Explore Australia, world famous for its natural wonders and wide open spaces, its beaches, deserts, “the bush”, and “the Outback” and kangaroos.
Australia is highly urbanized with most of the population heavily concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts. Most of the inland areas of the country are semi-arid. The most-populous states are Victoria and New South Wales, but by far the largest in land area is Western Australia.
Australia has large areas that have been deforested for agricultural purposes, but many native forest areas survive in extensive national parks and other undeveloped areas.
It is a large island with a wide variation of climates. It is not completely hot and sun-kissed, as stereotypes would suggest. There are regions that can be quite cool and wet.
Based upon scientific evidence and theory, the island of Australia was most likely first settled more than 50,000 years ago with successive waves of immigration of people from the south and south-east America.
Australia has a multicultural population practicing almost every religion and lifestyle. Over one-quarter of Australians were born outside Australia, and another quarter have at least one foreign-born parent. Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney are centers of the multicultural. All three cities are renowned for the variety and quality of global arts, intellectual endeavors, and cuisine available in their many restaurants. Sydney is a hub of art, culture, and history containing the world class architectural gem, the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Melbourne especially promotes itself as a centre for the arts, while Brisbane promotes itself through various multicultural urban villages. Adelaide must be mentioned in addition, as it is known for being a centre for festivals as well as Germanic cultural influences. Perth, also, is known for its food and wine culture, pearls, gems and precious metals as well as the international fringe arts festival. There are quite a few more that deserve mention, but this gives an idea via introduction. Smaller rural settlements generally reflect a majority Anglo-Celtic culture often with a small Aboriginal population. Virtually every large Australian city and town reflects the effect of immigration from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific that occurred after World War II and continued into the 1970s, in the half century after the war when Australia’s population boomed from roughly 7 million to just over 20 million people.
Canberra is the purpose-built national capital of Australia
Most attractions in Australia remain open year-round, some operating at a reduced frequency or shorter hours during the off-peak season.
- Lord Howe Island – Two hours flying time from Sydney, with a permanent population, and developed facilities. (Part of New South Wales)
- Norfolk Island – Direct flights from the East Coast, and from Auckland. Permanent population, and developed facilities.
- Christmas Island – Famous for its red crab migration. Flights from Perth and Kuala Lumpur, developing facilities.
- Cocos Islands – Coral atolls, populated, accessible by flights from Perth, with some facilities for travel.
- Torres Strait Islands – between Cape York and Papua New Guinea, most islands have some traveller facilities but require permission from the traditional owners to visit. Flights from Cairns.
- Ashmore and Cartier Islands – uninhabited with no developed traveller facilities.
- Kangaroo Island – The third largest island in Australia and a paradise for nature and wildlife lovers.
- Great Barrier Reef — off the coast of Queensland, easily accessible from Cairns, and even as far south as the Town of 1770
Cities and places to visit
While there are no restrictions on the amount of money that can be brought in or out, Australian customs also requires you to declare if you are bringing AUD 10,000 (or equivalent in foreign currency) or more in or out of the country and you will be asked to complete some paperwork.
Australia is a long way from anywhere else in the world, so for most visitors, the only practical way of getting into Australia is by air.
Approximately half of all international travellers arrive first in Australia in Sydney, the largest city. After Sydney, significant numbers of travellers also arrive in Australia in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. There are also direct international services into Adelaide, Cairns, Darwin, the Gold Coast and Christmas Island though these are largely restricted to flights from New Zealand, Oceania, or Southeast Asia.
Australia is huge but sparsely populated, and you can sometimes travel many hours before finding the next trace of civilization, especially once you leave the south-eastern coastal fringe.
Major cities around Australia have multiple outlets providing a wide range of rental vehicles from major international rental companies. In smaller towns car rental can be difficult to find. One way fees often apply from smaller regional outlets.
There is much to see in Australia that you can’t see easily in its natural setting anywhere else
Australia has many landmarks, famous the world over. From Uluru in the red centre, to the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House in Sydney.
On Queensland’s Sunshine Coast a short drive to Upper Rosemount overlooking sugar cane fields you can catch the perfect view of iconic Mt Coolum which sits 208 meters above sea level, a popular climb for bushwalkers.
In summer, international cricket is played between Australia and at least two touring sides. The games rotate around all the capital cities. To experience the traditional game catch a day of the New Year’s test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, usually beginning on January 2nd, or the Boxing Day Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Australian Open, one of the tennis Grand Slams, is played annually in Melbourne.The Medibank International is played in Sydney Olympic Park in January.
Melbourne also hosts the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, which is run once a year.
Horse Racing – All major cities and most regional towns have their own courses and race betting is popular throughout the country. The annual Melbourne Cup is possibly the best known meet when most Victorians take a day off work to celebrate or attend. It is common to see some of the country’s top celebrities dressed in their finest in the stands.
Expect everyone you interact with in Australia to be able to speak English, whether it is their first language or not. Locals and more recent arrivals of all ages and backgrounds are expected to and usually do speak at least basic English, as well as the majority of tourists.
Money changers in Australia operate in a free market, and charge a range of flat commissions, percentage fees, and undisclosed fees built into the exchange rate, and a combination of all three. Generally the best bet is to avoid airports and tourist centers when changing money, and use banks in major centers. Expect fees to vary considerably between institutions. Always get a quote before changing money.
Cash dispensing Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available in almost every Australian town.
There is also no need to arrive in Australia with cash if you have a Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard or Visa card: international airport terminals will have multiple teller machines that can dispense Australian currency with just the fees imposed by your bank plus the ATM fee.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Australia. Almost all large vendors such as supermarkets accept cards, as do many, but not all, small stores. Australian debit cards can also be used via a system known as EFTPOS. Any card showing the Cirrus or Maestro logos can be used at any terminal displaying those logos.
Restaurants, Australians eat out frequently, and you will usually find one or two options to eat out even in small towns, with a wider range in larger towns and cities.
Beach goers should swim between the red and yellow flags which designate patrolled areas. Beaches are not patrolled 24-hours a day or even during all daylight hours. In most cases the local volunteer surf lifesavers or professional lifeguards are only available during certain hours, and at some beaches only on weekends, and often only during summer. Exact times are generally shown at entrances to most beaches. If the flags aren’t up, then there’s no one patrolling – and you shouldn’t swim. If you do choose to swim, be aware of the risks, check conditions, stay within your depth, and don’t swim alone.
Hard surfboards and other water craft such as surf skis, kayaks etc., are not permitted between the red and yellow flags. These craft must only be used outside of the blue ‘surf craft permitted’ flags.
Tropical cyclones (hurricanes) occur in the tropics during summer.
In the tropical north the Wet Season occurs over the summer months of December, January and February, bringing torrential rains and frequent floods to those regions.
National parks and forested areas of southern Australia, including some parts of major cities next to national parks and forests, can be threatened by bushfires (wildfires) in summer.
Australia is a very dry country with large areas of desert. It can also get hot. Some parts of the country are always in drought.
When travelling in remote areas, away from sealed roads, where the potential to become stranded for up to a week without seeing another vehicle is very real, it is vital that you carry your own water supply (4 gal or 7 L per person per day). Do not be misled by entries on maps such as ‘well’ or ‘spring’ or ‘tank’ (or any entry suggesting that there is a body of water). Nearly all are dry, and most inland lakes are dry salt pans.
Exposure to the sun at Australian latitudes frequently results in sunburn. Getting sunburnt can make you feel feverish and unwell and may take a few days or weeks to heal depending on the severity.
The tap water in Australia is almost always safe to drink, and it will be marked on the tap if this is not the case. Bottled water is also widely available. Carrying water on hot days is a good idea in urban areas, and it is a necessity if hiking or driving out of town. At sites where tap water is untreated, water sterilization tablets may be used as an alternative to boiling.
Quickly explore Australia for a week and it will feel like home…