Planning a Trip

Australia is a modern, forward-oriented country whose people enjoy a stable political system, well-maintained roads, relatively low crime rate and high standard of health care. It is generally a safe destination with tourists enjoying unhindered travel experiences in terms of their personal security and safety. However, as with all travel at home or away, it is a good idea to observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions. Preparation is [almost] everything!


MyAussieHoliday has compiled for you this collection of handy information, practical tips and ideas you might want to consider. We tell you about our climate, currency, visa requirements, customs and quarantine regulations, how to be sun-smart, shopping hours and much, much more.

When you have familiarised yourself with the following list and once you have got your package holiday confirmed with MyAussieHoliday, you are ready to go – Enjoy your holiday, and remember: There is no place like Australia!

How to get here - Flights

Dozens of airlines fly to Australia from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. There is a lot of competition in today’s aviation market, so it is a good idea to shop around for the best deal. If you don’t intend to travel with children and you don’t have to stick with school holiday periods, you will often end up paying considerably less for your flights. And if you plan on flying within Australia whilst you’re here, make sure you check ticket options where the long-haul ticket includes some domestic components, too.

How to get here – Cruise ships

More and more international cruise lines feature Australian ports in their cruise schedule. If you have the time, this is a most enjoyable travel option.

Visa requirements

All persons entering Australia must present a valid passport. Additionally, all persons except holders of an Australian or New Zealand passport, require a compulsory visa to enter the country.

A tourist visa can be applied for from your nearest Australian diplomatic mission [High Commission, Embassy or Consulate]. New Zealand passport holders are being issued with a respective travel authority on arrival in Australia. The “Electronic Travel Authority” [ETA], which can be issued on the spot by travel agents, has virtually replaced the traditional visa. This short-term tourist visa can also be applied for via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT] website, please refer to the following weblink: http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ Please note that an ETA can not be obtained by all passport holders [refer to the weblink and click on “Am I eligible” to check whether you can apply online. Citizens of those countries not listed in the department’s website must lodge a visa application via one of the aforementioned diplomatic representations of Australia].

Customs

Travellers may bring some goods intended as gifts duty or tax-free into Australia. Adults [over 18 years of age] may also bring liquor and cigarettes or tobacco products duty/tax free. These goods must accompany you when you are clearing Customs. Also, tourists visiting Australia for a limited period, may bring most articles into the country duty/tax free, provided Customs is satisfied that they are for their own personal use and that they will be taken out of Australia on departure. For Customs duty/tax-free limits, please check this link http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=4352 Further information can be viewed at http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/GuideForTravellers.pdf

There is no limit on the amount of Australian and/or foreign cash that may be brought into or taken out of Australia. However, amounts of more than AUD 10,000, or equivalent in foreign currency, must be reported on arrival and departure; heavy fines can apply for breaches of this regulation.

Quarantine

Australia is a country which is relatively pest-free; stringent quarantine regulations that are controlled and enforced by the Australia’s Quarantine and Inspection Service [AQIS] safeguard a very effective first line of defence against the invasion by pests and diseases which could devastate the agricultural, horticultural, forestry and even fishery sectors of the country.

Because of Australia’s geographical isolation, a most unique range of plants and wildlife developed here which is virtually free from many of the pests and diseases that plague other countries.

Comprehensive information on what can and can’t be brought into Australia can be viewed at:

http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/travel/entering-australia

http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/travel/entering-australia/cant-take

Due to the sheer size of Australia, there are even quarantine rules and regulations that apply within the country. Certain items [fruit, vegetable, dairy products, honey, eggs, agricultural products etc.] can not be taken from one state into another as this could potentially compromise the bio-safety of a region. Further information on interstate travel in Australia can be viewed at:

http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/travel/within-australia

Currency – Australian Dollar AUD

Australia’s currency is Australian Dollars [AUD] and currency exchange is available at banks, hotels and international airports. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, JCB and their affiliates. For indicative exchange rates, try this handy currency converter: http://www.xe.com/

Banks

Banks and ATM machines are found throughout the country. Banking hours are 9.30 AM to 4 PM Monday to Thursday and 9.30 AM to 5 PM on Friday. ATM’s accept many foreign debit cards, but please enquire fees and charges you might incur with your bank or financial institution.

Goods & Services Tax GST

Australia has a Goods & Services Tax [GST] of currently 10%. The tax is levied on almost all goods and services [basic food stuffs are excluded though]. If you are an international visitor, you may be entitled to claim a refund of the GST component paid on goods you have bought here. In order to do so, you must have spent minimum AUD $300 in one store and you have to lodge your refund claim no more than 30 days before your intended departure date from Australia. “Tourist Refund Scheme” [TRS] facilities are located in departure areas of international airport terminals around the country. For more detailed information see Australian government information at http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4646.asp

Shopping

You’ll find large department stores, arcades, malls, gift and souvenir shops across Australia. Trading hours vary across the country but shops in tourist and city areas are generally open until 18 PM, with the exception of late night shopping on either Thursdays or Fridays in different states. In Australia you are covered by Australia's consumer protection laws which require businesses to treat you fairly.

Bargaining 

Generally speaking, it is not custom to bargain in Australia.

Tipping 

Hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to your bill. In up-market restaurants, it is usual to tip waiters up to ten per cent of the bill when you have been happy with the service. However, tipping is not generally expected and tips do not form an integral part of a person’s wage like in other countries around the world. Tipping is always your choice.

Emergency assistance

The national emergency telephone number for police, ambulance service and or fire brigade is 000 [“triple zero”]. A call to this number can be made free of charge from any phone, including mobile phones.

Be sun-safe

Many parts of Australia enjoy in excess of 3,000 hours of sunshine each year – Up to three times the amount of sunlight that people in parts of Britain, Northern Europe or North America get. Sunlight is strong and UV radiation is extreme most of the time. Direct sun exposure should be avoided between approximately 10 AM and 4 PM; this may depend on the region you are visiting and the time of the year you are travelling; seek local advice.

Remember the slogan “Slip - Slap – Slop”! Slip on a shirt [long-sleeved and with a collar is best], slap on a hat [wide-brimmed] and slop on sunscreen [SPF +30 is best!], even on a cloudy day. If you are spending the whole day outdoors, reapply sunscreen on regular intervals. Always wear protective sunglasses and make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Surf and water safety

Most of the country’s popular swimming beaches are usually patrolled by volunteer lifesavers from approximately October to April. Red and yellow flags mark the safest and patrolled areas for swimming. Please adhere to the Royal Surf Live Saving Society’s motto of “Always swim between the flags”!

Australia’s stunning beaches can hold hidden dangers in the form of strong currents [“rips”]. Avoid them by always swimming between the red and yellow flags. And please, never swim alone, at night, under the influence of alcohol / drugs or directly after a meal. Always check water depth before diving in and never run and dive into the water from the beach.

Be crocodile and stinger safe

In Australia’s North crocodiles abound; they have made a remarkable comeback from being almost extinct in the 1970’s. These creatures live in rivers and coastal estuaries and they often change habitat via the ocean. When travelling near crocodile habitats, always observe safety signs and never swim in rivers, estuaries, tidal rivers, deep pools or mangrove shores. Before camping, fishing or boating, seek local advice and stay safe at all times.

Along Northern Australia’s beaches, stingers often appear from approximately November to April; please take any warning signs along swimming beaches seriously as stingers not only make for unpleasant encounters, they are dangerous marine creatures. For detailed information, please refer to the Queensland Government’s website on marine stingers and crocodile safety: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/living_with_wildlife/marine_stingers.html

Be bushfire safe 

Many Australian plant species actually need the intense heat of bushfires in order to propagate. People in many parts of the country live with the risk of bushfires. The danger period is from late spring to autumn and during this period, it is vital to observe basic fire safety rules. Before setting out on a journey, get local advice and familiarise yourself with any possible bushfire risks in the area you intend to visit. When camping, use only designated fireplaces and comply with any road warning signs and total fire bans.

Wilderness hiking / Bushwalking

Before setting out on a hike or bushwalk you are not familiar with, seek local advice and check the length and difficulty of the walk. If you are walking without a local guide, tell someone [eg. local police] where you intend to go and how long you will be away for. When you return, make sure you let them know as otherwise, unnecessary and costly [for you!] search activities could be launched. Wear comfortable, but sturdy footwear, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent and take along wet weather gear and some warm clothing [eg. fleece jacket], a detailed topographic map and plenty of water.

When walking, read maps and signs. Always stay on the track, behind safety barriers and away from cliff edges. Do not feed or play with native animals; human foods are unsuitable for wild animals and it can kill them. Plan any walking activity carefully, consider the terrain and check weather forecasts. Avoid hiking when the sun is too intense.

Language

Australia’s official language is English. Australia’s indigenous peoples speak about 350 different languages and as a multicultural nation that is home to migrants from over 150 countries around the world, a plethora of languages from French to Swahili and from Mandarin to Portuguese is spoken.

Electrical current / Power points

Australia’s electrical current is 220 – 240 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet is different from other countries around the world, and if you are planning on bringing with you any electrical appliances, you will require an adaptor.

Communication

Australia’s telephone country code is ++61. Local calls from public pay phones are untimed and charged at AUD $0.50 per call. Mobile, long distance and overseas calls are timed calls. Mobile phone network coverage is available across the country and 96% of the population currently enjoy mobile phone network coverage. However, in extremely remote areas of Outback Australia, coverage can be limited and mobile phone services can not be relied upon. Internet access is widely available at internet cafes, hotels and public libraries. Wireless modems are widely available and can offer travellers a handy and cheap option to stay in touch with loved ones.

Postal services 

Australia Post’s offices are usually open from 9 AM to 17 PM, Monday to Friday. Some capital city main post offices may be open on Saturday mornings. It is possible for travellers to arrange mail collection [“poste restante”] from post offices throughout Australia.

  Medications

If you require prescription medicines and you bring them into Australia, please don’t forget to declare them to Customs upon your international arrival. Prescription medicine for personal use is subject to controls and must be declared on arrival. It is recommended you bring a prescription or letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the medicine you are bringing with you. For more specific information visit the Department of Health and Ageing website:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/general-guidance-for-travellers-bringing-medicines-to-and-from-australia

Vaccinations / Diseases

Currently, there are no vaccination requirements for arriving travellers, unless they have come from, or have visited a yellow fever infected country within six days of their arrival in Australia.

Unfortunately, there is a risk of Dengue Fever and Ross River Virus in various parts of [mainly] Northern Australia. These viruses are spread by mosquitoes that bite in the day time. It is vitally important that you consider using insect repellent 24 hours a day in areas where Dengue Fever and Ross River Virus exist. Please consult your health care professional and seek local advice when you are travelling in Northern Australia.

Australia’s Health System

Hospitals are generally excellent and the ambulance service to get you there efficient all across the country. In remote areas however, helicopters and medically-equipped aircraft will be used. Like in many countries around the globe, the cost for medical treatment is expensive. It is therefore highly recommended that you take out comprehensive travel / health insurance.

Insurance

MAH recommends you take out comprehensive travel insurance which covers theft, loss, accidents and medical problems. If you plan on partaking in any adventure sports like scuba diving, motorcycling, skiing and even bushwalking, check that your policy provides comprehensive cover for these activities, too.

The Australian Government has reciprocal agreements covering limited subsidised health services for medical treatment with some countries through “Medicare”. For more detailed information go to the Medicare Australia website http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/

Australian climate

Australia’s climate varies across the continent, from hot and tropical in the Far North to temperate and even snowy in the south. Australia’s seasons are the exact opposite of those of the Northern Hemisphere:

December to February            Summer, warm to hot in whole country, wet season in the tropical North
March to May                          Autumn, warm to mild in most parts; cooler in Tasmania and Victoria
June to August                        Winter, generally mild and moist in Southern parts of the country, dry and and sunny in the north and snow in Australia’s alpine region
September to November         Spring; pleasant mild to warm weather throughout

Please see the following weather chart for long-term average weather readings.

For detailed information on weather and climate in Australia, visit the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website: http://www.bom.gov.au/

Daylight Saving Time

Most Australian states wind their clocks forward an hour during the Daylight Saving period. New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia do this from the beginning of October to the beginning of April. The Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland don’t have Daylight Saving.

  Time zones

Due to Daylight Saving periods, Australia has got three time zones during the winter and five during the summer months:

Winter
Eastern Standard Time [EST] for Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria
Central Standard Time [CST] for the Northern Territory and South Australia. CST is ½ hour behind EST
Western Standard Time [WST] for Western Australia. WST is 2 hours behind EST 

Summer
Eastern Daylight Time [EDT] for New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria
Central Daylight Time [CDT] for South Australia. CST is ½ hour behind EDT
Eastern Standard Time [EST] for Queensland. EST is 1 hour behind EDT
Central Standard Time [CST] for the Northern Territory. CST is 1 ½ hours behind EDT
Western Standard Time [WST] for Western Australia. WST is 3 hours behind EDT

 

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