AUSTRALIA

Australia is the only island country in the world that is itself a Continent. This smallest continent in the world consists of vast lands of varied contrasts. It has many different climates, snowcapped mountainous ranges, widely varied cultural experiences, wetlands, Winelands, bushlands, national parks, remote beaches, colorful deserts, coral reefs and rainforests all with unique plant and animal life found nowhere else.

G’day Mates!

Australia’s located in an area known as Oceania between the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. It is known as ‘The Land Down Under’. The Tasman Sea, Coral Sea, and Arafura Sea also touch its island edges. The nearest country to this island is commonly thought to be New Zealand but, in fact, it is Papua New Guinea to the north. However, New Zealand and Australia have similar cultures and combining the two countries make up a region called Australasia.

It is the sixth largest landmass in the world. It’s close to 3 million square miles. That’s about the size of the 48 mainland U.S. states; and was once a penal colony with the nickname of ‘Oz’. Even though it is an isolated country with vast unpopulated areas dubbed the 'outback', it is also one of the most urbanized countries in the world.

Australia is a country of breathtaking beauty and unforgettable adventures. From coast to coast you’ll find ancient rainforests, towering cities, stunning outback landscapes and white sand beaches. It’s not only the scenery that varies here, but also the lifestyle. Whether you’re connecting with the Aboriginal culture, laying back and relaxing at a coastal nirvana, tasting seafood straight from the ocean, exploring the bustling and lively cities, feeding your senses of adventure in the remote pockets of the country or diving with gentle whale sharks, you’ll discover why there’s nothing like Australia. 

  

The Australian people are a diverse mix with more than 20 percent being foreign-born with an emphasis on European and Asian influences and approximately 40 percent being of mixed cultural origin. With this diverse mix of cultures, the food offered is just as diverse with Italian, Greek, Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese food becoming common place in kitchens.

With a myriad of journeys to embark on within this country, your hardest decision will be where to go, what to do and what to see. And as vast as this country is you probably will need to make more than a couple of trips here to take in all you have on your ‘Wishlist’.

Australia is made up of six states, including New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, South Australia (SA), Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia (WA), as well as two major mainland territories -- the Northern Territory (NT) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Its coastline stretches over 31,000 miles, with over 10,000 beaches. More than 85 percent of Australians live within 31 miles of the coast, so fun in the sun is very much a part of the Aussie lifestyle.

Major Australian cities and their locations include Sydney (New South Wales), Melbourne (Victoria), Brisbane (Queensland), Adelaide (South Australia), Perth (Western Australia), Darwin (the Northern Territory), and Hobart (Tasmania).

In each of Australia’s states, there is a uniqueness in, and of, themselves. As an example, they have the state of New South Wales where the country’s oldest state offers the beauty of Sydney’s iconic landmarks. The smallest mainland state of Victoria is home to Melbourne known as the world’s “Most Livable City”. Fly [or ferry over] to the island of Tasmania [known as ‘The Apple Isle’] to enjoy an island atmosphere where you can experience wildlife without restrictions or borders in their natural habitat. The tropical state of Queensland has Brisbane, known as ‘The Gold Coast’ [home to magnificent beach resorts] and the Great Barrier Reef, all the perfect spots for taking in the sun, boating and diving. South Australia offers the winery districts. Then there is the Outback where adventure awaits.

History

In early 1606 the first recorded European contact with the land of Australia, when a Dutch explorer charted the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Later in that same year, a Spanish explorer sailed through the Australia and Papua New Guinea straits. Over the centuries, European explorers and traders continued to chart the coastline of Australia, then known as New Holland.

In 1688, William Dampier became the first British explorer to land on the Australian northwest coast. It was not until 1770 that another Englishman named Captain James Cook, aboard the Endeavour extended a voyage to the South Pacific in order to further chart the east coast of Australia and claim it for the British Crown.

In January 26, 1788, after the British decided to use its new outpost as a penal colony, a fleet of ships brought 1500 people – about half of them convicts - here. The fleet arrived in Sydney Harbor and it is on this day every year that ‘Australia Day’ is celebrated.

 

About 160,000 men and women were brought to Australia as convicts until the penal transportation ended in 1868. The wool industry and the gold rushes of the 1850s provided an incentive for increasing numbers of free settlers to come to Australia.

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901. The non-Indigenous population at the time was 3.8 million, while the Indigenous population was around 93,000. Half of the people lived in cities and the majority were of English, Scottish or Irish descent.

Australia entered a boom period around 1945 where thousands of refugees and migrants arrived in Australia.  Australia today is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.

The British Monarch, although the constitutional head of state, plays no active role in the administration of Australia’s government. Australia’s current prime minister, since August 2018, is Scott Morrison.

Here are some basic stats & quick facts:

  • Population: 24,814,811 [as of August 21, 2018]

  • Capital: Canberra

  • Largest City: Sydney

  • Land Area: 2,988,901 square miles (7,741,220 sq km)

  • Highest Point: Mount Kosciuszko at 7,313 feet (2,229 m)

  • Lowest Point: Lake Eyre at -49 feet (-15 m)

  • Lat/Long: 33°52'S / 151°12'E

  • Daylight Savings Time - 2019:
    *Starts: Sunday - Oct 6, 2019 [1 hour forward local time]
    *Ends: April 7, 2019 [1 hour backwards local time]

  • Departure Tax: $27AUD – Usually buried within airline fees.

  • Country Code:  61

  • Electricity: 240Volt

  • Prices: Tax are included in pricing and not quoted separately

Yearly Holidays, Festivals & Events

January – March

  • January 1: New Years.

  • Each January, the Australian Open draws tennis fanatics and spectators from all over the world. Head to Melbourne to grab a seat courtside for an exciting Grand Slam tournament.

  • Australia Day - In late January take in the firework displays and lively celebrations around Sydney Harbor.

  • First Friday of February: Mardi Gras.

  • February 14: Valentine’s Day.

  • The second week of February: Royal Regatta.

  • The first decade of February:  New Year’s Eve on the lunar calendar.

  • Formula One Grand Prix; usually held between mid to late March each year.

  • Movies: Take your seat at one of the many outdoor cinema screenings held throughout the summer.

  • Second Tuesday of March: Commonwealth Day.

  • Third Monday of March: Canberra’s Day

  • March 21: Harmony Day.

  • March 27: Easter


April – May

  • April 1: April Fool’s Day.

  • April 25 - Anzac Day, is a national holiday. Anzac are members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in World War I.

  • Between April and June take a boat trip out to see or even swim with the whale sharks near the Ningaloo Reef. 

  • May 2:  Labor Day

  • May 8: Mother’s Day


June - September

  • Through June you can still swim with Whale Sharks around Ningaloo Reef.

  • First Monday of June: Foundation Day.

  • Second Monday of June: Queen's Birthday.

  • Take in the unusual Henley-on-Todd Regatta, held on the dry riverbed in Alice Springs in August.  

  • First Sunday in September: Father’s Day.

  • The Brisbane Festival takes place for three weeks in September with a line-up of music, comedy and theatrical events. 

  • June 3: Mabo Day.

  • A vibrant mix of wildflowers dots the landscape in Western Australia in September.


October - December

  • Hike along one of the well-marked trails in the Blue Mountains in October before the summer crowds arrive. 

  • Explore the Margaret River region in November and take in its food and wine festivals. 

  • Dress up for the 'race that stops the nation' as Australians tune in for the Melbourne Cup horse race in early November. Usually slated for the first Friday or Tuesday in November.

  • November 11: Day of Remembrance.

  • Take your seat at one of the many outdoor cinema screenings held throughout the summer.

  • December 25: Catholic’s Christmas.

  • December 26: Boxing Day


Agent Insider Tips:  Depending on the year you plan to visit be aware that some of the observed holidays may also
include [or fall] on a weekday thus businesses may not be open for business.

What to Know Before You Visit

Travel Warnings

Before embarking on your journey to the land of ‘Oz’ be sure to check for travel warnings and advise. The following government websites offer travel advisories and information for travelers to Australia.

US Department of State (www.travel.state.gov)
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade (www.voyage.gc.ca)
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.safetravel.govt.nz)
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.smartraveller.gov.au)

 

Time

Eastern Standard Time GMT +10 NSW, ACT, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania
Central Time GMT +9.5 Northern Territory and South Australia
Western Time GMT +8 Western Australia
Local time in Sydney from Pacific Standard Time Zone [West Coast U.S.A.]

Future Daylight Savings Time:


2020: *Starts: Sunday - Oct 4, 2020 [1 hour forward/local time] at 2am
          *Ends: April 5, 2020 [1 hour backwards/local time] at 3am

2021: *Starts: Sunday - Oct 3, 2021 [1 hour forward local time] at 2am
          *Ends: April 4, 2021 [1 hour backwards local time] at 3am

2022: *Starts: Sunday - Oct 2, 2022 [1 hour forward local time] at 2am
          *Ends: April 3, 2022 [1 hour backwards local time] at 3am

See our Recommended Australia Power Adapter and Voltage Converter above.

Electricity

The standard electrical supply is 220-240 volts, 50Hz AC. However, sockets are different, and you'll need an adaptor.

 

Visit Travel Electronics for more information and our personal recommendations.

      Note: Most hotels [not all] have a 110v/20w A.C. outlet for electric shavers ONLY in the bathroom.  A converter from volts is required for all other appliances, as well as, an adapter to suit South Pacific plug shapes

Language

Even though English is spoken here you must be careful while engaging an Aussie in conversation as they shorten most everything when they speak.  Such as Breakfast becomes "brekkie," sunglasses are "sunnies," and bathing suits are called "cozzies" (short for swimming costume!). Even the word Afternoon gets turned into "arvo."

*To learn more about Aussie slang refer to the end of this travel overview.

Government
 

Most countries have consulates in Sydney. Before traveling here know where to go if you should seek assistance. For more information, visit the Australian government’s List of Consulates in Australia.


Passports
 

A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document, and it proves that you have a right to return to your country. You are strongly advised to always carry a valid passport when traveling to any foreign destination. Crossing international borders can be complicated and sometimes requires many kinds of documents. Being prepared is the key to easing your way through this process, so make sure you know what documents you need, where to get them, and which ones will make your crossing quick and easy.

Remember to:

  • Carry a passport for all trips outside your country.

  • Be sure that your passport is still valid.

  • Check that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your date of entry.

  • Scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself or carry it a separate location 

  • Leave a copy with a trusted friend or relative who is not traveling with you.

  • Keep your passport safe while travelling.

  • Do not leave it unattended in your luggage, vehicle, hotel or elsewhere.

  • Carry it in your money belt, inside coat pocket or purse, or lock it in your hotel safe.

 

For more information about passports, applications or renewals please visit the links below. All other nationalities please check with your local government websites.

US State Department 

Government of Canada

Government of Australia

Government of New Zealand

 

Visas
 

Before setting off on an Australia vacation an Electronic Travel Authority [ETA] Visa [known as a tourist visa] is required for all citizens, except New Zealanders, traveling to Australia and is good for 12 months; for multiple stays of up to 3 months each visit. For longer stays, it requires a 6-or 12-month ‘working’ visa. 

This Visa is electronically attached to your passport.  Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your return home.  You can apply for this eVisa online.  Other restrictions apply for the application.

Rush My Passport
RUSH My Travel Visa

Customs

Arrival in Australia is usually fairly quick and efficient. If you have a current passport and visa, and follow customs regulations, your entry should be straightforward.

Visitors over 18 are entitled to a duty-free allowance of drink and cigarettes.  Any amount of cash may be taken in [or out] of Australia but amounts over $10,000 must be declared.

Food, plant or animal products must also be declared on arrival for inspection to ensure they are free of pests and diseases.

 

  • General goods: $AUD 900 worth of goods per adult (18 years or over); $AUD 450 worth of goods per child.

  • Alcohol: Up to 2.25 liters (0.5 imperial gallons or 0.59 US gallons) of alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine and Champagne) per adult.

  • Tobacco: 25 cigarettes or the equivalent of 25 grams (0.88 ounces) of smokeless tobacco products per adult.

 

Narcotics - of course, are illegal [including CBD] and customs inspectors and their highly trained hounds are diligent in sniffing them out. Quarantine regulations are strict, so you must declare all goods of animal or vegetable origin – wooden spoons, straw hats, the lot. Fresh food (meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables etc.) and flowers are prohibited. There are disposal bins located in airports where you can dump any questionable items if you don't want to bother with an inspection, a hefty on-the-spot fine or up to 10 years' imprisonment.


For detailed information on customs and quarantine regulations, contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Health/Immunizations

 

Australia and New Zealand are modern countries with good standards of health care and hygiene. No vaccinations are required unless you are coming from, or have visited, a yellow fever infected area within 6 days of arrival. You should consult the Center for Disease Control Center for further information.

Medication - Bring your medications in original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is a good idea, especially if carrying syringes. There is a lucrative market in smuggled counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Australia, thus the vigilance.
 

Note: It is important that the travel insurance plan is purchased before you leave home. Your insurance policy you currently have at home most likely does not cover international travel emergency needs. Check that the policy covers ambulances and emergency medical evacuations by air. The country of Australia is vast so being airlifted to the nearest hospital can be expensive.

Insurance

A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is not only a very good idea but, some countries are now requiring this coverage before entering.

Level of Cover – Ensure your policy covers theft, loss and medical problems. Some policies specifically exclude designated ‘dangerous activities’ such as scuba diving, skiing, and even bushwalking. Make sure the policy you choose fully covers your planned (and perhaps unplanned) activities.


Water


Drinking water in urban Australia is safe for drinking from the tap or faucet. In rural areas, it is suggested that water be treated or filtered before drinking or use bottled water.  Be careful in those rural areas of the ice cubes or blended ice drinks like margarita’s as they use the ice cubes from the local water source.

Telephone

Australian Country Code: +61

Sydney City Area Code: 02

Calling Sydney landlines from overseas: +612

Calling Australian mobiles from overseas: +614

Calling overseas from within Australia: 0011

Mobile Phones

Be sure to take the time to contact your mobile carrier at home before you leave to see if they have a travel data plan that works for you. Or, have them unlock your phone for use in Aussie land where you can get a local prepaid voice/data SIM card.

Wi-fi access

There are several locations for Wi-Fi access in Australia like internet cafes, in most hotels, backpacker accommodation and youth hostels, major airports, some train stations, fast-food chains, public libraries, Darling Harbour and aboard Sydney Ferries.

Getting TO Australia

 

Airports & Airlines

Most major international airlines fly to/from Australia’s larger cities. The national carrier is Qantas, which has an outstanding safety record and codeshares with British Airways.
 

Sydney and Melbourne are the busiest gateway cities, but Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane are all increasingly popular places to start your Australia adventure.

Adelaide Airport

Brisbane Airport

Cairns Airport

Darwin International Airport

Gold Coast Airport

Melbourne Airport

Perth Airport

Sydney Airport

Land

LOL!!!  - It is not possible to travel there by land.

Cruise Ship

Want to Explore visiting Australia by Cruise Ship? Click HERE>>

By Sea

Cruise ships sail these waters most all year long to bring international visitors to the ‘Land Down Under’ in record numbers.


Getting around IN Australia

Time pressure, combined with the vastness of the Australian continent, may lead you to consider taking to the skies at some point in your trip. Australia has a few low-cost carriers.

Airlines

Australia’s main domestic airlines service the large centers with regular flights. The major players:

Jetstar   |     Qantas    |   Tigerair    |    Virgin Australia

Several regional airlines operate within smaller geographical parameters and fly into regional airports.

Trains

Sydney Airport – AirportLink trains run to the city center every 10 minutes from around 5 am to 1 am (20 minutes). Pre-booked shuttle bus service to city hotels. A taxi into the city costs approximately $55 (30 minutes).
 

Melbourne Airport – SkyBus services run to the city (20 minutes), leaving every 10 to 30 minutes – 24hrs. A taxi into the city costs around $50 (25 minutes).
 

Brisbane Airport – Airtrain trains run to the city center (20 minutes) every 15 to 30 minutes from 5 am (6 am weekends) to 10 pm. Pre-booked shuttle bus service to city hotels. A taxi to the city costs $35 to $45 (40 minutes).

Cycling
 

Cycling around Australia is possible but will take considerable fitness and exceptional planning.

Transport – If you’re bringing your own bike, check with your airline for weight, costs, and packing required. Within Australia, bus companies require you to dismantle your bike. Trains sometimes have separate bike-storage facilities onboard.
 

Legalities – Bike helmets are compulsory in all states and territories, as are white front lights and red rear lights for riding at night.

Maps – You can get by with standard road maps, but to avoid low-grade unsealed roads, the government series is best. The 1:250,000 scale is suitable, though you’ll need lots of maps if you’re riding long distances. You can download maps or use map apps to your smartphone, however, understand cell service may be spotty in many pockets of the country.

 

Safety – In summer carry plenty of water always. Distances between towns can be gruelingly far. Avoid cycling in the middle of the day in hot weather. Drivers will not be expecting to see cyclists on most country roads. Wear as much high-vis outerwear as possible.

 

Boat

Unless you’re crewing on a yacht or enjoying a Pacific Ocean cruise, boat travel isn’t really a feasible way to get around Australia. Short-hop regional ferries will take you to some islands and places like Kangaroo Island, Tasmania and North Stradbroke Island and around the harbor of Sydney. Ferries sail between Australia mainland to popular islands around the continent.

Buses
 

Australia’s extensive bus network is a reliable way to get around, but distances are often vast. Most Australian buses are equipped with air-conditioning, comfortable seats and toilets; all are smoke-free, and some have Wi-fi and USB chargers.

Greyhound Australia 
Runs in every state except South Australia and Western Australia. Offers flexible hop-on hop-off fares. Discounts for seniors, students and children.

Firefly Express 
Runs between Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Integrity Coach Lines 

 “Express” (point to point) coach service, “Hop on Hop off” Pass and Charter Service. They go where others don’t!

Premier Motor Service 

Does the east coast from Eden to Cairns. Has flexible hop-on hop-off fares.

V/Line 

Covers all of Victoria with a mix of coaches and trains.

Local Transport

All of Australia’s major towns have reliable, affordable public bus networks, and there are suburban train lines in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth.

Melbourne also has trams (Adelaide has one!), Sydney and Brisbane have ferries, and Sydney has a light-rail line.

Taxis operate in all major cities and towns, especially handy if you’re having a few drinks out.

Uber is available in Australia, however, not every city has a pool of mobile app-booked transport drivers – yet. Uber is usually less expensive than a taxi if you can find a ride. Lyft has yet to enter the Australian market as of this writing.

Note: download the Uber app for your smartphone BEFORE you leave home.

Driving

Exploring Australia by road is a great way to get around this vast lands if you have time. Whether you’re focusing your visit on one state or several, road trips are a popular Australian experience.  Your itinerary is on your time!

To drive in Australia, while vacationing, you will need a valid driver’s license from your home country in English. If your license isn’t in English, you’ll also need to carry an International Driving Permit, issued in your home country.

Australian’s drive on the left side of the road and their roads are wide, well signed, and well maintained. Rental cars are usually air-conditioned and seat belts are required.

If your rental doesn’t already have a GPS in it [and you don’t want to pay to upgrade and get a car that already has one] then you may want to consider downloading a GPS app before you leave home to you don’t incur hundreds of dollars in roaming charges. AND, if you can save some money by not renting a vehicle with a GPS in it then your app will come in handy.  There are numerous GPS apps available to download to your smartphone and use offline.

Agent Insider Tip: It's never a bad idea to have a back-up plan.
Take along an old-fashioned paper road map just in case you find
yourself in an area where coverage is spotty, or your smartphone
battery dies at an inopportune time. You always want to be over-prepared.


There are clean public toilets almost everywhere – in rest areas, national parks, and even the smallest outback towns.  If you are renting a car you will need proof of insurance.

Road Rules

Give way – An important road rule is ‘give way to the right’ – if an intersection is unmarked (unusual), and at roundabouts, you must give way to vehicles entering the intersection from your right.

Speed limits – The general speed limit in built-up and residential areas is 50km/h. Near schools, the limit is usually 25km/h (sometimes 40km/h) in the morning and afternoon. On the highway it’s usually 100km/h or 110km/h; in the NT it’s either 110km/h or 130km/h. Police have speed radar guns and cameras and are fond of using them in strategic locations.

Seat belts & car seats - It’s the law to wear seat belts in the front and back seats; you’re likely to get a fine if you don’t. Small children under 7 must be belted into an approved & certified car restraint seat.

Drinking & driving - Random breath tests are common. If you’re caught with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.05%, expect a fine and the loss of your license. Police can randomly pull any driver over for a breathalyzer or drug test. Best just to drive sober and make it alive.

Mobile phones - Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal in Australia (excluding hands-free technology).


Note: Other driving restrictions may apply.

Road Conditions

For up-to-date information on road conditions around the country, check the following:

Australian Bureau of Meteorology – Weather information.

Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure – Southern Australia [road conditions.

Live Traffic NSW – New South Wales [NSW] road conditions.

Smartphone App’s

 

For up-to-the-minute news of traffic incidents and road conditions that may affect your journey in Sydney and regional NSW:

Download the Live Traffic NSW App from the App Store

Download the Live Traffic NSW App from Google Play


Main Roads Western Australia – Western Australia road conditions.

Road Report – Northern Territory [NT] road conditions.

Traffic & Travel Information – Queensland road conditions.

Animal Hazards

  • ‘Roadkill’ is a huge problem in Australia, particularly in the NT, Queensland, NSW, SA, and Tasmania. Many Australians in rural areas avoid traveling once the sun drops because of the risks posed by nocturnal animals on the roads.

  • Kangaroos are common on country roads, as are cows and sheep in the unfenced outback. Kangaroos are most active around dawn and dusk and often travel in groups: if you see one hopping across the road, slow down or pull-over and stop, as its friends maybe just behind it.

  • If you injure an animal while driving, call the relevant wildlife rescue line:

 

Department of Environment & Heritage Protection Queensland

Department of Parks & Wildlife WA

Fauna Rescue of South Australia

NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue & Education Service

Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania

Wildcare Inc NT

Wildlife Victoria

Behind the Wheel

Fatigue – Be wary of driver fatigue; driving long distances (particularly in hot weather) can be exhausting. Falling asleep at the wheel is a serious risk. Stop and rest regularly – do some exercise, change drivers or have a world-famous Australian coffee.

Road trains – Be careful overtaking road trains (trucks with two or three trailers stretching for as long as 50m); you’ll need distance and plenty of speed. Stones or debris can clip your car as it passes.

Unsealed roads – Unsealed road conditions vary wildly, and cars perform differently when braking and turning on dirt. Don’t exceed 70km/h on dirt roads; if you go faster, you won’t have time to respond to a sharp turn, animal stock on the road or an unexpected pothole.

Car Rental Companies

Avis Car Rental+61 2 8374 2847

Budget Car Rentals+61 2 9207 9165

Europcar+61 2 9212 4975 ‎

Hertz Car Rental+61 2 9609 4664

Redspot+61 2 8303 2222

Thrifty Car Rentals+61 2 8374 6177

What NOT to Wear

Shopping Hours

Popular shopping precincts in the bigger cities are open seven days a week, from 9am/10am to 5.30pm. On Thursdays, stores open until 9pm. City supermarkets are open for up to 24 hours.

 

Money/Currency

Australian dollars are not only the official currency [AUD] but the only currency accepted.

There are 100 cents to the Australian dollar. Although goods are priced in single cents, this is often rounded to the nearest 5c.

Bank hours are like those in the USA and UK and most have cash dispensers. Visa, Mastercard, Diners and Amex cards are widely accepted.  

All major credit cards are accepted in Australia, particularly MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club.

Traveler’s Cheques can be exchanged at the international airport and foreign exchange bureaus and all international credit cards are widely accepted. You will be able to access Australian currency from Maestro and Cirrus ATM machines (cashpoint machines) if you have a four-digit pin-code.  Beware transaction fees are high.

Australian [AUD] dollar denominations:


Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2
Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100

Note: Australia [especially the bigger cities] is very expensive and so it is recommended budgeting at least AU $100 a day.

 

Agent Insider Tip: for on-the-go and current up-to-date currency
exchange rates be sure to put on your smartphone
the XE Currency app or you can find it at www.xe.com

 

Tipping

Tipping is not generally a custom in Australia. Porters, taxi drivers, hairdressers, etc. do not expect tips. Most Australians will either round the amount up or simply leave the change. In more formal and finer restaurants, it is usual to tip up to 10% if you have received good service. Taxi drivers only expect a tip if they assist with luggage.

Climate & Season’s

Australia’s climate varies across the continent.  Visitors in the Northern Hemisphere need to think ‘’opposite seasons’ when booking travel here. December through February as their summer months for most of the country, and the wet season in the tropical north. The Australian winter is from June to August but is generally mild. You will find snow in the southern mountain regions. Mild temperatures are often experienced in Australia year-round. Northern states typically present warm tropical type temperatures, whereas the southern states are cooler and sometimes snowy. 


Australian weather can be enjoyed during your trip if you understand the mechanics of it. Their summers begin in December and their winters start in June.

SPRING – [September, October, November]

Australia during springtime, for the most part, is warm. The temperature will feel especially pleasant to those visiting from colder climates! Depending on where you are in Australia the temperature will vary somewhat but expect it to be warm and not overly hot during the day.
 

Mornings and evenings can still be rather chilly and crisp. Summer clothes will be just fine, but it is always handy to have a sweater or extra layers for the evening as nighttime sees a drop-in temperature. Swimwear, Cover-ups over swimwear, shorts, t-shirts, water bottle, and other sun gear are all necessary. 
    

*Temperatures average between 60°F and 80°F (15°C to 26°C).

SUMMER – [December, January, February]:

These months are Australia’s hottest. Sunscreen and other sun protection are of the utmost importance. Remember to cover body parts after sun exposure to avoid sun damage, hats and sunglasses are essential. Swimsuits are a must for these months, as well as shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, water bottle and a rain jacket (Summer can be Australia’s rainy season).


A swimsuit cover-up is very nice to have when you leave the pool or the beach – it will help protect you from the powerful sun. It’s best to carry around a shawl or light layer in the evening, though it may not be needed. 


     *Temperatures average between 80°F and 90°F (26°C to 32°C), and even higher in the Northern Territory.
 

FALL – [March, April, May]:  Golden Autumn

Fall in Australia, for the most part, will be warm and sunny still with a hint of Winter tiptoeing in and a slight drop in nightly temperatures. It is important to pack cozy layers, warm-enough pajamas, and summer clothes for the daytime.
 

You may start your day with the sun shining and warm temperatures most days, however, be prepared for all weather conditions. Layer, Layer, Layer!  Swimming is doable in the North, and Sunscreen is still a must. 
 

*Temperatures average between 60°F and 70°F (15°C to 21°C).

WINTER – [June, July, August]:

Australia has a naturally warm climate, but winter will see more unpredictable weather. You may wake up to sunshine and warm temperatures, but they could quickly turn into a cold and windy day. This occurs even more on the coastline and can happen in the north as well. It is a good idea to bring a light coat that can protect you from all-weather elements.

Plenty of layers of different thicknesses are the way to go so that you can layer heavy or light depending on the temperature at the time. Australia’s coldest months may still be rather warm for some of us, and swimming, sunbathing, and even beach days are achievable in the North. Sunscreen and water bottles are still vital.      
 

*Temperatures average between 52°F and 55°F (11°C to 13°C).

Safety

Australia is not the only reason this country is called the “Sunburnt Country”.  On most beaches you can find people lobster red; even on a cloudy day after as little as 15 mins. The hours between 12 – 2 pm it is advisable to find shade and stay out of the sun. And…always remember to stay hydrated under the super hot Southern Hemisphere sun.

At all times, of the year the sun can be strong and prolonged exposure can be harmful. Apply a High SPF sunscreen to exposed areas is a must and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours.  If you are spending time in the water be sure to get a Water-Resistant High SPF Sunscreen.

Also, wearing a Wide-brimmed Lightweight Hat, Polarized Sunglasses and a Sunscreen protected collared Long-sleeved Shirt is highly advisable. Australian’s do!

      SideNote: Many popular beaches are monitored by Lifeguards. Sometimes these lifeguards get assistance from volunteers from the ‘Surf Life Saving Association’ dressed in yellow/red outfits. Always swim within the marked areas if marked.  If, while swimming in the ocean, you find yourself in trouble the Universal sign that means you need help is to hold up one of your arms above the water. 

     Warnings: If you should hear a long siren while on the beach that means to ‘get out of the water NOW - possible shark sighting’.  If you then hear 2 short siren blasts that means ‘All Clear’ and you can go back into the water.

***Emergency Services like police, fire or ambulance dial 000.
***If using a digital mobile device then dial 112.

Wildlife

Australia has many different animal habitats. Australia’s deserts, rainforests, reefs, swamps, bushlands, oceans, and mountains provide homes for many different types of animal.  These animals roam free in all areas of the country so be cautious, respectful of their space and follow local advice. 

Make sure to find out if a beach or lake is safe for swimming before going in. Many places where sharks or crocodiles pose any danger have netted swimming areas which are safe. Snakes are something to be on the lookout for, but the ole’ adage “they’re more afraid of you than you are of them” is true. 

     Fact: more than 80 percent of the plants, mammals, frogs, and reptiles in Australia cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  This includes their well-known marsupials like kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas, but there are many more species such as Sturt’s Desert Rose, Eastern Banjo frogs, and the venomous Western Brown snake is an Australian native.

Social

For more than 50,000 years The Aboriginal people have lived in Australia and are believed to be one of the world’s oldest civilization.  Within the Aboriginal cultures, and in remote communities, keep in mind that local people may speak English as a second or third language, they may not read or write and don't necessarily use the same verbal and body language as non-indigenous people.

 

Always ask before photographing a person or group.

Food & Drinks in Australia


                                                                    Fish and chips served in a newspaper

FOOD

Despite international influences, there are still several traditional dishes native to Australia. The term used to describe such food is known as “bush tucker” which refers to food drawn from Australian flora and fauna such as emu, crocodile, and kangaroo. This also includes bush tomatoes, seeds, nuts, lemon myrtle, and even fungi!

Kangaroo meat is very common and can be found on many restaurant menus as well as in supermarkets. Seafood is naturally a staple of Australian cuisine with approximately 600 varieties of marine and freshwater seafood caught and sold domestically as well as abroad. Specialties include Southern Blue Fin Tuna, King George Whiting, Barramundi and Flathead Fish.

Australians enjoy eating out and as such restaurants, cafes and pubs are commonplace with at least one or two options even in the smallest of towns. While most restaurants have licenses, there are some that offer “BYO” (bring your own) which allows guests to bring their own wine and in some cases beer. Out of all Australian culinary styles, the BBQ is perhaps the nation’s most favorite. Contrary to the popular stereotype of “Throw a shrimp on the barbie”, most Australians rarely do this as shrimp are called prawns in Australia and the population prefers to BBQ steaks, chops, sausages, chicken fillets, fish and kebabs.

The Australian meat pie is considered a national dish, however, with this diversity in the population Chefs from around the world are bringing in their international dishes thus offering options galore.

Drinks

The Australian wine industry is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world, with 760 million liters a year being exported internationally. Domestically, nearly 500 million liters are sold per year. There are 60 designated wine areas in Australia, located mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The most famous areas are the Hunter Valley and the Barossa Valley while the best-known wine producers include Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, Wyns Coonawarra Estate, and Linderman's.

When people think of Australian beer, Fosters usually comes to mind. While Fosters holds iconic status internationally, it is not a popular brand at home. Instead, regional beers such as Victoria Bitter (VB) typically outsell Fosters domestically.

Australian coffee is known as the best coffee in the world.  So, there's a reason Starbucks failed in Australia, and that's because everyone knew of many other independently owned cafes within walking distance of any Starbucks store that made better coffee than the new American impostor on the block.

Do you know where else in the world Starbucks failed? --- Nowhere!


Operating hours:
     Public bars: Mon-Sat 10:00-22:00, most Pubs: open until 24:00.

Drinking age:  18

Things to try: 

Vegemite, Tim Tams, Lamingtons, Macadamia nuts, and meat pies.

Top Restaurants/Wineries by city and surrounding area


Sydney

Restaurants with a view:

·        The Kiosk at Nelson's Park  (Vaucluse) 
Amazing waterfront views on the harbor - ideal for lunch or early evening dining.

·        Doyle's Restaurant  (Watson's Bay)
Winner of many awards for the best fish and chips in Sydney with amazing views of the harbor.

·        Catalina's  (Rose Bay)
If you really want somewhere special - this is the place!

·        The Bather's Pavilion  (Balmoral Beach)
Located on one of the most beautiful beaches offer a stylish and relaxed atmosphere and food to die for!

·        Cottage Point Inn  (Hawkesbury River)
Take a seaplane from Sydney Harbour flying up and over the harbor and northern beaches. This hidden jewel is privately located in Kur-ing-gai Chase National Park!

The Hunter Valley - Australia’s oldest, most visited wine region is an easy two-hour drive from Sydney. There are hundreds of cellars to visit, some of the best selections here are Semillon, Shiraz and Chardonnay. Some emerging varieties are Verdelho, Merlot, and Chambourcin.

Melbourne and the Yarra Valley

Victoria's capital and Australia's premier 'wine city', restaurants serve a variety of cuisine, inspirational chefs and a lively café scene are just some of the reasons why Melbourne is considered the height of gastronomic excellence.

Queen Victoria Market is described as "the Mecca of Melbourne's shopping". Virtually everything is on sale at Queen Victoria Market. Opened in 1859 as a livestock market, Queen Victoria Market is now the only surviving market in the city proper and by far Melbourne's biggest.  

Foodie’s in Melbourne

  • Eat Dim sum in Chinatown – there are many restaurant options here

  • Overlook the water at South bank or New Quay

  • Taste Greek food in Lonsdale and Russell Street

  • Soak in the Italian atmosphere and food at Lyon Street

  • Hang out at Trendy Brunswick Street in Fitzroy

  • Catch a ferry to Williamstown for Fish and Chips on the beach

  • People watch at Chapel Street in South Yarra

The Mornington Peninsula is only 1 hour from the city; here you will find wineries, beaches, golf courses, art galleries, and cafes. Tranquil views of the bays and harbor are everywhere you look.

The Yarra Valley, less than one hour away is home to a huge selection of wineries, you can see wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary, home to dingoes, kangaroos, wombats and much more. For the more adventurous take a hot air balloon ride over the spectacular countryside or go for a cycle tour.

The Best Wineries in Yarra Valley


Helen & Joey Estates – Gueyere
Where a large cellar door and tasting room inside, but if the weather is good the best seats in the house are outside on the terrace, overlooking the vines and gently rolling hills.

Madden’s Rise – Coldstream
Known for their Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, together with Arneis, Chenin Blanc, Fiano, Garganega, Vermentino, and Sangiovese. There is no cost to do a tasting, and you should taste everything here. 

TarraWarra Estates – Yarra Glen
TarraWarra Estate is known for exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Internationally renowned as an unforgettable wine tasting and restaurant experience in the Yarra Valley, recently received the 'Best Tasting Experience, Yarra Valley' from Gourmet Traveler Wine.

Rochford Wines – Coldstream
Family-owned, Rochford Wines is a must-visit destination – as both a renowned Yarra Valley winery and Yarra Valley restaurant - all located in tranquil and picturesque surrounds.

 

TIPS:

*Experience the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, this is the world's only working tramcar restaurant, the food is authentic Australia and your guaranteed a fun evening!

Adelaide and the Barossa Valley 

Adelaide is known as the city of food and wine; a place to experience the buzz, culture and convenience of a big city without the frustrations. The CBD [Central Business District] is a square mile, bordered by beautiful parks. Seriously good coffee and food are never far away.

Sampling of Best Restaurants in Adelaide:

Mrs Q - Asian, Thai, Vegetarian Friendly

Georges on Waymouth - Mediterranean, European, Australian

Peel Street - Australian Vegetarian Friendly Vegan Options Gluten Free Options

S2 on Flinders - Asian Thai Vegetarian Friendly Vegan Options Gluten Free Options

Best Wineries in South Australia

Visit the birthplace of Australia's most famous wine Penfolds Grange in the Barossa.

Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley - Australia's grandest wine chateau and home of world-class wines, began life as a dairy in 1851.

Jacob's Creek in the Barossa Valley is the home of Australia's 'top drop', at Orlando Wines where the first vines were planted on the banks of Jacob's Creek in 1847.

Sevenhill Cellars in the Clare Valley was founded in the mid-nineteenth century, and today the winery offers tastings and sales in the old monastery cellars, as well as tours of the church.

Boston Bay Wines in the Eyre Peninsula is a unique vineyard with spectacular views located on the shores of Boston Bay it produces medal-winning red and white wines.

There is something for every taste and adventure level - you can indulge in fine food and wine, go on a rugged Outback adventure, see a world-class arts festival or swim with sea lions.

Tasmania

International connoisseurs know Tasmania as Australia's gourmet island. World-class ales, beers and wines complement rock lobster, Atlantic salmon and the sweet saltiness of oysters. Tasmania now produces some excellent wines notably pinot noir. The vineyards are small and special and located mainly around the Tamar Valley and southwest Tasmania. An easy loop drive can be taken from Launceston or Hobart.  

Best Food & Drink Guide in Tasmania

  • Enjoy delicious cheeses and cream from King Island.

  • Taste the Fresh seafood - Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout, rock lobsters, Abalone, octopus, blue-lip mussels, scallops and oysters, freshwater rainbow trout from Tasmanian inland waters.

  • Pick your own Fresh Apples and Strawberry's from one of the many orchards.

  • Shop for food at Salamanca Market Place – held every Saturday in Hobart.

  • Take a Brewery tour at Boags (Launceston) and Cascades (Hobart).

  • Visit Moorilla Winery outside of Hobart and Pipers Brook vineyard outside of Launceston.

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