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Australia The traditional image of a dinki-di Aussie - whether a gleaming, muscled Bondi lifesaver or laconic, bush-hatted sheep shearer - has gradually been shouldered aside over the past few decades. Nowadays the ironic 'ocker' could easily be one of the prancing entrants in the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Or perhaps even one of the many recent Asian immigrants - from Vietnam, China or further afield - who have done much to add to the cosmopolitan mlange of the "Lucky Country". But the essence of Australia remains unchanged. This vast continent (7,686,848 square kilometres) ranges between dese rt and tropical rainforest, sophisticated urban areas with sprawling suburbs and isolated townships in the bush, stunning mountains and lush pasture. Australians enjoy a magnificent outdoor lifestyle, with a play-hard, work-hard (well, sometimes, mate) attitude that makes the most of its natural bounty. German immigrants planted the vineyards that have granted Barossa Valley wines world renown, the waves of Italian and Greek settlers did much to promote Australian cuisine beyond meat pies and beer, while Japanese finance helped to open up the Gold Coast. In other words, some of the best that the world has to offer is distilled into Australia. With the possible exception of the purpose-built and rather soulless capital, Canberra, all the Antipodean metropoli exude their own character and allure to the casual visitor. Sydney is first port of call for many, and indeed where the first British convicts were dumped in the 18th century. The whole city is inspired and refreshed by its raison d'etre, the harbour. Overlooked by the architectural masterpiece of the Opera House, it acts as a focal point for dining and relaxation, and is the centre of attention during major events such as the annual Sydney-Hobart yacht race. Melbourne has always seen itself as a rival, and while it lacks the spectacular location it has as much charm and sophistication, especially when it comes to theatre and cuisine, and is equally devoted to sports, horse-racing and 'footy' to name but two. Adelaide, long known as the place for culture, has shaken off its previously staid image, and Brisbane, once derided as an overgrown country town, has become increasingly cosmopolitan after hosting a string of international events like the Commonwealth Games. Even Darwin, with a certain amount of cinematic assistance from Crocodile Dundee, has some claim to "cool", although the weather is as hot as ever. Perth claims to be the sunniest of Australian cities, and even rain cannot damp its bright and breezy ethos. Cairns acts as the jumping off point for most of northern Queensland, notably to the stunning beauties of the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest of Cape Tribulation. Alice Springs, more or less in the centre of the continent, would probably not feature on any itinerary but for the proximity of Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock - the outback's ultimate landmark and a sacred site for Australia's original inhabitants, the Aborigines. Mention should also be made of Australia's offshore islands, from the slightly other-worldly Tasmania to the hedonistic Hayman in the Whitsundays, which is also a prime venue for whale watching and scuba diving. Most of Australia's 18 million inhabitants live in the coastal areas, so it follows that this is where the best hotels are. For location - right under the Harbour Bridge and looking on the Opera House - it would be hard to better the Park Hyatt in Sydney, and up on the Gold Coast the Palazzo Versace is an intriguing jeu d' esprit of very modish accommodation. Head inland, and the main places to lay your head are bland motels or beery country pubs, where service echoes the old Australian ethos of 'I'm as good as you are, mate.' Between these two stellar stools is a range of decent resorts well placed to make the best of Down Under's natural assets of sun, sand and sea. The weather varies immensely over such a vast continent, but all of Australia is hot in the summer between December and February, and the north is especially humid. It is best to time visits to the "Top End" during the cooler winter (June - August) and this is also when the snowfields of Victoria and New South Wales open up. In spring, large stretches of the outback are carpeted with wildflowers. Hotels are often booked solid over Easter, Christmas and other school holidays. More...

Visas

All foreign nationals (except New Zealanders) wishing to enter Australia require visas. The Australian visitor's visa can be obtained from your nearest Australian High Commission, Embassy or Consulate.

Customs

There is no limit on the amount of local or foreign cash that may be brought into or taken out of Australia.

Visitors may take the following into Australia duty free:

  • Alcohol - 1 litre of alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco - 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco products

Australia is free from many pests and diseases which harm plants/animals and serious efforts are made to protect the local agriculture and wildlife. On arrival, all fresh and packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, vegetables, seeds, animals, plants and items made from plants or wood must be declared and deposited in amnesty bins.

Time

Australia has three time zones:

  1. Eastern Standard Time (EST): GMT +10
    New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria - daylight saving runs from the end of October through to the end of March (GMT +11)
    Tasmania - daylight saving runs from the beginning of October through to the end of March (GMT +11)
    There is no daylight saving in Queensland.
  2. Central Standard Time (CST): GMT +9.5
    South Australia - daylight saving runs from late October to late March (GMT +10.5)
    Northern Territory does not have daylight saving
  3. Western Standard time (WST): GMT +8
    Western Australia does not have daylight saving

Currency

  • Australian Dollars (A$) - Check current exchange rates
  • 100 cents = A$1
  • Notes issued: A$100, A$50, A$20, A$10, A$5
  • Coins issued: A$2, A$1, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents

Language

The official language is English

Tipping

Tipping is not widely practised in Australia and restaurants/hotels do not currently add a service charge. However, as of July 2000 a new Government Service Tax (GST) of 10% will be automatically added to bills for any services provided.

Porters and taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but it is accepted and appreciated.

Banking Hours

  • Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 4.00pm
  • Friday 9.30am to 5.00pm
  • Certain banks in major cities may open on Saturday mornings

Telephone

The international dialling code for Australia is 61.

When making international calls from Australia first dial 0011 + country code + area code + telephone number.

Local Telephone Codes

Central East Region (New South Wales and ACT) 02
Central & West Region (S. Australia, Northern Territory & W. Australia) 08
North East Region (Queensland) 07
South East Region (Victoria & Tasmania) 03

Electricity

  • 220-240 volts, AC 50Hz
  • 3 pin round plugs

Water

Tap water is safe to drink and bottled water also is widely available.

Health

Australia has very high standards of health and hygiene but always make sure that you have good medical insurance. The Australian sun can be a health hazard as it is more intense than in other countries, so take extra care to protect your skin. Some of Australia's wildlife such as sharks, crocodiles, snakes, redback and funnel web spiders may seem quite threatening but bites and attacks are rare. Take local advice for each area you visit, particularly in the outback.

Usually there is no need for inoculations but it is always best to check the current situation and any current vaccination requirements with your doctor when planning your trip.

International Airports

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Cairns
  • Darwin
  • Hobart
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney
  • Townsville

International Airport Departure Tax

A$25

Domestic Airports

There are numerous domestic airports and landing strips in Australia. In addition to the international airports mentioned above, here are a selection of the more popular destinations:

  • Alice Springs
  • Broome
  • Canberra
  • Coolangatta - serving Surfers Paradise
  • Connellan - serving Ayers Rock

Domestic Airport Departure Tax

None

Etiquette/Dress Code

Casual wear is generally okay for almost any occasion or situation in Australia, although some top-end clubs and restaurants have a more formal dress code.

Diplomatic Missions

Most countries have representative offices and consulates in Australia.

Useful Sources of Information

For further information on Australian culture and tourist attractions:

  • Orbit over Australia
  • Australian Tourist Commission

Weather

Australia encompasses virtually the entire gamut of climatic differences from the tropical to the temperate.

Pack summer clothes during the northern winter as seasons "Down Under" are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is possible to divide the continent into two zones - the tropical zone in the far north and the temperate zone in the south.

The tropical zone experiences two seasons:

  • Wet - November to April
  • Dry - May to October.

Northern Territory and Queensland - lightweight clothing is suitable all year round.

The temperate zone experiences four seasons:

  • Spring and summer from September/October to March
  • Autumn and winter from April to September

New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia - summers are warm to hot and lightweight clothes are suitable for daytime but keep a jacket or sweater handy as nights may be cool. Sweaters, a jacket/light coat and generally warmer clothes are advisable during the winter.

Carry a lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings during hot weather.

Note! Take Care in the Sun! Pack a sunhat, sunglasses and suntan lotion to protect yourself from the intense sunshine in Australia. Australian Government advice is good to remember - slip, slop, slap - slip on a T-shirt or cover up, slop on high factor sun cream and slap on a hat. Australians are extremely aware of the dangers of overexposure to their sun and an excellent selection of good quality, high factor sunscreens are available in Australian shops.

North Coast Tropics

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Dry Season (May - October) 22 - 32°C 14mm
Monsoon Season (November - April) 25 - 33°C 235mm

Darwin

North Coast Australia, also known as "The Top End", has a very hot and humid tropical climate with an average temperature of 30°C all year round.

The Wet Season begins in November and lasts through to early April - tropical storms make swimming in the sea impossible at this time.

Best time to visit: During the Dry Season, especially at the beginning and end when humidity is less oppressive.

Northern Queensland

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Dry Season (May - October) 19 - 27°C 47mm
Wet Season (November - April) 23 - 31°C 287mm

Cairns, Great Barrier Reef

Summer is hot and wet in Northern Queensland. The highest rainfall tends to be recorded during the period from January to March, with average rainfall of over 400mm.

Best time to visit: In the Dry Season when rainfall is lower and temperatures average around 27°C.

South East Queensland

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Summer (November - April) 19 - 28°C 107mm
Winter (May - October) 12 - 23°C 61mm

Brisbane

The southern part of Queensland enjoys slightly drier summers in comparison to the north. Temperatures in Brisbane average around 20°C in the winter months but if you leave the surf and beaches to venture into the mountains it does get colder at night.

The summer months tend to suffer from high levels of humidity, although the countryside may be at it's best after the rains have nurtured new plant growth.

Best time to visit: During the winter when temperatures are pleasantly cool and rainfall is low.

New South Wales

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Spring (September - November) 13 - 22°C 73mm
Summer (December - February) 18 - 26°C 99mm
Autumn (March - May) 17 - 22°C 127mm
Winter (June - August) 9 - 17°C 105mm

Sydney

New South Wales has distinct seasons which can be enjoyed all year round.

Autumn is warm and crisp; winter averages 15°C in the daytime - although temperatures can drop below 10°C, which feels comparatively cold; spring can be wet but is generally pleasant.

Best time to visit: If you plan to spend a lot of time on the beach, then summer is the best time to visit - although it can be a little humid.

Away from the coast, the alpine range of the Snowy Mountains experiences heavy snowfall from the end of June to early October, which makes for good skiing.

Victoria

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Spring (September - November) 9 - 19°C 61mm
Summer (December - February) 13 - 25°C 51mm
Autumn (March - May) 11 - 20°C 56mm
Winter (June - August) 6 - 14°C 51mm

Melbourne

Victoria's state capital of Melbourne is famous for providing the opportunity to experience four seasons in one day! Whilst drizzle and showers occur almost daily, Victoria does not experience many heavy rainstorms - waterproof clothes and an umbrella are useful all year round.

Best time to visit: Between November and April when days are brighter and sunnier.

South Australia

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Spring (October - November) 12 - 25°C 35mm
Summer (December - February) 15 - 29°C 21mm
Autumn (March - April) 25 - 35°C 35mm
Winter (May - September) 8 - 17°C 66mm

Southern Australia has a temperate climate enjoying mild winters and dry summers. Most rain falls during the winter, whilst summer (particularly inland) can be very hot.

Best time to visit: In the summer when it is warm and relatively dry. Spring and autumn are also pleasant with low rainfall, although temperatures can get a little cooler.

Outback Australia

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Spring (October - November) 17 - 33°C 23mm
Summer (December - February) 21 - 35°C 38mm
Autumn (March - April) 15 - 31°C 24mm
Winter (May - September) 7 - 22°C 14mm

Temperatures can be surprisingly extreme in the Outback; while winter days average 22°C, night-time temperatures can drop below freezing. In contrast, during the peak summer months from December to January, temperatures can soar to a very hot 40°C.

Best time to visit: Avoid visiting Central Australia during the extreme seasons and explore the outback in spring and autumn.

Western Australia

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Spring (September - November) 12 - 21°C 54mm
Summer (December - February) 17 - 28°C 10mm
Autumn (March - April) 15 - 26°C 32mm
Winter (May - August) 10 - 19°C 156mm

Western Australia is generally mild and sunny. This area experiences hot, dry summers with long hours of sunshine that allow for extended outdoor activities. Winters tend to be mild and wet. Lightweight clothes are necessary during the warmer months and a few extra layers and a light jacket would be useful in winter.

Best time to visit: In spring and autumn, when temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is minimal.

Tasmania

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Spring (October - November) 8 - 18°C 60mm
Summer (December - February) 12 - 22°C 46mm
Autumn (March - May) 9 - 17°C 47mm
Winter (June - September) 5 - 13°C 53mm

Tasmania enjoys a pleasant temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Rainfall is even throughout the year. Autumn is mild and winter is often cold, wet and cloudy with snow on higher ground. Spring arrives around September and although mild, can often be very windy.

Best time to visit: During the summer when daytime temperatures are in the early 20's (°C) and it is warm enough to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.

Featured Australia Hotels

4 stars
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$535
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Mercure Brisbane Hotel

Mercure Brisbane Hotel

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Ibis Hotel Darling Harbour

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Devere Hotel Sydney

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Half Moon Bay Resort Holiday Apartments Cairns

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Y Hotel Hyde Park Sydney

Y Hotel Hyde Park Sydney

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Outback Pioneer Lodge Ayers Rock

Outback Pioneer Lodge Ayers Rock

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Metro Hotel On Pitt Sydney

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Quest Fairfax House Melbourne

Quest Fairfax House Melbourne

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Hotel Ibis Brisbane

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Hotel Ibis Perth

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Australia Travellers Tales

carl bodkins
8/23/2005

We had a very fun experience at the Ironbar grill on Macrossan. They have Cane Toad races in the evening. We participated in the race and had a super fun and unique experience. Food was pretty good, too.


Anonymous
7/24/2005

''Bills'' for breakfast. Hugos for Pizza! Bayswater Brasserie for dinner. All outstanding!


Anonymous
7/20/2005
Stayed at:

Places to visit whilst in Sydney are Darling Harbour, Toronga Zoo, Aquarium and Opera House just to mention a few.


Anonymous
7/20/2005

Adelaide is a very beautiful city. We enjoyed a few days in the Barossa Valley also and will remember our South Australian holiday fondly.


graham aylmore
7/2/2005

We hired a car and visited Kakadu which we thoroughly enjoyed. We took an evening sail on the pearling lugger and enjoyed this. We were somewhat disappointed in the Tiwi Island tour. While it was interesting it was far too expensive at $175 for the land tour and the Tiwi Arts and Crafts Centres were not staffed by Tiwi artists with only two european people present. No pottery on sale.


Anonymous
7/2/2005

Cairns is beautiful! Wonderful family destination. We highly recommend the Rainforest/Kuranda all day excursion.


Anonymous
6/30/2005

Spent most time at Paddington shopping. The Rocks was also worth visiting (opera house, harbour bridge, bontanical gardens, craft market on saturday). Seafood w/ wine at fishmarket was fantastic.


Anonymous
6/28/2005

We didn''t need any transportation if we would like to find stores or foods around the hotels area because they are so near to the hotels. We rented a car to go to Hunter Valley (Pokolbin etc), Blue Mountain, Gold Coast, Canberra, etc.


Anonymous
6/28/2005

You have to try Artezen espresso bar in Dunsborough.. Best coffee in the world!!!


Anonymous
6/25/2005

Hired 4 wheel drive in Alice (Avis) drove to Uluru, Kings Canyon back to Alice. Visited Rainbow Valley, Palm Valley, Simpsons Gap, Stanley Chisolm, Meteorite Craters. All great to see. Very good having own transport to go where and when you please. Also 4 wheel drive a plus being able to go to more places. Best restaurant in Alice is Rudi''s. Great food, service, attention and excellent value. Highly recommended.


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