Australia is a unique and diverse country in every way - in culture, population, climate, geography, and history.
Australia is one of the most ethnically diverse societies in the world today.
Almost one in four Australian residents were born outside of Australia and many more are first or second generation Australians, the children and grandchildren of recently arrived migrants and refugees.
This wide variety of backgrounds, together with the culture of Indigenous Australians who have lived on the Australian continent for more than 50,000 years, have helped create a uniquely Australian identity and spirit.
The choices for travelling Australia are as diverse as the country itself. Discover Australia’s cities, states and territories, unique iconic destinations and events.
Whether you’ve got two weeks to see the sights or six months to cover the country in a campervan, here you will find everything you need to know about the places to go and things to do on your Australian holiday. If you’re seeking nature, adventure, art and culture, food, wine or inspirational holidays, Australia has wide range of options.
For all you need to know about visiting Australia and planning your trip, visit www.australia.com - the official website of Tourism Australia.
An island continent located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia combines a wide variety of landscapes. The highest mountains are part of the Great Dividing Range that lines the east coast from Cape York Peninsula south to the state of Victoria. Most people reside along the southeast coast, in cities like Melbourne or Sydney, because winds from the southeast release rain there—leaving the interior beyond the mountains arid or semiarid. West of the Great Dividing Range the landscape consists mostly of plains and plateaus; the Macdonnell Ranges near the country's center are an exception. The Great Artesian Basin provides underground water for a region that would otherwise be desert. Vegetation ranges from rain forests in the far north to steppes and deserts in the vast interior (which Australians call the outback). There are more than 130 species of marsupials, such as kangaroos, koalas, and wombats. The Murray-Darling River Basin, covering about 14 percent of the continent, helps sustain wheat and wool industries.
Founded in 1788 as a British convict colony, Australia was a place of banishment until gold strikes in 1851 opened floodgates of immigration. Independence came in 1901, with a constitution adapted in part from that of the United States. Immigration has been key to Australia's development since 1788; from 1945 through 2000 almost six million immigrants arrived. Aborigines number about 517,000, and the government is making efforts to settle aboriginal land rights. Australia has one of the world's highest living standards with 85 percent living in urban areas.
Prepare for your Australian trip with our practical tips.
Australia’s currency is Australian Dollars (AUD) and currency exchange is available at banks, hotels and international airports. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, JCB and their affiliates. Try this handy currency converter.
Goods and Services Tax
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 per cent. You may be able to claim a refund of the GST paid on goods bought here if you have spent AUD$300 or more in one store, no more than 30 days before departing Australia. Tourist Refund Scheme facilities are located in the departure area of international terminals.
You’ll find large department stores, arcades, malls, gift and souvenir shops across Australia. Trading hours vary across the country but shops in tourist and city areas are generally open until 6pm, with the exception of late night shopping on either Thursdays or Fridays in different states. In Australia you are covered by Australia's consumer protection laws which require businesses to treat you fairly.
Tipping and bargaining
Hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to your bill. In up market restaurants, it is usual to tip waiters up to ten per cent of the bill for good service. However, tipping is always your choice. It is not custom to bargain in Australia.
The emergency number for police, ambulance and or fire brigade is 000.
Surf and water safety
Australia’s popular beaches are usually patrolled by volunteer lifesavers from October to April and red and yellow flags mark the safest area for swimming. For information about marine stingers and crocodile safety read the Queensland Government website.
Australia’s official language is English. However, being a multicultural nation with a significant migrant population, we also enjoy a tremendous diversity of languages and cultures.
Electrical power points
Our electrical current is 220 – 240 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet is different from some other countries, so you may need an adaptor.
Australia’s country code is 61. Local calls from public pay phones are untimed and charged at AUD$.050. Mobile, long distance and overseas calls are usually timed. Mobile phone network coverage is available across Australia, however coverage may be limited in some remote areas. Internet access is widely available at internet cafes, accommodation and libraries.
Post offices are usually open 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, with some city post offices open on Saturday morning. Travellers can arrange to collect mail at post offices throughout Australia.