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Useful Facts about Australia

G´ Day - Australia warmly welcomes you. You will realize soon after arriving, that the Australians welcome you with open arms. The hospitality and open-mindedness towards foreign visitors on the fifth continent is extraordinary. Your normal mad rush is replaced by a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. Everywhere you feel the pace of the Australian way of life. Don't be surprised if Australians simply address you with your first name - that is part of Australian etiquette. If certain things sound "Greek" to you, that could be due to Australian English, which takes some getting used to.
Population
Approx. 22.3 million inhabitants of mainly European descent live in an area of roughly 7.7 million square kilometres. 7% of the population is of Asian descent and only 1% are indigenous peoples.
Entry
For a stay of up to 3 months South Africans seeking to enter Australia for the purpose of tourism or as a visitor, require a passport that must be valid for at least 6 months after the end of the visit to Australia, as well as a visitors' visa. Every child requires an own passport. The Australian High Commission in Pretoria has entered into an arrangement with VFS (South Africa ) Pty Ltd which offer greater accessibility and extended opening hours to provide visa services. You may lodge your visa applications directly with VFS at their offices in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. VFS also has an arrangement with TNT couriers for collection and return of applications / passports to any location in South Africa at a very special rate. This arrangement needs to be done directly through VFS and not with TNT. You can also contact the VFS Helpline number 083-913 3636 or alternatively email them at info.diacsa@vfshelpline.com for any information related to lodging a visa application. We will also gladly assist you with your visa application.
At the airports of Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney travellers must be prepared to be examined with body scanners.
Quarantine and Nature Conservation
Australia is an island continent, on which many diseases, plants and insects do not exist (eg. foot and mouth disease or rabies). The import of drugs, anabolic steroids, weapons, guns, protected animal species, fresh or packed foodstuffs, fruit, eggs, meat, seeds, raw hide, skins and feathers, plants as well as animal and plant products is prohibited. If in doubt, ask a customs official when entering the country. Contraventions of the quarantine regulations can result in the imposition of high fines.
Flights and Airline Connections
Australia has seven international airports. Many airlines offer connections with short change over times and stopover possibilities, and permit a flexible itinerary based on different arrival and departure airports. On all flights to and from Australia as well as on domestic flights within Australia smoking is prohibited. Let us book the best connections for you!
Food and Drink
Australia can offer much on the culinary front: The international cuisine has been kept alive for many years by the immigrants. Especially in the big cities there is a wide selection of eating venues, which apart from Asian cuisine, offer especially Italian and Greek dishes. Of course American style fast food outlets are also spread across cities and the countryside. Excellent, freshly prepared sea food is among the finest that Australia has to offer, and hearty meat dishes are the rule. Substantial buffet breakfasts (usually not included in the overnight price) spoil one with tropical fruit. Australia is a land of beer drinkers. Whether out of a can or on tap, the quality of Australian beer rightfully has a good reputation. Australian wine also satisfies the highest expectations. Coffee is a part of all occasions and drunk at all times of the day in Australia. And if you go to a restaurant, wait to be seated - it is the custom that you are taken to your seat. "BYO" means "Bring Your Own". It is a notice you will often see in Australian restaurants, to draw your attention to the fact that no alcohol is served in that particular venue, and that you therefore may bring your own.
Tips
Tips are less common in Australia than in our country. Nevertheless a tip is gladly accepted. In restaurants a tip of 5-10% of the bill is appropriate.
Photography and Filming
In Australia there are no restrictions on private photographing and filming, but do respect the privacy of the local population, especially the Aboriginees and remember that not all people like being photographed.
Health
When travelling through Australia, one is exposed to only a few health risks. Doctors are well qualified (many come from South Africa), hospitals are fitted out with the latest equipment and the standard of hygene is high. To make up for medical expenses not covered by your medical aid, we recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance.
Inoculations
If you have not been to a yellow fever area within six days of arriving in Australia, you do not need a yellow fever immunization. Notably in some countries in South East Asia there are increased health risks, especially when travelling into remote areas. We recommend that you consult your doctor and/or a travel clinic in good time to enquire about infection and innoculation protection as well as other prophylactic measures.
Clothing
In general casual clothing is worn in Australia, and you should take comfortable and practical clothing on your trip. When going to the theatre and in good restaurants or hotels more formal attire is expected, especially in the big cities such as Melbourne or Sydney. In the tropical areas light clothing is worn all year round. When visiting the southern regions with their milder climate, you should also take some warmer clothes, even in the Australian summer. You should always have some protection against rain with you. The following should not be missing from your suitcase: sunglasses, sunscreen with a high protection factor, hat, bathing costume, sturdy and comfortable shoes for hikes and walks.
Climate and Travel Time
Australia is situated in the southern hemisphere on both sides of the Tropic of Capricorn between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The longest distance from north to south is 3 680km and the longest distance from east to west ist 4 100km. The Tropic of Capricorn divides Australia into a tropical area in the north and a sub-tropical area in the south. The centre is desert-like and dry.

The seasons in Australia are similar to those in South Africa:
Spring: September - November
Summer: December - February
Autumn: March - May
Winter: June - August

Best time to travel: Australia is an all-year destination! Due to the geographic location of the country, the best time to travel will be different for the different areas.

Northern Australia: The best time to travel in the north is from March to November. The wet season in the tropical north is from the middle of November till the end of February (varying from year to year). The climate is humid during this time, thunder storms and cyclones (seldom) are possible. Always enquire locally about the condition of the roads, especially after it has rained, before venturing into remote areas on your own. On the north and northeast coast (north of Rockhampton) box jelly fish occur from December to March, with the result that swimming is only possible close to the beach within the nets that are often erected to protect bathers. Snorkeling and diving is always possible on the Outer Reef of the Great Barrier Reef.

Central Australia: The Australian winter (April - October) is the best time to travel to the Outback. The temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day, while the nights are cool. From November to March it gets very hot in the Centre!

South coast and Tasmania: In the south of the continent the Australian summer (October - April) is the best time of the year. In the winter (May - September) it can get cold and windy and in the Australian Alps and on Tasmania it snows.
To phone
Everywhere in Australia you will find pay phones that function with coins, telephone cards and increasingly also with credit cards. South African cell phones with pre-activated roaming service can be used. Make enquiries with your cell phone service provider. An Australian pay-as-you-go sim card can reduce costs considerably. Notably in Outback areas the cell phone reception is very limited! The emergency telephone number is 000 (Triple Zero).
Local Time
Australia has three time zones:
Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland; Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) in South Australia and in the Northern Territory and finally Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) in Western Australia. ACST is half an hour behind, AWST two hours behind AEST. Apart from Queensland and the Northern Territory all Australian federal states have summer time from October/November till March/April, during which time the clock is advanced by one hour. This means that the time in Sydney is 8-9 hours ahead of South African Standard Time.
Safety
Travelling in Australia is very safe. Despite that however valuables should still be locked in the hotel safe; larger amounts of money and travel documents (passport, ID, airline tickets) should not be kept in ladies' handbags. We bring to your attention that as tour operators, we do not accept any liability for any luggage or hand luggage.
We recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance (covering cancellation costs, illness, personal liability, accidents and luggage). We will gladly arrange this for you.
Transport and Traffic
The rule of the road in Australia is to keep left. From region to region there are differing blood alcohol limitations. Drivers as well as passengers must make use of seat belts and children under 8 years must be secured with baby/child seats, while motor cycle riders and cyclists must wear helmets. When picking up a rental car or camper, a valid national driving licence as well as an international driving licence or a certified English translation of the national driving licence is required! The driver must carry both.

N.B. In Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane there are several toll roads, which one either avoids or for which one purchases the relevant ticket in advance, as one's passage is registered electronically and it can become expensive if driving a rental car without a ticket. The rental companies have up to date information available.
Accommodation
In Australia you will find accommodation for every taste and pocket: from comfortable bed & breakfasts to 5 star luxury resorts. A child or children can sleep free of charge in the parents' bedroom in many hotels, however, the age limits differ from hotel to hotel. This applies to the bed configuration in a double room, i.e. one is not entitled to an extra bed in the room. In apartments price calculations are always based on the number of persons actually booked. We will gladly advise you!
Check In / Check Out
Some flights arrive in Australia very early in the morning or leave late at night. In Hotels the room booked for you can usually only be occupied between 12:00 and 15:00; by 10:00 or 12:00 at the latest it must be vacated on the day of departure. If you should need a room outside these times, we will gladly book the necessary extra night for you.
Camping Safaris
For these tours an adventurous spirit as well as team spirit is essential. When staying in bush camps you must be prepared for primitive ablution facilities. Participants should be prepared to lend a hand on tour, eg. with the pitching and striking of tents. Depending on the tour booked, there will be luggage limitations.
Currency and Means of Payment
The currency is the Australian Dollar (1 AUD = 100 cents).
1 AUD = ± 9.4 ZAR (Last updated: Oct. 2013). One gets bank notes to the value of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Dollars, and coins to the value of 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 Dollar coins. Up to AUD 10 000 in Australian or foreign currency can be brought into the country without having to declare this. Cash & travellers' cheques can be exchanged at all international airports and at banks (opening times: Monday - Thursday from 09:00 - 16:00; Fridays 09:00 - 17:00). Cash can be withdrawn at ATM's but a fee will be charged. Payment by credit card is possible in most locations. Please note that local service charges may be levied if paying by credit card (eg. by hotels or car rental companies). AUD travellers' cheques can usually be exchanged at banks or in larger hotels without any fees being charged. For the payment of the security deposit for rental cars or campers it is absolutely essential to have a credit card in the name of the renter. As from August 2014 credit card payments can only be made with pin number protected smart cards.
Electricity Supply
The voltage in Australia is 240/250 volt (50 Hertz) alternating current. South African devices can be used without any problems, however, a three pin adapter with flat pins will be required.
Local Taxes
A 10% turnover tax (GST) is levied on goods and services (GST = Goods and Services Tax). If not otherwise stated, GST is already included in our prices.
The TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme) makes it possible to obtain a GST refund on certain items when leaving Australia.
The following terms and conditions apply:
• Items to the value of at least AUD 300
• Invoice with Australian Business Number (ABN) and address of the buyer
• The purchase may not be older than 60 days
• Such items must be carried in one's hand luggage, excepting in the case of oversized items
Application must be made at the relevant airport's TRS counter up to a max. of 45 minutes prior to departure. Alcohol, tobacco and potentially dangerous items are excluded. Also consult the Australian government web-site www.customs.gov.au
Local Contact
If you should have a problem during your stay, our colleagues at our local partner agencies will do their best to assist you in every possible way.
In particular if according to your view the service levels are inadequate or poor, please do not hesitate to make immediate contact with the travel service partners mentioned in your travel documents, or - if need be - directly with us. If you do not make us aware of the problem, we will not be able to look for ways to try and resolve the problem for you.
Public Holidays
There are eight National Public Holidays in Australia.
New Years Day (01.01.)
Australia Day (26.01.)
Good Friday (date varies from year to year)
Easter Monday (date varies from year to year)
ANZAC Day: Memorial fay for fallen Australian soldiers (25.04.)
Queens Birthday (date varies from state to state)
Christmas Day (25.12.)
Boxing Day: 2nd Christmas Day (26.12.)
Each state has further public holidays. All details can be found on the internet at http://australia.gov.au/topics/australian-facts-and-figures/public-holidays
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