Traveling Luck for Australia

Australia is located in Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.

Land in Australia is mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast.

Australian land covers an area of 7686850 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states

As for the Australian climate; generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north.

Australian(s) speak English 79.1%, Chinese 2.1%, Italian 1.9%, other 11.1%, unspecified 5.8% (2001 Census).

Australian National Map

Australian Map

Regions of Australia

Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef.


Australia Country Profile

Australia has an enviable Western-style capitalist economy with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Rising output in the domestic economy, robust business and consumer confidence, and rising exports of raw materials and agricultural products are fueling the economy. Australia's emphasis on reforms, low inflation, and growing ties with China are other key factors behind the economy's strength. The impact of drought, weak foreign demand, and strong import demand pushed the trade deficit up from $8 billion in 2002, to $18 billion in 2003, $13 billion in 2004, and nearly $17 billion in 2005. Housing prices probably peaked in 2005, diminishing the prospect that interest rates would be raised to prevent a speculative bubble. Conservative fiscal policies have kept Australia's budget in surplus from 2002 to 2005.

Australian natural resources include bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum

world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; the invigorating tropical sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast, and is one of the most consistent winds in the world

Australian religion is Catholic 26.4%, Anglican 20.5%, other Christian 20.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 12.7%, none 15.3% (2001 Census).

Natural hazards in Australia include cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires.

Travel Advice on Australia

Australia

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and Natural Disasters section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Australia is a vast country.  You should plan your journeys carefully, particularly if travelling to remote areas.

  • You should be aware of the threat from terrorism in Australia.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.  The Australian authorities have carried out a number of arrests as a result of investigations into terrorist networks.  The most recent was on 31 March 2006, when three people were arrested on terrorism charges.

  • Visas are required but these can be obtained electronically for visits.

  • Take extra health precautions if travelling in the Northern Territory, parts of Western Australia, and parts of Queensland.

  • You should be aware of the risk of bush fires at the height of summer.  There have been a number of fires in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia in recent weeks. Some are still burning.  If you are intending to travel in these areas you should check with the local State authorities for current information.

  • Tropical Cyclones occur in some parts of Australia, mainly Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.  The Cyclone season normally runs from November to April.  Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.

  • Around 800,000 British nationals visit Australia every year.  Most visits to Australia are trouble–free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Australia is replacement of lost or stolen passports.  Please see:  Passports & Visas General Tips.

  • If you are travelling to Australia to follow the England cricket tour, which runs from 10 November 2006 to 13 February 2007, you should see Engand's cricket tour of Australia page, on the FCO website, for general advice you may need before you travel.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
  • Like any other part of the world, be particularly careful with personal possessions and travel documents in cities and other popular tourist destinations.
  • Avoid carrying everything in one bag.
  • Luggage and other personal items left in unattended vehicles and identifiable hire cars and camper-vans may be targeted.
  • Take particular care when walking at night in some of the busy tourist areas of Sydney, such as Kings Cross, downtown George Street, Hyde Park and Centennial Park. 
  • Be alert when you are withdrawing cash from cash machines. 
  • Thefts from safe deposit facilities at cheaper hotels and hostels are common. 
Some street crime and house burglaries occur in all Australian cities but, on the whole, the level of crime is no higher than in the UK.

Political Situation

Australia Country Profile

Local Travel

Australia is a vast country.  You are strongly recommended to take regular rest breaks when driving long distances - there are many rest stops provided.  There are extremely remote outback areas, which can present unexpected hazards.  If you intend travelling to such areas you should plan your trip with care and seek and follow local advice on what precautions to take.  In addition, when travelling to remote tourist areas of the outback, it is essential to leave your route details and expected time of return with the relevant local tourist authorities or police.  Ensure that you also give notification when you return.  Many tourists are reported missing, only to be found safe and well at their next destination.

As a visitor, you may drive in Australia on a valid UK driving licence, which covers the class of vehicle you use.  You must carry your licence when driving, in addition to a valid passport.  An international driving permit is not sufficient and must be accompanied by a separate valid driving licence.  There is an on-the-spot fine for not having your licence with you.

If you intend to stay in Australia and you hold a permanent visa, you are no longer considered a visitor.  You are allowed to drive on a current overseas licence for a maximum of three months, after which you must apply for a local licence.

Weather hazards can seriously impair driving – road conditions can change rapidly.  Sudden storms and strong winds can make driving difficult.  Seat belts must be worn at all times.

The Australia tourism website:  www.australia.com has extensive information on travelling around the continent.

Sea Safety
When swimming always obey the directions of lifeguards, swim only between the flags in the designated area, and do not swim in unguarded remote locations. Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beach-goers.  They can occur at any surf beach with breaking waves, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.  Rip currents are responsible for over 10,000 beach rescues and up to 100 drownings each year in Australia.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

The Australian authorities will take action against anyone who imports or is found to be trafficking illegal substances.  Prosecution can lead to a lengthy jail sentence and non-Australian nationals are usually deported at the end of their sentence.  Deportation may lead to a ban on returning to Australia for several years.

Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal.  The penalties can be severe.

Laws, and the penalties for breaking them, can differ from State to State.

Australia has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, however there are still isolated incidents of homophobic related crimes.  Gay and lesbian travellers should be aware of local sensitivities particularly when visiting rural communities.

Further advice can be found on the FCO main Travel Advice page under:  Travel Checklists

Travellers spending a gap year in Australia (or elsewhere) may like to view www.gogapyear.com.

Quarantine Procedures

Australian authorities are rigorous in their efforts to keep out any pests and diseases that could affect plant, animal and human health.  All luggage is x-rayed on arrival, whether arriving by plane with visitors or by mail.  Any items of quarantine concern are further inspected, treated and, if necessary, confiscated and destroyed.

Before landing you will be given an incoming passenger card on the plane, on which you must declare any food or goods of plant or animal origin.  These goods includes nuts, dried fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, biscuits, cakes and confectionery, teas, coffees and milk-based drinks and sporting equipment (including camping gear), amongst others.  A full list of items which must be declared, as well as prohibited goods, can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Australia website:  "What can't I take into Australia?".  Breaches of quarantine regulations can result in large fines:  The Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service.

You must also declare on the passenger card if you have "visited a rural area, or been in contact with, or near, farm animals outside Australia in the past 30 days".  As a result of these quarantine procedures, you should expect some delay on arrival.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visas are required for all travel to Australia.  British visitors can obtain Electronic Travel Authority (ETAs) in a number of ways:
  • from their local travel agent
  • via the Australian High Commission (Australia House, Strand, London, WC2B 4LA; tel: 020 7379 4334) website:  Australian representation in the UK and
  • directly via the Department of Immigration & Citizenship.
If you intend onward travel to other countries in the region you are advised that entry into some countries may be refused, and airlines may not carry you, if your passport has less than six months validity.  This also affects passengers transiting some countries en route to/from Australia, such as Singapore.  See the Travel Advice for Singapore.  For further information on entry requirements you should check with the Embassy or High Commission in London of the country you intend to visit/transit.
If you are returning to the UK from Australia via Osaka, Japan you must pay airport tax of 2,650 Yen (approx £20.00) in order to board the Osaka-London flight.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

Reciprocal medical arrangements exist between Australia and the UK.  Under the reciprocal agreement British nationals may have unforeseen emergency medical treatment under the Australian Medicare scheme.  Australian Medicare (not the British national health) provisions apply to British visitors to Australia; but other British nationals, for example those who are studying in Australia, are not covered by the same Medicare provisions.  You should check the Medicare website at:  http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au for further details.  There are also other exclusions under the reciprocal agreement such as treatment for pre‑existing medical conditions, pharmaceuticals when not a hospital in‑patient, and medical evacuations.  The latter, in particular, is very expensive.  (See General Section for advice on insurance).

Travellers to north Queensland, the Northern Territory and north of Western Australia, should use insect repellents, sleeping nets and cover arms and legs to guard against the risk of contracting mosquito‑borne diseases such as dengue fever and Ross River fever.

There have also been reports of cases of Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE), a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease, in the Northern Territory and north Western Australia with occasional cases in Queensland, central Australia and the central regions of Western Australia.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Tropical Cyclones occur in some parts of Australia, mainly Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.  The Cyclone season normally runs from November to April.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).  You can also access the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a cyclone.
You should be aware that (depending on the season) flash flooding of large areas and bush fires can occur suddenly.

You should be aware of the risk of bush fires at the height of summer. There have been a number of fires in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia in recent weeks. Some are still burning. If you are intending to travel in these areas you are advised to check with local State authorities for current information.  For Victoria see: www.cfa.vic.gov.au; for Tasmania see:  www.fire.tas.gov.au and for New South Wales see:  www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help

You are strongly advised to consider taking out separate medical insurance for the whole of your overseas visit, including any time spent in Australia.  It is also advisable to have cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, stolen cash, cards, passport or luggage.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

You should ensure that you have a return air ticket and do not rely on obtaining money from sources such as tax returns to fund a return flight.