Australian Travel Tips

Some Travel Tips are listed below to assist you when travelling to Australia.

Animal Hazards
Business Hours
Changing Money
Climate
Customs
Food
Insurance
Public Holidays
Swimming
Visas

Animal Hazards

Australia has a remarkable amount of dangerous creatures. Apart from the presence of poisonous snakes and spiders, the country also has sharks and crocodiles, and the world's deadliest creature, the Box Jellyfish. Travellers don't need to be constantly alarmed, as you are unlikely to encounter many of these creatures in the wild. However, hospitals have anti-venom on hand for all common snake and spider bites, and it helps to know what has bitten you.

^ top

Business Hours

Hours vary a little from state to state but most shops and businesses are open about 9am and close 5pm Monday to Friday, with Saturday usually from 9am to either noon or 5pm. Sunday trading is becoming increasingly common but is currently limited to major cities. In most towns there are usually one or two late shopping nights a week, normally Thursday and/or Friday, when doors stay open until about 9pm. Most supermarkets are open until at least 8pm and are sometimes 24 hours. Banks are normally open from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and until 5pm on Friday.

^ top

Changing Money

Changing foreign currency or travellers cheques is usually not a problem at banks throughout Australia or at licensed money-changers such as Travelex or Amex in cities and major towns.

^ top

Climate

Australia's size means there is alot of climatic variation, but without severe extremes. The southern third of the country has cold (though generally not freezing) winters (June to August). Tasmania and the alpine country in Victoria and New South Wales get particularly chilly. Summers (December to February) are pleasant and warm, sometimes quite hot. Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are transition months, much the same as in Europe and North America. As you head north the climate changes dramatically, but season variations become fewer until, in the far north around Darwin and Cairns, you are in the monsoon belt where there are basically just two seasons: hot and wet, and hot and dry. The Dry roughly lasts from April to September, and the Wet from October to March; the build-up to the Wet season is often when the humidity is at its highest.

^ top

Customs

When entering Australia you can bring most articles in free of duty provided that customs is satisfied they are for personal use. When it comes to prohibited goods, be especially conscientious about carrying drugs. All medicines must be declared. You will be asked to declare on arrival all goods of animal or plant origin. Authorities are naturally keen to protect Australia's unique environment and important agricultural industries by preventing weeds, pests or diseases getting into the country. Most food is also prohibited, particularly fresh foods, herbs and spices, such as meat, cheese, fruit and flowers. Australia takes quarantine very seriously. All luggage is screened or X-rayed.

^ top

Food

Australia is not known for having a unique cuisine, but many people are surprised at the range of wealth of food available in restaurants, markets, delicatessens (delis) and cafes, especially in the major cities but often in far less populated areas. Generally breakfast is served between 6am and 11am, lunch lasts from about noon to 3pm, and dinner usually starts around 6pm. It is common but not obligatory to tip in restaurants and upmarket cafes if the service warrants it. A gratuity of between 5% and 10% of the bill is the norm.

^ top

Insurance

Do not underestimate the importance of good travel insurance covering theft, loss and medical problems. There is nothing that can ruin your holiday quicker than an accident or having a new camera stolen. There are a wide variety of policies available with one of them sure to suit your requirements.

^ top

Public Holidays

The following is a list of the main national public holidays. There are also some local public holidays and it may be best to check on these before travelling.

New Year's Day
Australia Day
Easter
Anzac Day
Queen's Birthday (except WA)
Queen's Birthday (WA only)
Christmas Day
Boxing Day
01 January
26 January
Good Friday and Easter Monday inclusive - March/Apr
25 April
Second Monday in June
Last Monday in September
25 December
26 December

^ top

Swimming

Popular beaches are patrolled by surf life savers and patrolled areas are marked off by flags. On the beach you will find a pair of poles stuck in the sand about 200m apart, each with a red/yellow flag on it. They signify that the area between the flags is patrolled by surf life savers. It also means that the area outside these flags may not be save to swim in.

^ top

Visas

All visitors to Australia need a visa - only New Zealand national are exempt, and even they receive a 'special category' visa on arrival. Application forms for the several types of visa are available from Australian diplomatic missions overseas, travel agents or the website of the Department of Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs (Dimia) www.immi.gov.au.

^ top