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Australia

The Aboriginal peoples first settled in Australia more than 40,000 years ago coming from south-east Asia. Captain James Cook first made landfall at Botany Bay on 29th April 1770. Australia is surrounded by water. The Indian Ocean to the west, the South Pacific Ocean to the east, the Coral Sea to the north east and The Tasman Sea to the south east separating it from New Zealand. Australia is BIG. 7,682,300 square kilometers (almost 3 million square miles). It is very easy to underestimate the distances between towns. Compare hotel prices in Australia.

Australia is home to a large group of marsupials (mammals with a pouch) and monotremes (mammals that lay eggs). Visiting Australia for the first time and not seeing these guys in their natural habitat would be a shame.

Sydney Opera House – enough said.

If you are in Hobart, the premier attraction is Louisa’s Walk. Also in Hobart, Bonorong Park Wildlife Centre.

For a life altering experience try swimming with the dolphins – Queenscliff, Victoria.

Formalities

All travellers visiting Australia, except citizens of New Zealand, require in advance, a visa unless in transit for less than eight hours.

Languages Spoken

English. There isn’t a single commonly used second language.

Weather

Contrary to popular belief, Australia isn’t just a hot, dusty continent all year round. Australia is in the southern hemisphere so the winter is June – August while December – February is summer. Most of the country receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. Generally, the north is hot and tropical while the south tends to be sub-tropical and temperate. Most rainfall is around the coast, and much of the interior is arid and semi-arid.

Tropical areas (in the north) which includes parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland and the northern parts of Western Australia – the rainy season lasts for about six months (spring and summer) from October to March. Temperatures in summer go from 30°C up to 50°C and it’s humid. Winters are cooler with temperatures around 20°C.

Australia’s dry regions (are found in the central areas, central and southern Western Australia, the southern parts of the Northern Territory and most of South Australia, to the far west regions of Queensland and New South Wales, and the north-western parts of Victoria). This region is almost permanently in a state of drought. This area is known for intense heat during the day and very cold at night. In summer, temperatures range from 40°C dropping to 19°C at night. In winter, highs will reach 24°C dropping to 0°C.

Australia’s temperate regions (are found on south eastern coast, going south from Tasmania through most of Victoria and New South Wales and into the southern parts of Queensland. A temperate climate is also found in most parts of South Australia and the south western tip of Western Australia). In summer, expect high’s of 30°C and in winter a cool 15°C with wet and windy conditions.

When to go

The hottest months in Australia are December, January and February. In these months, you might like to head south to escape the heat. The coldest months are June, July and August – a perfect time to explore up north.

Historical Places

The world renowned Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), are both iconic rock formations located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.

Australia has 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 3 Cultural, 12 Natural and 4 mixed.

 

Bucket & Spade

The most famous beaches in Australia are undoubtedly Bondi Beach in Sydney and Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. The Sunshine Coast and The Gold Coast are situated to the north and south of Brisbane where beaches abound.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands (in the heart of The Great Barrier Reef) is rated as one of the best beaches in the world. Cable Beach, Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia is also rated as one of the best beaches in the world.  The Great Barrier Reef lies off the coast of Queensland and can be accessed from Cairns.

Australia is not part of the blue flag program at this time.

Heads Up

  • Australia is expensive.
  • Tipping isn’t expected in Australia.
  • Australians eat out a lot.
  • Bundaberg Rum (Bundy) is an Australian made dark rum particularly popular in Queensland.
  • The legal drinking age is 18 years.
  • Buying a round of drinks (for your party) in Australia is called ‘a shout’ and is customary.
  • Racism is a sensitive subject in Australia; don’t get involved.
  • Beach goers should swim between the red and yellow flags which mark patrolled areas. Be aware that beaches are not patrolled 24-hours a day or even during all daylight hours
  • Australians are happy to help out a lost traveller with directions. Be advised, however, many urban dwellers will assume that someone saying “Excuse me”, is going to be asking for money.
  • It is unwise to mention the name of a deceased person to an indigenous Australian.
  • Permission to photograph an Aboriginal person should always be asked. There is a belief among some that the camera flash will steal their soul.
  • The Sydney Mardi Gras event is known world-wide; less known is the annual event Alice IS Wonderland Festival – late April / early May,
  • Emergencies – The number 000 (called ‘triple zero’ or ‘triple oh’) can be called from any telephone in Australia free of charge.
  • Drugs are all illegal in Australia both to possess and to sell. Trafficking offences usually carry a jail term.
  • Australia is home to many of the deadliest species of insects, reptiles and marine life on the planet.
  • Never attempt to pick up any snake.
  • Keep a sense of perspective with regard to the above warnings. Tourists are far more likely to be killed or injured as pedestrians, drivers or passengers on Australian roads than all the other causes of death and injury combined.
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