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Travel Tips
Customs and Visa

Drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products are strictly prohibited from entering Australia. All animals, animal products, foodstuff, plants and plant products are also subjected to quarantine control and must be declared upon arrival. The penalties for breaking these laws are severe. Should you be uncertain of your baggage, approach the custom officers to seek their assistance.

Visitors bringing in Australian and/or foreign currencies must declare them upon arrival. Currency refers to notes and coins of legal tender but does not include travelers' checks or other monetary instruments. Forms for such declarations are available from customs offices at ports or airports.

Only travelers over 18 years of age may bring into Australia alcohol and tobacco products. An amount of 1125ml and up to 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco products - duty or tax-free - is allowed for each person. Duty or tax-free allowances of A$400 per person aged 18 or over and A$200 per person under 18 are granted for other goods intended as gifts. These articles must accompany you through Customs and must not be intended for commercial purposes.

Anyone wanting to enter Australia must carry a valid passport and everyone, except holders of Australian and New Zealand passports, requires a visa to enter Australia. Whether you intend to study or travel in Australia, you will require either a visitor or student visa.

The Australian visa can be obtained from your nearest Australian high commission, embassy, or consulate. The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is becoming progressively available through travel agents.

Road Travel
Australian traffic drives on the left hand side of the road.

If you are in doubt about your driving licence being accepted in Australia, rather obtain an International Licence from your local automobile association prior to your departure.

Road speed limits differ between states but are generally 100-110kph on the highways and 50-60kph in built-up areas. Interstate highways are not of the same standard as USA and European highway systems but nor do they carry the same traffic volumes.

Don't hitch-hike, it is illegal.

Never leave small children or animals locked in vehicles in very hot weather. Dehydration occurs very quickly. This practice is illegal.

The most serious danger on the road is fatigue. Look for driver refreshment stations and pull off and rest after driving for several hours.

Be careful when driving on country roads at night in cold weather. Cattle and native animals such as kangaroos lie on the bitumen road surface which holds the warmth of the sun. Car lights blind and mesmerise the animals and they may just as easily run into your vehicle as run away from it.

When travelling on remote outback roads/tracks, always advise someone at the destination of your expected arrival time and number of people in your party. If you fail to arrive within a reasonable time, help procedures can be started. Do NOT leave your vehicle as a missing vehicle is much easier to find that a missing person.

When travelling on unsurfaced or poor quality roads, always conduct a vehicle check before starting off on the next sector.

Extra care is needed when sharing the road with road-trains. These are prime movers with multiple trailers of cattle attached and are about 50 metres (170 feet) long. Always give them plenty of room as the buffeting from displaced air as you pass in opposite directions can be quite severe. Allow at least 1 kilometre (3000 feet) of clear road before overtaking a road train.

Do not attempt to cross flooded rivers and causeways unless you are sure of the water depth and road surface damage. Most flash floods recede within 24 hours.

Dust from passing vehicles on outback roads can obscure your vision. Don't take risks, slow down or stop until it settles.

Air Travel
Avoid flying early morning and late afternoon on the eastern seaboard routes. These flights are usually heavily booked by business people travelling between the capital cities.

Need extra leg room? Ask to be seated in a row that serves the exit doors as these rows seem to have more room.

When checking in and getting seat allocation, ask if your seat is in the first row immediately adjacent one of the large central video screens. You may wish to ask for a different location, especially if on a long international flight.

A departure tax of A$30 per adult is payable when leaving Australia.

Australian Time Zones

Australia is segregated into three separate time zones, namely Western Standard Time, Central Standard Time, and Eastern Standard Time. Eastern Australia is two hours ahead of Western Australia whereas Central Australia is one and a half hours ahead. Daylight saving time is witnessed in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Victoria, and South Australia from October to March, which adds an hour to the time differences.

City and State +GMT
Adelaide (SA) +9.5
Brisbane (QLD) +10
Canberra (ACT) +10
Darwin (NT) +9.5
Hobart (TAS) +10
Melbourne (VIC) +10
Perth (WA) +8
Sydney (NSW) +10

Medical and Pharmaecutical
Australian nationals and New Zealand visitors are covered by Medicare, the national health insurance scheme. It does not apply to visitors from any other country.

Visitors should always take out travel insurance cover prior to departure from their home country. The best prices for Australian travel insurance is for cover arranged direct with the insurer which can be 50% of the price charged by your travel agent.

Our Australian travel insurance discussion page is a recommended resource when considering the appropriate level of insurance cover for your travels.

Visitors will only require specific vaccinations if they have travelled through an area infected with yellow fever. Visitors passing through other countries when entering or leaving Australia should check the vaccination requirements of those countries.

All cities and most towns offer 24 hour medical facilities by way of private practice clinics or government run hospital facilities. They will be listed in the telephone book of the area you are visiting.

Chemists are located in all towns and cities throughout Australia. The Australian chemist does not operate the "soda fountain" type of drug store found in the USA.

Tips and Gratuities
Australians working in the tourist, hospitality and transport industries are paid a minimum salary. Tipping is not standard practice but is generally considered an appropriate gesture of appreciation when the level of service has exceeded expectations.

A tip of around 10% would be considered appropriate.

Weather and the Environment
Protect against sunburn at all times, but especially in summer. Use a wide brimmed hat, 15+ sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothes and shoes. Australian sunlight has very high UV levels and skin damage occurs rapidly, especially during the middle of the day.

Check approaching storm fronts for signs of a greenish tinge. This often indicates a hail storm that may cause damage to persons and property.

Always observe correct beach safety. Swim only at patrolled beaches. Only swim between flagged areas. If in doubt, ask. Always check for warning signs.

If you intend to swim in shallow coastal waters north of Gladstone, make it your business to be informed about box jellyfish (marine stingers). Generally found in shallow water near creek or river mouths, more likely after local rain, usually absent in rough water. Not usually found over deep water or coral. Stinger season is usually from December to March in the Gladstone (south) area and longer, from October to June, in the Cairns (north) area. Most popular beaches in the stinger areas are netted to provide swimmer protection.

Always wear thick soled shoes when walking in shallow tropical waters or reef walking as protection against the highly camouflaged stonefish. It has dorsal spikes which will rupture the skin of the foot and inject poison causing extreme swelling and agony. Deaths have been recorded as a result of stonefish poisoning.

There are other poisonous creatures on the reef such as some of the cone shell species and coral snakes, both of which are capable of causing death. If you intend spending time on the Barrier Reef without expert guidance, ensure you have a sound knowledge of what can hurt you before you start.

Basic Etiquette
Australians are popularly known for their relaxed and casual lifestyles. However, there are some unwritten rules that visitors are advised to follow. Eating and drinking in public transports and many shops and galleries are usually unacceptable.

Smoking is strictly prohibited in all public buildings, on public transports, in taxis and most stores.




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