Travel Australia: Lis Sowerbutts of Lis’s Travel Tips

travel Australia - Cape Byron NSW

Today is pretty buzzed to have our first Oceania-based travel blogger interviewee on-board ready to talk about all things travel in Australia.

Lis runs the really informative blog Lis’s Travel Tips where she shares a lot of what she’s been doing this past 30 years travelling the globe. Lis is definitely one of the most experienced bloggers we’ve had speak to us thus far. Check her out!

1. Hi Lis! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Australia?

Hi my name is Lis Sowerbutts and I’m a New Zealander who has lived in Australia so many times they finally gave me an Ozzie passport. The last trip included driving 35,000kms around the country in a 1986 Toyota Landcruiser 4WD.

I run a travel blog called Lis’s Travel Tips – which is basically a place for me to write down all the stuff I’ve learnt from 30 years of travel (yeah I’m so old I travelled before there was expedia or even the Internet!)

2. How does Australia compare to the rest of Oceania in terms of things to see and do, its food and its culture? Is it very similar to other countries or very different?

Australia is unique – it really only gets included in Oceania because it fits even less well into Asia! Its an island sure – either the world’s largest, or the smallest continent, the experts seem divided. The first people settled Australia around 50,000 years ago – the only place that has a longer history of humans is Africa. In contrast most of the Pacific Islands and New Zealand have been populated in the last 5,000 years.

When the first European explorers sent back drawings and specimens of animals who hopped rather than walked (kangaroos), fish that laid eggs (the platypus) and bears that slept 20 hours a day and only lived on one particular type of tree (the Koala) – the experts back in the England thought they were joking!

travel Australia - Perth from Kings Park

Perth from Kings Park

3. How much money can someone travel around Australia for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?

Australia is expensive – and even more so now than when we did our big drive around it a few years ago. The Aussie dollar is strong against all other major currencies, and the country itself is expensive, even for locals. I wouldn’t come expecting to spend less than A$100/day – and that wouldn’t be with a lot of remote travel or drinking either.

Because of the sheer size of the country transport costs a great deal. Flying is usually the cheapest option, but of course you see nothing. Camping can be cheap though – because outside of the populated east coast you can often do so for free. In Western Australia for example there are free camp grounds every few hundred kilometers on the major highways. Food and fuel get more expensive the more remote you go. Caravanning is also a great option if you want that added bit of luxury and flexibility to travel around, you’ll need to check out the local laws and make sure you get insurance, you can quickly get safeguard caravan insurance quotes online to give you an idea of how much it would cost.

For many younger traveller I’d seriously suggest that they get a working holiday visa and spend some time in the outback being paid to see some of the most amazing country on earth. And the Australian dollars you earn will go further than your foreign currency too.

Cheap flights to Australia are making the country more accessible too.

4. What are your favourite destinations in Australia and why?

For cities I love Perth – it pretty much enjoys my definition of a perfect climate – hot dry summers, and a short damp winter just for a bit of contrast. The beaches are outrageously long, beautiful and empty. The sea is warm, the waves are fun – what’s not to like about a capital city which pretty much revolves around the beach?

South Australia also seems to get missed my many overseas visitors but I really like Adelaide which is a flat, pretty city – within 20 minutes of world-class wineries of the Barossa Valley. Nearby, in Australian terms, is Kangaroo Island, one of the larger of Australia’s offshore islands, which features seal colonies and even more wineries.

travel Australia beach

5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in Australia and why?

Well beer drinking and barbeques rank pretty high on most Australians list of cultural activities – in fact most city beaches come complete with gar fired barbeques for you to cook your own.

Most people will have heard of snorkeling or diving on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef – but I rank swimming with whale sharks off Western Australia’s as a pretty incredible experience.

Some of the rural camp grounds in northern Queensland and the Northern Territory often seemed to have semi-resident bush poets and entertainers. Well worth going along to – they are often free. The rural pubs really are the heart of small communities still, go along, but don’t be surprised if they pour your house red from a cask kept in the fridge!

6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?

The big skies. Most of Australia is pretty darn flat, and I do miss New Zealand’s mountains, but the compensation is the huge skies. At night, in the bush, the stars can be enough for you to walk without a torch, even if the moon is not out.

Oh and beaches, I love a good beach, and pretty hard to find a bad one in Australia!

Least favourite – the flies. A fly net is a necessity, not a nicety for much of the outback. Many tourists worry about crocodiles or spiders or snakes. These are all pretty rare and/or timid though – the flies are the things that will drive you mad!

travel Australia Broome, WA

Broome, WA

7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?

I haven’t written much about Australia yet – my site covers the world – well the fairly large part that I’ve seen anyways. I tend to pick topics either because someone has asked me the random question like “how to get from Sydney to Canberra”.

In general I’m trying to position Lis’s Travel Tips as being someone useful because of my experience of travel. I have been doing it for 30 – odd years – and I yet to be killed, maimed or raped, or any of those other things I was told would happen to me wandering around with no fixed itinerary.

8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Australia without?

Suntan lotion SPF30+. The sun is a killer, you won’t survive an hour in the summer sun without cover and water. As a blond I burn fast – so I tend to cover up and wear suntan lotion year round.

travel Australia - Bell Gorge, WA

Bell Gorge, WA

9. If you could live anywhere in the country where would it be and why?

I would return to Perth, probably, it is pretty darn remote – the nearest city is Denpesar, Bali!

10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone had told you before you started travelling in Australia what would it be?

Well to be honest I can’t remember – I wasn’t listening! My advice would be if you are travelling Australia – remember that all the backpackers and tourists do a well-worn trail between Melbourne and Cairns up the east coast. Try the rest of the country – you’ll find the best landscapes, people, beer and wildlife. And far fewer tourists.

Now that’s some super advice on travel in Australia you aren’t likely to find elsewhere! Make sure you check out more of Lis’ great tips over on Lis’s Travel Tips. You can also follow her on Twitter.


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  1. […] Anyways if you are interested in reading about some of travelling Australia experiences – hop over to the article at TravelLinkSites […]

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