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5 biggest shocks in Australia

The price of visiting Australia is on the hike. But that's not the only shock you'll get when you head Down Under, says Holly Gurr

What to expect when you arrive in Oz (dreamstime)

1. Coffee is king

Upon my arrival in Australia, after nearly 36 hours of no sleep, I needed coffee. My downward spiral into torpidity was only warded off after slurping a heavenly latte. Forget the weak, bland tastes of Costa or Starbucks, this country has an abundance of cracking coffee shops. Throughout my trip, I found myself constantly saying, “this is the best coffee I have ever had!”

Australia is passionate about quality coffee and the opportunity to sample is never far away.

2. Prices are really hard to swallow

Even with a fore-warning that Australia is one of, if not, the most expensive countries in the world, I routinely felt my eyebrows raise and stomach plummet in disbelief at the expense of, well, everything. From buying a small bottle of water to booking a whale-watching excursion, enquiring about prices is something often met with dread to the average traveller.

Try to accept you will be paying more, to avoid letting too much cash-counting impinge on your experience.

3. A vast wilderness

Many major cities in Australia are surrounded by gorgeous wilderness and national parks that will summon your urge for adventure. Brisbane and the Gold Coast spring to mind, offering visitors remoteness close by. Mountainous views, breathtaking gorges, and beautiful rainforests are only a short drive away from the city's hotspots.

Set a few days aside (at least) to explore the desolate nature to really appreciate the sheer expanse of this country.

4. Fantastically fresh food

With only 10% of land inhabited, a tropical climate and a wide variation in agriculture, Australia certainly has the means to source its own food – and boy is it good! Don't be tempted by a quick-fix at one of the copious fast food joints – opt for more intimate cafés and restaurants that source their ingredients locally and your tastebuds will be rewarded.

Australia's restaurant scene is booming too (Western Australia has seen a wave of recent openings) so explore the best tastes in each destination. Although, be sure to remember number 2 (above) before going all out.

5. A combination of culture

Australia's history has been eventful to say the least but I wasn't sure of what to expect in the way of culture. Even post-travelling, it's hard to explain the overall ambiance of the place, it's more of a mish-mash of ancient civilisation and Western influence.

Everywhere you look there are markers of aboriginal heritage and the natural world, however the vast highways, influence of media and advertising, glistening cities and penchant for competitive sport throws Western culture into the mix.

Arrive with an open mind about Australia's culture to soak it all up.

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