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Welcome to Australia

Australia

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world - more or less the same size as mainland USA. This vast land however also has the lowest population density in the world, with only two people per square kilometre.

Australia 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 cosmopolitan 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 2,000 national parks and 14 World Heritage-listed areas, along with more than 7,000 beaches.

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 the world's oldest civilisation, and in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in keeping the Aboriginal culture alive and flourishing.

The vast continent at the bottom of the world was the last landmass to be discovered by European explorers. Captain James Cook arrived in Botany Bay in 1770 and sparked off generations of emigration to Australia, which for some time served as a penal colony. It was not until 1860 that two explorers - Robert Burke and William Wills - became the first Europeans to cross Australia from south to north. The country remains a magnet for modern explorers and adventurers and has a great deal to offer tourists and holidaymakers.

 


Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

A continent and a country at the same time, Australia spans thousands of miles from coast to coast and is packed full of wonderful sightseeing activities for visitors of every budget and every taste - from tropical rainforests and over 8,000 species of wildflowers in Western Australia to the likes of the Gold Coast and Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island, on the east coast, Australia's attractions are amazingly diverse. Boasting 14 World Heritage-listed areas, 2,000 national parks and 7,000 beaches, 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 Ayres Rock along the way. Splash into the crystalline waters of the Great Barrier Reef for a spot of snorkelling and head south towards Sydney for a day of basking in the sun on Bondi Beach. Take in the historical sights 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 to-do lists.

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. 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.

Business

Expatriates looking to do 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 characteristic Antipodean warmth and friendliness. The approach to management in Australia is consultative, pragmatic, and strictly non-hierarchical. Those in positions of relative power are accorded respect in virtue of their human and interpersonal qualities, notsimply because they happen to be your boss. Business etiquette in Australia further reflects this egalitarian ethos. Use titles initially, though you will almost certainly be told to dispense with them - at which point, you should refer to your colleagues by their first names. Maintain eye contact when speaking to your associates, as this is regarded as a sign of forthrightness and trustworthiness - qualities which Australian businesspeople tend to favour over showiness, self-aggrandisement or empty promises. Business meetings in Australia should be scheduled a week in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place. 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 you seem pushy and maverick - as though you wish to bully others into adopting your 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. Avoid loud jewellery and accessories - as to Australian eyes, they might make you seem arrogant and unprofessional. 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.

Climate

Australia is temperate, 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 continent, 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).

Communications

The international access code for Australia is +61. The outgoing code is 0011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001144 for the United Kingdom). The area code for both Canberra and Sydney is (0)2. Local calls from public payphones are unlimited and cost a standard rate, while international and long distance calls are charged according to the time spent on the phone. Mobile phone operators use GSM and CDMA networks (area code (0)4); mobile phones are available for rent. Internet cafes are widely available.

Customs

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

Duty Free

Travellers to Australia over 18 years do not have to pay customs duty on 2.25 litres of alcohol; 250 cigarettes or 250g cigars or other tobacco products. Gifts are included in the A$900 duty-free allowance. Fresh produce and animal/plant products are prohibited.

Electricity

Electrical current is 240/250 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin flat blade plugs are used but are different to those in most other countries, so an adapter is normally required.

Health

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 immunizations or medications are required for most trips to Australia, however insect repellents are strongly advised because of the risk of Murray Valley encephalitis, Ross River virus infections, dengue fever and other 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.

Language

English is the official language of Australia.

Money

The Australian Dollar (AUD) is divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change exchange most foreign currencies. Travellers cheques are also welcome everywhere, but banks take a small commission and it is better to take cheques in major currencies (e.g. US dollars or Euros) to avoid additional charges. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are freely available throughout the country. 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.

Passport Visa

An ETA is an electronically issued and verified visa, not visible in a passport. ETAs are issued to passengers travelling for tourist or business purposes. Tourist ETAs are valid for three months. ETAs are obtainable online at: www.eta.immi.gov.auor through most travel agents.

Safety

The crime rate in Australia is low, however travellers should be aware that tourists could be targeted by petty criminals. Be vigilant about personal possessions and travel documents, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as along the Gold Coast. There has been an increase in incidents of spiked drinks and women in particular should be cautious in nightspots; many victims were also sexually assaulted. Tropical cyclones normally occur between November and April in some parts of Australia, usually in Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory. There is a serious risk of bush fires in summer, especially in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and ACT. During the summer months, usually between October and May, 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.

Tipping

There are no mandatory gratuities in restaurant service charges of any kind in Australia, and tips are not expected anywhere, although it is becoming more common in expensive restaurants in the bigger cities to leave some money for good service.

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