Useful facts for travellers
General Australia Facts
These are the big picture Australia facts:
- Australia is the sixth largest nation in the world after Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America and Brazil
- Australia’s capital is Canberra
- Australia’s population is around 23 million people (2010)
- Life expectancy is 75 years for men and 83 years for women
- Australia is the only nation that covers an entire continent
- Australian is the largest island and the smallest, flattest continent on Earth
- Australia lies between 10 degrees and 39 degrees South (latitude)
- The highest mountain is Mount Kosciuszko, which is 2228 metres (7300 feet) high
- Australia is a federation of six States and two Territories: New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), Queensland (QLD), Tasmania (TAS), South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA); the two territories are the Northern Territory (NT) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Essential Facts for Travellers
A few essential Australia facts that you’ll find useful to know before you go:
- Currency is the Australian dollar (AUD). $1 = 100 cents. $1 Australian dollar = 98 US cents
- Weights, measurements and temperatures are metric. This means we use kilometers, kilograms and Celcius, although many older Australians still use miles and feet!
- Australian date format is day/month/year; thus 25/12/2010 is 25th December, 2010
- Time ZonesAustralia has 3 different time zones: Eastern, Central and Western.Eastern Standard Time (EST, sometimes also written as AEST)covers Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, and Tasmania.Central Standard Time (CST)is used in the Northern Territory and South Australia.Western Standard Time (WST) is the standard in Western Australia.
- Daylight Saving/Summer time. Just to confuse you, all states except Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia have daylight saving time. Individual states change over to daylight savings at different times in October. Daylight saving finishes on the last Sunday in March.
- Roads: Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- Electrical current is 240 volts (50 hertz). Electrical plugs have 2 or 3 flat prongs, so Americans and Europeans should buy a converter before they visit (although many stores like Dick Smith, Jaycar, Paddy Pallin, Kathmandu/Outdoor shops stock converters)
- Telephones:Australia has very good, reliable phone services. Excellent mobile phone (cellphone) services exist in all cities and large towns. However, mobile phone coverage is non-existent in most remote, outback areas.Satellite phone is the only option in these areas. Telstra is the phone company with the widest network coverage and recommended if you’re travelling widely in Australia
- Internet access: is available just about everywhere in Australia – even in tiny little outback towns. Public libraries are a good, cheap way to get on the net for free. Any one can use them.
- Safety: Australia is one of the safest places on Earth to travel in. Violent crimes are very uncommon, and our government (even if you don’t like them!) is stable. We have VERY strict gun laws. Petty crime like shoplifting, purse-snatching etc does exist.
- Water: Australian tap water is 100% treated and can be drunk without treatment
Here’s a few things we hope you won’t need during you visit:
- Emergencies: dial 000 from anywhere in Australia for police, fire or ambulance
- Police: Aussie police are friendly and will gladly help travellers. Dial 000 for police from anywhere in Australia.
- Healthcare. Australia has one of the best public health systems in the world. If something happens and you need to go to a hospital or a doctor, rest assured that you’ll get very good medical care … at a price. Make sure you’ve got travel insurance.
- The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a unique aero-medical service that brings doctors, nurses and other health professionals to remote and outback Australia. If you’re outside of any of the major towns in the outback and need urgent medical care, it’s the Flying Doctors who’ll be called.
- Drugstores? No, we don’t have drugstores in Australia! We have ‘chemists’ or ‘pharmacies’. See ‘Business Hours’ below for opening times.
Business Hours and Shopping
One of the best Australia facts that’s good to know is that Aussies like to shop! We’ve got lots of large, monolithic shopping malls, which did kill the suburban shopping centre, but in the last few years the good old local shops are making a comeback!
- Australian Business hours are Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30pm.
- Banking hours: banks are odd creatures in Australia and have unusual opening times: Monday-Thursday 9:30am-4pm. Friday: 9:30am-5pm. Banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays
- ATMs: are everywhere in Australia. Even in shops on remote Aboriginal communities and roadhouses in the middle of nowhere.
- Australian shopping hours are usually 9am to 5:30pm weekdays and 9am to 4 or 5pm on Saturday/ 3pm on Sundays.Smaller shops are closed on Sunday, although major department stores and shops in tourist precincts are open 7 days .Shops in country/outback areas often close at 12pm Saturday and don’t open Sunday.