Australia

Australia immediately conjures images of the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, big-wave surfing, miles of outback and a rather strange – and endearing – assortment of animals. While the country’s main cities offer charm, glamour, unique festivals, a well-preserved historical heritage, fabulous beaches and fun events, it’s also a land of immense contrast and captivating nature. The nation offers something for just about everyone – from water lovers, desert wanderers and canyon climbers, to arts and culture buffs, historians and foodies. The country’s vast size makes it almost impossible to take it all in during a single visit, but you can pick and choose a perfect holiday according to your personal preferences.


Entry Requirements

All travellers to Australia require a visa for entry.

This must be done by applying online or visiting your nearest Australian Embassy prior to departure. There are several visitor visas available and the right one for you will depend on your country of origin.

For more information on the appropriate visa for you please visit

https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/601-

Visas cannot be obtained upon entry into Australia.


Banking and Currency

Currency

Australia’s national currency is the Australian dollar which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations.

Banking

Banks are normally only open weekdays 9.30-4pm Monday - Friday, some stay open until 5pm on Fridays. In larger metropolitan suburban centres, major banks are increasingly opening on the weekend, too. Bank staff stick to these times rigorously, so don't be late/early.

Credit cards

MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in Australia.  American Express is accepted bysome businesses but not all. 

Please be aware that credit card fees levied by card providers are generally passed on to customers and are payable by you over and above the cost of the item/service.

Traveller's cheques are not as widely accepted in Australia as in many other countries.

ATMs are numerous in both city and country areas. ATMs in the walls of buildings on streets and inside the lobbies of banks, shopping centres and other buildings are numerous. At night, service stations and convenience stores are good places to look for ATMs away from the street. Pubs, especially in city areas, will usually have an ATM located on the premises. Some ATMs may require you to swipe your card to gain entry to a secure area.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world − so how you get from A to B requires some thought.

Hire cars are readily available in all major towns. Australians drive on the left and all cars are right hand drive.

The faster option is to make use of the relatively affordable, frequent, flights between major centres.

Trains in Australia are slow, expensive and infrequent but the scenery is great! Opt for a sleeper carriage rather than an 'overnighter' seat.

AIR TRANSFERS & LUGGAGE

Strict baggage limits apply on domestic flights within Australia:
• Qantas Airlines – 23 kgs (50 lbs) per person
• Jetstar Airlines – 20 kgs (44 lbs) per person
• Virgin Australia – 23 kgs (50 lbs) per person
• Regional Express Airlines (REX) – 15 kgs (33 lbs) per person

On light air transfers weights are restricted to anywhere from 10 kgs (22 lbs) to 20 kgs (44 lbs) per person. Please do not use hard-sided cases.


Health and Medical Information

Please consult your General Practitioner or nearest Traveller’s Medical Centre for advice on medical issues relevant to your destination.

For additional information you may wish to consult the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm

WATER
It is safe to drink the tap water throughout Australia.


Safety Notices

COMMUNICATIONS

Cell phones on global roaming generally work from all major urban centres. Coverage can be intermittant in the more remote areas such as Kangaroo Island, and some Great Barrier Reef Islands.

SECURITY

We recommend that you utilise safety deposit boxes where available. If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to robbery, notify the local police immediately, as well as Epic Private Journeys. On your return your insurance claim form usually needs to show to whom the theft was reported, so a record must be kept. A copy of the report that the local police make is generally essential for an insurance claim.

TRAVEL ADVICE & WARNINGS

We strongly recommend you review the current travel advice for your country/countries of destination before booking and ensure you remain up to date with this advice before travelling.

Australia: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/Pages/default.aspx

UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL

We recommend that you register your travel with your local authority. These services are free and help locate you in case of an emergency. Updates to travel advice are also provided through the subscription service.

Australia - Smart Traveller service - https://orao.dfat.gov.au/pages/

USA - Smart Traveller service - https://step.state.gov/step/


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Standards of hygiene in food preparation are very high. Milk is pasteurised and meat and vegetables are safe to eat. Care should be taken, however, if preparing 'bush tucker' in outback areas as some insects and fauna are highly poisonous unless properly cooked.

'Bush tucker' is food from Australia's endemic flora and fauna and can be lean and quite delicious; kangaroo meat in particular is growing in popularity since being made legal to trade to eat only in the past two decades. For all the advent of fine dining and exotic menu items, however, the humble barbecue remains for many the quintessential Australian food experience. Various beaches and parks have barbecue stations that can be used by the public. Steak, prawns and beer tend to feature prominently.

Seafood is an integral part of the cuisine scene in all its shelled and scaled forms. Production of organic foods is increasing to meet demand and is these days widely available in the cities and larger towns. There are fine dining restaurants throughout the larger cities, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, where big-name chefs have helped to give Australian cuisine an international reputation for bright, creative gastronomy. Regional food markets and increasing numbers of food festivals across the states are a great way to sample fresh produce. Look out for things like farmhouse cheese, speciality sausages and local fruits.

The major vineyards (wineries) are outside Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Perth. The largest single wine-growing region is in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, two hours' drive from Adelaide, where high-quality red and white wines are produced. Various wineries, breweries and distilleries are open for public visits.


Climate and Weather

Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year but the climate can vary due to the size of the continent.

The northern states typically experience warm weather much of the time, with the southern states experiencing cooler winters.

Australia is also one of the driest continents on earth with an average annual rainfall of less than 600 millimetres.

Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, Australia's seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring.

CLOTHING

Temperatures across Australia vary greatly. On that basis it is advisable to bring at least one sweater along with a rain proof jacket.

Dress codes in Australia are quite relaxed to fit with the climate. Neat casual is fine for dinners (eg slacks and shirt). We recommend that you pack lightweight, cotton clothes, comfortable walking shoes and swimwear.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

It really is casual all the way in Australia. Outside of the main cities, our advice would be not to bother with dressy clothes.

However if you plan to visit upmarket city restaurants then you may feel more comfortable in smart casual wear such as slacks.

Clothes in natural fibers will work better in the heat and it is worth popping in a lightweight sweater, cardigan or pashmina wrap for cooler weather or overly fierce air conditioning.

Travel light and buy your toiletries there. Must haves include sunglasses and wear plenty of high factor sunscreen.

If you are planning to visit very hot areas then take a shirt with long sleeves and a higher neckline to prevent burning is recommended. A sunhat is also very useful in the intense sunshine.

LAUNDRY

Laundry service is normally available in the main hotels in Australia. Please note laundry is for your own account.


Internet Availability

Australia has generally good internet access in most tourist destination. When you’re booking accommodation it’s easy enough to scan the the room descriptions with increasing numbers of properties offering Wi-Fi.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Australia operates on 220/250 volt, 50 Hz cycle 4AC power. Most electrical outlets accept plugs with three thin, triangular formation flat prongs. It is suggested that you bring an adaptor plug.

Travellers from most nations in Asia, Africa and Europe should have appliances that work on the same mains voltage as Australia - therefore you will not need a voltage converter.


General Guidance

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is highly recommended that all clients obtain comprehensive Travel Insurance. Please provide Epic with a copy of your insurance policy prior to travel. If you require assistance in obtaining travel insurance please contact us.

Policies should be checked to ensure that they include ALL medical situations as well as the following:

• Hospitalisation and repatriation

• Cancellation

• Missed flight connections

• Loss of baggage

• Loss/breakage of valuables such as cameras (care should be taken on rough roads)

GRATUITIES

Many travellers view tipping as a difficult subject, though this need not be the case. The first thing to remember is that tipping is not compulsory, nor are there any fixed amounts. In Australia, employed persons do not depend on gratuities for their income. However it is generally the custom to let taxi drivers keep the loose change from a fare. In addition, porters in hotels usually receive a gratuity of AU$1.00 per bag. At a first-class restaurant, a gratuity of 10% is normal.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Whilst in Australia there will be many opportunities for photographing the stunning scenery and the incredible abundance of wildlife. To help you get the best out of your photographs, we suggest the following:

• There are some excellent compact cameras with zoom lenses. Still, for the best photographs consistently, you cannot beat Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras. However, the camera does not the photographer make! Whatever your preference, take reliable equipment with already proven results.

• If you are a SLR camera user, definitely take a standard zoom lens (for example with a range of 18-70mm or 24-85mm) so you do not have to change lenses continually. Australia is vast, and it is good to have a standard lens which offers some wide angle range. If you are gear-crazy, bring along a wide angle lens. In addition, a tele zoom (for example with a range of 70-200mm or 70-300mm) is recommended, especially for wildlife shots. An image stabilizer is worth the investment. Lenses beyond 300mm will rarely be used, except by serious photographers or professionals.

• Think about bringing a back-up camera/camera body.

• Even more important than a back-up camera is to take extra batteries/battery packs (since cold temperatures reduce their life span considerably). Rechargeable batteries are a great idea (but do not forget the battery charger).

• Do bring plenty of memory cards (twice the amount you think you will be using!) or, alternatively, a laptop or a photo tank.

• If you are serious about getting excellent shots, a tripod gives you more potential but it certainly is not mandatory.

• Do bring a UV filter (mostly to protect your lens from the elements).

• The use of a polarising filter is not recommended. It takes a real expert to be adept enough to use a polarising filter to reduce glare and darken the sky without ruining the rest of the photograph. Mostly, it darkens the image and takes the sparkle away from the ice and snow, which is what brings it to life.

• When photographing wildlife, respect the minimum distance recommended by our guides. This helps to prevent unpleasant situations and stressing out the wildlife – or yourself.

• Please bring sealable cases, waterproof day packs or ‘dry bags’ but do not bring lightweight plastic or rubbish bags.

If you need to or are interested in hiring a lense to take with you, here are a couple of websites for you to take a look at:

In the USA

https://www.lensrentals.com

In Australia

https://rentalens.com.au/index.php or http://www.camerahire.com.au/hire/digital-slr

GEOGRAPHY

Located in Oceania, Australia is the largest island continent and sits between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. With a coastline of 25,760 km, Australia covers an area of 7,686,850 sq km, which is slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states.

BACKGROUND

Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James Cook took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy.

GOVERNMENT

Australia is a federal parliamentary democracy with a Prime Minister as the Head of Government. Queen Elizabeth II is the chief of state represented by a Governor General.

POPULATION

The current population is estimated at 24,364,213 . Life expectancy at birth is 81 years.

RELIGION

It is estimated that the religious community comprises: Catholic 26.4%, Anglican 20.5%, other Christian 20.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 12.7% and none 15.3%.

LANGUAGE & LITERACY

The official language is English with 79% of the population claiming English as their first language. It is estimated that 99% of the population is literate.

ECONOMY

Australia’s abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. Australia is the world’s twelfth largest economy and a top performing nation on almost every measure of excellence, from health to wealth, from ease of doing business to educational attainment. With low unemployment, low inflation and a highly skilled workforce, and with strong links with the fastest-growing region in the world, the Indo-Pacific, Australia’s economy is set to prosper well into the future.


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