Australia is a large country in Oceania and is home to many natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Great Ocean Road. As such, it is a highly popular tourist destination especially for backpackers who love to road trip the massive country. Australia enjoys a warm climate overall, with very little snow falling in the winter except in mountain regions of the country. So, is it safe to travel to Australia?
Overall, Australia is an extremely safe country to visit and travel. Australia boasts an amazing record of healthcare, safety for its citizens and overall crime rate. While the country is one of the safest to visit in the world, there are still risks to be aware of when travelling, such as natural disasters, poisonous and venomous animals and driving risks on highway roads.
This article will go into each area of risk and how you can ensure your journey is safe and one to remember.
The biggest threat to be aware of while visiting Australia is the risk of natural disasters such as cyclones, bushfires and floods. Natural disasters are the single biggest risk that affect safe travel to Australia. Every year tourists are caught out in floodwaters and tropical cyclones by not following warnings and directions from authorities.
The coast of Australia, especially Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia are particularly susceptible to tropical cyclones in the warmer seasons. Each year between 3 and 14 cyclones hammer the Australian cost, often bringing very high winds, heavy rainfall and can be very damaging.
The tropical cyclone season runs from November to April. If you are visiting between these times, it is important to keep up to date on weather forecasts and warnings from authorities.
With cyclones comes the risk of flooding in Australia. A tropical cyclone can bring a large rainfall with it in a very short period of time. When it rains very heavily over a short period there is a high risk of flooding in the area. It is very important to understand what to do in a flood.
Never drive in flood waters. You can easily lose control of your vehicle by entering flood waters. The water level is often deceptively high. Stay safe and seek assistance if in any danger.
Australian bushfires are extremely common. Hot temperatures and dry bushland provide the ultimate fuel for a fire to start. It is important to be aware of the risks when visiting Australia, especially in the summer months.
Bushfires can impact large areas, homes and human life. Keep an eye on the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website to keep up to date on bushfires and areas in danger. It is extremely important to follow warnings and direction from authorities from officials in a bushfire area.
Terrorism within Australia is low. The official level of terrorism threat in the country remains at ‘probable’ which is the middle of the 5 levels. However, don’t let this be a deterrent as the reality is there is very little terrorism in the country.
Australia is a western society with close ties to the United States. As such, there is going to be a handful of groups who wish to inflict harm on the country and its citizens. The biggest threat continues to be the Islamic State group, who uses propaganda to recruit young Australians into joining them.
Attacks of terrorism in Australia are very rare. Australian Counter-Terrorism stops a lot of attacks on citizens and tourists. Authorities respond quickly to attacks. Perpetrators are taken down quickly to minimise casualties.
While the threat of terrorism is present in Australia, actual attacks are very rare, and this should not be a worry while travelling to the country. Anti-terrorism laws are effective in protecting Australian citizens and visitors to the country.
Crime in Australia is also very low in comparison to the rest of the world. Data shows that Australia has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. The homicide rate is also dropping, with a decrease from 1.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 1989-90, to 1 per 100,000 in 2013-14. While these crime rates are low it is important to be aware of the potential dangers to make it safe to travel to Australia.
Visiting Australia is very safe. The country is protected by strict laws around gun ownership. No mass shootings have occurred since 1996. This incident set in motion massive gun legislation. These laws were hugely successful and there have been no mass shootings since.
The Australian Institute of Criminology did a study on homicides involving overseas visitors and the results were very low with 0.55 deaths per million visitors. In 2018 there were over 9 million visitors to Australia, with only 2,480 being involved in some sort of assault or crime.
Travelling, especially by road represents another risk that travellers need to be aware of. A lot of tourists visiting Australia like to road trip around the country. The Australian Outback is a very large and sparse area. Do not take driving through the Outback lightly. Caution is advised to make it safe to travel to Australia.
Australia is only slightly smaller than the United States of America. The biggest difference is that the US is highly populated throughout the entire country. Australia’s population is mostly located along the coast as central Australia is mostly arid, hot desert which is unable to be lived on. However, often people take a trip on and do not factor in the risks associated with such a large area.
It is important to be planned and organised when driving through the Australian Outback. A Four-Wheeled Drive (4WD) is an absolute must for tackling the outback. Mobile phone signal is almost non-existent in the outback so ensure you have maps. Water and food are extremely important in case of emergency.
Kombis or campervans are a popular way to get around Australia. If you are hiring or purchasing one of these it is important to stick to the populated roads along the coast. Do not take one of these vehicles in the outback and the chances of break down are very high and help can be hundreds of kilometres away.
To prepare yourself for driving through Australia, this guide from the Queensland Government goes into great detail and provides a lot of useful information.
If you read the internet often you would be lead to believe that around every corner is a deadly animal waiting to get you in Australia. While there is a lot of deadly species, the truth is that the risk is quite low. I have lived in Australia my whole life and I am here to tell the tale. I have only had to fight off a few drop bears, that’s about it!
A fun fact is that you are more likely to be injured or killed by horses and cows than animals such as sharks, snakes or spiders in Australia.
However, it is important to be aware of the deadly animals around Australia and know what to do in case of emergency. There are warning signs plastered across the country. Listen to them and follow the directions. When swimming at the beach, ensure it is a patrolled beach with lifeguard’s present. Lifeguards are trained in rescue and medical assistance. They also set up areas of the beach that is safe to swim.
When in the outback, stay on the tracks and never venture into bushland off the tracks. Spiders and snakes are most likely to be in these areas that do not see human contact often.
Overall, it is extremely safe to travel to Australia and is one of the safest countries in the world. With spectacular natural beauty and magnificent cities to visit, everyone needs to visit Australia once in their lives.
Be safe and listen to warnings and you will have a trip that will never be forgotten!
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