Plan Your Trip
Australia is not as far as you think. It's only a movie, a couple of meals and an in flight nap - on top notch airlines. Here are some useful travel tips to help plan your trip Down Under.
Distance Chart | Budgeting Guide Visas & Entry | Customs | Quarantine | Vaccinations | Insurance | Tax Free/Duty Free | Currency | Credit Cards | Taxes | Climate & Weather | Time Zones | Communications & Electricity | Tipping | Driving in Australia
Frequently Asked Questions
Visas & Entry
Travelers to Australia need a valid passport or similar certificate of identification. Everyone, except travelers with Australian or New Zealand passports, requires a visa or an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to enter Australia.
An ETA is equivalent to a visa, but there is no stamp or label in your passport and there is no need for you to visit an Australian diplomatic office to submit an application. If you are eligible, the ETA is issued electronically by a computer system operated for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) of Australia. If you are not eligible for an ETA, then you should contact your nearest Australian visa office for further options.
There are strict laws prohibiting or restricting the entry of drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. If you are unsure about anything declare it to Customs upon arrival.
Australia is free from many pests and diseases found elsewhere in the world because of its strict quarantine regulations. It's vital that you declare any food, plant or animal items upon arrival, including fresh and packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, vegetables, seeds, animals, wood and plants. You can dispose of these items at bins found in international airports.
Vaccinations are not required unless you have come from, or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival. No other health certificate is required to enter Australia . For further information see Department of Health and Aged Care and World Health Organization.
Travel insurance, with comprehensive health coverage, is strongly recommended. Comprehensive insurance should be taken out before departure.
Tax Free/Duty Free
Each traveler over 18 years of age can bring into Australia 1125ml of alcoholic liquor and 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco products duty/tax free. For other goods, including those intended as gifts, a duty/tax-free allowance of $A400 per person or $A200 per person under 18 is available. These articles must accompany you through Customs and must not be intended for commercial purposes.
Australian currency ($A) is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit (100 cents equals one dollar). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5 denominations. Coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c denominations. Prices are rounded to the nearest 5c. Currency exchange - Exchange facilities are available at international airports. Changing foreign currency or traveler's cheques can be done at most banks.
The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and JCB. Banks and various locations have ATMs (Automated Teller Machines). Credit cards may need to be enabled for international access so contact your credit card provider.
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 percent. Prices in Australia are shown as inclusive of GST. International and domestic flights purchased overseas, by non-residents, are GST free. Continuous domestic legs of international journeys are also GST free. GST is payable on tourism services such as accommodation, day tours, guides, ground transport (including coach, rail and cruise), translators and meals.
Climate & Weather
With the reverse seasons of the northern hemisphere, Australia enjoys a largely temperate climate. Most of Australia receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, or an amazing 70 percent of the total possible hours. Grab a hat and sunscreen and enjoy Australia's delightful climate!
Remember Australia's seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere so...
- Spring is September - November
- Summer is December - February
- Fall is March - May
- Winter is June - August
For up-to-date Australian weather reports, check out the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's website.
There are three time zones in Australia:
- Eastern Standard Time (EST), which includes New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
- Central Standard Time (CST), which includes South Australia and the Northern Territory.
- Western Standard Time (WST) - Western Australia. CST is one half hour behind EST, while WST is two hours behind EST.
Communications & Electricity
Australia offers modern and reliable telecommunication services. Telephone, post, email and Internet services are all readily available to visitors.
The electrical current in Australia is 220-240 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet is different from some other countries so you may need an adaptor. If your appliances are 110V, you may need a voltage converter. Universal outlets for 240V or 110V shavers are usually found in leading hotels.
Tipping is not obligatory in Australia, however tipping is gaining a foothold, particularly in cafes and restaurants in the bigger cities where a 10-15% tip is customary. However, you won't cause offense if you don't tip. Taxi drivers are always grateful if you leave the change.
Driving in Australia
Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. The steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60 km/h (35 mph) and on country roads and highways, 100 km/h (62mph) to 110km/h (68 mph) unless signs indicate otherwise. Strict drink-driving laws apply. Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. A bona-fide tourist may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver's license for the same class of vehicle. Licenses must be carried when driving.
Australia is a vast continent full of amazing sights. If you're here on a short trip, you may prefer to travel by air. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, then hit the road. Australia has a vast network of well-maintained roads and highways with some of the most beautiful road touring in the world. Click here for a distance chart.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I pack?
The summer months (December to February) are warm to hot. Bring lightweight clothes, but keep a jacket or sweater handy as nights may be cool. For the winter months (June to August), warmer clothes plus sweaters, a jacket or light coat is advisable. In the tropical areas, lightweight clothing (natural fibres) is suitable all year round.
How much will it cost?
Australia's reasonable prices for goods and services make it a desirable holiday destination. The following budgeting guide gives an approximate example of costs, although prices will vary by region and are a guide only. Prices shown are in Australian dollars and include Australia 's Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 per cent. All prices are subject to change. Click here for a budgeting guide.
What to buy?
There are a wide variety of quality products on offer in Australia at very competitive prices. Shop around and compare prices and quality before you buy. This will help you get the great bargains that are available across a range of stores in Australia.
In Australia many stores sell duty-free and tax-free products and services. Make sure you keep originals or copies of your passport and travel ticket with you to take advantage of these discounts. If you buy an item and it does not work properly, you have the right to a refund or to have the item replaced or repaired. Also ask about the store's policy on repairing or returning their products in your home country (keep your receipts).
The variety of Aboriginal art for sale or viewing includes traditional dot and bark paintings, modern "earth pigment" screen prints, decorated jewelry and wood carvings, boomerangs, didgeridoos, weapons, ceramics, scarves, and even compact discs of traditional music. While most traditional art is available online and at authorized outlets, authenticity is perhaps the most critical issue facing the industry. Without authentication from a reputable supplier, art purchased now may not appreciate in value in years to come. The National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association Inc. represents and protects the rights of Indigenous people and ensures that you are buying the genuine product.