Australia ~ Travel Information & Travel Pictures
Australia travel tips, travel planning & more
Australia travel tips - Climate, Packing, Visa, Money
Do I need a visa for Australia? Likely YES - See ETA Australia for the type of visa you need. As a Canadian, I am eligible for an online visa application, with a $20 AUD fee. (Alternately use the search box on my do I need a visa page.) Almost immediately, the ETA was issued with this note:
An ETA is automatically linked to your passport. The customs authorities and airline check-in staff have access to this information, using your passport details, so there is no need for any further documentation or reference numbers to be presented.
What Currency / Money do they use in Australia? In Australia, the money is the Australian dollar (AUD). Exchange rates fluctuate, but generally about $1AUD = $.99 US OR $1 USD = $1.10 AUD. In late 2010 and into 2011, the Australian dollar gained strength against the US and Canadian dollar, and all three are very close in value, but this can change at any time. Check rates before you travel. Australians don't use pennies, though. Amounts due are rounded up. And the prices you see posted are the prices you'll pay: Australians include taxes in the posted prices.
If you are taking traveler's checks to Australia, save on fees by taking larger denominations. If a money exchange or bank does charge a fee to cash a traveller's cheque, it's usually based on the number of checks. Others charge a set fee for a set amount, such as $10 fee for cashing amounts up to $1000. American Express TC's now only issued in $50 denominations. ATMs are widely available, however, but do take along other forms of money for travel (see travel currency tips page).
NOTE 1: Using a Visa Card in Australia? See Use my Visa Card in Australia
NOTE 2: Look for WestPac ATMs, banks for International debit too.
What about Travel Health? Is it safe to travel to Australia? Ensure that the usual vaccinations (polio, tetanus, etc) are up to date, but generally, Australia is considered safe. See Disclaimer page for links to government agencies which will list any travel advisories issued by the government. Check with a travel health clinic, too; Tropical regions like Queensland have different health concerns than desert and urban areas, or Kangaroo Island, and can change without notice. Read my Cairns travel story for other possible perils, and see the travel medications tips page.
Maps and Time Zones for Australia Australia is a deceptively large country, a fact that people tend to overlook, much to the amusement of Aussies. After all, it seems so small on a map! But from Sydney, on the east coast, to Perth on the west coast, it's about a 5-hour flight; From Sydney, in New South Wales, to Cairns, in Queensland, it's 3,000 km (1,865 miles) distant -- a five day road trip or a 3-hour flight ; and from Sydney to Melbourne, it's a 9-hour train ride. Be aware, too, that there are different time zones in Australia, and that states may or may not follow Daylight Savings Time, and that dates may vary from North America. (See Daylight Savings time Australia) and be vigilant if you are making travel arrangements around those dates.
Tourism maps and Australia travel guides : Basic maps are found at airports and hotels, but if you want one now to plan your trip, Amazon has a Frommer's Australia with general maps like 2009 Fodor's Australia. Also available at Amazon is a waterproof map of Australia.
What side of the road do they drive on in Australia? In Australia, they drive on the left. CAA/AAA members, bring your card: The NRMA, the Aussie equivalent, may offer discounts on maps, etc. If you plan to drive, be prepared to do so on the left. Take care when crossing streets, too, or catching a bus, for if you are coming from a country where they drive on the right, you are in for a lively time!
What's the weather like in Australia? The cyclone (hurricane) season runs from November to April, so plan your trip and itinerary accordingly. The Northern beaches stinger season (see Cairns Travel story for more) is roughly the same times. Weather patterns can vary dramatically year to year: I've been in Sydney in summer and fall, and experienced heat waves and downpours. Winter 2007-2008 has been rainer and cooler than most, so pack accordingly. Current weather conditons :: Australia Weather Bureau
What do I pack for a trip to Australia? What kind of clothes do they wear? What clothing you pack for a trip to Australia depends on your itinerary and the time of year, and what the weather happens to be doing at that time (see Weather section above). See What to Pack for a trip to Australia as well as the Holidays to Dominican travel packing list that is also suitable for packing for Holidays in Far North Queensland (or tropical Australia). FNQ holidays with sailing or diving the Great Barrier Reef call for different gear than Australian holidays in late fall or early spring that are spent traveling mainly in the south. If you're spending much of your time in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, generally you can wear what you'd wear in London, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Books, Spelling etc Why do they spell English words differently in Australia? Australians spell a number or words differently, like 'learnt' for 'learned' and 'dreamt' for 'dreamed', etc. Both spellings are correct; just depends on your culture. For a really funny and informative picture of Australia, get a copy of Bill Bryson's book, In A Sunburned Country. It is hilarious and really informative -- the best kind of book, in my opinion. In Australia, it's In a Sunburnt Country.
Travel Solo: When I say I am going to Australia, or have just returned from Australia, the unfailing response is, "Oh! I've always wanted to go!" If you're one of those who have always wanted to go to Australia, why not Just Go!And go alone, if you have to. Australia is generally safe, wonderfully scenic, easy to get around, and English is widely spoken :-)
Have a great trip!