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  • Overview

    Australia is the sixth largest country in the world - more or less the same size as mainland USA. However, this vast land has one of the lowest population densities in the world, with only three people per square kilometre. Although known for its modern, cosmopolitan cities, Australia enshrines vast swathes of undeveloped wilderness, making it a good travel destination for those wanting a taste of both urban chic and striking landscapes devoid of people.

    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 big, efficient cities, the sun and surf at some of the best beaches in the world, and the tropical rainforests of Western Australia. The list is endless in this diverse land of adventure, which boasts about 2,000 national parks and 14 World Heritage-listed areas, along with more than 7,000 beaches.

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

    This 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 waves 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.

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

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

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

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

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    English Pronounciation

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

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

    Adelaide Airport
    Location: The airport is situated four miles (6km) west of Adelaide.
    Time: GMT +9.5 (GMT +10.5 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
    Getting to the city: A public bus service called JetBus collects passengers from the bus stop on the left side of the plaza as they exit the terminal. A number of door-to-door shuttle buses are also available at this bus stop.
    Car Rental: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty are among the car hire companies represented at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: A taxi rank is located left of the plaza as travellers exit of the terminal. Concierges help passengers by allocating taxis. The taxis are metered and the trip to downtown Adelaide takes about 20 minutes.
    Facilities: Adelaide is among the most modern of Australia's airports, providing passengers with a wide range of duty-free shopping opportunities, as well as ATMs and currency exchange, free wifi, luggage storage, first aid facilities, a children's play area, a prayer room, and numerous bars and restaurants.
    Parking A multi-level short-term car park offers undercover parking linked to the terminal: the first 30 minutes cost A$5 and each hour thereafter costs between A$2 and A$6, up to a daily maximum of A$40. Economical long-term parking can be found a short distance from the terminal (linked to the airport by free buses), which costs A$31 for the first day and additional cost of about A$10-A$20 per day thereafter.
    Brisbane Airport
    Location: The airport is situated eight miles (13km) northeast of Brisbane.
    Time: GMT +10.
    Transfer Between Terminals The Airport Transfer Bus takes passengers between terminals and from both terminals to the Skygate shopping precinct for free.
    Getting to the city: The Airtrain Rail Link departs every 15 minutes to and from the Brisbane Central Business District. It operates between 5.15am and 10pm, taking about 20 minutes. There is also a direct link to the Gold Coast. Taxis, limousines and airport buses are also available from both terminals.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Redspot and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Black & White Cabs and Yellow Cab Co can be hailed at the airport. A A$3.70 airport pick-up fee is charged in the airport taxi ranks, and the meter fee is added to this cost.
    Facilities: The airport includes cafes, bars, and restaurants, bureaux de change and ATMs, duty-free shopping facilities, and a huge variety of other shopping opportunities. Hotel reservation and visitor information services are also available.
    Parking Short-term parking is adjacent to the terminals, and costs A$5 for 15 minutes, A$9 for 30 minutes, A$18 for an hour, A$22 for two hours, A$27 for three hours and A$28 for four hours. Long-term parking is connected to the terminal via a covered walkway and costs A$56 for four to 24 hours, while the Airpark costs A$20 for one day and is farther from the terminals, accessible by the complimentary shuttle service.
    Cairns International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated five miles (8km) north of Cairns.
    Time: GMT +10.
    Transfer Between Terminals A covered walkway connects the Domestic and International terminals (about a five minute walk).
    Getting to the city: There is an airport shuttle bus service to hotels and the city centre and taxi ranks are located directly outside the arrival halls. Most major hotels operate courtesy bus services to and from the airport.
    Car Rental: Avis, Red Spot, Budget, Hertz, Europcar and Thrifty are represented at the airport and can be found in the international arrivals hall or in the central concourse of the domestic terminal.
    Facilities: Shops, restaurants, bars, currency exchange and ATMs, baby-changing facilities, showers and baggage storage are available in domestic and international terminals. Duty-free shops are also available, and mobile phone rental is available in the international terminal. Facilities for the disabled are good.
    Parking Short-term parking, located across from terminal, starts at A$5 for the first hour with a daily limit of A$15. Long-term parking is in a designated area of the Domestic Lot. All parking areas offer 10 minutes free parking.
    Canberra International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated five miles (8km) east of Canberra.
    Time: GMT +10 (GMT +11 from last Sunday in August to last Saturday in March).
    Getting to the city: There is an Airliner shuttle bus service during the week to the city centre, which departs hourly from outside the main doors of the central terminal building. Taxis are available at all times to the city centre. Limousines are also available.
    Car Rental: Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar and Thrifty, among others, are represented in the central terminal area.
    Facilities: There is a bar, a restaurant, post office and ATM available in the terminal. There is a foreign exchange bureau on the ground floor of the central terminal. Those with special needs are well catered for.
    Parking Short- and long-term parking is available at the airport close to the terminal.
    Darwin International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated eight miles (13km) northeast of Darwin's city centre.
    Time: GMT +9.5.
    Getting to the city: An airport shuttle bus meets all flights, and taxis are available. Public transport to and from the airport is limited, but a public bus operates to bus stops near the airport.
    Car Rental: Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar and Thrifty are represented at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available from the taxi rank directly in front of the terminal. Taxis are metered and an approximate fare for a trip to the CBD is A$25 to A$30.
    Facilities: The airport terminal has ATMs and foreign exchange, several food and drink options, duty-free shopping, internet kiosks, wifi, shower facilities, and a variety of general shops. Facilities for the disabled are good. The airport is a smoke-free zone, but smoking areas are provided.
    Parking Short-term parking is available adjacent to the airport. Parking is free for the first 15 minutes, A$8 for the first hour, and an additional sum of about A$3 per hour thereafter, up to a daily maximum of A$40. Long-term parking is available at A$35 for one day, A$60 for two days, and about A$20 extra per day thereafter.
    Hobart International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 11 miles (17km) east of Hobart.
    Time: GMT +10 (GMT +11 from first Sunday in October to last Saturday in March).
    Getting to the city: The Airporter shuttle bus service meets flights for transport to the city centre. Taxis and limousines are also available.
    Car Rental: Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar and Thrifty are represented at the airport.
    Facilities: The airport has a Domestic and an International Terminal. Facilities include a cafe, bar, ATM, restaurant, wireless Internet access, newsagent and gift shop.
    Parking Secure and valet parking is available at the airport.
    Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport
    Location: The airport is located 16 miles (25km) north of Melbourne's city centre.
    Time: GMT +10 (GMT +11 from first Sunday in October to first Sunday in April).
    Transfer Between Terminals The terminals are all within walking distance.
    Getting to the city: Numerous public bus routes access the airport, but the most convenient transport option is the SkyBus, an express bus service between the airport and the city centre, operating 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and departing the airport every 10 minutes. Taxis, airport shuttles and rental cars are also available.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Enterprise and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are readily available at the airport, and taxi ranks can be found outside Terminal 1, and between Terminals 2 and Terminal 3. Taxis can also be found on the ground floor of the transport hub outside Terminal 4.
    Facilities: The airport has excellent facilities, with ATMs, currency exchanges, and a variety of bars, restaurants and shops in all terminals. Other facilities include showers, baby change facilities, public telephones and a medical centre. Shopping includes duty-free. Facilities for the disabled are good.
    Parking The airport has a vast range of parking options and each parking lot has different rates. Substantial discounts are available for online bookings. A courtesy bus service operates between the long-term parking and the terminal buildings.
    Kingsford Smith (Sydney) Airport
    Location: The airport is situated about 9 miles (15km) south of Sydney.
    Time: GMT +11 (GMT +10 from the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in October).
    Transfer Between Terminals The Airport Rail Link connects the international (T1) and domestic terminals (T2 and T3), and the T-Bus provides a frequent service between T1 and T2. The Domestic terminals are walking distance apart.
    Getting to the city: The Airport Rail Link is the fastest and most convenient way to reach the city centre and the suburbs. Trains run every 10 minutes and the journey to the centre takes 13 minutes, from where connections can be made for all suburban services. There are two railway stations at the airport: one is located directly below Terminal 1, and the other between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Public bus 400 runs between the airport and Bondi Junction. Shuttle bus companies provide direct transport to and from the airport and must be pre-booked; hotel buses are also available.
    Car Rental: All the main car hire companies are represented at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: There are supervised taxi ranks outside the terminal; regular taxis and maxi taxis (for groups) are available from here.
    Facilities: There are a wide variety of shops, bars and restaurants throughout the terminals, as well as shower facilities, internet kiosks, designated smoking areas, cell phone rental and duty-free shopping. Foreign exchange and ATMs are available throughout the airport. Medical facilities and baggage storage are also available in T1. Business services in Terminals 1 and 2 offer meeting rooms and internet.
    Parking Both the domestic and international terminals have easily accessible parking areas. Discounts are available for booking online in advance.
    Perth International Airport
    Location: The airport is located seven miles (12km) from Perth's city centre.
    Time: GMT +8.
    Transfer Between Terminals A free shuttle bus links all four terminals, operating 24 hours a day.
    Getting to the city: Bus 40 runs daily from Terminals 3 and 4 to the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station via the Great Eastern Highway. The journey takes approximately 55 minutes. Bus 380 runs daily from Terminals 1 and 2 to Perth city centre via Elizabeth Quay Bus Station, Belmont Forum Shopping Centre and Victoria Park Transfer Station.
    Car Rental: Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Hertz, Redspot, and Europcar are all represented at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminals, and a trip to central Perth will cost approximately A$43.
    Facilities: Facilities include a selection of bars and restaurants, various retail stores and a duty-free shop. ATMs and bureaux de change are also available. Travellers will also find internet access and an information centre. Access to all terminal facilities is provided for disabled visitors.
    Parking Short-term parking is free for the first 10 minutes, then charged at A$8 for 30 minutes, A$13.40 for 60 minutes, A$19.80 for two hours, up to A$3 per hour thereafter and A$49 per day. Long-term parking is about A$25 per day for the first three days, and A$12 per day thereafter.
    Orlando Melbourne International Airport
    Location: The airport is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwest of downtown Melbourne.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November).
    Getting to the city: A Space Coast Area Transit (SCAT) stop is located outside the main terminal. SCAT buses provide transport throughout Brevard County via Route 24, operating from 7am to 7:45pm; a one-way fare is $1.50. Melbourne's Greyhound Lines bus terminal offers daily service to major Florida destinations and beyond. A few local hotels offer courtesy transfers with advance bookings.
    Car Rental: Car rental agencies at the airport include Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. The rental car desk is located next to Baggage Claim in the main terminal.
    Airport Taxis: A number of taxi companies offer metered service to and from the airport, including Cab To Go, Call A Cab, Hollywood Taxi, and Mitch Taxi Service.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include an ATM, lost and found, pet assistance, an airport museum, on-site police department, two restaurants, and an airport museum.
    Parking Parking is $1 per half hour, up to a daily limit of $10. Motorcycles and oversized vehicles cannot be accommodated. There is a cell phone lot for pick-ups and drop-offs.
    Website: www.mlbair.com
    Coolangatta Airport
    Location: Gold Coast Airport is located on the Gold Coast Highway, one mile (3km) from Coolangatta.
    Time: GMT +10.
    Getting to the city: A free Airport Link shuttle links to public transport outside the airport on the Gold Coast Highway. The Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle operates from the airport to most accommodation along the Gold Coast strip, but services must be pre-booked. Taxis are available outside the terminal building, and several limousine hire companies operate from the airport. A Transport and Information desk is located outside the International Arrivals hall.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies, including Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty and Europcar, are located opposite the check-in counters.
    Facilities: A Travelex currency exchange booth is located in the International terminal. Other facilities include cafes, bars and snack bars, Internet kiosks, various shops and duty-free stores. Facilities for the disabled are good.
    Parking Short and long-term parking is available adjacent to the terminal building. Disabled parking spaces are available in both lots with direct access to the walkway linking to the terminal building.
    Money:

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

    Language:

    English is the official language of Australia.

    Electricity:

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

    Entry Requirements:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

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

    Travel 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 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.

    Tipping:

    There are no mandatory gratuities or restaurant service charges in Australia, and tips are not generally expected, although it is becoming more common in expensive restaurants in the bigger cities to leave some money for good service. Australians are ultimately divided over tipping and there are no reliable rules to apply.

    Safety Information:

    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. Tropical cyclones normally occur between November and April in some parts of Australia, particularly in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. There is a serious risk of bush fires in summer (November to March), especially in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and ACT. Also during the summer months, the shallow coastal waters of northern Australia and Queensland become infested with marine stingers, commonly known as box jellyfish, whose sting is highly dangerous and can be deadly. Visitors should pay attention to signs on beaches and follow the instructions of local lifeguards to avoid injury.

    Local 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 in Australia.

    Business:

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

    Business etiquette in Australia further reflects this egalitarian ethos. 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 about 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 - 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. As a general rule, avoid loud jewellery and accessories as to Australian eyes they might make you seem arrogant. The official language of business in Australia is English, and business hours are generally from 8.30am (or 9am) to 5pm (or 5.30pm), Monday to Friday.

    Communications:

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

    Duty Free:

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

    Useful Contacts:

    Australian Tourist Commission, Sydney: +61 (0)2 9360 1111 or www.australia.com

    Australia Embassies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Foreign Embassies in Australia :

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Australia Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 000 (112 on cellphones)
    Australia