Basic information about Western Australia

Perth City

If you ever travel anywhere it’s best to be armed with some basic information that most people don’t really think about.  If you are contemplating travelling to Western Australia, here’s some info that you should know that you probably wouldn’t get told:

We speak English, but it is Australian English and sometimes our vernacular (a fancy word for slang) can be quite mysterious to those who weren’t raised to speak it.  We may use peculiar words, but after a while you get used to it, and anything you don’t understand just ask the speaker to repeat what they said.

Our currency is the Australian dollar, and we have colourful banknotes which are not Monopoly money!  We don’t have any coins of a denomination lower than a 5¢ piece, so if your purchase is either marked up or down to the nearest 5¢, and this is quite legal.

Here, cell phones are called mobile phones and use a GSM system – which is used in over 200 countries, but not necessarily North America and Japan, so if you are from there you may not be able to use your mobile in Australia.  If you are from anywhere else – congratulations, you hit the jackpot.  If you have an unlocked phone you can get cheap sim cards to use here to save you money. Some of these come with very cheap international call rates.

Do not be disappointed if you do not see kangaroos jumping down the main streets in our cities, but that does not mean you won’t see kangaroos in the wild.  You probably won’t see venomous snakes slithering down Hay Street Mall in the city either, and those deadly spiders that you hear about don’t really like to get up close to humans.  In other words, wildlife is wildlife – if you are out in the bush you may encounter these creatures, but it is not normal to do so in the cities.  If you are out in the bush and you see them, let them have their own space, as they are usually more scared of you than you are of them.

Watch the sun – and I don’t mean that literally!  Trust me! Our sun is a lot fiercer than the sun you will encounter just about anywhere.  It may sound strange, but once you get out of the cities our sky is also huge.  When you see it for yourself, you will understand.  Many visitors make the mistake of coming to Western Australia and lying on the beach all day.  Wrong!  If you do this, you will get very sunburnt and you will probably suffer heat stroke, both of which will make you very uncomfortable.  We have a saying here: Slip! Slop! Slap! It means slip on some form of covering, a t-shirt or something, slop on the sunscreen – and use high quality creams that are going to work, and slap on a hat.  If you go to the beach, you can tell the locals, they’ll be the ones who cover up.  Some may go for a tan in short bursts, but they will cover up after a short while.  Even in our winter which, if you are from Europe or North America you won’t recognise as winter, the sun can get very hot.  We have learned to live with a fierce sun, and we do that by respecting it and protecting ourselves from it.

Plus!  If you are swimming at a surf beach that is patrolled by lifeguards swim between the flags.  Those flags indicate the safest place for you to swim, they are not there to make the beach look pretty.  They are there to save you life.  We have some pretty deadly rips that can carry you out to sea and drown you – going home in a coffin is probably not the way you intended to finish your great adventure, just because you lacked common sense.

This advice is not meant to scare you off – follow it and you will have a great time.

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