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Holidays in Australia

Understanding Australia

Geography

Australia is the smallest continent but sixth-largest country It is comparable in size to the 48 contiguous United States Australia is bordered to the west by the Indian Ocean, and to the east by the South Pacific Ocean The Tasman Sea lies to the southeast, separating it from New Zealand, while the Coral Sea lies to the northeast Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Indonesia are Australia's northern neighbours, separated from Australia by the Arafura Sea and the Timor Sea

Australia is highly urbanised with most of the population heavily concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts Most of the inland areas of the country are semi-arid The most-populous states are Victoria and New South Wales, but by far the largest in land area is Western Australia

Australia has an area of 7,682,300 square kilometres 2,966,152 sq mi and the distances between cities and towns is easy to underestimate

Australia has large areas that have been deforested for agricultural purposes, but many native forest areas survive in extensive national parks and other undeveloped areas Long-term Australian concerns include salinity, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef

Climate

As a large continent a wide variation of climates are found across Australia Most of the country receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year Generally, the north is hot and tropical, while south tends to sub-tropical and temperate Most rainfall is around the coast, and much of the centre is arid and semi-arid The daytime maximum temperatures in Darwin rarely drop below 30°C 86°F, even in winter, while night temperatures in winter usually hover around 15-20°C59°F-68°F Temperatures in some southern regions can drop below freezing in winter and the Snowy Mountains in the South East experiences metres of winter snow Parts of Tasmania have a temperature range very similar to England

As Australia is in the southern hemisphere the winter is June-August while December-February is summer The winter is the dry season in the tropics, and the summer is the wet In the southern parts of the country, the seasonal temperature variation is greater The rainfall is more evenly distributed throughout the year in Sydney and Melbourne, while in Adelaide and Perth, the summers are dry with the bulk of the rainfall occuring in winter

History

The continent of Australia was first settled more than 40,000 years ago with successive waves of immigration of Aboriginal peoples from south and south-east Asia With rising sea levels after the last Ice Age, Australia became largely isolated from the rest of the world and the Aboriginal tribes developed a variety of cultures, based on a close spiritual relationship with the land and nature, and extended kinship Australian Aboriginal people maintained a hunter-gatherer culture for thousands of years in association with a complex artistic and cultural life - including a very rich 'story-telling' tradition While the 'modern impression' of Australian Aboriginal people is largely built around an image of the 'desert people' who have adapted to some of the harshest conditions on the planet equivalent to the bushmen of the Kalahari, Australia provided a 'comfortable living' for the bulk of the Aboriginal people amongst the bountiful flora and fauna on the Australian coast - until the arrival of Europeans

Although a lucrative Chinese market for shells and beche de mere had encouraged Indonesian fishermen to visit Northern Australia for centuries it was unknown to Europeans until the 1600's, when Dutch traders to Asia began to 'bump' into the North Western Coast Early Dutch impressions of this extremely harsh, dry country were unfavourable, and Australia remained for them something simply a road sign pointing north to the much richer and lucrative East Indies modern Indonesia Deliberate exploration of the Australian coast was then largely taken over by the French and the British Consequently place names of bays, headlands and rivers around the coastline reflect a range of Dutch, French, British, and Aboriginal languages

In 1770, the expedition of the Endeavour under the command of Captain James Cook navigated and charted the east coast of Australia, making first landfall at Botany Bay on 29 Apr 1770 Cook continued northwards, and before leaving put ashore on Possession Island in the Torres Strait off Cape York on 22 Aug 1770 Here he formally claimed the eastern coastline he had discovered for the British Crown, naming it New South Wales Given that Cook's discoveries would lead to the first European settlement of Australia, he is often popularly conceived as its European discoverer, although he had been preceded by more than 160 years

Following the exploration period, the first wave of British settlers came to Australia in 1788, starting a process of colonisation that almost entirely displaced the Aboriginal people who inhabited the land This reduced indigenous populations drastically and marginalised them to the fringes of society

While Australia began its modern history as a British penal colony, the vast majority of people who came to Australia after 1788 were free settlers, mainly from Britain and Ireland, but also from other European countries Convict settlements were along the east coast, Adelaide settled in 1836 and Perth being settled by free settlers Many Asian and Eastern European people also came to Australia in the 1850s, during the Gold Rush that started Australia's first resource boom Although such diverse immigration diminished greatly during the xenophobic years of the White Australia policy, Australia welcomed a successive series of immigration from Europe, the Mediterranean and later Asia to formulate a highly diverse and multicultural society by the late 20th century

The system of separate colonies federated to form the self-governing British dominion of Australia in 1901, each colony now becoming a state of Australia, with New Zealand opting out of the federation The new country was able to take advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and made a large contribution considering its small size of population to the Allied war effort in World Wars I and II Australian troops also made a valuable, if sometimes controversial, contribution to the wars in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq Australian Diggers retain a reputation as some of the hardest fighting troops along with a great social spirit Australia and Britain passed the Australia Act in 1986, ending any remnant power the British parliament may have had to pass laws for Australia

Economy

Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies

The service industries, including tourism, education, and financial services, account for the majority of the Australian Gross Domestic Product – about 69% Within the service sector, tourism is one of the most important industries in Australia, as it provides employment, contributes $73 billion to the economy each year and accounts for at least 11% of total exports

Primary industry - mining and agriculture - accounts for most of Australia's exports Iron Ore and Coal are by far the largest exports, with wheat, beef and wool declining in importance

Australia has a comprehensive social security system, and a minimum wage higher than the United States or the United Kingdom Tradesmen are extremely well-paid in Australia, often more so than professionals

Politics

Australia has a federal system of government, with eight state and territory governments and a national government Each of these governments has an elected parliament, with the leader of each government being the leader of the largest party represented in the lower house The national parliament consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives The Prime Minister, currently Julia Gillard, is the leader of the national government

The Queen remains the notional head of state, and her representative in Australia - the Governor-General - has a ceremonial and conventionally politically powerless role A referendum to change Australia's status to a republic was defeated in 1999

Culture

Australia also has a multicultural population practising almost every religion and lifestyle Over one-fifth of Australians were born to immigrant parents The most multicultural cities are Melbourne and Sydney Both cities are renowned for the variety and quality of global foods available in their many restaurants, and Melbourne especially promotes itself as a centre for the arts Smaller rural settlements generally still reflect a majority Anglo-Celtic culture often with a small Aboriginal population, however virtually every large Australian city and town reflects the immigration from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific that occurred after World War II and continued into the 1970s; in the half century after the war when Australia's population boomed from roughly 7 million to just over 20 million people

There are approximately half a million Australians who identify as being of Aboriginal descent Many fewer maintain elements of traditional Aboriginal culture

Contrary to popular mythology, descendants from convicts are in a small minority, and even during the years of transportation free settlers outnumbered convict migrants by at least five to one

Australian English was once known for its colour and colloquialisms but has lost a great deal of this to outside influence, although people in rural areas still tend to speak in a broader accent, using many of the slang words that have become outmoded in metropolitan areas There is very little provincialism in Australia and although accents tend to be broader and slower outside of the large cities

Australians can be socially conservative compared to some European cultures, and most resemble Canadians or New Zealanders in their political outlook They tend to be relaxed in their religious observance While the mythic Australian sense egalitarianism has declined in economic terms, modes of address still tend to be casual and familiar compared to some other cultures Most Australians will tend to address you by your first name and will expect that you do the same to them

Holidays

The national holidays in Australia are:

  • January 1: New Years' Day
  • January 26: Australia Day, marking the anniversary of the First Fleet's landing in Sydney Cove in 1788
  • Easter weekend "Good Friday", "Easter Saturday", "Easter Sunday" and "Easter Monday": a four day long weekend in March or April set according to the Western Christian dates
  • April 25: ANZAC Day, honouring military veterans
  • Second Monday in June: Queen's birthday holiday celebrated in Western Australia in September WA observes Foundation Day a week earlier
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day

Many states observe Labour Day, but on different days Most states have one or two additional state-wide holidays, with Victoria state and South Australia having a day off for a horse race The Melbourne Cup and The Adelaide Cup

When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday and Tuesday if necessary are usually declared holidays in lieu, although both the celebrations and the retail closures will occur on the day itself Most tourist attractions are closed Christmas Day and Good Friday Supermarkets and other stores may open for limited hours on some public holidays and on holidays in lieu, but are almost always closed on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and ANZAC Day morning

Peak holiday times

Most attractions in Australia remain open year-round, some operating at a reduced frequency or shorter hours during the off-peak season

Salaried Australians have four weeks of annual leave and school children in the major population centres have January as a long break Domestic tourism is strongest during January and the Easter school holidays

Summer tends to be the peak travel season through much of the south, with the winter dry season the peak travel season in the tropics

Australian teenagers celebrate the end of school for 3 weeks at the end of October and early November The volume of teen revellers can completely change the nature of some of the cities and towns they choose to visit

Time

Australia can have up to five different time zones during the daylight savings period, and three at other times

In the east, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria always have the same time Queensland doesn't observe daylight saving, so it is an hour behind the other eastern states during that period

In the centre South Australia and the Northern Territory are half an hour behind during the winter, but the Northern Territory doesn't observe daylight saving while South Australia does During daylight saving South Australia remains half an hour behind New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, but moves half an hour ahead of Queensland The Northern Territory remains half an hour behind Queensland, but moves an hour and half behind New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania

In the west Western Australia is two hours behind the eastern states in winter, and also doesn't observe daylight saving It moves three hours behind the eastern states that observe daylight saving remaining two hours behind Queensland

There are no official abbreviations or names for Australian time zones, and you may see a few variations used EST, CST, WST along with EDT, CDT are sometimes used Sometimes AEST, etc, with the 'A' prefix distinguishing them from the North American time zones with the same names In conversation, the abbreviations aren't used People tend to say Sydney time, Brisbane time, or Perth time Expect blank stares from most if you start talking about Central Summer Time

In those states which observe daylight saving, it commences on the first Sunday in October and ends on the first Sunday in April

State/Territory Standard Time Daylight Saving Time
Western Australia UTC+8 N/A
South Australia UTC+95 UTC+105
Northern Territory UTC+95 N/A
Queensland UTC+10 N/A
New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania ACT UTC+10 UTC+11

Talking in Australia

Expect everyone to speak English Generally the only Australians who are not fluent English speakers are older people who immigrated as adults

There is no single commonly used second language It is fairly rare to find signs in a second language, except in urban areas with a high population of Asian immigrants and students, where signs and restaurant menus in Vietnamese and Chinese are a common sight; and also around Cairns in tropical Queensland where some signs but not road signs are written in Japanese, due to the large number of Japanese tourists Some warning signs at beaches are written in several foreign languages

Australians usually do not speak a second language fluently unless they are part of a family who immigrated recently As Australia has a large number of immigrants, there are a number of minority languages spoken by a sizable number of Australians including but not limited to Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Greek In Australia's Chinatowns in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, Cantonese is the dominant language

Australian slang should not present a problem for tourists except possibly in some isolated outback areas A few words and euphemisms that are considered offensive elsewhere are common vernacular in Australian speech Root in Australia means sex, so to "root for" a team may not mean what you think Fanny, as in the UK, means vagina and is not used widely Still, Australians are familiar enough with the differences to know what you mean, but they still may have a laugh at your expense

Visitors who do not speak basic English will find communicating with Australians difficult, and should do some advance planning There are some tour companies who specialise in offering package deals for Australian tours complete with guides who speak particular languages

Aboriginal people living in rural aboriginal communities continue to speak various Aboriginal languages The Torres Strait Islanders, who originate from a group of islands in northern Queensland near Papua New Guinea also continue to speak their own languages Some elders speak limited English

What to see in Australia

There is much to see in Australia that you can't see easily in its natural setting anywhere else:

Wildlife

Australian flora and fauna is unique to the island continent, the result of having been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years Amongst Australian animals are a large group of marsupials mammals with a pouch and monotremes mammals that lay eggs Just some of the animal icons of Australia are the kangaroo national symbol and the koala A visit to Australia would not be complete without taking the chance to see some of these animals in their natural environment

Wildlife parks and zoos

  • Wildlife parks and zoos are in every capital city, but also check out the animal parks if you are passing through smaller towns, like Mildura or Mogo, or staying on Hamilton Island See the Warrawong Fauna Sanctuary if you are in South Australia, or visit the koalas with best view in the world, at Taronga Zoo in Sydney

In the wild

  • Kangaroos and wallabies reside in national parks all around the country You won't see any kangaroos hopping down the street in Central Sydney, but they are abundant not too far from the centre of the nation's capital
  • Wombats and Echidna are also common, but harder to find due to their camouflage and tunnelling See lots of Echnida on Kangaroo Island
  • Koalas are present is forests around Australia, but are very notoriously hard to spot, and walking around looking upwards into the boughs of trees will usually send you sprawling over a tree root Best seen during the day, there is a thriving and friendly population on Raymond Island near Paynesville in Victoria You have a good chance on Otway Coast, on the Great Ocean Road, or even in the National Park walk near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast
  • Emu are more common in central Australia You will certainly see some if you venture to the outback national park at Currawinya
  • Platypus are found in reedy flowing creeks with soft river banks in Victoria and Southern New South Wales - seen at dusk and dawn - you have to have a bit of luck to see one Try the platypus reserves in Bombala or Delegate in New South Wales, or in Emu Creek at Skipton just out of Ballarat

Landmarks

Australia has many landmarks, famous the world over From Uluru in the red centre, to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney

The unusual

See some of the Big things in Australia

Sports

Sport is an integral part of the Australian culture from the capital cities to country towns The majority of games are played over the weekend period from Friday night to Monday night

  • In the winter in Victoria Aussie Rules Australian Football is more than just a sport, it is a way of life Catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground The national competition has teams from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth as well
  • In summer, international cricket is played between Australia and at least two touring sides The games rotate around all the capital cities To experience the traditional game catch the New Year's test match at the Sydney cricket ground played for 5 days starting from the 2nd of January, or the Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne Or for a more lively entertaining form, that only takes a few hours, try a twenty-twenty match The final form is "One Day" Cricket, international matches generally start at 1PM and finish at 10 or 11PM a "Day-Nighter", with most domestic and occasional international matches played from 11AM to 6PM The Australia Day One Day International is held in Adelaide every January 26th
  • The Australian Open, one of the tennis Grand Slams, is played annually in Melbourne Or the Medibank International in Sydney Olympic Park in January
  • Catch a rugby union Super-14 game, with teams playing from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Perth during late Summer/Autumn The Australian national team, the Wallabies, also host international teams during winter, including New Zealand and South Africa for the Tri-Nations tournament
  • Rugby League is a winter game played mainly in New South Wales and Queensland, with the National Rugby League competition Teams include Melbourne in Victoria, Brisbane, North Queensland and the Gold Coast in Queensland, a team from New Zealand, with the rest of the teams coming from suburban areas in Sydney, and some in regional areas of New South Wales such as Newcastle and Canberra
  • Netball is Australia's largest female sport, and there are weekly games in an international competition between Australia and New Zealand teams
  • Football Soccer is a small event by European standards, but there is a national A-League, which is a fully professional league involving teams from Australia and one from New Zealand, with games played weekly during the summer Most cities have a semi-professional "state league" played during winter, with most clubs being built around a specific ethnic/migrant community

Itineraries

  • Gibb River Road
  • Gunbarrel Highway
  • Oodnadatta Track
  • Stuart Highway: crossing Australia north-south

What to do in Australia

Swim

  • in the surf Australia has seemingly endless sandy beaches Follow the crowds to the world famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, or Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast Or find a stretch all for yourself but beware of dangerous rips on beaches, it is generally better to find a patrolled beach The surf is smaller and warmer in the Tropical North, where the reef breaks the swell, and larger and colder in the south with waves rolling in from the Southern Ocean And yes, in the middle it is just right
  • in calm tropical oceans Cable Beach in Broome is swept pristine daily by the tide, has perfect sand, and warm water - go in winter
  • in thermal pools South of Darwin there are many natural thermal pools, surrounded by palms and tropical foliage The most expensive resort in the world couldn't dream of making a pool this good
  • in freshwater lakes Inland Australia tends to be dry, but there are freshwater lakes where you would least expect them Explore inland of Cairns at the Atherton Tablelands, or head outback to the Currawinya National Park
  • in rivers If its hot, and there is water, there will be a place to swim Wherever you are, just ask around for the favourite swimming spot, with a waterhole and rope to swing on
  • in man-made pools The local swimming pool is often the hub of community life on a summer Sunday in the country towns of New South Wales and Victoria Many of the beachside suburbs of Sydney have man made rock pools for swimming by the ocean beaches
  • on the beach! Find your spot by the water, and get out the towel Tropical north in the winter, down south in the summer As always when in Australia, protect yourself from the sun

Diving

  • Snorkelling take a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast, or the Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Western Australia Or take a trip out to Julian rocks off Byron Bay, or just dive in off the beach to see the tropical fish in Bundaberg
  • Scuba Diving

Sports

  • Golf
  • Rock Climbing
  • Mountain Biking Try the trails in the Snowy Mountains or black mountain in Canberra, or cycle for days along the Munda Biddi Mountain Bike trail in Western Australia

Ski

  • Skiing New South Wales and Victoria have well developed ski facilities Tasmania can also have skiing for a few months of the year, given the right weather

See Winter sports in Australia

Thrill Activities

  • Sky Diving, all around Australia
  • Hot Air Ballooning, in Canberra or in the Red Centre

Gamble

It has been said that if there are two flies crawling up a wall, then you just need to look around to find the Aussie who will be running a book

  • Casinos Crown Casino in Melbourne is Australia's largest, nicely located at Southbank, but there are others scattered in every capital city as well as Cairns, Launceston, the Gold Coast and Townsville
  • Day at the races All capital cities have horse racing every weekend, with on-track and off-track betting available, they are usually family occasions, and fashion and being seen are part of the event Just about every pub in New South Wales will have a TAB, where you can place a bet without leaving your chair at the bar Greyhound racing and trotting happens in the evenings, usually with smaller crowds, more beer, and less fashion Smaller country towns have race meetings every few months or even annually These are real events for the local communities, and see the smaller towns come to life Head outback to the Birdsville races, or if you find the streets deserted it is probably ten past three on the first Tuesday in November the running of the Melbourne cup
  • The unusual The lizard races, cane toad races, camel races, crab races Betting on these races is totally illegal, and at you will find the TIB Totally Illegal Betting around the back of the shed at the annual guinea pig races at Grenfell
  • Two up If you are around for Anzac Day 25th April, then betting on coins thrown into the air will be happening at your local RSL club, wherever you are
  • Australia has almost a quarter of all the slot machines locally known as "pokies" or "poker machines" in the world, and more than half of these are located in New South Wales, where most pubs and clubs have gaming rooms labelled "VIP lounges" for legal reasons where one can "have a slap" and go for the feature
  • If none of this appeals, and you just have too much money in your pocket, every town and suburb in Australia has a TAB Pick your sport, pick a winner, and hand over your money at the counter

Gambling is illegal for under-18's This can often restrict entry to parts of pubs, clubs, and casinos for children

Buying stuff in Australia

Costs

Australian prices are roughly equivalent to countries in North America, Western Europe or Japan

A basic takeaway meal - a burger, fancy sandwich, or couple of slices of pizza would cost $5-10, a Big Mac costs $450, and you can usually grab a pie for around $3, or a sausage roll for $250 A takeaway pizza from Pizza Hut big enough to feed two costs around $10

A cafe meal costs around $10-$15, and a main course in a restaurant goes from around $15 upwards

A middy/pot 285ml of house beer will cost you around $4, and a glass of house wine around $6 in a low end pub To take away, a case of 24 cans of beer will cost around $35, or a bottle of wine around $8

Dorm accommodation in a capital city is around $40, but can run as low as $20 in Cairns or cheaper backpacker centres A basic motel in the country or in the capital city suburbs would cost around $100 for a double Formule 1/Motel 6 style hotels which are not common can be around $60-$70 for a double City Centre hotel accommodation in capital cities can be obtained for around $150 upwards for a double

Car hire will cost around $65 a day Public transport day passes from $10-$20 per day depending on the city Fuel is cheaper than Europe, but more expensive than the United States

An airfare between neighbouring eastern capitals is around $100 each way, or around $350 to cross the country assuming that you are flexible with dates and book in advance A train trip on the state run trains will usually cost slightly less A bus trip, a little less again A train trip on the private trains will be the most expensive way to travel

There is usually no admission charge to beaches or city parks Some popular National Parks charge between $10-$20 per day per car, or per person depending on the state while more out of the way National Parks are free Art Galleries and some attractions are free Museums generally charge around $10 per admission Theme parks charge around $70 per person

Currency

Australian currency is known as the dollar, and the currency symbol is $ There are 100 cents in every dollar The dollar is called 'the Australian dollar' usually written as 'AUD' or A$ when it is necessary to distinguish it from other currencies

The dollar is not pegged to any other currency, and is highly traded on world foreign exchange markets, particularly by currency speculators Its exchange value to other currencies can be quite volatile, and 1-2% changes in a day are a reasonably regular occurrences

No other currency is commonly accepted for transactions in Australia Some businesses in international terminals of some airports may accept some other currencies US dollars, British pounds, Euros, and possibly NZ dollars

The coin denominations are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 The note denominations are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 Australian notes are produced in plastic polymer rather than paper

If the total of a transaction is not a multiple of 5 cents the amount will be rounded to the nearest five cents if you are paying in cash The exact amount will be charged if paying by card

Money changers in Australia operate in a free market, and charge a range of flat commissions, percentage fees, undisclosed fees built into the exchange rate, and a combination of all three Generally the best bet is to avoid airports and tourist centres when changing money, and use banks in major centres Expect fees to vary considerably between institutions Always get a quote before changing money

Cash

Cash dispensing Automatic Teller Machines ATMs are available in almost every Australian town Australian ATMs are deregulated and may impose a surcharge over what is charged by your bank or card issuer The fees can vary between institutions and between locations, but are usually around $2 The ATM will display the charges and you will have the option to stop the transaction before you are charged Check with your bank as to what additional fees they apply to withdrawals in Australia

Dedicated currency exchange outlets are widely available in major cities, and banks can also exchange most non-restricted currencies These exchange outlets - especially the ones at the airport - can charge 10% over the best exchange that can be obtained from shopping around Australian banks usually offer an exchange rate around 25% from the current exchange midpoint A flat commission of $5-8 can be charged on top Some outlets advertise commission free exchange, usually accompanied by a worse rate of exchange Don't assume every bank will offer the same exchange A simple calculation will let you know what offers the best deal for amount you wish to exchange There are vouchers for commission free exchange at American Express available in the tourist brochure at Sydney Airport

There is also no need to arrive in Australia with cash if you have a Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard or Visa card: international airport terminals will have multiple teller machines that can dispense Australian currency with the just the fees imposed by your bank plus the ATM fee

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Australia Almost all large vendors such as supermarkets accept cards, as do many, but not all, small stores Australian debit cards can also be used via a system known as EFTPOS Any card showing the Cirrus or Maestro logos can be used at any terminal displaying those logos

VISA or MasterCard are the most commonly accepted and are both accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted However, a surcharge of around 15% when using a credit card for payment is becoming more and more common American Express and Diners Club are accepted at major supermarket and department store chains and many tourist destinations, but they may not be accepted or may incur a surcharge at smaller stores or fuel stations JCB is only accepted at very limited tourist destinations Discover is never accepted

Haggling

Bargaining is uncommon in Australian stores, though vendors are usually willing to meet or beat a quote or advertised price from a competing retailer It's also worth asking for a "best price" for high-value goods or purchases involving several items For example, it would not be unusual to get 10% of an item of jewelry that was not already reduced in price The person you are dealing with may have limited authority to sell items at anything other than the marked price

Tipping

Tipping is never compulsory and is usually not expected in Australia Staff are seen to be paid an appropriate wage and will certainly not chase you down for a tip It is acceptable to pay the amount stated on the bill When Australians do tip, it will often be in the form of leaving the change from a cash payment usually as a convenience so the change does not hang around loose on someone's person - not as a gratuity, rather than a fixed percentage

In a suburban or country restaurant where table service is offered, they will certainly take a tip of 5%-10% should you decide to leave one, but it is almost always not expected, and locals usually do not leave any In a cafe or more informal restaurant, even with table service, and even in tourist centres, leaving a tip is unusual Sometimes there is a coin jar by the cashier labelled 'Tips', but more often than not, diners do not leave one

Tipping is also not expected in taxis, and drivers will typically return your change to the last 5 cents, unless you indicate that they should round the fare to the nearest dollar it is not unusual for passengers to instruct the driver to round up to the next whole dollar

Trading hours

Australia's base trading hours are M-F 9AM-5PM Shops usually have a single night of late night trading, staying open until 9PM on Thursdays Fridays in Canberra, Brisbane CBD, and Adelaide CBD Opening hours beyond these base hours vary by the type of store, by location, and by state See the guides for more local information

Major supermarket chains in main centres are generally open at least until 9pm Smaller convenience stores like 7/11 are open 24 hours in major centres Fast Food restaurant chains such as McDonald's are commonly open 24 hours or at least very late The exception is Western Australia, which legally limits opening hours for major supermarkets to 6PM

Fuel/Service stations are open 24 hours in major centres, but often close at 6pm and on Sundays in country towns

Australia's weekend is on Saturday and Sunday of each week Retail trading is now almost universal in larger cities on weekends, although with slightly reduced hours Again, Western Australia is an exception with restrictions on large stores opening on Sundays In smaller country towns shops are closed on Sundays and often also on Saturday afternoons

Tourist-oriented towns and shops may stay open longer hours Tourist areas within cities, such as Darling Harbour in Sydney has longer trading hours every night

Australian banks are open M-F 9AM-4PM only, often closing at 5PM on Fridays Cash is available through Automatic Teller Machines 24 hours, and currency exchange outlets have extended hours and are open on weekends

Tax

Australia has a sales tax known as the Goods and Services Tax or GST that applies all goods and services except unprocessed foods, education and medical services GST is always included in the price of any item you purchase rather than added at the time of payment

Receipts tax invoices will contain the GST amount, which is one eleventh of the total value of taxable supplies

Sales tax refunds

If you buy items over $300 at one place at one time you can obtain a refund of the GST if you take the items out of Australia within 30 days Pack the items in hand luggage, and present the items and the receipt at the TRS, after immigration and security when leaving Australia Also allow an extra 15 minutes before departure The refund payment can be made by either cheque, credit to an Australian bank account, or payment to a credit card There is no refund available for services

Food and eating in Australia

Places to Eat

  • Restaurants Australians eat out frequently, and you will usually find one or two options to eat out even in small towns, with a wider range in larger towns and cities
  • BYO Restaurants: BYO stands for Bring Your Own alcohol In many of the urban communities of Australia you will find small low-cost restaurants that are not licensed to serve but allow diners to bring their own bottle of wine purchased elsewhere This is frequently much cheaper than ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant Beer can be taken to some BYO restaurants, others allow only wine Expect to pay a corkage fee which can vary from $2 or $3, to $15, or may be calculated by head BYO is not usually permitted in restaurants that are licensed to sell alcohol
  • Pubs The counter lunch is the name for a lunch served in the bar of a pub Traditionally served only at lunchtime in the lounge Today most pubs provide lunch and dinner and many have a separate bistro or restaurant Meals of steak, chicken parmigiana, nachos are common
  • Clubs Clubs, such as bowling clubs, leagues clubs, RSLs are in many towns and cities They are most common in the states of Queensland and New South Wales Most allow visitors, and sometimes offer good value meals Some offer attractive locations, like the water views from the Twin Towns in Tweed Heads
  • Cafes Most towns and suburbs have a cafe or coffee shop, serving breakfast and light meals and cakes throughout the day Not unusual for them to close before dinner
  • Bakeries Usually a good place to buy bread rolls, a pie or a sausage roll Some, like the Beechworth bakery, or the bakery in historic Gundagai offer an experience as well
  • Fast food restaurants McDonalds, Subway and KFC are common Burger King is known as Hungry Jack's Red Rooster is a Australian chain, offering barbecued chicken and other mostly chicken-based items
  • Take-away Milk bars or take-away stores usually sell pies, barbecued rotisserie chicken, hamburgers, fish and chips, gyros, kebabs Ubiquitous in every town and suburb
  • Food Courts Most shopping centres have a food court, even in country towns
  • Picnic The Australian climate is usually amenable to getting whatever food you can, and heading to the nearest park, river, lake or beach
  • Barbecue is a popular Australian pastime and many parks in Australia provide free barbecues for public use Contrary to the stereotype, Australians rarely "Throw a shrimp on the barbie" also, in Australia a shrimp is more commonly referred to as a prawn Steaks, chops, sausages, chicken fillets, fish, kebabs are popularly barbecued

Native Foods

  • Kangaroo If you fancy some, it is commonly available from most supermarkets and butchers shops Head to the nearest park, and barbecue it until medium rare It tastes much like beef It occasionally makes it onto the menu in restaurants, mostly in tourist areas Kangaroos aren't endangered, and kangaroo grazing does far less damage to the sensitive Australian environment than hoofed animals, and far less carbon emissions too If you are not ready to go vegetarian, kangaroo is the best environmental statement you can make while barbecuing
  • Crocodile meat from farms in the Northern Territory and Queensland is widely available around the top end, and occasionally elsewhere At Rockhampton, the beef capital of Australia, you can see the ancient reptile on a farm while munching on a croc burger
  • Emu Yes, you can eat the Australian Coat of Arms Emu is low in fat, and available in some speciality butchers Try the Coat of Arms pie in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast
  • Bush Tucker Many tours may give you an opportunity to try some bush tucker, the berries, nuts, roots, ants, and grubs from Australia's native bush Macadamia nuts are the only native plant to Australia that is grown for food commercially Taste some of the other bush foods, and you will discover why

Beyond cuisine

Vegemite, a salty yeast-based spread, best spread thinly on toast If you aren't up for buying a jar, any coffee shop will serve vegemite on toast at breakfast time It may not even be on the menu, but the vegemite will be out the back in the jar next to the marmalade If you do buy a jar, the secret is it to spread it very thin, and don't forget the butter as well It tastes similar to Marmite or Cenovis

The Tim-Tam is a chocolate fudge-filled sandwich of two chocolate biscuits, all dipped in chocolate You can buy a packet or two from any supermarket or convenience store Tim-Tams are required to perform the Tim-Tam Slam manoeuvre This requires biting off both ends of the Tim-Tam, then using it as a straw to drink your favourite hot beverage, typically coffee The hot drink melts the fudge centre and creates an experience hard to describe Finesse is needed to suck the whole biscuit into your mouth in the microseconds between being fully saturated and dissolving Tim-Tams are sold in packs of 11, so sure you agree on the sharing arrangements before buying a packet with your travel partner, or onward travel arrangements may be disrupted

The lamington is a a cube of sponge cake covered in chocolate icing and dipped in desiccated coconut The home-baked form can be found at a local Saturday morning market, or you can buy one from a bakery if you are desperate Avoid at all costs the plastic wrapped varieties sold in supermarkets

The pavlova is a meringue cake with a cream topping usually decorated with fresh fruit Served on special occasions, or after a lunchtime barbecue Often the source of dispute with New Zealand over the original source of the recipe

ANZAC biscuits are a mix of coconut, oats, flour, sugar and golden syrup They were reputedly sent by wives and care organisations to world war soldiers in care packages, but the story is likely apocryphal They are available from bakeries, cafes and supermarkets, and a popular in the lead up to ANZAC day 25 April

Damper is a traditional soda bread that was baked by drovers and stockmen It has basic ingredients flour, water and perhaps salt and usually cooked in the embers of a fire It is not routinely available in bakeries and only commonly served to tourists on organised tours Best eaten with butter and jam or golden syrup as it is dry and bland

A pie floater is a South Australian dish available around Adelaide It is a pie inverted in a bowl of thick mushy pea soup Similar pie variations are sometimes available in other regions

A Chiko Roll is a deep-fried snack inspired by the egg roll or the spring roll Despite the name, it contains no chicken Its filling is boned mutton, vegetables, rice, barley, and seasonings Its shell is thicker than an egg roll, meant to survive handling at football matches Available anywhere you can buy fish and chips

Other cuisines

Cuisines widely available in Australia, often prepared by members of the relevant culture, include:

  • Chinese Synonymous with the term "takeaway" in the past generations Many Chinese restaurants still cater to takeaway addicts today, mostly of the Australianized Chinese variety, but major cities have small "Chinatowns" or suburbs with a large number of ethnic Chinese residents, that have excellent restaurants serving authentic Chinese food
  • Thai, especially in Sydney As above, suburban Thai restaurants of indifferent quality are starting to replace the previous generation of Chinese restaurants of indifferent quality, but Australia also has excellent and authentic Thai restaurants
  • Italian, the Italian community is one of the largest ethnic communities of non Anglo-Saxon origin in Australia, and they have contributed greatly to the cafe culture that has flourished across the major cities over the past few decades Restaurants either serve Italian food that has been adapted to suit Australian tastes, or authentic regional Italian food, with the latter tending to be pricier and in more upmarket surrounds
  • Greek, as above
  • Lebanese, especially in Sydney
  • Indian, especially North Indian
  • Japanese, including bento takeaway shops and sushi trains
  • Vietnamese, although many are Vietnamese Chinese run and thus provide a more Chinese experience
  • Asian Fusion refers generally to Asian-inspired dishes

Vegetarian

Eating vegetarian is quite common in Australia and many restaurants offer at least one or two vegetarian dishes Some will have an entire vegetarian menu section Vegans may have more difficulty but any restaurant with a large vegetarian menu should offer some flexibility In large cities you will find a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, as well as in the coastal backpacker-friendly towns along the east coast The market town of Kuranda or the seaside towns of Byron Bay are a vegetarian's paradise In other regional areas vegetarians are often poorly catered for, but most towns will have a Chinese restaurant that will provide steamed rice and vegetables

Religious diets

People observing kosher or halal will easily be able to find specialist butchers in the capital cities, and will also find a number of restaurants with appropriate menus and cooking styles Outside the capital cities, it will be much more difficult to find food prepared in a strict religious manner

Markets

All of the capital cities and many regional towns in Australia host a "farmer's market", which is generally held each week in a designated area on a Saturday or Sunday These markets mostly sell fresh fruits and vegetables, as hygiene standards in Australia forbid the selling of meat directly from market stalls Butchers who set up shop at a farmer's market would usually trade their wares from a display cabinet within their truck The attraction of markets is the lower prices and freshness of the produce The attraction for the traveller will be the cheap and excellent fruits on offer - depending on the region and season In regional areas the market is usually held outside the town itself in an empty paddock; markets in capital cities are easier to reach but the prices are typically more in line with those you would find in supermarkets See the destination guides for details

Drinking in Australia

Beer

Drinking beer is ingrained in Australian culture Although Fosters is promoted as an Australian beer overseas, it is rarely consumed by Australians in Australia There are the mass produced Australian beers available everywhere and widely consumed, produced by the two primary brewers, Lion Nathan, and Carlton United There are second-tier brewers, whose products are widely distributed, such as Little Creatures, Coopers and Boags There are also local microbrew choices, which can be harder to find, but often worth seeking out There are also usually a wide range of imported European and American bottled beers available in all but the most basic pub

Light Lite beer refers to lower alcoholic content, and not lower calories It has around half the alcohol of full strength beer, and is taxed at a lower rate, meaning it is also cheaper than full strength beer

Wine

Australia produces quality wine on a truly industrial scale, with large multinational brands supplying Australian bottleshops and exporting around the world There are also a multitude of boutique wineries and smaller suppliers Very good red and white wine can be bought very cheaply in Australia, often at less than $10 a bottle, and even the smallest shop could be expected to have 50 or more varieties to choose from

The areas of the Barossa Valley, Hunter Valley, and Margaret River are particularly renowned for their wineries and opportunities for cellar door sampling, but northern Victoria and Mudgee, also have a large variety You are never too far from a wine trail anywhere in southern Australia

Try the local wines wherever you can find them, and ask for local recommendations Try not to get taken in by the label, or the price tag The best wine is rarely the one with the best artwork, or the most expensive price However, it is probably wise to avoid the house wine if it comes straight from a cask 4-litre container Wines at the cellar door are almost invariably sold at around 20% premium to the same wine in the shops in the local town

If you insist on overseas wines, the Marlborough region of New Zealand is usually well represented on wine lists and in bottle shops in Australia

See also Grape grazing in Australia

Spirits

Bundaberg Rum Bundy is an Australian dark rum particularly popular in Queensland and many Queenslanders will not touch any other brand of rum It is probably the most famous Australian made spirit, mass produced in Bundaberg and available everywhere

You will have to search much harder to find other Australian distilled spirits, mostly from niche players, but there are distilleries in every state of Australia if you look hard enough Drop into the Lark Distillery on the scenic Hobart waterfront precinct Pick up a bottle of 151 East Vodka in Wollongong or after a few days in Kununurra you are definitely going to need an Ord River Rum

Mixed drinks are also available, particularly vodka, scotch, bourbon and other whiskey mixers Jim Beam bourbon is probably the most commonly drunk, so those from Kentucky should feel right at home Spirits are also available as pre-mixed bottles and cans but are subject to higher taxation in this form, so it is cheaper to mix them yourself Spirits are served in all pubs and bars, but not in all restaurants

Legal aspects

The legal drinking age throughout Australia is 18 years It is illegal either to purchase alcohol for yourself if you are under 18 years of age It is illegal to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone who is under 18 years of age The only legally acceptable proof-of-age is an Australian drivers licence, state-issued proof-of-age card or a passport, and it would be wise to carry one if you want to purchase alcohol or tobacco and look under 25, as both alcohol and cigarettes retailers must ask for ID if you look under 25 It is illegal to go into a gambling area of a pub or club when under 18

Often there is a lounge, restaurant or bistro area in a pub or club that permits under-age people provided they are accompanied by a responsible adult over 18 and don't approach the bar or wander around Some city pubs even have video games, and playgrounds for children Some country pubs have large open areas out in the back where kids can run and play

In general, you can take alcohol say a bottle of wine or beer to consume at a park or beach Alcohol consumption is banned in some public places as 'street drinking' These are often indicated by signs and is particularly the case in parks and footpaths where public drunkenness has been a problem However, if you are a family with your picnic basket and blanket out at lunchtime with a bottle of wine, you are unlikely to encounter any problems

Alcohol can be purchased for consumption on premises only in licensed venues: pubs, clubs and many restaurants You can purchase alcohol for private consumption in bottle shops, which are separate stores selling bottled alcohol In some but not all states you can buy alcohol in supermarkets, or in a supermarket-owned shop very close by In those states where you can't, bottle shops and major supermarkets are often found in very close proximity

Public drunkenness varies in acceptability You will certainly find a great deal of it in close proximity to pubs and clubs at night time but much less so during the day Public drunkenness is an offence but you would only likely ever be picked up by the police if you were causing a nuisance You may spend the night sobering up in a holding cell or be charged

Driving while affected by alcohol is both stigmatized and policed by random breath testing police patrols in Australia, as well as being inherently dangerous Drink driving is a very serious offence in Australia, punishable by a range of mechanisms including loss of license The acceptable maximum blood alcohol concentration is 005% in all states, often lower or not allowed for operators of heavy vehicles and young or novice drivers In Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia police officers are also empowered to randomly test drivers for the recent use of prohibited drugs The operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of prohibited drugs or alcohol will always result in arrest and a required court appearance many weeks from the date of arrest and it can comprehensively disrupt travel plans Random breath testing is common early Saturday and Sunday mornings, and many people are caught the morning after

A shout

Buying a round of drinks is a custom in Australia, as it is in the United Kingdom and Ireland It is generally expected in a pub, when you arrive and make your first trip to the bar that you will offer to buy a drink for others you are drinking with Similarly this will likely be done to you when someone else joins the group This is called a shout, and incurs an obligation that you will generally return the favour in a following round, and that also you will generally maintain the same drinking pace as your associates in the round throughout the evening If someone in the same round as you has an empty glass, who is ahead of you in drinks bought, you should declare that it is your shout, and make your way to the bar If someone offers to buy you a drink, but does not offer to buy for the person who already has bought you a drink, you should say you are already in a shout, and decline If they buy you and the people in your round a drink, they have joined the shout Its generally not polite to switch between shouts during an evening It you are in a large shout, and you decline a drink, you still have to buy a drink for the round when it comes to your turn You are well advised if you wish to skip a round, to do so on your shout It is generally poorly received to buy a round, and then to refuse a drink when one is purchased for you Often the drink will just be bought for you without even asking Don't be surprised if someone who bought you a drink earlier in the night, later says that it is your shout Not joining a shout can be awkward in some groups The best way is to say you are driving, and you will buy your own drinks This is also an acceptable way to drop out after one round, when the score is even

Accommodation in Australia

Accommodation is readily available in most Australian cities and tourist destinations It comes in a number of different styles

Camping

Camping is a popular pastime Most caravan parks will rent camping sites by the night, where you can pitch a tent, and these are available in most towns and cities The caravan park will provide showers and toilets, and sometimes washing and cooking facilities Sometimes for an additional fee Expect to pay around $20 for a tent site, and a few dollars per person You can even find caravan parks right on the beach, with lagoon swimming pools and playgrounds all free for guests

National parks often provide camping sites, which expect you to be more self-sufficient Often toilets are provided and sometimes cold showers Camping permits are usually required, and popular spots fill up during the holidays in summer Mostly in Australia it is common to be within an hours drive of a national park or recreation area that will permit some form of camping, even in the capital cities Expect to pay around $5-$10 per night per person for a camping permit, and national park admission fees in the more popular national parks eg: Wilsons Promontory National Park, Kosciuszko National Park, etc, however entry and camping is free in the majority of national parks further from population and tourist centres

Some other camping areas are run by government or even local landowners Expect around $10 per person per night, depending on the time of year

You can try your luck sleeping on a beach or pitching a tent overnight in a highway rest area, or out in the bush for a free bed Most rest areas and beaches prohibit camping and many even prohibit overnight parking to discourage this Generally the closer you are to civilisation or a tourist area, the greater the chance of being hassled by the authorities

Camping in state forests is often preferable to national parks if you're after a camping experience over sightseeing, as collecting of your own fire wood is allowed sometimes felling of trees is permissible dependent on the area and camping is not restricted to camp sites Some other activities that are generally allowed in state forests that are not allowed in national parks are: bringing in dogs/pets, open fires, motorbikes and four-wheel driving State forests are generally free to stay in, although you will need to check locally if public access is allowed

Hostels and Backpackers

Budget hostel-style accommodation with shared bathrooms and often with dormitories is approximately $20-$30 per person per night Facilities usually include a fully equipped kitchen with adequate refrigeration and food storage areas Most hostels also have living room areas equipped with couches, dining tables, and televisions

There are several backpacker hostel chains in Australia, including the most well known YHA, and Nomads 29 There are many independent ones also If you are staying many nights in the same brand of hostel, consider their discount cards, which usually offer a loyalty bonus on accommodation, and other attraction and tour discounts negotiated by the chain

Pubs

Most pubs in Australia offer some form of accommodation It can vary from very basic shabby rooms, to newly renovated boutique accommodation The price is usually a good reflection of what you are in for It is still quite unusual to have a private bathroom, even in the nicer pubs

Outside of the major centres, the pub is called a Hotel A motel won't have a public bar A motel that does have a bar attached is called a Hotel/Motel

In very small towns local pubs offer the only accommodation available to travellers Accommodation in these pubs tends to be budget-style with shared bathrooms but private rooms

Pub accommodation is even available in the centre of Sydney, making getting back to your room after a beer a simple endeavour

If you travel as a single, and want a private room, pubs usually have single rooms at a discount over a double room Most motels will charge the same price for one or two people sharing a room

Motels

Typically, motel-style accommodation will have a private room with a bed or number of beds, and a private shower and toilet Many motels have family rooms, that will usually have a double bed and two single beds in the one room

Motel rooms in the cities will generally cost upwards from $80 Usually the cost is the same for one or two adults, with any extra people charged an additional fee Prices for additional children can range from free to $20 per child During quiet times its not unusual for motels to offer standby discounts

Most motels will serve a cooked or continental breakfast to your room in the morning, for an additional charge Some may have a restaurant or serve an evening meal Some may have a toaster in the room

A number of local and international chains offer motel-style accommodation:

Hotels

All state capitals have at least one major hotel at 5 star standard, with several available in the major capitals The majority of Australia's hotels are located in the Central Business Districts CBD of the capital city Hotel services and hospitality are often excellent such as room cleaning services, free morning newspapers, meals to your door and a high-speed internet connection up to 24mb/s often with a premium fee

All hotels have a restaurant or bistro, depending on the type of hotel you are staying in The restaurant or bistro would often serve food that comparable to many other up-market restaurants outside the hotel Also on the ground floor would normally be a fully equipped bar

Cabins

Cabins are an economical way for families to stay while travelling Sometimes built on private land, sometimes in caravan parks, cabins typically have a kitchen / lounge area, and one, two or three bedrooms

Farm Stay

Much as the name suggests, this usually involves a cabin or homestead accommodation on a working property Suited for a stay of two or more days, this accommodation usually allows you to get a little involved in the running of the farm if you wish It is common for dinner to be provided in the homestead, and a breakfast pack to be provided to your cabin

Holiday home

Holiday homes are homes rented by their owners, often using local real estate agents or specialised web sites Sometimes located in prime positions, but also sometimes in the residential sections of cities and towns Minimum rental periods of at least 2 days usually apply, rising to a week during periods when they are busy At a minimum will have bedrooms, a lounge, bathroom

Bed and Breakfasts

Bed and Breakfasts tend to be a premium form of accommodation in Australia, often focussed on weekend accommodation for couples They certainly don't offer the discount form of accommmodation they do in part of the United Kingdom, and the local motel will usually be cheaper

Sometimes extra rooms in a person's home, but often a purpose built building You should expect a cosy, well kept room, a common area, and a cooked breakfast Possibly private facilities Substantial discounts often apply for mid-week stays at bed and breakfasts

Resorts

There are many true resorts around Australia Many have lagoon pools, tennis, golf, kids clubs, and other arranged activities The island of the Whitsundays have a choice of resorts, some occupying entire islands Port Douglas also has many resorts of a world standard

Serviced apartments

Serviced apartments are widely available, for stays as short as one night Amenities typically include kitchen, washer and dryer, and separate bedrooms

Caravanning, Campervan, Motorhome and RV

Caravan parks exist in most towns and cities in Australia that will provide powered and unpowered sites for Caravans You will commonly see the Grey Nomad brigade on their trips around Australia in motorhomes and caravans

The camper trailer has also become very popular in Australia It is perfect for the Australian camping lifestyle, whether it be weekends away or an extended trip into the great outdoors where no facilities exist You will need to be self-sufficient and carry suitable spares and a good tool kit

Station Wagons / Vans

In most parts of Australia it is illegal to sleep in your vehicle but it is possible to get around this by simply rigging up curtains all around the windows so no one can see in from the outside Trade vans can be picked up for as little as $1000, with a more trustworthy van setting you back no more than $3000-$4000 Add a mattress, pillow, portable gas cooker, cookware and a 20L water container and you are off If you get caught the fine could be as much as $150 each, so do it at you own risk But if you are strategic in where you stay you probably won't get caught Just be sensible and don't the disturb the locals Also, be aware of parking restrictions in certain parts of the cities and town, including overnight parking restrictions The parking inspectors can be ruthless and a $100+ fine is not uncommon

All cities and towns in Australia have free public toilets Many parks, and most beaches have free electric BBQ's as well Popular beaches have fresh water showers to wash the salt water off after you swim, so for those on a tight budget or for those that just love waking up at the beach simply wash in the ocean please do not pollute the ocean or waterways by using detergents or soaps and rinse off at the showers Almost all taps in Australia are drinking water, the ones that aren't will be marked Service stations petrol/gas almost always have taps, so these are a good place to refill the water containers each time you refuel

Some of the best experiences you may have in Australia will be by taking that road on the map that looks like it heads to a beach, creek, waterfall or mountain and following it You may just find paradise and not another soul in sight And lucky you, you've got a bed, food and water right there with you

Travelling in a small group lowers the fuel bill per head, as this will likely be your biggest expense

Enjoy, and respect the land by taking your rubbish/bottles/cigarette butts with you and disposing of them properly

Working in Australia

Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of Australia can work in Australia without any further permits, but others will require a work visa All visitors who do not hold Australian permanent residency or citizenship including New Zealand citizens who aren't also Australian permanent residents or citizens are not allowed to access Australian social security arrangements for the unemployed, and will have limited, or more usually, no access to the Australian government's health care payment arrangements

Payment and taxes

Most Australian employers pay via direct deposit to Australian bank accounts Open a bank account as soon as you arrive Your passport will not be enough ID to open a bank account You will need to show the bank teller 100 points of ID 30

As soon as you have an address it is wise to apply for a Tax File Number TFN You can apply for it online though, only in Australia for free at the Australian Tax Office website 31, though you can generally get it quicker if you just go to one of their offices The Australian financial year runs from July 1 to June 30, and tax returns for each financial year are due on October 30, four months after the accounting period concludes Check with Australian tax agents about Australian tax liability and filing an Australian tax return

Australian employers will make compulsory payments out of your earnings to an Australian superannuation retirement savings fund on your behalf Temporary visitors who are not citizens of either Australia or New Zealand can have this money returned to them 32 when they leave Australia

Working holidaymaker scheme

Australia has a working holidaymaker program for citizens of certain countries between 18 and 30 years of age It allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the time you first enter You may work during that time, but only for 6 months at any one employer was 3 months until July 2006 The idea is for you to take a holiday subsidised by casual or short-term jobs If you're interested in a working holiday, some useful skills and experience might be: office skills to be used for temp work; or hospitality skills to be used for bar or restaurant work An alternative is seasonal work like fruit-picking, although much seasonal work will require that you work outside the major cities Working for 3 months in seasonal work will allow you to apply for a second 12 month visa

You can apply online for a working holiday visa 33, but you must not be in Australia at the time It takes just a few hours to process usually and it costs about $170 On arriving in Australia ask for the working holiday visa to be "evidenced", so you can show your future employer A working holiday visa restricts you to contract type jobs Don't waste your time applying for permanent jobs in the hope of sponsorship for a different visa class Contract jobs generally mean employers are looking for solid experience, so make your resume reflect that Search for jobs on Seek 34 It is wise to try arranging a few interviews and prospects before you arrive in Australia in order to be in the better paid jobs

The easiest way to get a work visa is to find an Australian employer who will sponsor you However, this is just 'easier', not 'easy' as such Your employer will need to demonstrate that they cannot hire anyone with your skills in Australia, and the approval will take several months If in search of sponsorship, be prepared for a long wait Note that getting the visa might take a couple of months from the beginning of the application process, and that you will need a medical examination by a doctor approved by the immigration officials before it can be granted among other things, you will need a chest x-ray to show that you do not have tuberculosis Check with your local Australian High Commission, Consulate or Embassy and the the Immigration Department's website 35

Immigration

You can apply to immigrate as a skilled person or business person, but this process will take longer than receiving a work visa You can also apply for permanent residency as the holder of a work or study visa, but your application will not be automatically accepted After four years of permanent residency you are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship

Volunteering

There are several volunteer opportunities in Australia Many worldwide organisations offer extended travel for those wanting to volunteer their time to work with locals on projects such as habitat restoration, wildlife sanctuary maintenance & development, scientific research, & education programs

  • Australian Volunteers, 36
  • World Wildlife Fund AU, 37
  • International Student Volunteers Australia, 38
  • Youth Challenge Australia, 39

Cities in Australia

adelaide  albany  albury  alice springs  alyangula  ararat  armidale  atherton  australind  ayr  bairnsdale  ballarat  ballina  batemans bay  benalla  bendigo  biloela  blackwater  bongaree  bowen  bowral  brisbane  broken hill  broome  buderim  bunbury  bundaberg  burnie  burpengary  busselton  byron bay  caboolture  cairns  caloundra  canberra  carnarvon  casino  castlemaine  cessnock  charters towers  clifton springs  coffs harbour  colac  collie  coolum beach  cooma  cootamundra  corowa  cowra  craigieburn  cranbourne  crib point  dalby  darwin  deception bay  deniliquin  devonport  dubbo  emerald  esperance  forbes  gatton  gawler  geelong  geraldton  gladstone  gold coast  goulburn  grafton  griffith  gunnedah  gympie  hamilton  hastings  healesville  hobart  horsham  ingham  innisfail  inverell  katherine  kempsey  kiama  kingaroy  kununurra  kurri kurri  kwinana  kyabram  lakes entrance  lara  launceston  leeton  leopold  lismore  lithgow  mackay  mandurah  maningrida  mareeba  maryborough  maryborough  medowie  melbourne  melton  mildura  mittagong  morayfield  moree  morwell  moss vale  mount barker  mount gambier  mount isa  mudgee  murray bridge  murwillumbah  muswellbrook  nambour  nambucca heads  narrabri  nelson bay  nerang  newcastle  new norfolk  nhulunbuy  northam  orange  pakenham  palmerston  parkes  perth  port augusta  port hedland  port keats  portland  port lincoln  port macquarie  port pirie  queanbeyan  raymond terrace  rockhampton  roebourne  roma  sale  sawtell  singleton  somerville  stawell  sunbury  swan hill  sydney  tamworth  taree  tennant creek  toowoomba  torquay  townsville  traralgon  tumut  ulladulla  ulverstone  victor harbor  victoria point  wagga wagga  wangaratta  warragul  warrnambool  warwick  wellington  whyalla  wodonga  wollongong  wonthaggi  yeppoon  young  

What do you think about Australia?

How expensive is Australia?
(1 AUD = 0.76 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant16.49 AUD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)77.6 AUD
McDonalds meal8.55 AUD
Local beer (0.5 draft)6.64 AUD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 8.27 AUD
Cappuccino4.47 AUD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)2.82 AUD
Water (0.33 bottle)2.46 AUD
Milk (1l)1.43 AUD
Fresh bread (500g)2.63 AUD
White Rice (1kg)3.21 AUD
Eggs (12) 4.12 AUD
Local Cheese (1kg) 10.9 AUD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 12.31 AUD
Apples (1kg) 4.75 AUD
Oranges (1kg) 4.07 AUD
Tomato (1kg) 5.42 AUD
Potato (1kg) 2.95 AUD
Lettuce (1 head) 2.37 AUD
Water (1.5l)2.37 AUD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 13.65 AUD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)5.43 AUD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 4.99 AUD
Cigarettes22.16 AUD
One way local bus ticket3.76 AUD
Monthly pass for bus141.86 AUD
Taxi start4.1 AUD
Taxi 1km2.42 AUD
Taxi 1hour waiting53.59 AUD
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.71 AUD
Utilities for a "normal" apartment186.58 AUD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 21.98 AUD
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