Prepare for your Australian trip with our practical tips. Learn about currency, tipping, weather and visa info. Then you’re ready to go!
Many airlines fly to Australia and prices vary considerably, so it pays to shop around for a flight. Consider the length of the flight and any mandatory stopovers.
All of Australia’s international airports have regular public transport such as bus, train and taxi connections and private transfers with the city centers. Shuttle buses are also available and provide transfers to accommodation.
Australia is a vast country that has a range of temperate climates. In the Australian winter you can ski in the southern states one day and be diving in the balmy waters of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland the next. Such temperate conditions make al fresco dining, days on the beach or the water, and a huge variety of sports a way of life in Australia. Keep clothing light, layered and comfortable to cater for whatever you want to do. Protect yourself against the sun - don’t forget to pack a sunhat, sunglasses and suntan lotion.
The seasons in Australia are the reverse of the northern hemisphere. 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, jumpers, a jacket or light coat are advisable. In the tropical areas, lightweight clothing (natural fibers) is suitable all year round.
For special occasions like business meetings, theatres and formal dining, men may need a jacket and tie or suit and women a more formal dress.
Australia’s currency is Australian Dollars (AUD) and currency exchange is available at banks, hotels and international airports. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, JCB and their affiliates.
Australia’s official language is English. However, being a multicultural nation with a significant migrant population, they also enjoy a tremendous diversity of languages and cultures.
Medicine brought into Australia for personal use is subject to controls and must be declared on your arrival. It is recommended you bring a prescription or letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the medicine you are carrying.
The emergency number for police, ambulance and or fire brigade is 000.
Hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to your bill. In up market restaurants, it is usual to tip waiters up to ten per cent of the bill for good service. However, tipping is always your choice. It is not custom to bargain in Australia.
You know Australia is a big country, but you may not know how easy it is to get around. The untouched beaches that stretch for miles and deserts that touch the horizon are all within your reach. Want to sail the Whitsundays, cross the continent by car or take a train through the rainforest canopy? Following are the different ways you can explore the vast and diverse country.
Flying is the best way to cover large distances in a short time. You’ll spend less time travelling and more time on the ground savoring Australia’s can’t-miss landscapes and laid-back lifestyle. Australia’s domestic airlines – Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Blue, Rex and their subsidiaries - serve all state capital cities and regional centers. Competition amongst domestic airlines means that great fares are available.
Australia has a vast network of well-maintained roads and some of the most beautiful touring routes in the world. Travel from Sydney to Brisbane past sleepy seaside towns and lush hinterland. Experience Australia’s Red Centre in an epic drive across the desert. Or follow Victoria’s Great Ocean Road as it hugs the spectacular south-east coast. You’ll find car rental companies at major airports, central city locations, suburbs and resorts. So hire a car, four wheel drive, caravans or motorbike and hit the highway.
Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60km/h and 50km/h in some suburban areas. On country roads and highways, the maximum speed is usually 110km/h. For your safety, drink-driving laws apply, and drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Motor cyclists and cyclists must wear helmets. An international visitor may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver’s license for the same class of vehicle. You should carry both your home license and international license when driving.
Coach and bus travel in Australia is comfortable, easy and economical. Coaches generally have air conditioning, reading lights, adjustable seats and videos. Services are frequent, affordable and efficient. Australia’s national coach operator, Greyhound, offer passes to fit every budget.
Train travel is a convenient, affordable and scenic way to explore Australia. Interstate and intra-state rail services connect the cities and regional centers, while cross-country train trips offer a unique insight into Australia’s size and diversity. Travelling options range from budget to luxury and a range of rail passes can reduce your costs if you plan to see large sections of the country.
Countrylink trains connect New South Wales destinations and also travel along Australia’s east coast to Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. VLine trains link Melbourne with regional hubs in Victoria, Traveltrain covers Queensland and TransWA criss-crosses Western Australia.
Australia also has epic rail journeys such as The Ghan and Indian-Pacific, which sweep across the continent, offering comfort and a sense bygone romance. The Indian-Pacific travels between Sydney to Perth, stopping for whistle-stop tours of Broken Hill, Adelaide and gold-rich Kalgoorlie. The legendary Ghan travels between Adelaide and Darwin, taking in Australia’s Red Centre and the tropical Top End.
All of Australia’s capital cities are served by a wide variety of public transport, including trains, buses, ferries, monorail, light rail and trams. Taxis charge according to their meter.
The Spirit of Tasmania runs a passenger and vehicle ferry service between Melbourne and Tasmania nightly. Extra services are running during summer peak times. Sealink ferries connect South Australia and Kangaroo Island several times a day. Ferries connect suburbs in the capital cities – they criss-cross Sydney Harbour, the Swan River in Perth and the Brisbane River in Brisbane.
Walking is a great way to get around the cities, so get ready to pound the wide, easy-on-the-feet pedestrian streets. You can also tackle some of the longest tracks and trails in the world in Australia – impressive journeys of a thousand kilometers or more that can take several weeks to complete.
Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you will need a visa to enter Australia. New Zealand passport holders can apply for a visa upon arrival in the country. All other passport holders must apply for a visa before leaving home. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas, at your nearest Australian Consulate.
Customs and Quarantine
Australia’s customs laws prevent you from bringing drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms and protected wildlife into Australia. Some common items such as fresh or packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, plants, seeds, skins and feathers are also prohibited. There is no limit on currency but you will need to declare amounts over $10,000.
Australia’s climate varies across the continent, from hot and tropical in the far north to cool and even snowy in the south. The seasons are the opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. Between December and February is summer for most of the country, and the wet season in the tropical north. The Australian winter from June to August is generally mild, but offers snow in the southern mountain regions and dry, sunny days in the northern states. It’s important to protect yourself from the Australian sun with a hat, shirt and SPF30+ sunscreen.