Fast Facts

map-of-australia-1

Emergency phone numbers

Fire/Police/Ambulance: 000

Lifeline Counselling Service: 131 114

Poisons Information Service: 131 126

Airlines

Domestic

Qantas: 131 313

Jetstar: 131 538

Rex, Regional Express Airlines: 131 713

Tigerair: +61 3 9034 3733

Virgin Australia: 136 789

International

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

Banking hours

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:

  • Transport NSW (New South Wales) 131 500 for transport information or visit transportnsw.info.
  • Public Transport Victoria (Victoria) 1800 800 007 or visit ptv.vic.gov.au.
  • Adelaide Metro (South Australia) 1300 311 108 or visit www.adelaidemetro.com.au.
  • Queensland Rail (Queensland) 131 617 or visit qr.com.au.
  • TransLink (South-East Queensland) 131 230 or visit www.translink.com.au.
  • Transperth (Western Australia) 136 213 for within Perth or visit transperth.wa.gov.au.

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.

Business hours

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.

Calling overseas

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.

Climate

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.

Credit cards

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.

Currency

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.

Driving

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.

GST

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

Tourism Victoria

+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

Tourism NT

+61 8 8999 3900 or visit www.tourismnt.com.au

Canberra Tourism

1300 554 114 or visit www.visitcanberra.com.au

Tourism Tasmania

Visit www.discovertasmania.com.au

Taxis

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.

Time zones

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.

  • AEST – UCT + 10 hours • ACST – UCT + 9.5 hours • AWST – UCT + 8 hours. Clocks are put forward one hour from October through to March when daylight saving is introduced in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

Tipping

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.

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