’s always Bondi beach, Manly beach, Taronga zoo and The Rocks if you run out of things to do.

  14. tara_j says:

    the weather will be great (warm but not too hot) so bring some bathers (boardshorts) along so you can go to the beach. go and see the cricket (footies over). considering the number of americans already living in australia, don’t worry too much about how you will be treated…coz they’re living here for a reason, aren’t they?

  15. Anastasia K says:

    Your accent will be fine. We are used to foreigners. lol, just don’t mention the Iraq war to us. We aren’t very happy with it. Don’t be too surprised when you discover that we aren’t a small country full of convicts. Sydney in comparison to what it was a coupla hundred years ago, has changed immensely.

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