Emergency phone numbers
Lifeline Counselling Service: 131 114
Poisons Information Service: 131 126
Qantas: 131 313
Jetstar: 131 538
Rex, Regional Express Airlines: 131 713
Tigerair: +61 3 9034 3733
Virgin Australia: 136 789
Aer Lingus: 1300 304 016
Air Canada: 1300 655 767
Air France: 1300 390 190
Air New Zealand: 132 476
Alitalia: 1300 551 080
American Airlines: +61 2 9101 1948
Austrian Airlines: 1300 655 727
British Airways: 1300 767 177
Cathay Pacific: 131 747
Emirates Airline: 1300 303 777
Etihad Airways: 1300 532 215
Japan Airlines: 1800 802 228
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: 1300 392 192
Lufthansa: 1300 655 727
Malaysian Airlines: 132 627
Qantas Airways: 131 313
Singapore Airlines: 131 011
Thai Airways: 1300 651 960
United Airlines: 131 777
Virgin Atlantic Airways: 1300 727 340
Banks are generally open from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday, and until 5pm on Fridays. Some banks are open on Saturday mornings. 24-hour automatic teller machines (ATMs) are commonly located throughout cities and suburbs.
Bus and rail travel
A broad network of bus and rail services operates throughout Australia, from major cities to distant corners of the outback. In most capital cities, commuter trains and buses run frequent services around the central business district and suburbs. A number of states also operate light rail services, such as in Melbourne, and Sydney has a commuter ferry service. Rail passes are generally state- or region-based. Each railway system has its own range of rail passes, but some allow travel over more than one system. For details, contact the relevant state organisation. A large number of bus services also operate throughout the cities and suburbs. Please consult your hotel concierge for more information on local bus services.
For more information on the many rail services available contact:
For interstate bus travel, a main operator and the country’s only national bus service, is Greyhound Australia. Contact: 1300 473 946 or visit www.greyhound.com.au.
Most retail outlets are open 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays. Many are also open on Sundays. Most capital cities have late night shopping on Fridays, with some extended trade on Thursday nights. Please consult your hotel concierge for more information.
International Direct Dial (IDD) telephone calls can be made from most public telephones. To make an international call, dial the international access code (0011), then the country code, the area code and the telephone number. If the area code you are dialling begins with ‘0’, for example London (0208), you should omit the ‘0’ from the dialling sequence: 0011 + 44 + 208 + telephone number.
Australia’s climate varies greatly depending on where you are located, from tropical (Darwin and North Queensland) to subtropical (Sydney and Brisbane), Mediterranean (Perth and Adelaide) and cool temperate (Melbourne and Hobart). Broadly, there are two climatic zones: tropical in the north and temperate below the Tropic of Capricorn. In the tropical areas, there are two primary seasons – the ‘dry’ and the ‘wet’ – while the temperate zones have four seasons. The southern winters vary from cold to mild with some rain and sunshine, but the summers are warm to hot in all states. From June to August, it’s possible to ski in the high country of New South Wales and Victoria in the south, and then swim at the Great Barrier Reef in the north 24 hours later.
All major credit cards including MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners are widely accepted. These cards can also be used in ATMs if you have a personal identification number (PIN).
Crossing state borders
There are no entry formalities at any of Australia’s state borders; however, fruit, plants and vegetables are not permitted to be carried between states as a precaution against agricultural diseases.
Australian currency is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit (100 cents equal one dollar). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 denominations. Coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 denominations. Although prices are often marked in single cent units, payment is rounded to the nearest five cents. There is no limit on the amount of travellers’ cheques or cash brought in or taken out of the country; however, cash amounts in excess of AUD$10,000 (or its value in other currencies) must be declared.
Unlike the Americas and much of Europe, Australians drive on the left side of the road. In the absence of traffic lights and at roundabouts, give way to the right. A number of major cities have ‘one way’ streets, so travellers should take extra care when driving. In Melbourne, watch out for trams and the unique city centre hook turn. Never pass a tram from the right or pass on the left when it is stationary, as passengers may be getting on or off.
It’s compulsory for seatbelts to be worn and to drive with the headlights on at night. Drink driving laws are extremely strict in all states – the .05 blood alcohol limit is rigidly enforced and random breath tests are common. Speed and other regulations vary from state to state; however, most states have a 50 kilometres per hour speed limit in built-up areas.
The highway speed varies from 75 to 110 kilometres per hour, unless otherwise indicated. The main bridges and tunnels in Sydney and Brisbane are tolled and exact change is required. Consult your concierge for details. In Melbourne, the CityLink and EastLink expressways, with their state-of-the-art electronic tolling systems, require a special e-tag or day pass for your car. For details contact CityLink on 132 629 or EastLink on 135 465.
Australia introduced a Goods and Services Tax similar to a VAT on 1 July 2000 as part of a tax reform package. Goods and services bought within the country include a consumption tax levy of 10 percent, with the exception of some medical supplies and certain foodstuffs. Duty free items can also be purchased at the airport, or at designated duty free shops in most major cities. For further information on allowances and airline regulations, visit www.dutyfree.com.au or www.jrdutyfree.com.au.
Tourists travelling overseas may be able to claim a refund of the GST they paid on goods bought in Australia. The refund only applies to goods travellers take with them as hand luggage when they leave the country. Tourist Refund Scheme booths are located in the departure areas of major airports. At the booth, travellers must produce the goods, the tax invoice from the retailer, their passport and their international boarding pass.
Annual public holidays
1 January – New Year’s Day
26 January – Australia Day
25 April – ANZAC Day
1 November – Melbourne Cup Day (Vic only)
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – Boxing Day
State and territory tourism offices
Tourism New South Wales
+61 2 9240 8788 or visit www.visitnsw.com.au
+61 3 9653 9777 or visit www.visitvictoria.com
South Australian Tourism Commission
1300 764 227 or visit www.southaustralia.com
Tourism and Events Queensland
+61 7 3535 3535 or visit www.tq.com.au
Western Australia Tourism Commission
+61 8 9483 1111 or visit www.westernaustralia.com
+61 8 8999 3900 or visit www.tourismnt.com.au
1300 554 114 or visit www.visitcanberra.com.au
Australia has a world-class taxi service. Taxis can be hailed, caught at designated taxi ranks or booked by telephone or on the internet. Taxis are generally available outside all major hotels. Contact: 131 008.
In October 2015 the ACT became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalise the ride sharing service, UberX. Uber operates elsewhere in the country, but in the country’s capital you can utilise it legally.
Australia has three different time zones: Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST). These vary between eight and 10 hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time (UCT), formerly Greenwich Mean Time.
Tipping is not compulsory. Apart from the mandatory GST (mentioned earlier), there are no mandatory gratuities or restaurant service charges of any kind in Australia. In some exclusive restaurants, it is usual to tip about 10 percent of the bill for good service.