About Australia

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.

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    Currency

    • 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.

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    Climate

    • 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.

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    Language

    • English is the official language but with a huge immigrant population, many European, Arabic & Asian languages are spoken & understood in ethnic population pockets.

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    Religion

    • Predominantly Protestant with a sizable Roman Catholic minority. Due to mass immigration virtually all world religions are represented.

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    Shopping

    • 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.

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    Business

    • 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.

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    Banking

    • 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.

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    Time Zone

    • 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.

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    Passport & Visa

    • A valid passport together with an onward or return ticket is mandatory.
    • All visitors except New Zealanders require a visa

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    Tipping

    • 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.

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    Transport

    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.

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    Health

    • 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.
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    • 240/250 volts AC, 50 Hz. Australian 3-pin plugs are used

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    Customs

    • 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').

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    Communication

    • 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.