Fact file: Australia

Did you know?
A garbo in Oz-speak has nothing to do with the glamorous film star - it's the local lingo for a garbage collector.
British citizens staying for less than three months need an electronic travel authority (ETA) which an IATA registered travel agent can obtain for you free of charge. This is invisibly scanned into your passport and will be checked when you enter the country.
Getting there
Major arrival points are Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Perth. Many people take advantage of a cheap stopover in the Far East (eg Singapore) to break the long journey.
Flying time from London
22/24 hours
Getting around
Renting a car is a good way to travel. It's vital to have your driving licence, not just an international driver's permit. Trains are not fast, but a comfortable way to travel to major cities. There are also buses.
Australian dollar
All prices will vary but as a rough guide: pint of beer £1; roll of film £1.50; moderate restaurant meal £10; litre of petrol 30p; short taxi ride £4.
The seasons are the opposite to the UK. Our summer (June-August) is their winter when temperatures range from a max 30C/86F at the 'top end' (the north east) to around16C/52F in Sydney. Even on the cooler southern coasts, winters are mild. The only exception is Tasmania which has a similar climate to the UK. In summer (December-February) temps go from a max 22C/64F in Tasmania to 45C/110F in Alice Springs. In the Northern Territory you are in the monsoon belt, where it's either hot and dry (May-Sept) or hot and very wet. Otherwise, climatic extremes aren't severe in most parts of the country.
Time difference
Australia has three time zones. Western standard time is GMT plus eight hours, Central standard time is GMT plus nine and a half hours and Eastern standard time is GMT plus 10 hours.
International dialling code from the UK
00 61
220-240V AC, 50Hz. The three-pin power outlet is different from ours, so you'll need an adaptor.
Opening hours
Shops vary from state to state but generally 9-5.30 Mon-Sat with late night shopping onThurs or Fri. Some states have Sunday trading (10-4). Big chain supermarkets in cities are often open 24 hours. Banks open 9.30-4 Mon-Thur and until 5pm on Fridays. Some large city branches are open longer hours. Post offices open 9-5 Mon-Fri.
Health - Before you go
No jabs needed. The UK has reciprocal medical arrangements with Australia but it doesn't cover all costs (eg: prescribed medicines or ambulance travel are not covered) so travel insurance is advisable.
Health - When you are there
Sun protection is vital especially in the tropical regions where you can fry fast. Wear a hat and take plenty of liquids to avoid that other hazard, heat stroke.
From late October to early May, venomous box jellyfish are found along the Queensland coast. Don't ignore local warnings and swim - their sting can kill you. Island resorts and the Barrier Reef are safe for swimming at this time. When reef walking, always wear shoes to protect your feet against coral which cuts like a knife and can cause nasty infections. Bushfires are another danger - be careful you don't start one. If caught in one, stay in your car, park away from trees and get down on the floor until the fire passes. You're unlikely to encounter deadly snakes or spiders in the cities so don't worry!
Police 000; British High Commission, Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2600. Tel: (61) 2 6270 6666.
Heading to the bar after work - Australians work to live, rather than live to work.
Australia is now included in the PETS travel scheme under long-haul regulations. However, this is a long and complicated procedure requiring vaccinations, medical check-ups and route planning; it is not as simple as walking on and off a plane with your pet. Therefore the scheme is more suited to those returning from a long stay abroad, rather than the two-week holidaymaker. It takes several months to set up the relevant documentation; see your vet for further details.
It's only just catching on so leave around 10% with waiters and just round up your taxi fare.
Tourist office
Australian Tourist Commission, 1st Floor, Gemini House, 10-18 Putney Hill, London, SW15 6AA. Brochure line: 0906 8633235 (60p per minute).


+44 (0) 203 696 2870

Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm

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