Australia is a vast island continent with a total area of 7.6 million sq km. Its coastline stretches for more than 36,000 km, it is over 4,000 km from east to west & 3200 km from north to south. The terrain is extremely varied with everything from lush rainforests to barren red desert, from fertile pastureland to snow-capped mountains, and from superb surfing beaches to mighty rivers. Most of the population lives along the eastern and southeastern coasts. The national capital is Canberra with a population of approx. 310,000 out of a total population of approx. 17.4 million. Sydney and Melbourne are the country’s largest cities.
- Australian Dollar(A$) = 100 cents. Currency converter.
- Denominations: Notes - A$100, 50, 20, 10 & 5. Coins - A$2 & 1, and 50, 20, 10 & 5 cents.
- The import & export of local or foreign currency above A$5,000 must be reported to Australian Customs at the time of arrival or departure.
- The Tropical NSW region has Summer maximums between 26°C-30°C & winter minimums from 8°C-10°C.
- Rainfall every month with quite heavy falls in Dec-Feb.
- Lightweight casual wear is the norm in most capitals. More formal attire for dining in leading hotel restaurants.
- Topless sunbathing is common on some beaches.
- Hats & sunblock are strongly advised.
- English is the official language but with a huge immigrant population, many European, Arabic & Asian languages are spoken & understood in ethnic population pockets.
- Predominantly Protestant with a sizable Roman Catholic minority. Due to mass immigration virtually all world religions are represented.
- Australia has excellent shopping facilities with large department stores, shopping malls, exclusive boutiques, & flea markets. Things to buy include: opals, sheepskin products, Australian wines, seafood, Aboriginal artifacts & art, and Australian country clothing.
- Shopping hours: 0900-1700 Mon-Sat. There is Sunday trading in most States & late night trading on either Thursday or Friday nights.
- Business suits are required in all major cities except Brisbane & Darwin where shirts & ties are quite often accepted. Appointments are necessary.
- Office hours: 0900-1700 Mon-Fri.
- Banking hours: 0930-1600 Mon-Thurs; 0930-1700 Fri.
- All major credit cards are accepted throughout Australia although some difficulty might be encountered in small Outback towns.
- Travellers Cheques can be cashed at hotels & banks.
- Eastern Standard Time: GMT + 10
- Matters become somewhat confused in the summer months as each of the states tend to go their own way with daylight saving - some have it & some do not.
Passport & Visa
- A valid passport together with an onward or return ticket is mandatory.
- All visitors except New Zealanders require a visa
- Tipping of doormen, waiters, & porters is expected.
- Taxi drivers only when their service is exceptional.
- Bear in mind that, unlike in the USA, hotel & restaurant staff are well-paid so tips are for special service.
For transport information in the Tropical NSW region see our Transport page.
- Both Qantas and Ansett have extensive route networks around Australia.
- There are also a number of regional airlines with very good air services.
- Airlines regularly offer discounted seat sales.
- A number of airpasses can be purchased prior to arrival in Australia.
- Traffic drives on the left.
- Australia is a vast country and driving times between some destinations can be quite lengthy.
- Drink driving laws are strictly enforced as is the wearing of seatbelts.
- A vaccination certificate is required for visitors who have, during the previous 6 days, been in a designated yellow fever infected area.
- Water & food are safe. Milk is pasteurised.
- power supply
- 240/250 volts AC, 50 Hz. Australian 3-pin plugs are used
- Handshaking is the customary form of greeting.
- Australia is a very informal and laid-back country. As a result, first names are generally used from first meetings and casual clothing is the norm.
- When invited to a private home for a meal it is polite to take a gift of confectionary and/or a bottle of wine.
- Australians expect that people drinking with each other will take it turn and turn about to pay for the drinks (this is called 'having a shout').
- Country code: 61.
- International dialing code: 0011.
- Full IDD is available.
- Virtually all hotels have fax facilities.
- There are cash telephones, phone card telephones & credit card telephones.
- Post office hours: 0900-1700 Mon-Fri.