07th October, 2011

Ultimate Guide for Travelling to Australia

Australia is well-known around the world for its sunny weather, friendly people, and stunning landscapes. With a relatively small population of around 22 million people on the world’s sixth largest land mass, this striking country offers travellers a vast range of cosmopolitan attractions and outdoor experiences.

1. Where to Go

While Australia has too many amazing destinations to list, some of the most popular destinations for local and overseas travellers include:

  • The Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise. With over 30 beaches stretching over 40 kilometres, the Gold Coast has been described as a paradise. Surfers Paradise is the central hub of the Gold Coast and the best of Surfers Paradise accommodation offers unrivalled levels of luxury and convenience for travellers.
  • Sydney. Australia’s oldest and most famous city. This fast-paced city set into one of the most beautiful harbours receives millions of visitors every year.
  • The Great Barrier Reef. This World Heritage Site is home to the world’s largest reef system, a natural wonder that has to be seen to be believed.

Other popular destinations include Cairns, Ayers Rock, Kakadu, Tasmania, Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

2. Accommodation

Accommodation can be found to cater to all budgets and preferences in Australia, from backpacker budget rooms to luxury apartments. There’s no shortage of choice in capital cities and popular hubs for travellers For example, Surfers Paradise apartments are a great choice for those travelling to the Gold Coast looking for convenience, space, and value for money.

3. Customs and Visas

If you’re not from New Zealand, you’ll need a valid passport and visa to enter Australia. The Australian government issues tourist visas for 3, 6, and sometimes for 12 months in duration where visitors meet certain criteria. Generally you’ll need to demonstrate that you meet a character test and have sufficient funds to cover the duration of your visit.

Australian customs are strict about fresh food, animal and plant products. Make sure you read up on the customs regulations before packing and be sure to declare any foodstuffs you’re carrying into the country. If you are unsure about any items declare them to be on the safe side.

4. Getting Around

Australia has a good system of roads in and between capital cities. As distances are vast between the major cities, most people will choose to fly between capital cities. There are four major domestic airlines: Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, and Tiger Airways with daily flights between the major cities.

Travel by car, bus, train, or taxi within cities is convenient. Many car rental companies operate in airports and taxis are numerous. Long distance bus, car, or train travel is less common, though it’s an inexpensive alternative to flying interstate if you’re not pressed for time.

5. Weather

A wide variation in climate can be found across Australia. Most areas of the country experience as much as 3,000 hours of sunshine. Northern Australia is hot and tropical while the south is either subtropical or temperate.

6. Wildlife

Australian flora and fauna is largely unique to the island continent. Zoos and sanctuaries are easily accessible and found in all states and territories. Wildlife parks are another option for seeing animals in their natural environment.

7. Health and Safety

Australia is politically stable and has a low crime rate by world standards. Travellers making the most of its famous beaches should remember to wear sunscreen and protective clothing as the Australian sun is very strong. Swim between the flags at the beach and don’t swim in unfamiliar rivers or creeks.

8. Cuisine

Travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in Australia. Australians eat out often and numerous restaurants, cafes, pubs, fast food restaurants, and other speciality eateries testify to this. The multicultural population has given rise to many different cuisines ranging from Thai to Chinese and Greek to Indian.

9. Culture and Etiquette

Australian culture is relaxed and friendly and it’s common to address people of all ages with their first name once you’ve been introduced. Tipping is less common in Australia than in Europe or the US, though it’s not unheard of especially in upmarket restaurants. If you’d like to tip, anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent is a good amount but it is not compulsory.

10. Banking and Shopping

Banks are open on weekdays, usually from 9am to 4pm. Credit cards are accepted in most dining and retail stores. Most cities have ATMs though online foreign exchange services usually offer the best rates. Airports will usually have a couple of exchange kiosks.