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Travel Infos Australia

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Australia - Travel Infos



Climate

Due to its size, the continent is home to different climate zones.  Since Australia is located on the southern half of the globe, the seasons are opposite to those in Europe.  Summer ranges from November to February; winter is from May to August.

The North has a tropical climate; Central and South Australia have subtropical climates.  With temperatures of up to 40° C (104° F) in the summer months, and humidity up to 100%, it is advisable for Europeans to travel these regions in the winter months, where temperatures stay around 30° C (86° F) and approximately 60-80% humidity.

Additionally is the summer time also the wet season, which means problems with flooding in many regions.  The Cockatoo National Park for example, is closed to visitors during this time.

The tropical regions of Australia experience their summer – December through February – with marked heavy rains, high temperatures, high humidity, and frequent flooding.  Therefore this is not a good time for travel.

The drought period falls into the winter months April to October.

In the largest portion of the country, the low precipitation is spread throughout the whole year, in some areas it has not rained for years; particularly the East and Southeast are in danger of wide-spread forest fires during the hot summer months.  Winters are cool and mild.  The best travel time is from October to December.

Inland a desert climate with hot, dry summers and warm winters reins.  In the summertime, temperatures are as high as 50° C (122° F), if exposed here, sunburn is immediate.  Here too it is advisable to avoid the summer months and travel the area during winter.  Winters are comfortable, at times even cold.  At night, temperatures can drop below 0° C (32° F).  And if the wind blows during the daytime, temperatures may drop as low as 15° C (59° F).  For this reason, the best travel time is the European summer months.

Southern Victoria and Tasmania are located in a mild, temperate climate zone.  They are marked by warm summers and mild winters.  Travel here is great all year long.

Along the east coast, the climate is comfortable; summer and winter are good travel seasons, even if the South can sometimes get a bit colder, it is still comfortable by European standards.  Of course swimming in Sydney during the winter months is not possible.  Unfortunately it also rains more frequently during the winter months.

In relevance to the weather in central Europe, the southern coast offers summer temperatures of approximately 35 C and during winter at times around freezing.  Additionally, winters are rainier.  The best travel season is surely spring to autumn.

The climate of the west coast is similar to that of the east coast.

Traffic

Australia drives on the left road side!

Depending on the state, the speed limit within city limits ranges from 50 to 60 km/h and 100 to 110 km/h outside city limits.  Speeding violations are subject to high fines.

To drive in Australia, a national and international drivers’ license is required.

Vehicles within a traffic circle generally have priority.  If the priority is not marked, the “right before left” rule is in effect.

All highways, as well as roads leading to the most important tourist attractions are paved by now.

Into the Outback however, most roads are only improved gravel roads.  Away from populated areas, particularly during twilight, animals crossing the road should be expected.

Gasoline and Diesel are cheaper than in Germany.  The network of gas stations and rest stops (road houses) is spread thin in the Outback and in remote areas.

Time Zones

Australia has three time zones:

Eastern Standard Time (EST):  in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. 

Central Standard Time (CST):  in South Australia and Northern Territory (to include Broken Hill/NSW).

Western Standard Time (WST): in Western Australia

From October to March there are 5 different time zones, since New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia participate in daylight savings time, while Queensland and Northern Territory refuse to follow the lead of the other states.

Since the 3rd of December 2006, Western Australia has adopted daylight savings time for a three year trial period.

Currency

The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar (A$), which is the product of 100 cent.  One A$ is equal to approximately 0,60 Euro, one Euro equals approximately 1,7 A$.  Credit cards are widely accepted, as well as teller machine cards of most international banks work in local cash machines.

Quarantine

Australia has very strict quarantine laws, to prevent epidemics and diseases from coming into the continent.  Upon arrival in Australia, all luggage is subject to search by working dogs or x-ray. 

If items subject to quarantine laws are not declared, or if false statements pertaining to this matter are made, a fine of up to 220 A$ may be imposed.  Additionally, legal prosecution may be sought which may carry fines of up to 60 000 A$ as well as up to 10 years imprisonment.

Telephone

Many street corners, in public buildings, and stores feature public telephone booths, which accept coins and calling cards.  Calling cards are available in drug stores, newspaper stores, or anyplace marked by a small flag.

Customs

Strict laws prohibit the import of drugs, steroids, and weapons.  Food items, plant materials, and animal products are also not allowed to be imported.

Already on the airplane, flight personnel remind travelers that all eatable items must be turned over.  Frequently and intensive checks by customs personnel with working dogs take place upon arrival.  A violation against these laws may be fined up to 220 A$.

Health

A mosquito net and insect repellent should definitely be carried along, particularly if traveling through the tropical North.

Electricity

Australia is different – even when it comes to electricity.  Their plugs are three pronged.  As a result, all electrical appliances brought from Europe need an adapter which is available in Germany as well as in country.

Entry Regulations

To enter Australia, a visa is required along with a valid passport.  If you are coming to Down Under for a vacation, a regular short term visa is sufficient for stays up to three months.  It is free and valid for multiple travels in a 12 month period. 

Many travel agents offer a free visa service in conjunction with travel reservations.

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings, public transportation, shopping centers, and most restaurants.

Alcohol

It is noteworthy to mention that not all Australian restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol.  In these “non-licensed” establishments it is customary to “BYO” – bring your own; guests bring their own alcohol, which they may consume in the restaurant for a small “cork fee”.


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