Sarah: Getting the most out of your Aussie experience

Photo of Sarah MitchellSarah works as a Student Mobility Officer at USQ in the International department. As part of this role, Sarah provides assistance to students either visiting Australia or travelling overseas as part of USQ's Study Abroad program.


As the Student Mobility Officer at USQ, I support students who are either leaving Australia to head overseas or arriving here at our USQ campuses for their study abroad adventures. Students are always asking for my top tips when it comes to things to do once they’ve landed in Australia. Visiting the main tourist attractions like Australia Zoo and the Great Barrier Reef are a must, but these are my top places, off the beaten track, to visit that will give you an insight into authentic Australian culture, history and lifestyle.

Byron Bay, North Coast of New South Wales

Experience Australian beach culture, local food, shopping and countless activities like surfing lessons, whale watching, bushwalks and art tours, not to mention the number of craft and farmers markets that are run every week.


View of Byron Bay from the Cape Byron Lighthouse

Get a henna tattoo, eat some fish and chips and watch the surfers at Main Beach of an afternoon, or walk the lighthouse track and enjoy ocean breezes, stunning horizons and take some awesome photos for Instagram. Byron is also famous for its folk/alternative music scene so book a hostel or a motel and check out a gig or two. Many of these activities are free, but you can also pay for some awesome experiences like kayaking with dolphins off the coast!

Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria

All things funky, fun and food happens in Fitzroy. Eat your way up Brunswick Street through award-winning bars and restaurants, famous for their cuisine, live music and great atmosphere. You can shop until you drop at the markets or at the vintage boutiques. Take the ‘86 tram route’ and view Australia’s largest open air gallery of street art, Tour d’Art, or join an art tour and check out the graffiti art and exhibitions in the area. Taste the best coffee in the world (no exaggeration) at one of the great many cafes in Melbourne. Make sure to pick a table looking out onto the street so you can get the best vantage point for people watching.


Me at the Great Ocean Road near Melbourne

Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – Hobart Tasmania

If you visit just one art gallery whilst in Australia, MONA should be it. Built by an eccentric Australian professional gambler and businessman, MONA was opened in 2011 and changed Hobart’s reputation as a sleepy small town to a city of culture and the arts. Catch the ferry from Hobart along the river to arrive to the museum by boat. This is part of the whole MONA experience so it’s definitely worth doing.

Along with the usual visiting and long term exhibitions, MONA also hosts festivals throughout the year to showcase live music, cinema and artists. These events are so popular that accommodation in Hobart can book out months in advance, so if you do intent to check this out, I would recommend booking ahead!

 
Me at MONA

Berry Springs Nature Park, Northern Territory

After being in the Northern Territory for more than 5 minutes, the first thing you’ll want to do is cool off and go swimming! As Darwin is surrounded by crocodile infested waters, it is important to choose a swimming hole that is safe and croc free.

Berry Springs Nature Park (about 50kms from Darwin) offers naturally occurring watering holes that are a stunning place to cool off and relax. There is no admission fee to enter the park, so why not splurge on a decadent picnic lunch and spend the afternoon dipping in and out of the water holes?


The stunning natural beauty of Berry Springs

Rottnest Island, Perth Western Australia

If Perth is included in your Australian adventure itinerary, make sure you add in a visit to Rottnest Island for either a day trip from Perth or a casual camping expedition for the weekend. It’s a natural, budget friendly, destination!

You can take a bike tour around the island, go scuba diving, play golf, cuddle a quokka or relax on one of the 63 pristine beaches. You can even indulge in some amazing, fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants or cafes.


This is me with some quokkas the last time I was at Rottnest Island. I am the child in the straw hat with the pink ribbon. These were cool once right?

Whether you’re with us for a semester or a longer visit, make the most of your time in Australia… off the beaten track! If you’re looking for activities a little closer to campus check out What’s on in Queensland. Share your Aussie experience and favourite destinations with us at social.media@usq.edu.au or by tagging us using #usqinternational.


Related:

Your first 48 hours: A step-by-step guide to your first 48 hours in Australia

Amazing apps for Aussie life!

Laura: 3 highlights of moving to Australia for study