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Australia Travel Guide

While modern-day Australia might have started life as a British prison colony, it has evolved into one of the world's premier tourist destinations. Visitors to Australia will delight in its exciting, cosmopolitan cities, fantastic weather and famously beautiful coastline, as well as the friendly nature of the locals who they encounter.

Australia - a country and continent in one - is the world's sixth-largest nation by land area, and has a wealth of natural attractions begging to be explored. The country is politically divided into six states and two territories, each one offering a different experience for the traveller. There is the drama of the remote 'Outback', the colourful spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef and its coral islands, the excitement of the big, efficient cities, the sun and surf at some of the best beaches in the world, and the tropical rainforests of Western Australia. The list is endless in this diverse land of adventure, which boasts about 2,000 national parks and 14 World Heritage-listed areas, along with more than 7,000 beaches.

For those who prefer to keep their holidays urban, Australia's cities will certainly not disappoint. Clean, cosmopolitan and youthful, Australia's urban centres (including Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne) are world class. Famous cultural attractions in Australia include the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the Australian Museum and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Australia also boasts an impressive and fast-moving restaurant culture, guaranteed to satisfy even the fussiest gastronomes.

Australia is a land of character too, with its melting pot of cultures. For more than 50,000 years the Aboriginal people lived and thrived in the continent's unique environment. It is believed the Aboriginals are one of the world's oldest surviving civilisations, and recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in keeping the Aboriginal culture alive and flourishing in Australia.

Whether you schedule a lot of sightseeing in Australia, or plan to spend most of your time relaxing on the great beaches and sampling some of the local beer, you are bound to have a splendid time in the Land Down Under.

Best time to visit Australia

Thanks to the mild, temperate climate of Australia, there is really no bad time to visit; even in mid-winter (June), the mercury regularly climbs to 68F (20C). However, the best time to visit Australia is definitely during the summer (December to March), as not only is the weather sublimely hot and sunny, more events and festivals take place, and a generally more festive atmosphere fills the streets.

What to see in Australia

-The Sydney Opera House is an iconic triumph of architectural design, and boasts a top-quality programme of shows and events.

-The Australian Museum is a fascinating place to visit, and caters wonderfully for kids.

-Embark on the adventure of a lifetime, and travel into the Outback to see Uluru (formerly known as Ayer's Rock) a giant monolithic rock, considered sacred by Australia's Aboriginal population.

-Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), opened by millionaire private collector David Walsh, is causing quite a stir in the art world.

What to do in Australia

-Get your snorkel gear out, and go see the Great Barrier Reef up close. The beauty of the brightly-coloured coral reef, the largest living organism in the world, will not soon be forgotten.

-Swim, learn to surf, or else just chill out on Queensland's Gold Coast, home to some of the very best beaches in the world.

-See a cricket match at one of the country's legendary stadia (the Melbourne Cricket Ground is highly recommended).

-Take an early morning hot-air balloon ride over the Australian Outback, and marvel at the beauty of the severe and sparse expanse, stretching in every direction with no sign of human settlement.

Getting to Australia

There are cheap direct and indirect flights to Australia available from the United Kingdom and the United States. The most popular entry-points into Australia are Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport and Sydney Airport.


Voss by Patrick White, Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, and Red Dog by Louis de Bernières.


Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, and AC/DC.


Shine (1996), The Castle (1997), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Australia (2008), and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002).


Local beer like Victoria Bitter, Tooheys and XXXX (said 'four ex').


Vegemite on toast and barbeque.

What to buy

Great souvenirs to buy in Australia include boomerangs, beer cosys, wine and Aboriginal folk-art.

What to pack

Be sure to pack a swimming costume, plenty of sunscreen, lightweight clothing (if travelling in summer), and at least one pair of good walking shoes, as you are sure to want to explore the country's wonderful natural landscapes.

What's on in Australia

The Sydney Film Festival, one of the longest-running and most revered film festivals on the planet, takes place each year in June. The Big Day Out rock concert series, with shows in all of Australia's major cities, ensures that summertime in Australia is a hip and happening affair. The Melbourne International Arts Festival (October) boasts a fantastic programme of (mainly free) dance, theatre, music, opera and visual arts performances. Australia Day (26th of January) is celebrated with tremendous gusto right across the country.

Did you know?

-Australia is one of the least densely populated countries on earth, with about three people for every square kilometre.

-Australia's first police force was composed of the most well-behaved convicts.

-More than 85 percent of Australians live within 31 miles (50km) of the coast.

A final word

With cosmopolitan cities spread across the vast unforgiving bush and a lively and welcoming population, Australia is a fascinating travel destination for just about anyone.


English is the official language of Australia.


The unit of currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD), which is divided into 100 cents. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are freely available throughout the country. Banks and bureaux de change exchange most foreign currencies. Banking hours are generally 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Friday, but some banks offer extended hours and some are open on Saturday mornings.


Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin flat blade plugs are used but are different to those in most other countries, so an adapter is normally required.


Most service providers in Sydney don't expect a tip, so travellers shouldn't feel pressured into giving one, though a tip of 10 percent is standard in restaurants. Passengers usually round up to the nearest dollar or more in taxis.


The crime rate in Australia is low; however, travellers should be aware that tourists could be targeted by petty criminals. Visitors should be vigilant about personal possessions and travel documents, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as along the Gold Coast. Tropical cyclones normally occur between November and April in some parts of Australia, particularly in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. There is a serious risk of bush fires in summer (November to March), especially in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and ACT. Also during the summer months, the shallow coastal waters of northern Australia and Queensland become infested with marine stingers, commonly known as box jellyfish, whose sting is highly dangerous and can be deadly. Visitors should pay attention to signs on beaches and follow the instructions of local lifeguards to avoid injury.


The international dialling code for Australia is +61. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be quite high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.


A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers over one year of age arriving within six days of having stayed overnight or longer in an infected country. No other special immunisations or medications are required for most trips to Australia; however, insect repellents are strongly advised because of the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses. Another health risk is sunburn, and visitors are advised to take precautions. Medical services are excellent, but can be expensive so travellers should ensure that they have adequate insurance. Australia has a reciprocal health agreement with the United Kingdom providing for free hospital emergency medical treatment; proof of UK residence is required.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Australia Day27 Jan26 Jan
Good Friday10 Apr2 Apr
Easter Monday13 Apr5 Apr
Anzac Day25 Apr25 Apr
Queen's Birthday8 Jun14 Jun
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec
Boxing Day26 Dec26 Dec
New South Wales - Bank Holiday3 Aug2 Aug
New South Wales - Labour Day5 Oct4 Oct
Northern Territory - May Day4 May3 May
Queensland - Labour Day4 May3 May
South Australia - Adelaide Cup Day9 Mar8 Mar
South Australia - Labour Day5 Oct4 Oct
Tasmania - Eight Hours Day9 Mar8 Mar
Victoria - Labour Day9 Mar8 Mar
Victoria - Melbourne Cup Day3 Nov2 Nov
Western Australia - Labour Day2 Mar1 Mar
Western Australia Day1 Jun7 Jun
Capital Territory - Canberra Day9 Mar8 Mar
Capital Territory - Labour Day5 Oct4 Oct


Those doing business in Australia are sure to find that the friendly yet professional corporate atmosphere of the country will provide them with an exciting opportunity to develop their careers. The business culture of Australia is a bit of a hybrid breed, incorporating the trappings of British formality and conservatism, the egalitarian ethos of Scandinavian countries, and the dynamic, innovative approach to business that is generally thought of as American in origin - rounded out, of course, with typical Australian warmth and humour. The approach to management in Australia is consultative, pragmatic, and strictly non-hierarchical. Those in positions of relative power are accorded respect by virtue of their personal qualities, not simply because they happen to be the boss.

Business etiquette in Australia further reflects this egalitarian ethos. Business people should use titles initially, though they will almost certainly be told to dispense with them - at which point, they should refer to their colleagues by their first names. They should maintain eye contact when speaking to their associates, as this is regarded as a sign of forthrightness and trustworthiness - qualities that Australian business people tend to favour over showiness, self-aggrandisement or empty promises. Business meetings in Australia should be scheduled about a week in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place.

Colleagues should be punctual, as lateness can be seen as a symptom of flakiness or indifference. Business meetings in Australia do not generally proceed from a set agenda. Rather, they are viewed as open forums, in which ideas are to be debated and discussed. In fact, over-preparing for a meeting can make participants seem pushy - as though they wish to bully others into adopting their opinions on the issue at hand. The dress code for business in Australia remains surprisingly traditional: dark suits and ties are the norm for men; for women, business suits, worn either with pants or a skirt. As a general rule, business people should avoid loud jewellery and accessories as to Australian eyes they might make them seem arrogant. The official language of business in Australia is English, and business hours are generally from 8.30am (or 9am) to 5pm (or 5.30pm), Monday to Friday.

Passport & Visa

A valid passport and a visa or ETA is required for travel to Australia. An ETA is an electronically issued and verified visa, not visible in a passport. ETAs are issued to passengers travelling for touristic or business purposes. Tourist ETAs are usually valid for three months. ETAs are obtainable online at: or through most travel agents. It is highly recommended that passports are valid six months after departure from a holiday destination.


Generally an informal attitude, in dress and behaviour, prevails in most social and business situations. Sport, particularly rugby and cricket, is almost a religion in Australia.

Duty Free

Travellers to Australia over 18 years do not have to pay customs duty on 2.25 litres of alcohol; and 50 cigarettes or 25g of cigars or tobacco products (note that all tobacco products in your baggage are included in this category, regardless of where they were purchased). Gifts are included in the A$900 duty-free allowance. Fresh produce and animal/plant products are prohibited.


Australian Tourist Commission, Sydney: +61 (0)2 9360 1111 or

Emergencies: 000 (112 on cellphones)

Entry Requirements

US nationals must have a valid passport on arrival. A pre-obtained Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required for stays of up to three months.

UK nationals must have a passport valid for intended period of stay. A pre-arranged Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required for stays of up to three months.

Canadian nationals require a passport valid for intended period of stay. A pre-arranged Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required for stays of up to three months.

South African nationals must have a passport valid for at least six months after their date of departure. A visa is required.

Irish nationals must have a passport that is valid on arrival. A pre-arranged Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required for stays up to three months.

New Zealanders require a valid passport on entry to Australia. A Special Category Visa (SCV) is issued on arrival after completing a passenger card.

Embassy Consulates

Embassy of the United States, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6214 5600.

British High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6270 6666.

Canadian High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6270 4000.

South African High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6272 7300.

Embassy of Ireland, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6214 0000.

New Zealand High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6270 4211.

Embassy Consulates

Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 797 3000.

Australian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7379 4334.

Australian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 0841.

Australian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 423 6000.

Australian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 664 5300.

Australian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 6411.


Both continent and country, Australia spans thousands of miles from coast to coast and is packed full of wonderful sightseeing activities for visitors of every budget and taste. Australia offers tropical rainforests, more than 8,000 species of wildflowers in Western Australia alone, a sublime coastline including the likes of Fraser Island - the world's largest sand island - vast, dramatic dessert landscapes and some great modern cities. This super diverse country boasts about 14 UNESCO-listed areas, 2,000 national parks and 7,000 beaches, ensuring that there is plenty to explore in this Land Down Under.

Head north to explore the rugged bush and ancient Aboriginal cultures while trekking across the Great Outback, visiting Uluru (Ayres Rock) along the way; splash into the crystalline waters of the Great Barrier Reef for a spot of snorkelling; head south towards Sydney for a day of basking in the sun on Bondi Beach; take in the historical sites in the Rocks, the site of the first European settlement in 1788 and the birthplace of Australia; go hiking in the Blue Mountains; and pay a special visit to Hunter Valley for a spot of wine tasting. With all these options and hundreds more, visitors will have trouble narrowing down their itineraries.

Australia is all about the great outdoors, with exciting and unique wildlife to boot and visitors should get out and explore the sights on foot when possible. Travelling along the east coast of the country is best done by bus or car, while those wanting to cross the treacherous great expanse of the country are advised to catch a plane, unless they are interested in an outback safari.

With so many territories offering their own special flavour, it would take a few months, if not years to explore and discover all that this magical country has to offer.


Australia has a hot and sunny climate, with most of the country receiving more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. In summer (December to March) the average temperature is 84°F (29°C). The hottest region is the northern two-thirds of the country, which experiences humid and wet conditions in summer. Further south summer is warm with occasional hot spells and mild nights. Winter (June to August) averages 56°F (13°C) for the country as a whole, with warm days and mild nights in the northern areas, becoming cool and showery in the south (although there are still plenty of sunny days).

Australia is a vast landmass and the climate does vary from region to region so travellers are advised to research the weather in the region they are visiting, but generally the country has very pleasant weather year-round.

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