Australia Travel Tips & Facts you Need to Know
Australia is the only country that has a whole continent to itself. World famous for its natural wonders and wide open spaces (beaches, deserts and “the bush” or “the Outback”). Australia is also a major tourist destination, and is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. The country is renowned worldwide for its vast, untouched landscape and its unique culture.
Australia was first settled more than 40,000 years ago by Aboriginal peoples from south and southeast Asia. After the last Ice Age, as the seas levels rose, Australia became mostly isolated from the rest of the world; Aboriginal tribes developed a variety of cultures, based on a close (spiritual) relationship with the land and nature for thousands of years.
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Australia’s Modern beginning – The British Invasion
The Australian continent was unknown to Europeans until the 1600’s, when Dutch traders to Asia began to ‘bump’ into the Western Coast.
British settlers came to Australia in 1788, starting a process of colonization that almost entirely displaced the Aboriginal people who inhabited the land. They remained second-class citizens almost until the modern day, only being recognized as full citizens in 1967.
Australia began its modern history as a penal colony (an island prison for Britain’s unwanted convicts) the vast majority of people who came to Australia after 1788 were free settlers, mainly from Britain and Ireland.
Weather and Climate
Australia is mostly arid and semi-arid: the center is desert. The southeast is temperate and the north is tropical. Australia was massively deforested for agricultural purposes: forest areas survive in extensive national parks and some other areas.
A common misperception of Australia is that it is always hot and sunny. Rather, both Sydney and Melbourne can experience days or even weeks of almost continual rainfall, while Tasmania has a climate that closely resembles that of England.
Passports and Visas
All foreigners, except New Zealanders, require visas for all visits to Australia. The citizens of some countries, however, can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online. An ETA is a tourist or business visa valid for up to three month stays, at one time, up to one year in duration. You can ask you Travel Team agent for more details on how to apply by calling 1-800-788-0829.
The major cities of Australia also serve as the state capitals:
- Sydney – Australia’s first and largest city, the capital of New South Wales
- Melbourne – Australia’s second largest city, the nations sporting and cultural capital, the capital of Victoria
- Brisbane – the sun-drenched capital of Queensland
- Canberra – the national capital of Australia
- Adelaide – the City of Churches, capital of South Australia, a relaxed alternative to the big eastern cities
- Perth – the most remote continental capital city on earth, on the south-western edge of Western Australia
- Hobart – small, but fascinating capital of Tasmania
- Darwin – Australia’s smallest and northern-most capital, at the top of the Northern Territory
Popular sightseeing destinations
- Queensland’s Sunshine Coast
- The Great Barrier Reef
- Outback: Australia’s red centre
- Uluru (aka Ayers Rock), located roughly in the middle, a gigantic wind-swept rock
- The Blue Mountains
ATMs are available in almost every Australian town. Most ATMs only dispense $20 and $50 notes. Credit cards are widely accepted in Australia.
Australia has a more or less universal sales tax known as the Goods and Services Tax, or GST. Only basic items, such as certain foods, are exempt. GST is quoted as part of the price of any item you will purchase, rather than added at the time of payment.
Tipping is usually not expected in Australia. Many Aussies don’t tip, but leave some change. Feel free to tip for good service, it will be appreciated.
Officially 230V 50Hz. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack an adapter for outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Australia.
Australian chefs are known for their creativity and mixing of Asian, Western, and local dishes. You could argue that ‘Asian Fusion’ originated in Australia. Melbourne is a ‘foodies’ paradise and Sydney has many wonderful restaurants.
Here are four aspects to Australian cuisine for a visitor to look out for:
BYO – That means Bring your own/buy your own (alcohol). In many urban communities you will find small restaurants where the menu and food is of the highest quality at an ffordable price – you can save money by picking up a nice bottle of local wine from a bottle shop around the corner.
Asian Fusion – Australia’s geographical and cultural relationship with South East Asia has resulted in some of the best Asian-inspired dishes in the world.
Counter lunch – Most traditional pubs in Australia offer ‘a counter lunch’. You can sit at the bar at lunch time and have a very hearty English meal of meat, potatoes, gravy and veggies – with a nice cold beer, of course.
BBQ – a staple of Australian social culture and due to the climate, many locals have a ‘barbie’ at least once a week,grilling everything from king prawns (giant shrimp) to steaks and anything else that will fit on the grill.
Australia drives ‘on the left’. Distances and speeds are specified in kilometres and fuel is sold by the litre. It is recommended that anyone driving in the center of Australia carry plenty of extra water, a spare tire, matches, and more.
Most of the state capitals are linked to each other by highway systems. With Australia’s low population density, expect long driving times, often with ‘nothing much’ in between.
Whether you want to see some of the world’s best beaches, amazing wildlife, try incredible cuisine, go snorkeling, diving, shopping and more, Australia is a paradise that has it all.
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