AUSTRALIA > FACTS ABOUT THE VISITORS
GETTING THERE & AWAY: All visitors to Australia arrive by air, as there are several connections from the country to Asia, Europe and the USA. Australia's international airports include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin and Cairns. You should make plans well in advanced as many flights to Australia are heavily booked, and the country's remoteness makes flights relatively expensive and long. Departure tax on international flights is US$19 which usually included with the price of your airline ticket.
VISA: Please contact your closest Australian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission to obtain application forms. No application processing fee is applicable for staying three months or less in Australia. However, an application to extend your stay after arrival will cost A$135. Longer stay visas are normally for 3-6 months stay. Visitors can apply for a special Working Holiday Maker Visa, which is valid for up to one year and available to people under the age of 30. It is valid for up to 12 months, allows only casual employment and has a processing fee of $145.
WHEN TO GO: Any time is a good time to visit Australia. During the summer on December to February, the weather can get uneasily hot. Enjoy the great beach weather and great melanoma weather in southern states during these months. The period of June-August is a good time to be in Queensland or the outback. It is the time to head for the snowfields of NSW and Victoria. Anywhere during spring and autumn the weather is practically mild. The spring reveals the wildflowers in the outback, while autumn can be enjoyed around Canberra and in the Victorian Alps. And if you sick of being in holiday road chaos, you should avoid a visit at Easter or just before Christmas.
WHAT TO BRING: Unless you are on a business trip, just keep your clothes casual. Bring a hat and high SPF sunscreen while traveling during the summer months (October-April). They will help you much in avoiding the danger of the intense UV radiation. Meanwhile, should you intend to travel along the coast, you should not miss your umbrella or raincoat. Lightweight sweater or coat will also be useful in this area. During the winter months the inland areas can get really cold, so please pack in heavier warm clothes.
GETTING AROUND: Australia is a vast country. Around 80% of the long-distance trips by public transport are made by air. Usually, the airlines offer a wide range of discounts, including random discounting and air passes for domestic air travel. Buses in Australia are comfortable, and there are several long-distance bus companies. Be prepared for a long trip, if you're travelling between major cities. Meanwhile, few people travel long-distances by train, though Australia has a skeletal rail network linking all major cities (except Darwin). Train in Australia remains relatively expensive and usually the slowest mode of overland transport and remains. However, for overnight trips, it remains the most comfortable transportation. To enjoy the more private trips, you can either hire or purchase a car.
ACCOMMODATION: European or American travelers may find that Australia is going to look pretty cheap. Accommodation is usually at reasonable prices, while travel seems to be the biggest expense as the distances are long. Foreign currencies or cash are changeable at almost any banks. Credit cards are widely accepted, either in ATMs all over the country.
ACTIVITIES: Australia is a heaven for adventure-lovers. Explore the small regions by foot, horseback or even on the back of camel. You can also chew up the km with a 4WD, or enjoying other exciting activities like cycling, hiking the mountains, skiing and snow boarding. Water sports can be enjoyed along the Australian coast. Surfing-lovers may come down to Lorne, Byron Bay, Gold Coast and some remote areas in the south-west of South Australia and the north-west of West Australia. Meanwhile, diving spots include South Australia's Kangaroo Island and West Australia's Esperance, Rottnest Island, and Carnarvon. Whalewatching is possible at many places; the most popular are Eden in New South Wales, Warrnambool in Victoria, Albany in Western Australia and Fraser Island in Queensland. White-water rafting and/or canoeing are possible at Coffs Harbour on New South Wales' Nymboida River, on the upper Murray near Khancoban also in New South Wales; along Queensland's Tully and North Johnstone rivers between Townsville and Cairns; and in Tasmania. Bungy Jumping in Australia is in the rainforest and it's generally filled with lots of people having a really good time.
CUSTOMS: Australia's strict laws ban or control the entrance of drugs, steroids, weapons, protected wildlife and associated products. Any animal, animal product, food stuff, plant and plant products entering Australia have to be declared. You may bring cash as much as you want, but amounts over A$5,000 or equivalent must be reported. Travelers 18-years and older may bring 1 liter of alcohol and 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco duty free. There is a duty free allowance of A$400 per person 18-years and over, or A$200 per person under 18-years.
QUARANTINE: The Australia government is strictly controlling the import of fresh or packaged food, fruit, vegetables, seeds, cultures, plants and plant products, eggs and eggs products. There is up to 6-months quarantine for pets and other domestic animals. You must mark the appropriate box on the Customs, Quarantine and Wildlife statement, should you carrying any of these items on arrival in Australia. This is given to you before arrival and must be presented with your passport upon arrival.
EVENTS: Festival of Sydney takes up most of January, The Adelaide Arts Festival takes place at the beginning of March in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, Womadelaide, Adelaide's outdoor festival of world music and dance, held in February. Melbourne's Comedy Festival carried out in April, while Sporty fun includes Darwin's Beer Can Regatta in August. Gay festivals held in February/March, Melbourne's Midsumma Festival carried out on January/February. However Christmas is always be a part of the long summer school vacation and this is when accommodation is almost always booked out.
CLOTHING: Lightweight clothing made of natural fibers is suitable in tropical areas all over the year. It can also be used on daytime southern temperate regions' summers (Dec - Feb), though you should prepare a jacket or sweater, as nights may be cool. Traveling to southern on winter (Jun-Aug) requires sweaters and warmer clothes.
DRIVING: Australians observe the left-side driving with the maximum speed limit 60km/h (35mph) in the cities, and 100km/h (62mph) - 110 km/h (68 mph) on country roads and highways. At all times, driver must wear seat belts and so do the passengers. A valid overseas driving license is essential for tourist wishes to drive in Australia. While driving, the license and a valid passport must be carried. An International Drivers Permit must be accompanied by a valid drivers permit.
CURRENCY AND BANKING: Banks open 9.30am-4.00pm Monday to Thursday, 9.30am-5.00pm on Saturdays. Automatic teller machines (ATM) are widely available. ATM cards can be used in Australia either at ATMs or at retail location enabled for international access. Your ATM card must carry either the CIRRUS, PLUS or STAR international ATM mark or the Interlink or Maestro POS mark.
CREDIT CARDS: Several commonly-accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates. You may find restricted use of them in smaller towns and country areas and small retail shops. Australian currency is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit, in which 100 cents equals one dollar.
VACCINATIONS: Vaccinations are not required to enter Australia, unless you have come from or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within 6 days prior to arrival. No other health certificates are needed, but you can bring reasonable quantities of clearly labeled and identifiable prescribed medications. You have to bring a doctor's certificate to produce to Customs if necessary, should you bring larger quantities.
TELECOMMUNICATION: Australia operates efficient and easy telephone system with extensive network of public phones all over the country. Most phones accept coins and prepaid telephone cards. Long distance call charges vary depending on time of day and distance, but discount rates are generally applied on Sunday. To make a call to Australia, first dial the country code prefix (61) then the area code without the first zero for instance Sydney would be 2 instead of 02, then dial the required number.
SHOPPING: There are a number of departmental stores, gift shops, fashion boutiques and specialty stores in Australia. Normally the departmental stores open from 09.00 am to 17.30 pm from Monday to Friday and 09.00 am to 17.00 pm on Saturday. Late night shopping is till 21.00 pm, once a week generally on Thursday or Friday. Interesting collection of souvenirs can be found at the shops associated with galleries, museums and other tourist attractions. You should not miss the crafts produced by the Aborigine co-operatives. The famous Australian Opals and also other precious and semi-precious are also a good buy from Australia. You can visit the weekly special markets offering a range of top quality products at very affordable prices. They usually open-air and have a festive air.
TIPPING: Tipping is common in Australia. Particularly in cafés and restaurants it's getting a foothold. Taxi drivers are always thankful if you leave the change, but you won't be looked down upon if you don't tip.
Full country name : Commonwealth of Australia
Area : 7,682,300 sq km
Population : 19.5 million
Capital city : Canberra (pop: 313,000)
People : 94% European descent, 4% Asian, 1.5% Aboriginal
Languages : English, Aboriginal languages (plus numerous other European,
Arabic and Asian languages)
Religion : 75% Christian, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 0.5% Jewish
Government : Independent member of the British Commonwealth
Prime Minister: John Howard
Governor-General : Dr Peter Hollingworth
Major products : Minerals, oil, coal, gold, wool, cereals, meat, tourism.
Major trading partners: Japan, ASEAN, South Korea, China, New Zealand, US and the EU.
Visas : Every nationality except New Zealanders need visas.
Health risks : Sunburn, heat exhaustion, drowning
Time : There are three time zones: Eastern Standard Time is UTC +10;
Central Time is UTC +9.5; and Western Time UTC +8.
Electricity : 220-240V
Weights & measures : metric
Currency : Australian Dollars (AUS $)
Australia Day : Falls on January 26 Celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet.