Commonwealth of Australia
Currency: Australian dollar = 100 cents.
Dialing code: 61.
Time: GMT +10 (Eastern), GMT +9.5 (Central), GMT +8 (Western).
Local time now:
Region: Oceania, Pacific Ocean.
Main cities : Sydney (a seaport and commercial center); Melbourne (a cultural center); Brisbane (a seaport); Perth (a seaport on the western coast); and Adelaide (an agricultural center).
Land and Resources: island continent located southeast of Asia and forming, with the nearby island of Tasmania, the Commonwealth of Australia. The continent is bounded on the north by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, and the Torres Strait; on the east by the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea; on the south by the Bass Strait and the Indian Ocean; and on the west by the Indian Ocean. The Murray River, the principal river of Australia, is located in the southeast. Most of the rivers flow in the east of the continent. Most of the major natural lakes of Australia contain salt water, e.g. Lake Eyre. It’s the smallest continent in the world, but the sixth largest country.
Climate: The climate of Australia varies greatly from region to region, with a tropical climate in the north, an arid or semiarid climate in much of the interior, and a temperate climate in the south. Some areas occasionally experience extreme weather conditions, such as tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and severe drought. January and February are the warmest months, with average temperatures of between 18° and 21°C (65° and 70°F). June and July are the coldest months, with an average July temperature of about 10°C (about 50°F), except in the Australian Alps, where temperatures average 2°C (35°F).
Government: Australia, a federal parliamentary democracy, is an independent self-governing state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The head of state is the British sovereign, and the head of government is the Australian prime minister, who is responsible to the Australian parliament. The Commonwealth of Australia is made up of six states—New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia—and two territories—the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
Population: People of European descent constitute the majority of Australia’s population. Although most claim British or Irish heritage, there are also Italian, Dutch, Greek, German, and other European groups. Aboriginal and other constitute about 2 percent.
Languages: English (official), indigenous languages.
Religion: The population is predominantly Christian.
1 January- New Year
26 January - Australia Day
25 April - Anzac Day (or Veteran’s Memorial Day)
2nd Monday in June- Queen’s birthday
1st Monday of October – Labour Day
25, 26 December – Christmas
27 December – Day of Christmas presents
Visa: All travelers to Australia, other than Australian and New Zealand citizens, are required to hold a valid visa to travel to Australia. Tourist visas and Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visas are valid for stays of up to three months, but longer-term visas can be applied for. All passports must be valid for period of intended stay. Visitors must hold sufficient funds and all documents required for further travel. Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) are electronically stored and not visible in a passport, which people from certain countries can obtain prior to arrival, including Canadian, Irish, UK and US nationals. They take the place of a visa for tourist or business purposes. Tourist ETAs are valid for 12 months or the validity of the passport (whichever is shorter) for multiple stays of up to three months each and business ETAs are also available for multiple entries of up to three months each.
Transportation: Railroad gauges vary from one state to another. The capital cities are connected by inexpensive bus services. A comprehensive network of airline services links major cities and even remote settlements. Because of the long distances between cities and the country’s ideal flying conditions, Australians are especially accustomed to air travel. Qantas Airways, Ltd., the country’s largest airline company, provides service to domestic and international locations. International airports are located near each of the mainland capitals and near Cairns and Townsville. Coastal and transoceanic shipping is vital to the Australian economy. Major ports include Melbourne, Sydney, and Fremantle (in Western Australia).
Sightseeing: The most popular resorts are located on the eastern coast. Some of the most popular attractions are Queensland’s spectacular Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park, and the famous beach resorts in the Brisbane, Cairns, and Sydney regions. There are more than 30 Australian artistic and cultural institutions located in Canberra, ranging from the Australian War Memorial to Parliament House, surmounted by a colossal stainless-steel flagpole and set in gardens. In the centre of Lake Burley Griffin, the impressive Captain Cook Memorial Jet shoots a six-ton column of water 482ft (147m) into the air, while on the shore the National Gallery of Australia houses the country’s premier public art collection spanning about 5,000 years of international art. Canberra is also known for its spring festival, Floriade. The city, with its many parklands, is especially beautiful in spring and autumn. The Australian National Botanic Gardens is the world’s finest living collection of Australian native plants. Sunny, seductive Sydney is a high contender for the title o the world’s most ideal city. Just like its characteristic white-sailed Opera House, Sydney seems to cruise effortlessly through nights and days filled with myriad entertainment opportunities, sophisticated shopping, memorable museums, and strings of beautiful beaches. Opera House is a fully functional performing arts centre in constant use. The complex consists of a massive Concert Hall which has the finest acoustics in the world; a smaller Opera Theatre, also used for ballet performances; a Drama Theatre; the smaller Playhouse; and the Boardwalk dance and music venue.
Money: The Australian dollar is freely traded on international currency markets. The banking system now includes the Reserve Bank of Australia, the components of the Commonwealth Banking Group, including the Commonwealth Development Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank; and three other major banks: the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Westpac Banking Corporation, and the National Australia Bank. Banks and bureaux de change exchange most foreign currencies. Travellers cheques are also welcome everywhere, but banks take a small commission. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are freely available throughout the country. Banking hours are generally 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Friday, but some banks offer extended hours and some are open on Saturday mornings.
Communications: The outgoing code is 0011 followed by the relevant country code. Local calls from public payphones are untimed and cost a standard rate, while international and long distance calls are charged according to the time spent on the phone. Mobile phone operators use GSM and CDMA networks; mobile phones are available for rent. Internet cafes are widely available.
Shops and cafes: Shops are open Monday to Friday from about 8:30 to 17:30, and from 9:00 to noon on Saturday. One evening a week, usually Thursday, shops stay open until 21:00. In large cities, some shops stay open late on Saturdays and open on Sundays.
Tipping: A gratuity of between 5 to 15% is usually expected in cafes and restaurants in the larger cities. Taxi drivers are happy to be left with the change.
Health and safety: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers over one year of age arriving within six days of having stayed overnight or longer in an infected country. No other special immunizations or medications are required for most trips to Australia, however insect repellants are strongly advised for the Northern Territory and Western Australia, because of the risk of Murray Valley encephalitis, Ross River virus infections, and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Beach-goers are warned to beware of jelly-fish in the coastal waters; stings have proved fatal on occasion. Another health risk is sunburn, and visitors are advised to take precautions. Medical services are excellent, but can be expensive so travellers should ensure that they have adequate insurance. Australia has a reciprocal health agreement with the United Kingdom providing for free hospital emergency medical treatment; proof of UK residence is required. Be vigilant about personal possessions and travel documents, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as along the Gold Coast.
Electricity: Electrical current is 240/250 volts AC, 50Hz. Three-pin plugs are used but are different to those in most other countries, so an adapter is normally required.
Important phone numbers:
World Trade Centre Complex Suite 602-999 Canada Place
Tel: + 1 604-6841177
Fax: + 1 604-6841856
4, rue Jean Rey
Tel: + 33 1 40.59.33.00
Fax: + 33 1 126.96.36.199.
Australian Embassy, Bonn
Godesberger Allee 105-107
Tel: +49 228-81030
Fax: + 49 228-8103130 (Admin);+ 49 228-8103144 (Public Affairs)
Via Alessandria 215
Tel: + 39 6 852721
Fax: + 39 6 85272300
2-1-14 Mita Minato-Ku
Tel: (03) 5232 4111, (03) 5214 0750 (Austrade)
Fax: (03) 5232 4149; (03) 5214 0751(Austrade)
13 Kropotkinsky Pereulok
Tel: + 7 095 9566070; + 7 095 9566075
Fax: + 7 095 9566170
Pza Descubridor Diego de Ordás, 3 (Santa Engracia, 120)
Tel: +34 91 441 9300
Fax: +34 91 442 5362
Australian High Commission
Australia House The Strand
WC2B 4L.A London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7379 4334
Fax: +44 (0)20 7240 5333
Australia (Mission: Geneva)
Chemin des Fins 2 Case Postale 172
Tel: + 41 22 799 9100
Fax: + 41 22 799 9189
1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW
20036 Washington, DC
Tel: +1 202 797-3000;+ 1 202-7973300 (Austrade),+1 202-7973094 (Defence)
Fax: +1 202 797-3168
Encarta World Atlas