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Michela Fantinel

Michela is a passionate traveller and outdoor enthusiast who has travelled solo for +35 years between Italy, Australia, South East Asia and more countries. Through her adventures and knowledge, she has been inspiring and helping women over 50 to travel solo and independently. Michela is the founder and editor-in-chief of Rocky Travel & Tours For Over 50.


  1. Sand In My Suitcase
    April 7, 2015 @ 8:34 pm

    Good tips. Thanks for sharing. Interesting about not driving at night in the countryside. In Cabo San Lucas and the Baja area in Mexico, we’ve also learned not to drive at night because of the cattle that cross the roads. (It’s also good not to drive on New Year’s Day there too, because the locals like to party loooong on New Year’s Eve and some are still tipsy and drinking/driving in the morning.)


  2. Shara Lundie
    February 17, 2016 @ 8:48 pm

    I’m Australian and I always like reading tips from other peoples perspective that come to our country. These are great tips except for the driving at night. You don’t have to not drive at night, it is perfectly safe. When you are in the country side and in rural areas, you just need to slow down and keep a good look out for wildlife. 70km at night in a rural area is to fast and won’t give you enough time to look out for our wildlife. Driving at night is fine as long as you slow down. 🙂


    • rockytravel
      February 20, 2016 @ 3:46 pm

      Hi Shara, you can certainly drive at night if you own your car! If you have a rental car you are definitely not allowed to drive at night in rural areas. This is a general rule that all car rental cars apply in their policy. If you still want to drive at night with a rental car you will have to take the responsability as most travel insurance companies in Australia will not cover the costs if an accident occurs. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


    • Leah
      November 25, 2016 @ 6:47 am

      I don’t know I’d say it’s ‘perfectly safe’ to drive at night time, because there are increased risks. Driving below 70km/hr is a ridiculous suggestion because that’s dangerously slow and actually illegal in a 100km/hr zone – you could be fined. But it’s still safe enough to drive at night if you’re careful. When I was a kid my dad drove at night time a lot.


  3. John De Silva
    October 27, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

    I am discovering a good “tip” for the Alice Springs area. Somehow try to avoid a car rental that is NOT one-way. When I try to book a weekly rental picking up & dropping off at Alice Springs airport, the price is super-high and there’s a 700km mileage limit. After that, it’s .25 per kilometer!! But, dropping off the car in Adelaide drops the price considerably and provides unlimited miles using Hertz and other operators. Still weeks away from arriving in Australia and already not pleased with so many unpleasant facts about visiting the country.


    • rockytravel
      October 27, 2016 @ 3:07 pm

      Hi John, thanks for stopping by! This is a tip that I also give on my other blog posts about how to travel Australia on a budget. If you are savvy, you shall always consider renting a car in a loop back to the starting place, like for instance Alice Springs or Ayers Rock. If you cannot avoid that, then look for alternative options. Almost all car-rentals providers apply an extra fee for one-way rentals. The fact is that in the Outback Australia it’s not so easy for companies to relocate cars straight away. Australia has however not so many unpleasant facts as you say, you just need to plan your trip thoroughly for Australia, so as not to waste money and time! Enjoy your trip and if you need any more tips don’t hesitate to contact me! 😉


    • Gill
      November 4, 2016 @ 9:06 am

      Hey John, not sure if this helps but there is a couple of hire car relocation website which can be much cheaper especially if you are travelling in the opposite direction to most the other tourists


      • John De Silva
        November 5, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

        Thanks, Gil. I did find one, DriveNow. The “unpleasant fact” is that in contacting several car rental vendors, the NT has high rates for picking up & returning cars at the same location PLUS a 700km limit that comes with the weekely rental. After that, you are charged for each km. That can easily add up to a huge bill!

      • rockytravel
        November 6, 2016 @ 3:23 pm

        DriveNow is the booking site I recommend renting a car, they recently added a car relocation service. While this is a great way of reducing the cost of self-driving you need to be flexible with dates and time, as most relocation deals in Australia are notified a week or a few days in advance. For long distances like Darwin to Perth or similar, you may be able to get a relocation car at zero cost.

  4. Kathie
    November 5, 2016 @ 12:12 am

    I live in Australia & have traveled a lot within Australia. I only use debit cards I have never had one refused. The one thing Australia does is have a PIN number for your cards not signatures. The worst time for driving if you don’t want to hit a kangaroo is dawn & sunset. Don’t underestimate the size of Australia if you’re driving.


    • rockytravel
      November 6, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

      That’s true, with Australian debit cards there are no problems. Great to mention the PIN, that’s the only way to use them. But nowadays there are a lot of PayPass cards which work with a simple “touch the screen” to have a payment processed. So no need to remember your PIN any more! With internation debit or credit cards you’d better use Visa or Mastercards, as these are the most accepted cards.


      • Leah
        November 25, 2016 @ 6:49 am

        Even with PayWave you must use a PIN if your charges are over $100.

  5. Thomas
    November 7, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

    Interesting article and I do agree with most of it. However, Australian banks will flog you ATM fees whenever you use your foreign card. We LOVE charging fees in Australia. Also, there is nothing wrong with changing money at airports. Board rates are low because of high rents airports charge. However, most exchange companies offer competitive rates dependant on how much you change. All you have to do is ask. Remember. One exchange fee for $3000 is better than a multitude of fees everytime you use an ATM or eftpos facility.


    • rockytravel
      November 14, 2016 @ 3:49 pm

      Indeed there are banks that charge you a couple of dollars as ATM fees for withdrawing money with a foreign card. But some are free. Whenever you see that alert, just interrupt the process and go to the next ATM (and withdraw your money without any ATM fees!). I personally don’t change money at airports cause I don’t like to have too much cash with me. But your tip is good, thanks for sharing it, Thomas!


  6. Nathan @ The TRVL Blog
    November 9, 2016 @ 11:18 am

    Great tips. I learnt very quickly not to eat out and a cool bag became my best friend while I was travelling the east coast. Also I learnt the hard way about not underestimating the sun!!


    • rockytravel
      November 14, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

      Hi Nathan, indeed a cool bag (there are so many different types in Oz) and preparing your meal is the best way to stay away from expensive restaurants which not always offer good value for the money, I am afraid.


      • Samantha Gray
        January 28, 2017 @ 6:02 am

        I was in Australia for 5 weeks for doctoral work, and took my sister with me. We drove though Tasmania (most beautiful place either of us had ever been), flew to Cairns via Sydney and back to Sydney after 3 weeks in Queensland. The Aussiepass air pass served us very well. We lived (well, mostly) on mango ice cream, protein bars and yogurt, which kept expenses down. We fell in love with Vegemite also! I still eat it whenever I make toast! Ate out only at night and never had a bad meal! Yes, beware of the sun, and follow the Oz dictum of “slip, slap, slop” with long white shirts, hats and sun block. To anyone driving in Australia – we drove at night and felt safe doing it, but be aware that gas prices are VERY high. Loved Australia and can’t wait to go back. Oh yes – one other thought. Don’t go in the water at remote beaches during “stinger season”.

  7. Dot Mortlock
    November 13, 2016 @ 10:54 pm

    Really really don’t under-estimate the sun. And also – tap water is extremely safe to drink absolutely anywhere in Australia. Don’t buy water at all – just have your own container and fill it from the tap every day.


    • rockytravel
      November 14, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

      Tap water in Australia is good quality. I also do refill my bottle especially in rural areas (where bottled water cost you 4-5 dollars/bottle) and in many places you can find free filtered-water (which is a softer version of tap-water).


  8. Jasmin
    November 22, 2016 @ 11:42 am

    An interesting article to read. If your are travelling in the outback you might have to buy water so stock up in big towns. Also good point in being careful at dawn and dusk not night time. I have never had a problem driving at night and hitting an animal is a pretty minimal risk. There are some cheap restaurants but they are normal away from tourist attraction- like in most countries. So make sure you research before going out. Also many have deals like all you can eat or buy one get one free etc. Pubs normally have cheap lunches. The most important things I feel are to understand it is a huge country that has a very high UV index! Sunscreen is always needed. Make sure you so go to the outback when visiting, it’s worth the price!


    • rockytravel
      November 22, 2016 @ 8:18 pm

      Hi Jasmin, you are so right! In the Australian Outback there are so many beautiful places to uncover. No need to travel to big attractions, everywhere there is a charming place. As long as you are well-prepared and organized to hit the road, and avoid the wet season, the Outback is always worth it. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


  9. Donna Anstey
    December 23, 2016 @ 4:25 am

    Thanks for your great article, I live near Newcastle NSW and with my husband have traveled most of Australia (and overseas).
    Your advice about driving is great for people travelling here, if you are wanting to save money on car travel google “standby relocation’s’ this will will bring up a number of websites that show you how to get a hire car from $1 per day. (basically you are returning a car to a rental destination) you can book up to one month ahead and there are T&C’s.
    With food check out ‘shopadocket’ website, you can print coupons for dining, attraction passes and many other things
    With banking, there are a number of options including debit cards which work excellent here. Do not bring your cheque books as we do not accept cheques in 99% of places unlike America where it was common when I was last there.
    With mobiles, it is cheaper to buy a sim here and use it than one bought from your home.
    Driving night/day/evening/fast/slow are all fine as long as you are driving to conditions, realise that Kangaroo’s (especially) become moronic when seeing car lights and actually run at them not away! I have personally witnessed a Kangaroo/Wallaby running at our car and hitting the front of it when it was originally over 50 meters away…. Agh!
    Definitely get insurance, it is worth it for EVERYTHING.My only other advice is to get onto google and websites and do your homework on what you want to see and do and read articles from people who have gone before you. And don’t forget to ask the locals whats good to see when you are here – happy holidaying 🙂
    PS: I am not affiliated with any of the sites above – just a person who appreciates getting the best value for my holiday money.


    • rockytravel
      December 23, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

      Hi Donna! Rocky Travel is a top website for first-hand tips and real travel around Australia, mostly focussed on my own travel adventures and those of fellow solo travellers too. Thanks for stopping by and leave your contribution! 😉


  10. Keith
    August 10, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

    I’m a senior born and bred in Australia. It’s entertaining to read other’s views on travelling here. If I were from some other country I’d avoid the major cities. Why bother with cities like Sydney and Melbourne which are nice in their own way but expensive, cosmopolitan, sophisticated, diverse and vast. Seen Vienna, Toronto, San Francisco? Be content. Seen Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie, Longreach, Merimbula, Ceduna, Katherine, Normanton, Fitzroy Crossing or Manangatang? There you will find an Australia that is unique in the world, extraordinary, beautiful and amazing. Take six months, hire a car and explore this marvellous country.


  11. Dmitry Pavlenko
    August 18, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

    Thanks Michela for your very interesting post. These are very useful tips.


  12. Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    September 27, 2017 @ 1:48 pm

    Great tips! The fruit & veg is something I didn’t know until I’d been in Australia for a few months, so I’m glad you brought that up! It was quite strange really because we worked on a farm for a while, but we had to go through a quarantine bit to get home, so we couldn’t technically take any of their produce home! We also learned the hard way about dropping off a rental car at a different location, unfortunately we didn’t have much choice as we were using it to get to a job, but I started to wish we had just bought our own car.


  13. Calvin
    January 31, 2018 @ 7:00 am

    I also have a plan to go there in coming up days to explore the beauty of this alluring destination. I am so happy for it. I hope so that it will be a really great time for me.


  14. Juliet
    June 17, 2018 @ 3:09 am

    I’m a Sydneysider and very disturbed that nobody has mentioned safety at the beach. Swim between the flags and if you see signs with pictures of sharks or jellyfish either avoid or check with a local before entering. Never pick up octopii and be careful of brown-spotted sea shells as the Cowrie has a poisonous barb it will use in self-defence.


  15. Barbara
    October 8, 2018 @ 8:21 pm

    I lived at the NW Cape of Australia for two and a half years. Practically the outback. It would be good to include some colloquialism. Don’t ask for a napkin in a restaurant ask for a serviette. And don’t try to hitch a ride using your thumb use your index finger


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