Travel Time: From Los Angeles to Sydney is 14 hours. Flights from the USA usually leave in the evenings and arrive two mornings later, so you actually loose a 'day & a half 'when traveling to Australia. On the return to the USA, you arrive the same day you depart from Australia.
States & Territories: 6 States: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Mainland Territories: Australian Capital Territory (ACT) & Northern Territory
Australia Visa (ETA): You need a valid passport (valid 3 months after your trip ends) to visit Australia. Travel requires either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority for stay up to 90 days.. This visa ( ETA) can be arranged by your travel agent if you hold a US or Canadian passport.
Traditional visa - If you are sending your application by mail, you should allow 21 days, although this can be expedited if you need rush handling. There is no fee for a standard short stay visa or an ETA. As a visitor, you are not normally allowed to stay more than six months
Electricity: The domestic electrical supply in Australia is 240 volts, 50Hz Ac and uses 3 pin sockets. For the larger 110-volt appliances (e.g. hair dryers) converters are needed.
Australia Travel Seasons
Spring: September to December
Summer: December to February
Fall: March to May
Winter: June-August (best time to visit northern Queensland & the Top End.)
* Mid-Dec to late Jan. is peak travel time and holidays for students. Prices are at their highest for land and air travel.
* Anything north of the 'Tropic of Capricorn has only two seasons. Wet & Dry.
* In the Northern Territory (ie. Darwin area) the dry season (May - Sept) you will it the best weather to visit. It rains from Oct - May.
* In Central Australia (ie. Alice Springs/Ayers Rock) it has 4 seasons with Oct. - May being the hottest with warm nights. During June - Sept. you will find very cold nights so bring you winter coat.
* In Northern Queensland and the Top End (Darwin) May - Nov. is the drier, and best time to visit. During Jan.-Mar. you will run into the Monsoons season and lots of rain.
* In winter, the farther south you travel the colder it becomes. During their summer, the temps everywhere can reach the mid-forties. Summer is very dry and the further towards the center you travel, the hotter and drier it becomes. Up in Darwin, only. To view the weather forecast for any month, log on to: www.weatherbase.com
Tipping: A tip of between 10-15% has become the expectation in many cafes and restaurants. However, you won't cause offence if you don't tip. Taxi drivers are always grateful if you leave the change.
* There are several great Rail Journeys one can take such as: The 'Ghan', Indian-Pacific, Great south Pacific Express & the Queenslander. Train schedules are limited.
* The Aussie RailPass, is for use on all the rail systems, offers between 14 and 90 consecutive days of unlimited travel for the holder. The Kangaroo pass, allows between 14 and 30 days-unlimited travel on coaches as well as trains
* A number of airlines have regular services to cities throughout Australia. It is recommended that you fly within Australia because the distances between cities can be great. Prices are best when purchased prior to departure from the U.S.
* Bus travel is one of the least expensive land transportation available. They will get you everywhere you need to got within Australia. All coaches are non-smoking.
* There are two major bus lines in Oz: Greyhound-Pioneer, that offers an Aussie Pass, which entitles the holder to unlimited travel for up to 60 days and McCafferty's, which offers a comparable Travel Australia pass. These should be purchased before departure for Australia
* Taxis are metered. Drivers are sometimes a good source of information for what restaurant, nightclub or attraction to visit, will undoubtedly have an opinion on politics and will not expect a tip (although rounding up to the nearest dollar will be appreciated). It's an Australian custom to use the front seat of a taxi.
Australia Cost of things
* Gallon of gas: $5.30
* Coca-Cola: $1.20
* Movie ticket: $12.00
* Newspaper: $1.10
* Cup of coffee: $2.00
* Bottle of beer: $4.50
* T-Shirt: $6.00
* Big Mac: $3.80
Foreign currency: exchange is available throughout. Credit cards are widely accepted (compulsory if you're going to rent a car). ATM's are located throughout the country and are highly recommend for currency exchange over traveler's check. I recommend using your ATM to withdraw the local currency instead of purchasing currency while still in the USA. Most credit card charge a 2& or more currency transaction fee to all purchases. Capitol One is currently the only credit card that doesn't charge this fee.
Accommodations: You can stay in luxury resorts, great international hotels, comfortable motels or self-catering apartments. Most rooms have a telephone, refrigerator, (tea and coffee-making facilities), television, radio and private facilities. Self-catering apartments are available in most capital cities, large towns and resort or beach areas. For a different view of Australian life you can stay in the home of an Australian family - a home stay.. Or if you wish to sample the life of rural Australians, a Farm Stay is an unforgettable experience. If you are traveling on a budget there are youth hostels, backpacker hostels and caravan/camping parks. All are safe and are a great way to meet travelers from all over the world. You can purchase accommodations passes, which are hotel pre-paid vouchers, good for a variety of properties throughout Australia.
Car Rental: Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. The three major car rental companies operate throughout Australia, among some domestic companies. In most areas, the maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60 km/h (35 mph) and 100 km/h (60 mph). Renters must have a mandatory collision insurance - which is included in the price. Your own US. driver's license is accepted at all rental companies. Minimum age required. Current Petrol prices in Australia. Australia has very strict drink-driving laws and random breath testing is conducted in all Australian States. The limit is only 0.05 compared with 0.08 to 0.1 in the United States.
Sydney - Melbourne = 12-13 hours
Sydney - Adelaide = 23 hours
Sydney - Brisbane = 17 hours
Brisbane - Cairns = 25 hours
Melbourne - Adelaide = 10 hours
Adelaide - Perth = 35 hours
Adelaide - Alice Spring = 6 hours
Telephones: Long distance and international calls can be made on the public payphones, which operate on a variety of coin denominations. Phone card is a pre paid card for use in public payphones to make local, long distance and international calls. It is available from a number of retail outlets and can be used at over 75% of public payphones. Credit phones use most major cards such as AMEX, Visa and Diners International, and can be found at international and domestic airports, central city locations and hotels.
Food & Restaurants: You can dine at elegant restaurants, leading hotels and other locations or enjoy a "pub" counter lunch. Bistros, cafes and family-style restaurants offer good food at reasonable prices. Ethnic restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisine from all around the world. There are many low cost eating places, including fast-food chains and take-away food stores. Some restaurants provide non-smoking dining areas. Food is fresh and plentiful at stores and supermarkets. Australian wines are good and inexpensive; beer is served chilled. Restaurants usually serve iced water on request only. Many restaurants have a full liquor service; others allow you to "bring your own" (BYO) wine or beer to serve with your meal.
General: Australia is the world's smallest, flattest continent and largest island, with almost 70 per cent of its land mass below the Tropic of Capricorn. The island continent separates two great oceans -- the Pacific to the east and the Indian to the west. New Guinea and South-East Asia are Australian's nearest neighbors to the north, and New Zealand is located off the south-east coast. Australia is one of the world's most urbanized countries, with 70 per cent of the population living in the 10 largest cities. Australia is divided into six states and two territories
Time Zones: There are three time zones in Australia - Eastern Standard Time (EST) which operates in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland; Central Standard Time (CST) in South Australia and Northern Territory; and Western Standard Time (WST) in Western Australia. CST is half an hour behind EST, while WST is two hours behind EST. New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia have daylight saving during the summer months.
Medical: Visitors can bring reasonable quantities of prescribed medications into Australia. All should be clearly labeled and identifiable. For large quantities, bring a doctor's certificate to produce to Customs if necessary. Chemists (Pharmacists) can fill most prescriptions but some may need to be reissued by an Australian registered doctor. In the event of illness, your hotel should be able to call a doctor or refer you to one, or you can call your country's High Commission, Embassy or Consulate General for a list of doctors. Canadian visitors and US are not covered by Australia's national health insurance scheme. It is recommended that you travel with adequate travel insurance. Australian health care professionals are highly trained and medical services are among the best in the world. Medical and dental services and a wide range of alternative therapies are widely available and are comparatively cheap by most international standards. Visitors from the UK, New Zealand and Finland are entitled to free or heavily subsidized medical and hospital care under reciprocal national health care agreements with the taxpayer funded Medicare system. All visitors should take out travel insurance prior to departing for Australia and the south pacific.
Customs: Strict laws prohibit or restrict the entry of drugs, steroids, and firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. All animals, animal products, foodstuffs, plants, and plant products must be declared. 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 over A $5,000 or equivalent must be reported.
Travelers' 18 years and over may bring I liter of alcohol and 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco duty free. There is a duty free allowance of A$400 per person 18 years and over, or $A200 per person under 18 years. Short term visitors may bring most articles into the country duty free, provided Customs is satisfied that they are for their own personal use. Keep receipts for all purchases. appliances (e.g. hair dryers) converters are needed.
Airports: Major airports throughout Australia are among the best in the world and most are located not far from the city center.
Approximate distances & Travel time
Sydney 9km,15 minutes
Melbourne 20 km, 30 minutes
Brisbane 13km, 15 minutes
Adelaide 8km, 10 minutes
Perth 13lm, 15 minutes
Hobart 20km, 22 minutes
Darwin 14km, 16 minutes
Cairns 12km, 14 minutes
Nightlife: It's hard to generalize on nightlife as one person's magic is another one's mosh pit. In cities there are free publications on what's happening in pubs, clubs, what bands/concerts, restaurants, theatre, opera, free events etc are on. Taxi drivers can usually match a personality with a place and hotel concierges know what's on where and good ones can usually find tickets even if something is a 'sell-out'. Many cities have 'ethnic' pockets for eating out (Little Italy, Chinatown etc) and a designated 'nightclub' area.
Beaches: Australian beaches rank with the best in the world. Golden sand and clean water within easy reach of major cities make them a major attraction for locals and visitors alike. They fall into two categories - still water harbourside beaches and open water ocean or 'surf' beaches. Beaches are very much part of the Australian way of life, for swimming, surfing, family outings or simply lazing about - however, they can be dangerous with deceptive rips, so common sense and obeying the rules should come into play. Flags: The main rule on Australian breaches is to 'swim between the flags'. Beaches develop currents known as 'rips', which can be so strong they literally pull swimmers off their feet in water knee high and sweep them out to sea. These are hard to identify as they can occur in quite calm conditions with relatively small waves. Just a reminder about beach safety: Do not attempt to wade in the surf away from the flags or the crowds as a 'rip' or the undertow of receding waves can be so strong as to knock you off you feet and drag you to sea. If caught, concentrate on staying afloat by 'treading water' and wave one arm from side to side above your head. If there are no flags, the beach is not patrolled and you should play safe and not swim there.