General Information

Time Difference

East of Australia:
Greenwich Mean Time + 10 hours
Central Australia:
Greenwich Mean Time + 9.5 hours
West Australia:
Greenwich Mean Time + 8 hours

Telephone Codes

In going from the UK:
00 61 + area code
Outgoing from Australia:
00 11 44 + area code without the first 0
Emergency Services 000
Emergency Services (from Mobile Phone) 000 / 112
Directory Enquiries (Australia) 1223
Directory Enquiries (International) 1225
Australian Capital Territory 02
New South Wales 02
Northern Territory 08
Queensland 07
South Australia 08
Tasmania 03
Victoria 03
Western Australia 08

Phoning from Australia can be expensive, although there are cheap ways. Although calls from a domestic line are cheaper than from a payphone, you can buy international phone cards giving discounted calls. Many Internet cafes also offer cheap international calls from their telephone booths.

If you are making calls within Australia then remember that telephone numbers beginning with 1800 are free, and numbers beginning with 13 are charged at the local rate (which is generally 40c).

Another option is to buy a mobile phone. If you buy a Pre Paid Mobile Phone, the cost is generally quite cheap, although calls are more expensive than a 12 or 24 month mobile phone contract. There are 4 main mobile phone networks in Australia including Telstra, Optus, Vodaphone and the 3 Network. They all offer Pre Paid mobile phone packages, which can be a good idea when travelling around. Although most areas in Australia do have coverage, some places in the outback and between towns and cities aren't within the coverage.

Language

English and many minority languages.

Religion

Mainly Protestant, Roman Catholic and many minorities.

Electricity

240/250 Volts AC 50Hz.

3 pin plugs are used although an adapter is required.

Travel and Climate

Climate

Australia offers extreme variations in climate, from tropical to temperate.

Nov-Mar is generally hot everywhere, with temperatures rising the further north you are.

Nov-Mar is Wet Season in the north of Australia, with cylones common from January.

Apr-Sept has occasional rain in the South which can be particularly heavy.
Jun-Aug is the Winter skiing season in the southern parts of Australia.
Sep - Nov is when you will see the Australian Wildflowers in Central and Western Australia.

Tourist Information Centres in:

Australian Capital Territory South Australia
New South Wales Tasmania
Northern Territory Victoria
Queensland Western Australia

Transport

FLIGHTS
The vast size of Australia makes flying the most convenient method of intercity travel.

ROAD
In the outback a full set of spares should be carried, with water, food and petrol

DOCUMENTATION
National license, valid for 3 months, must be carried whilst driving.

If driving around Australia there are a few rules and regulations you should be aware of. These include:

  • Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Always carry a valid driving license, and a translation if the license isn't in English.
  • Make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt or child restraint.
  • Do not speed (the average speed limit in built up areas is 60km).
  • Do not drive whilst using a mobile phone.
  • Do not drink and drive (many pubs now offer free soft drinks for the driver).

Prohibited Items

On arriving in Australia it is prohibited to carry the usual items such as weapons, firearms and non-prescribed drugs. You will need to declare any animal or plant objects as well as fresh food or face heavy fines and in some cases imprisonment. The main purpose of this is to stop unwanted disease entering the country.

The Duty Free limit per person is as follows:

  • 1125ml of alcohol
  • 250 cigarettes
  • Goods upto the value of $400

Banking and Money

Currency

Australian Dollar (A$):

100 cents
Australian coins include: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2
Australian notes include: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100

Although prices are marked to the cent, the total purchase will be rounded to the nearest 5c.

The import or export of A$5000 must be reported to customs at entry or departure. All major credit cards and traveller's cheques, in any international currency, are widely accepted.

Banking Hours

Monday to Thursday

9:30am-4:00pm *
Friday 9:30am-5:00pm *

* These hours vary throughout the country

You can exchange money at most of the major banks around Australia, and also withdraw money from any ATM. The major banks include ANZ, Commonwealth, National, St George and Westpac. However, if you are travelling away from the main towns and cities be aware that banks and ATM's are few and far between so go prepared with money.

If you want to open an account it is best to do so within 6 weeks of arriving, as any longer than this and you will need more identification.

ATM AVAILABILITY: Over 6000 locations around Australia.

Cost of Living

Comparatively cheap in some ways compared to the UK and USA, for eating out, although groceries and other shopping expenses tend to be similar. (Other than meat products which are quite a bit cheaper).

Like all worldwide cities, Australia's cities can also be very expensive for eating out, accommodation and activities. (Although transport tends to be fairy reasonable).

If you are planning on staying in Australia for a while then one mistake which you shouldn't make is converting the Australian Dollar back to your own currency. Prices will seem cheap, although your money won't last long. If you are spending in Australia, you have to think as an Australian.

GST

GST stands for Goods and Service Tax, and is similar to the British system of VAT. There are several GST free shopping agents, available for both International travellers and Australians who will be leaving the country. If you are shopping in an average store, then make sure you keep your receipts, as you can claim GST back (10%) at the airport before leaving through the TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme). This 'GST back' can be calculated by dividing the purchase amount by 11.

A couple of rules apply towards this:

  • The Purchase must have been over $300 (this can be made up of several purchases as long as they are on the same tax invoice).
  • You must be leaving the country within 30 days.
  • Products must be carried in hand luggage (and be of a suitable size).
  • You must carry a tax invoice for the product purchased.
  • GST must have been paid on the goods to claim it back.
  • Beer and Spirit products are not accepted.
  • Consumables wholly or partly consumed in Australia are not acceptable.
  • Goods must not be prohibited goods.

You can also claim back WET (Wine Equalisation Tax), which works out as 14.5% of the price paid.

You can get more information about how GST and the TRS works by calling Ph: 1300 363 263.

Post

55c for postage of a standard letter around Australia

7-10 days postage time to the UK.

Emergency Money

MONEYGRAM: 0011 800 66639472

WESTERN UNION: 1 800 649 565

Emergency Credit Card Numbers

AMEX:+44 1273696933

DINERS CLUB: (61) (3)8054444

MASTERCARD: 1800 120 113

VISA: 1800 125 161

Emergency Traveller Cheque Numbers

AMEX: (02) 886 0689 (in Sydney)

AMEX: 1800 251 902 (outside Sydney)

Thomas Cook: 1800 127 495

VISA: 1800 127 477

Fair Trading

If you would like help or advice about issues of fair trading and consumer rights then contact:

The Traveller Consumer Helpline : 1300 552 001

Health and Safety

Vaccinations

No specific vaccinations are required for entry into Australia. However, a yellow fever vaccination certificate will be required if travelling from an infected area. If you are planning any stopovers on route it is advisable to check with your General Practitioner well in advance.

If you are a resident of Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden or the UK, you can claim free or reduced fee medical treatment. This is relevant in public hospitals and private doctors, although you may have to claim the money back at a later date. This is through the Medicard system. To get your Medicard or for further information about the system call Medicard Ph: 13 2011.

Safety

Tourists should take care in all major cities (as with destinations all over the world). You should be especially cautious when using ATM's.

Australia is relatively safe for women travellers, although in the outback there still remains a patriarchal culture.

When travelling into the outback and interior regions of Australia, specific precautions should be taken. You should take adequate supplies, and always leave information of your whereabouts.

Special care and respect of natural habitats is recommended.

Always ask permission before taking photographs of aborigines (indigenous Australians).


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