Australia in detail


Accessible Travel

Australians are increasingly mindful of the people with different access needs and more operators are realising the social and economic benefits of accommodating them.

  • Legislation requires that new accommodation meets accessibility standards for mobility-impaired travellers, and discrimination by tourism operators is illegal.
  • Many of Australia's key attractions, including many national parks, provide access for those with limited mobility and a number of sites also address the needs of visitors with visual or aural impairments.
  • Contact attractions you plan to visit in advance to confirm facilities available.
  • Tour operators with vehicles catering to mobility-impaired travellers operate from most capital cities.
  • Facilities for wheelchairs are improving in accommodation, but there are still many older establishments where the upgrades haven't been implemented.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides.

Australian Resources

Deaf Australia (

e-Bility (

Vision Australia (

IDEAS (Information on Disability & Education Awareness Services) (

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (

Air Travel

Qantas entitles a disabled person with high-support needs and the carer travelling with them to a discount on full economy fares. Guide dogs travel free on Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and their affiliated carriers. All of Australia's major airports have dedicated parking spaces, wheelchair access to terminals, accessible toilets, and skychairs to convey passengers onto planes via air bridges.

Public Transport

All of Australia's suburban rail networks and the vast majority of urban buses are wheelchair accessible. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are permitted on all public transport.


Gentle haggling can be observed at weekend markets and vintage shops, but it's generally not the done thing in Australia, where prices are fixed. It's acceptable to ask for a discount on expensive items when paying cash or buying more than one item. In most instances you're expected to pay the stated price.

Dangers & Annoyances

Australia is a relatively safe and friendly place to travel, but natural disasters regularly wreak havoc. Bushfires, floods and cyclones can devastate local areas as weather events become more extreme and unpredictable.

  • Check weather warnings and don't venture into affected areas without an emergency plan.
  • Crime is low but don't let your guard too far down.
  • Beware of online house rental scams in Australia. Follow best practice when transferring money overseas.
  • Wild swimming can be dangerous here thanks to rips, sharks, jellyfish and crocodiles – always seek reliable information.
  • Watch for wandering wildlife on roads, especially at night. Kangaroos are very unpredictable.

Government Travel Advice

The following government websites offer travel advisories and information for travellers to Australia.

  • Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (
  • Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade (
  • French Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Européennes (
  • Italian Ministero degli Affari Esteri (
  • New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (
  • UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (
  • US Department of State (

Discount Cards

The internationally recognised International Student Identity Card ( is available to full-time students globally. The card gives the bearer discounts on accommodation, transport and admission to various attractions. Home country student ID cards are sometimes accepted by proprietors.

Travellers over the age of 60 may be eligible for the same concession prices as locals with Senior Citizen cards, though not many 60-year-olds take kindly to being called 'senior'.


230V AC, 50Hz. Australia has a three-prong socket (it is different from the British one).

Emergency & Important Numbers

Australian landline phone numbers have a two-digit state-by-state area code, followed by an eight-digit number.

Emergency (ambulance, fire, police)000
Directory assistance1223

Entry & Exit Formalities

Arrival in Australia is usually fairly quick and efficient. If you have a current passport and visa, and follow customs regulations, your entry should be straightforward.

Customs Regulations

For detailed information on customs and quarantine regulations, contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

When entering Australia you can bring most articles in free of duty provided that customs is satisfied they are for personal use. Duty-free quotas per person (note the unusually low figure for cigarettes):

  • Alcohol 2.25L (over the age of 18)
  • Cigarettes 50 cigarettes (over the age of 18)
  • General goods Up to the value of $900 ($450 for people aged under 18)

Narcotics, of course, are illegal, and customs inspectors and their highly trained hounds are diligent in sniffing them out. Quarantine regulations are strict, so you must declare all goods of animal or vegetable origin – wooden spoons, straw hats, the lot. Fresh food (meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables etc) and flowers are prohibited. There are disposal bins located in airports where you can dump any questionable items if you don't want to bother with an inspection, a hefty on-the-spot fine or up to 10 years' imprisonment.


Australia takes its bio-security very seriously. Border Force staff are usually very courteous while also assessing if you're trafficking drugs, wildlife, or worse, children. Spot-check inspections of luggage at the border are routine, so don't be alarmed if you're asked to open your bags. For more information on quarantine regulations contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Illegal drugs Customs authorities are adept at searching for drugs, and sniffer dogs are permanent fixtures in arrival and baggage halls.

Medication Bring medications in original, clearly labelled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is a good idea, especially if carrying syringes. There is a lucrative market in smuggled counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Australia, thus the vigilance.

Money You need to declare currency in excess of $10,000 (including foreign currency).

Plant and animal matter Declare all animal and plant material (wooden spoons, dried bananas, the lot) and show them to a quarantine officer. If you bring in a souvenir, such as a drum with animal hide for a skin, or a wooden article, the items are subject to inspection. Some may require treatment to make them safe before they are allowed in. Fresh food and flowers are prohibited, and there are restrictions on taking fruit and vegetables between states.

Weapons There are strong restrictions on the possession and use of weapons in Australia. Consult the customs website well before departure, as permits may be required.


All visitors to Australia need a visa, except New Zealanders. There are several different visas available from short-stay visitor visas to working-holiday visas.

Visa Extensions

If you want to stay in Australia for longer than your visa allows, you’ll need to apply for a new visa via You can't apply for a new visa in Australia if your current visa has expired so start the process well before your current visa expires.

Further Information

If you require an Australian visa, eligibility depends on your nationality, your age, your skills and how long you are contemplating staying in Australia. For more information and to apply online visit


There are very few rules of etiquette to take into account in Australia.

  • Greetings Usually a simple 'G'day', smile or nod suffices when passing people. Shake hands with men or women when meeting for the first time. Australians expect a firm handshake with eye contact.
  • Aboriginal Communities Direct eye contact can be considered overbearing. Be respectful, wait to be acknowledged and respond in a like manner.
  • Dry Communities Check whether alcohol restrictions apply when visiting remote communities. You may be breaking the law if you have booze in your vehicle.
  • BBQs Bring your own drinks, and some sausages (aka 'snags') if invited to a BBQ.
  • Photography Ask before taking pictures of people. Particularly bear in mind that for Aboriginal Australians, photography can be highly intrusive, and photographing cultural places, practices and images, sites of significance and ceremonies may not be welcomed. Respect is essential.


A travel-insurance policy is a very good idea.

Level of cover Ensure your policy covers theft, loss and medical problems. Some policies specifically exclude designated ‘dangerous activities’ such as scuba diving, skiing and even bushwalking. Make sure the policy you choose fully covers your planned (and perhaps unplanned) activities.

Health Check that the policy covers ambulances and emergency medical evacuations by air. Australia is a vast country so being airlifted to a hospital is a real possibility.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.

Internet Access

Wi-fi is the norm in most (not all) Australian accommodation, but it is not always good.

Cafes, bars, malls, museums and town squares sometimes provide free wi-fi access, but again don't expect fast speeds.

There remains a surprising number of black spots without mobile phone or internet coverage in Australia. Most are in rural or outback areas. Let family and friends know when you are likely to be uncontactable, and then enjoy properly switching off from the web.

LGBTIQ Travellers

Australia is a popular destination for LGBTIQ+ travellers, with Sydney a big 'pink dollar' draw thanks largely to the city's annual, high-profile and spectacular Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. Australians are generally open-minded, but you may experience some suspicion or hostility in more conservative neighbourhoods or regions.

Throughout the country, but particularly on the east coast, there are tour operators, travel agents and accommodation places that cater specifically for the rainbow community.

The age of consent varies by state for homosexual relationships. Same-sex marriages are now legally recognised in Australia after the question was finally put to a national vote in November 2017.


Major cities have gay-community publications available from clubs, cafes, venues and newsagents. Lifestyle magazines include Star Observer, Lesbians on the Loose (LOTL) and DNA.

Gay & Lesbian Tourism Australia (Galta; General information on gay-friendly businesses, places to stay and nightlife.

Gay Stay Australia ( A useful resource for accommodation.

Same Same ( News, events and lifestyle features.


Good-quality road and topographical maps are plentiful and readily available around Australia including at petrol stations and visitor information centres.

Hiking maps For longer walks proper topographic maps are essential. Published by Geoscience Australia they're usually available at shops selling specialist hiking gear and outdoor equipment.

Outback Driving Maps Hema Maps ( publishes some of the best maps for desert tracks and regions. They're available online and from some bookshops. Don't rely on Google or Apple Maps if you're heading off road.

GPS You can hire a GPS from the major car-hire companies (subject to availability), but they're unnecessary if you're sticking to the main roads in Australia as there is often just one route from A to B.


  • Newspapers The daily national broadsheet The Australian is complemented by local newspapers in every major city and many regional towns.
  • Radio ABC broadcasts national radio programs, many syndicated from the BBC, plus local regional stations. Check for local frequencies.
  • Television The main free-to-air TV channels are the ABC, multicultural SBS, Seven, Nine and Ten. Though locals are being seduced by paid TV options like Foxtel and Netflix.


Australian dollars is the only currency accepted. You won't have much trouble finding an ATM (automated teller machine, or cashpoint) but be aware that transaction fees are high.

ATMs & Eftpos

ATMs Australia's 'big four' banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, National Australia Bank and Westpac – and affiliated banks have branches all over Australia, plus a slew of 24-hour cashpoints (automated teller machines; ATMs). You'll even find them in some outback roadhouses.

Eftpos Most petrol stations, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and shops have Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (Eftpos) facilities.

Banking fees Withdrawing cash through ATMs or Eftpos may attract significant fees − check associated costs with your home bank and enquire about fee-free options.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted for everything from a hostel bed or a restaurant meal to an adventure tour, and are essential for hiring a car. They can also be used to get cash advances over the counter at banks and from many ATMs, depending on the card, though you'll incur immediate interest. Diners Club and American Express (Amex) are not as widely accepted in Australia.


Australia's currency is the Australian dollar, comprising 100 cents. There are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins, and $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Prices in shops are often marked in single cents then rounded to the nearest 5c when you pay.

Debit Cards

A debit card allows you to draw money directly from your home bank account. Any card connected to the international banking network – Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and Eurocard – should work with your PIN, but again expect substantial fees. Companies such as Travelex offer debit cards with set withdrawal fees and a balance you can top up from your personal bank account while on the road.

Exchange Rates

New ZealandNZ$1$0.97
South KoreaW1000$1.25

For current exchange rates, see

Changing Money

Changing foreign currency (or travellers cheques, if you're still using them!) is rarely a problem at banks and licensed moneychangers such as Travelex in major cities and airports.

Opening a Bank Account

If you're planning on staying in Australia for a while (on a Working Holiday visa for instance), it makes sense to open an Australian bank account. You'll need a postal address and identification. An ID points system operates. You need to score a minimum of 100 points before you can set up an account. Passports and birth certificates are worth the most points, followed by an International Driving Permit with photo, then minor IDs such as credit cards. You must have at least one ID with a photograph. Once the account is open, you should be able to have money transferred from your home account (for a fee, of course).

Before you arrive It's possible to set up an Australian bank account before you embark on your international trip and applications can be made online; check bank websites for details:


Commonwealth Bank (

National Australia Bank (NAB;

Westpac (


It's common, but by no means obligatory, to tip in restaurants and upmarket cafes if the service warrants it. Taxi drivers also appreciate you rounding up the fare. Tipping is not usually expected at hotels.

Opening Hours

Most attractions close Christmas Day; many also close on New Year's Day and Good Friday.

Banks & post offices 9.30am–4pm Monday to Thursday; until 5pm Friday

Cafes 7am–5pm; some close later

Petrol stations & roadhouses 8am–8pm; some open 24 hours in cities

Restaurants Lunch noon–2.30pm and dinner from 6pm; service ends early in country towns or on quiet nights

Shops 9am–5pm Monday to Saturday; sometimes on Sunday; in larger cities, doors close at 9pm on Friday

Supermarkets 7am–9pm; some open 24 hours


Australia Post ( runs a reliable national postal services; see the website for info on international delivery zones and rates. All post offices will hold mail for visitors: you need to provide some form of identification (such as a passport or a driving licence) to collect mail.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January

Australia Day 26 January

Easter (Good Friday to Easter Monday inclusive) late March/early April

Anzac Day 25 April

Queen's Birthday Second Monday in June (last Monday in September in Western Australia)

Christmas Day 25 December

Boxing Day 26 December

In addition, each state has its own public holidays from Canberra Day to the Hobart Show Day.


  • Smoking Banned from most indoor public spaces, and in some outdoor spaces where crowds congregate.

Taxes & Refunds

A goods and services tax is applied to many items and experiences for sale in Australia and is included in prices quoted. Income tax is taken by employers on behalf of the government. To ensure you are taxed at the appropriate rate you must have a Tax File Number; see for more information.

Further Information

Goods & Services Tax The GST is a flat 10% tax on all goods and services included in the price. There are exceptions such as basic foods (milk, bread, fruit and vegetables etc).

Refund of GST If you purchase goods with a total minimum value of $300 from any one supplier no more than 30 days before you leave Australia, you are entitled under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) to a refund of any GST paid. The scheme only applies to goods you take with you as hand luggage or wear onto the plane or ship. Check out for more details.

Income tax Nonresidents still pay tax on earnings made within Australia, and must lodge a tax return with the Australian Taxation Office. If too much tax was withheld from your pay, you will receive a refund.


Australia's main phone networks:

Optus (

Telstra (

Virgin (

Vodafone (

Phone Codes

Australia's country code61
Dialling international0011

Area Codes

Long-distance calls (over around 50km) are paid by time on the call, with peak and off-peak rates.

State/TerritoryArea code

Area-code boundaries don't always coincide with state borders; for example some parts of NSW use the neighbouring states' codes.

Numbers with the prefix 04 belong to mobile phones.

Mobile Phones

Either set up global roaming, or pick up a local SIM card with a prepaid rechargeable account on arrival in Australia. Shop around as deals vary depending on how much data or minutes you expect to use.

Toll-Free & Information Calls

  • Many businesses have either a toll-free 1800 number, dialled from anywhere within Australia for free, or a 13 or 1300 number, charged at a local call rate. None of these numbers can be dialled from outside Australia (and often can't be dialled from mobile phones within Australia).
  • To make a reverse-charge (collect) call from any public or private phone, dial 12 550.
  • Numbers starting with 190 are usually recorded information services, charged at anything from 35c to $5 or more per minute (even more from mobiles and payphones).


Zones Australia is divided into three time zones: Western Standard Time (GMT/UTC plus eight hours), covering Western Australia; Central Standard Time (plus 9½ hours), covering South Australia and the Northern Territory; and Eastern Standard Time (plus 10 hours), covering Tasmania, Victoria, NSW, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

Daylight saving Clocks are put forward an hour in some states during the warmer months (October to early April), but Queensland, WA and the NT stay on standard time.


  • Toilets in Australia are sit-down Western style (though you mightn't find this prospect too appealing in some remote pit stops).
  • Most public toilets are free of charge and reasonably well looked after.
  • See for public toilet locations, including disabled-access toilets.

Tourist Information

Tourist information is disseminated by various regional and local offices. Almost every major town in Australia has a tourist office of some type and staff can be super-helpful (often retiree volunteers) providing local information not readily available online. Some also sell books, souvenirs and snacks.

If booking accommodation or tours through a local tourist offices, be aware that they usually only promote businesses that are paying members of the local tourist association.








Travel with Children

If your children can survive travelling long distances by road, travelling in Australia will be a real delight. Lonely Planet's Travel with Children contains plenty of useful information on how to plan, pack and prepare for your big adventure.

Australia has high-standard medical services and facilities (make sure your insurance covers your whole family) and caters perfectly to children-specific needs from baby formula and disposable nappies to children's favourite food styles in most major towns.

Keeping Costs Down

Accommodation Many motels, hotels and the better-equipped holiday parks have playgrounds, swimming pools, and children-focussed activities to keep kids entertained without spending extra.

Car safety seats Ideally bring your own child safety seats rather than pay hire fees. You can pick up a secondhand one in Australia from reselling websites like eBay, but there are safety concerns (age or damage) to consider.

Concessions Child concessions (and family rates) often apply to accommodation, tours, admission fees and transport, with some discounts as high as 50% off the adult rate. However, the definition of 'child' varies from under five years, 12 years or 18 years so always check. Museums and art galleries are often free.

Eating out Most cafes, pubs and restaurants offer children's menus, or will provide a child-sized (entrée) portion for a smaller price on request. The best news for travelling families is the free or coin-operated barbecues in many public parks. Often outdoors dining is the best way forward with little ones.

Eating With Kids

Dining with children in Australia is relatively easy. At all but the flashiest places children are commonly seen dining out. Kids are usually more than welcome at cafes, while bistros and clubs often see families dining early. Fine-dining restaurants, however, discourage bringing babies or small children to appease other diners.

Kids’ menus often offer the same foods, straight from the deep fryer – crumbed chicken, battered fish and chips. It is possible to order from the broader menu and ask the kitchen to adapt the meal or size to your child’s needs.

Children Will Love

There’s no shortage of active, interesting or amusing things for children to experience in Australia. Plenty of museums, zoos, aquariums, interactive technology centres and pioneer villages have historical, natural or science-based exhibits to get kids thinking. And of course outdoor destinations are always a winner.

Victoria Wilsons Promontory National Park is a favourite family haunt and keeps knee-biters occupied with bushwalks, swimming, surfing and wildlife spotting. The Penguin Parade on Phillip Island is also a must for families.

New South Wales Surf schools run camps specifically for kids during school holidays. The Art Gallery of NSW runs the excellent GalleryKids program on Sundays.

Northern Territory Take kids wildlife spotting in the Territory Wildlife Park or Alice Springs Desert Park.

Queensland World-famous Australia Zoo and Gold Coast theme parks in Queensland are child pleasers.

Tasmania As haunting as it is, Port Arthur is a well-preserved historic site giving insight into Australia's colonial story. The ghost tours are good.

Western Australia Swimming with whale sharks, learning more about dolphins in Bunbury, and spotting humpacks at Albany. WA is the best option for ocean lovers avoiding the crowds.


Lonely Planet's Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World provides useful information about volunteering.

See also the following websites:

Conservation Volunteers Australia ( Nonprofit organisation involved in tree planting, walking-track construction and flora and fauna surveys.

Earthwatch Institute Australia ( Volunteer expeditions focusing on conservation and wildlife.

GoVolunteer ( Thousands of volunteering opportunities around the country.

Volunteering Australia ( State-by-state listings of volunteering opportunities around Australia.

Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF: WWOOFing sees travellers swap a day's work on a farm in return for bed and board. Most hosts are concerned to some extent with alternative lifestyles and have a minimum stay of two nights. Join online for a booklet listing participating enterprises.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures Australia uses the metric system.

Women Travellers

Australia is generally a safe place for women travellers, and the following sensible precautions all apply for men as well as women.

Night-time Avoid walking alone late at night in any of the major cities and towns – keep enough money aside for a taxi back to your accommodation.

Pubs Be wary of basic pub accommodation unless it looks particularly well managed. Alcohol can affect people's behaviour and compromise safety.

Drink spiking Pubs in major cities sometimes post warnings about drugged or 'spiked' drinks. Play it cautious if someone offers you a drink in a bar.

Sexual harassment Unfortunately still a fairly big problem in Australia from street harassment to 'nice guys' on dating apps.

Hitchhiking Hitching is never recommended for anyone, even when travelling in pairs. Exercise caution at all times.

Solo travel Most people won't bat an eyelid if you're female-identifying and travelling alone. Go forth and have the time of your life in Australia, without having to compromise just to have a buddy on the road.


If you come to Australia on a tourist visa, you're not allowed to work for pay: you'll need a Working Holiday (417) or a Work and Holiday (462) visa – see for up-to-date information.

Tax File Number

If you're working in Australia, apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) online through the Australian Taxation Office (; it takes up to four weeks to be issued. Without it, tax will be deducted at the maximum rate from any wages you receive.

Finding Work

Backpacker magazines, newspapers and hostel noticeboards are good places to source local work opportunities. Casual work can often be found during peak season at the major tourist centres: places such as Alice Springs, Cairns and resort towns along the Queensland coast, and the ski fields of Victoria and NSW are all good prospects during holiday season. Other possibilities for casual employment include factory work, farm labour, bar work, waiting tables, domestic chores at outback roadhouses, nanny work, or as a fundraiser for charities. People in skilled professions from IT to building can find work temping in the major cities by registering with an industry agency.

See also the following websites, which are good for opportunities in metropolitan areas:

  • Career One ( General employment site; good for metropolitan areas.
  • Gumtree ( Classified site with jobs, accommodation and items for sale.
  • Job Active – Harvest ( Harvest job specialists.
  • National Harvest Labour Information Service Info on when and where you're likely to pick up harvest work.
  • QITE ( Nonprofit Queensland employment agency operating around Cairns, Innisfail and the Atherton Tablelands.
  • Seek ( General employment site; good for metropolitan areas.
  • Travellers at Work ( Excellent site for working travellers in Australia.
  • Workabout Australia ( Gives a state-by-state breakdown of seasonal work opportunities.

Seasonal Work

Seasonal fruit-picking (harvesting) relies on casual labour − there's always something that needs to be picked, pruned or farmed somewhere in Australia year-round. It's definitely hard work, involving early-morning starts, and you're usually paid by how much you pick (per bin, bucket, kilo etc). Never put a deposit down to reserve a fruit-picking job and never pay for fruit-picking accommodation in advance.

Seasonal Work Hot Spots

NSW The NSW ski fields have seasonal work during the ski season, particularly around Thredbo. There's also harvest work around Narrabri and Moree, and grape picking in the Hunter Valley. Fruit picking happens near Tenterfield, Orange and Young.

NT The majority of working-holiday opportunities in the NT for backpackers are in fruit picking, station handing, labouring and hospitality.

Queensland Queensland has vast tracts of farmland and orchards: there's fruit-picking work to be found around Stanthorpe, Childers, Bundaberg and Cairns. Those looking for sturdier (and much-better-paying) work should keep an eye on mining opportunities in towns such as Weipa and Cloncurry.

SA Good seasonal-work opportunities can be found on the Fleurieu Peninsula, in the Coonawarra region and Barossa Valley (wineries), and along the Murray River around Berri (fruit picking).

Tasmania The apple orchards in the south, especially around Cygnet and Huonville, are your best bet for work in Tassie.

Victoria Harvest work in Mildura and Shepparton.

WA Perth usually has temporary work available in tourism and hospitality, administration, IT, nursing, child care, factories and labouring. Outside of Perth travellers can look for jobs in tourism and hospitality, plus a variety of seasonal work. For grape-picking work, head for the vineyards around Margaret River.