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TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA

G'day - You're in the right place to learn more about a trip to Australia!

Australia Map

WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA

G'day!

Australia is an independent Western democracy located between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. It is made up of the mainland, Tasmania and outlying islands. There is a population of 24 million people with about 80 percent of them living in the largest cities Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide making Australia one of the most urbanized countries in the world. The capital of Australia is Canberra but the largest city is Sydney followed by Melbourne. The population is multicultural comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, those from Western origins and over six million settlers from 200 nations. Four out of ten Australians are migrants or the first-generation children of migrants.

With great weather, beautiful beaches and scenery, fantastic cuisine, world class wines and enough variety of activities to suit anyone you can see why Australia is such a popular destination of choice for travelers.  ​

 

Travel information

About Australia

POPULAR LOCATIONS

Learn more about the most requested destinations and recommended activity options.

AUSTRALIA TRAVEL INFORMATION

BEST TIME TO VISIT AUSTRALIA

School holidays and public holidays

As with most destinations public holidays and school holidays are popular times for locals to travel.  This means transport, accommodation and tours/activity prices may be higher than normal and availability will be limited. If you are able to you might want to consider avoiding these times. We can advise you at your time of booking, if you want more information on specific dates see the links below.

 

Events

There are always events happening in Australia such as international sporting events, wine and food festivals, live music and festival and celebrations.  Some of the well known ones include the Australian Open, Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Melbourne Cup, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to name just a few.  These events attract a lot of visitors which means transport, accommodation and tours/activities will be more expensive and limited in availability.  You would want to book in advance to ensure availability.  More information on upcoming events can be found here Australian Event Calendar 

Seasonal activities and weather

You can visit Australia all year round and pick activities to do no matter what time you decide to visit.  There is so much on offer.

 

The south of Australia has four seasons:

  • Summer is from December to February (Hiking, beaches, swimming. Australian Open)

  • Autumn is from March to May (Foliage changes, Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne)

  • Winter is from June to August (Skiing, snowboarding, snorkeling Great Barrier Reef, Vivid Sydney)

  • Spring is from September to November (Whale watching, wildflowers, vineyards, visit rainforests)

 

The tropical north of Australia has two seasons:

  • Dry season is from April to September (clear skies and sunny warm days)

  • Wet season is from October to March (hot and humid with heavy daily rainstorms) - an excellent time to view waterfalls with the high water levels.

If you want to visit Australia and see both North and South, then the ideal months are March to April and September to October.

Australia weather map
Best time to visit

TRAVEL ADVICE

TIME ZONES

 

Australia has several time zones. 

Australia has three main time zones:

  • Australian Western Standard Time (AWST): UTC+8 (This is the time zone for Perth, Western Australia)

  • Australian Central Standard Time (ACST): UTC+9:30 (This applies to South Australia, the Northern Territory, and parts of Western Australia). Popular locations on ACST time are Adelaide and Darwin. Note: Darwin does not observe DST.

  • Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST): UTC+10 (This is the most populous zone, covering New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory). Popular locations on AEST time are Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

 

Other time zones in Australia

  • Lord Howe Island (LHST): UTC+10:30 (Lord Howe Island follows its own time zone that is half an hour ahead of AEST.)

  • Norfolk Island Time (NFT): UTC+11 (Norfolk Island has its own time zone and does not observe DST)

  • Australian Central Western Standard Time (ACWST): UTC+8.45 (Eucia is the only location using ACWST and does not observe DST)

  • Christmas Island Time (CXT): UTC+7 (Christmas Island has its own time zone and does not observe DST)

  • Cocos Islands Time (CCT): UTC+6.30 (Cocos Islands has its own time zone and does not observe DST)

 

Note, daylight savings time (DST) is observed in some parts of Australia between October and April. DST means clocks are moved forward by one hour in those regions. Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia do not observe daylight saving time.

How many hours will I gain or lose traveling to Australia?

Traveling direct from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas for example you will arrive 2 days later.  On your return the USA you arrive the same day that you left Australia.

TRAVELING IN AUSTRALIA

​​​Australia is a big country, you need careful trip planning to factor in travel time between locations.

Many people underestimate the physical size of Australia and this can play havoc with their trip if they have not factored the time it takes to get between each location. To better understand exactly how big Australia is, compare it to the continental USA.  The distance between New York and Los Angeles (East Coast to West Coast) is equivalent to traveling between Sydney and Perth (East Coast to West Coast).  You need to take this into consideration when planning your trip. It is best to get advice if you haven't been to Australia before.

How will I get around in Australia?

You have a few options which we can walk you through.  Australia is big therefore the fastest way to cover long distances is to fly and there are a number of domestic airlines to cater for this.  Coach and bus travel can be done for long distance and sight seeing trips.  Self-driving with rental cars or hired drivers enables you to see the spectacular scenery first hand.  You also have the option of using trains. Given the distances between locations and your time limitations it’s a good idea to get advice, particularly if you haven’t visited Australia before.

If you are planning on self driving Travelmath.com is a good website to workout driving distances and provide maps for assistance.

In addition to being aware of travel times you also need to consider the frequency of flights, ferries, trains and buses between destinations.

While Australia is a large country by land mass the whole population (almost 25 million) is the same as the State of Texas.  80% of Australians live on the East Coast and that means there are huge areas with few people.  When you are trip planning you need to take into account that there are less flights, trains etc to some areas you may want to go.

Can I hire a car in Australia?

Yes you can and car hire companies have locations conveniently located in all major centers.  Major car companies such as Avis, Hertz, Thrift, Budget and Eurocar are available along with some Australian based companies. Most hire car companies will require a valid home country drivers license, a credit card for security and a passport for ID.

Driving in Australia

Important driving rules to adhere to:

  • All drivers and passengers must wear a seat belt at all times. Children under 7 years old must be in a child restraint appropriate for their size and weight. Hire companies have these seats available for hire.

  • You drive on the LEFT hand side of the road in Australia. That means the driver is seated on the right hand side of the vehicle and the front passenger is on the left hand side.  The driver will always be in the middle of the road and the passenger in the front will be on the edge of the road.

  • Speed limits must be adhered to and are they are visibly signposted on roads. Even if the speed limit sign is not visible speed limits still apply. The speed limit is the maximum speed permitted on that road. Speed limits are strictly enforced in Australia, be careful in school zones and residential areas.

  • You are not permitted to use a handheld mobile phone when driving. So NO talking on phone calls, texting, playing games or any activity on your phone.

  • More information on driving in Australia can be found here.

VISA & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

What do I need to enter Australia?

All international visitors to Australia need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). 

Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

This ETA allows you to visit family or friends, vacation or take a cruise. Some business visitor activities are possible.The cost of the visa is AUD20, and allows a stay of up to 3 months at a time. More information about the ETA can be found here.

How do I apply for a visitor visa?

You can apply for the Visitor Visa here. You have to be outside Australia to apply, have a valid passport, and use the Australian ETA app. We can assist with your visa processing for a small administration fee. If we apply for a visa on your behalf, we will require this page from your passport.

USA Passport sample
Travel Advice
Entry requirements

CUSTOMS & QUARANTINE REGULATIONS

 

What items can’t I bring into Australia

There are customs laws to control what comes into Australia.  You cannot bring drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms and protected wildlife.  Australia is an island and have strict biosecurity rules to limit exposure to any potential risks.  This means you can’t bring in any fresh or packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, plants, seeds, skins and feathers. 

You can declare goods upon entry to Australia and they will be inspected by a biosecurity officer.  They will assess what risk levels exist if you were to bring the goods into Australia.  Depending on the risk level you will either have the goods returned to you, or you will have to pay to have the goods treated, pay to have them exported, or voluntarily dispose of the goods.  There are heavy fines and penalties if you don’t adhere to these rules. 

You can find more information at the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.  

How much money can I bring into Australia?

You need to declare any amount over $10000.  More information can be found here and a form to report amounts over $10000 on the AUSTRAC website.

How much duty free can I bring into Australia?

  • Tobacco: 50 cigarettes or 50 grams (1,76 ounces) of cigars or tobacco products per adult.

  • Alcohol: Up to 2.25 liters (0.5 imperial gallons or 0.59 US gallons) of alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine and Champagne) per adult.

  • General goods: $AUD 900 worth of goods per adult (18 years or over), $450 worth of goods per child.

 

BANKING, MONEY & SHOPPING

What is the currency in Australia?

Australian dollars (AUD) is the currency and you will find notes in $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c. You can find more information about the currency at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

What is the currency conversion for USD to AUD?

You can calculate the conversion rate using XE Currency Converter

Should I get money out before I go to Australia and what is the best way to pay for things?

We recommend you get some AUD before you leave and then use Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) when you are there for cash.  ATM's are widespread but will be limited in remote towns and the Outback. You can get currency exchanged at banks, hotels and international airports. 

EFTPOS is available in most shops and restaurants etc, so you can pay for goods and services using debit or credit cards.  If you are using a card associated with an international account there are usually foreign transaction fees charged.  American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay and JCB are accepted in most places.  Please note that VISA and Mastercard are accepted everywhere.  American Express and Diners Club are more restricted and most accepted at large supermarket, department stores and many tourist destinations.  Merchants may charge a fee for using credit cards in some places.  A good idea is to carry multiple credit cards and some cash so that you are prepared for any purchasing restrictions. Travelers cheques are not widely accepted in Australia.

Australian banks are usually open 9.30am to 4.00pm/5.00pm Monday to Friday and offer the same services as those offered in other Western countries. 

What you need to know about Goods and Service tax.

Australia has a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) that is included in the price of the item or service that you are purchasing. If you have spent more than $300 with a single business within 60 days before leaving Australia it may be possible to get a GST refund at the airport. More information can be found at the Tourist Refund Scheme site.

 

Do I tip for services in Australia?

In Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, tipping is not customary or expected. If you feel that your server, tour guide, or resort staff has gone above and beyond, you can feel free to tip 10-20%, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

What is the legal drinking age in Australia?

The legal drinking age in Australia (all states and territories) is 18 years old. You will be expected to provide acceptable proof of age, either a passport or drivers license.

What is the power in Australia and will I need an adapter?

The voltages is 220 - 240V, AC 50 Hz.  It would be wise to pack an adapter to be able to plug in electronics like laptops, ipads, iphones etc. What you need to get is a Type 1 Australia plug like this one at World Standards.

What is the emergency number in Australia?

There is one number for police, ambulance and the fire brigade - 000

What is the mobile coverage like in Australia?

There is mobile phone coverage across Australia but this can be a bit patchy in remote locations.    

Can I use a drone in Australia?

Yes you can but you need to adhere to Australia's rules and regulations surrounding their use. They can be found on the Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority website.

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