Bargaining and haggling isn't really part of Australian culture. That said, there's a definite 'cash' culture in commerce here, where you might get a lower price on a purchase if you pay cash rather than use a credit card (thus relieving the vendor of some of their official tax obligations).
Dangers & Annoyances
Queensland is a relatively safe place to visit – in terms of crime and war, at any rate – but take reasonable precautions. The Gold Coast and Cairns get dishonourable mentions when it comes to theft: don’t leave hotel rooms or cars unlocked, or valuables visible through car windows.
- Beware undertows (rips) at surf beaches. Swim parallel to the shore to escape the current, then head for the sand.
- Bushfires, floods and cyclones regularly decimate parts of Queensland: pay attention to warnings from local authorities.
- Use sunscreen and cover up to avoid sunburn and heat sickness.
- Crocodiles, jellyfish and stinging marine animals inhabit Australia's tropical northern waters: always heed warnings.
- Sharks occur right along the Queensland coast: seek local advice about risks.
- Cover up at dusk and wear insect repellent to deter mosquitoes and ticks.
- Snakes are active in summer and common on bushwalking trails: wear boots, socks and long trousers (ideally gaiters).
Deadly & Dangerous
If you’re the pessimistic type, you might focus on the things that can bite, sting, burn or drown you in Queensland: bushfires, treacherous surf, blazing heat, jellyfish, snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles, ticks... But chances are the worst you’ll encounter are a few pesky flies and mosquitoes. So splash on some insect repellent and boldly venture forth!
Out & About
At the Beach
Around 80 people per year drown on Australia’s beaches, where pounding surf and rips (strong currents) can create serious hazards. If you happen to get caught in a rip and are being taken out to sea, swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of the rip, then head for the beach – don’t try to swim back against the rip; you’ll only tire yourself.
Bushfires happen regularly in Queensland. In hot, dry and windy weather and on total-fire-ban days, be extremely careful with naked flames (including cigarette butts) and don’t use camping stoves, campfires or barbecues. Bushwalkers should delay trips until things cool down. If you’re out in the bush and you see smoke, take it seriously: find the nearest open space (downhill if possible). Forested ridges are dangerous places to be. Always heed the advice of authorities.
Coral can be extremely sharp; you can cut yourself by merely brushing against the stuff. Thoroughly clean cuts and douse with antiseptic to avoid infection.
Hot weather is the norm in Queensland and can lead to heat exhaustion or more severe heatstroke (resulting from extreme fluid depletion). When arriving from a temperate or cold climate, remember that it takes two weeks to acclimatise.
Unprepared travellers die from dehydration each year in remote areas. Always carry sufficient water for any trip (driving or hiking), and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to arrive. Carry communications equipment and if in trouble, stay with your vehicle rather than walking for help.
Sunburn & Skin Cancer
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Monitor exposure to direct sunlight closely. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is greatest between 10am and 4pm, so avoid skin exposure during these times. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt with a collar. Always use SPF 30+ sunscreen; apply it 30 minutes before exposure and reapply regularly to minimise sun damage.
Things that Bite & Sting
Basic Reef Safety Rules
- Don’t touch any marine life.
- Wear shoes with strong soles when walking near reefs.
- Don’t eat fish you can’t identify.
- Don’t swim in murky water; try to swim in bright sunlight.
The risk of a crocodile attack in tropical Far North Queensland is real, but with some common sense it is entirely avoidable. ‘Salties’ are estuarine crocodiles that can grow to 7m. They inhabit coastal waters and are mostly seen in the tidal reaches of rivers, though on occasion they’re spotted on beaches and in freshwater lagoons. Always heed any advice, such as crocodile warning signs, that you might come across. Don’t assume it’s safe to swim if there are no signs: if you’re not sure, don’t swim.
If you’re away from popular beaches anywhere north of Rockhampton, avoid swimming in rivers, waterholes and in the sea near river outlets. Don’t clean fish or prepare food near the water’s edge, and camp at least 50m away from waterways. Crocodiles are particularly mobile and dangerous during the breeding season (October to March).
Jellyfish – including the potentially deadly box jellyfish and irukandji – occur in Queensland’s tropical waters. It’s unwise to swim north of Agnes Water between November and May unless there’s a stinger net. ‘Stinger suits’ (full-body Lycra swimsuits) prevent stinging, as do wetsuits. Swimming and snorkelling are usually safe around Queensland’s reef islands throughout the year; however, the rare (and tiny) irukandji has been recorded on the outer reef and islands.
Wash stings with vinegar to prevent further discharge of remaining stinging cells, followed by rapid transfer to a hospital. Don’t attempt to remove the tentacles.
Marine spikes and poisonous spines – such as those found on sea urchins, catfish, stingrays, scorpionfish and stonefish – can cause severe local pain. If you’re stung, immediately immerse the affected area in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated) and seek medical care.
Contact with blue-ringed octopuses and Barrier Reef cone shells can be fatal, so don’t pick them up. If someone is stung, apply a pressure bandage, monitor breathing carefully and conduct mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if breathing stops. Seek immediate medical care.
‘Mozzies’ can be a problem just about anywhere in Queensland. Malaria isn’t present, but dengue fever is a danger in the north of the state, particularly during the wet season (November to April). Most people recover in a few days, but more severe forms of the disease can occur.
To minimise bites:
- Wear loose, long-sleeved clothing.
- Apply repellent with minimum 30% DEET on exposed skin.
- Use mosquito coils.
- Sleep under fast-spinning ceiling fans.
Despite extensive media coverage, the risk of shark attack in Queensland is no greater than in other countries with extensive coastlines. Check with surf life-saving groups about local risks.
There’s no denying it: Australia (and especially Queensland) has plenty of venomous snakes. Few species are aggressive: unless you are messing with or accidentally stand on one, you’re unlikely to be bitten. About 80% of bites occur on the lower limbs: wear protective clothing (such as gaiters) when bushwalking.
If bitten, apply an elastic bandage (or improvise with a T-shirt). Wrap firmly around the entire limb – but not so tightly that you cut off the circulation – and immobilise with a splint or sling; then seek medical attention. Don’t use a tourniquet, and don’t try to suck out the poison.
Australia has poisonous spiders, although the only species to have killed anyone recently, the Sydney funnel-web, isn’t a Queenslander. Common species:
- Redback – Bites cause increasing pain followed by profuse sweating. Apply ice and transfer to hospital.
- Whitetail – Blamed for causing slow-healing ulcers. If bitten, clean bite and seek medical assistance.
- Huntsman – A disturbingly large spider that’s harmless, though seeing one can affect your blood pressure (and/or underpants).
Common bush ticks can be dangerous if lodged in the skin and undetected. When walking in tick-prone areas, check your body every night (and those of children and dogs). Remove a tick by dousing with methylated spirits or kerosene and levering it out intact. See a doctor if bites become infected (tick typhus cases have been reported in Queensland).
A Bit of Perspective
Australia’s plethora of poisonous and biting critters is impressive, but don’t let it put you off. There’s approximately one shark-attack and one croc-attack fatality per year here. Blue-ringed-octopus deaths are rarer − only two in the last century. Jellyfish do better − about two deaths annually − but you’re still more than 100 times more likely to drown. Spiders haven’t killed anyone in the last 20 years. Snake bites kill one or two people per year, as do bee stings, but you’re about a thousand times more likely to perish on the nation’s roads.
Government Travel Advice
The following government websites offer travel advisories and information on current hot spots.
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.smarttraveller.gov.au)
- British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/fco)
- Government of Canada (www.travel.gc.ca)
- US State Department (www.travel.state.gov)
Senior Cards Travellers over 60 with some form of identification (eg a Seniors Card – www.australia.gov.au/content/seniors-card) are often eligible for concession prices. Most Australian states and territories issue their own versions of these, which can be used Australia-wide.
Student & Youth Cards The internationally recognised International Student Identity Card (www.isic.org) is available to full-time students aged 12 and over. The card gives the bearer discounts on accommodation, transport and admission to various attractions. The same organisation also produces the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC), issued to people under 26 years of age who are not full-time students, and has benefits equivalent to the ISIC. Also similar is the International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC), available to teaching professionals. All three cards are available online or from student travel companies ($30).
Embassies & Consulates
The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.dfat.gov.au) lists all foreign missions in Australia. Most are in Canberra; many countries also have consular offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Australian landline phone numbers have a two-digit STD area code followed by an eight-digit number. Drop the initial 0 in the area code if calling from abroad.
|Emergency (ambulance, fire, police)||000|
|International Access Code||0011|
|Queensland STD Area Code||07|
Entry & Exit Formalities
If you're arriving in Queensland via an international flight, the process is usually straightforward and efficient, with the usual passport checks and customs declarations.
- For comprehensive information on customs regulations, contact the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service (www.customs.gov.au).
- There’s a duty-free quota of 2.25L of alcohol, 50 cigarettes and dutiable goods up to the value of $900 per person.
- Prohibited goods include drugs (all medicines must be declared), wooden items and food – Australia is very strict on this, so declare all food items, even leftover edibles taken from the plane.
There are no restrictions for citizens of any particular foreign countries entering Australia. If you have a current passport and visa, you should be fine.
All visitors to Australia need a visa. Apply online through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
- Many European passport holders are eligible for a free eVisitor visa, allowing stays in Australia of up to three months within a 12-month period.
- eVisitor visas must be applied for online. They are electronically stored and linked to individual passport numbers, so no stamp in your passport is required.
- It’s advisable to apply at least 14 days prior to the proposed date of travel to Australia.
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA; 601)
- Passport holders from those European countries eligible for eVisitor visas, plus passport holders from Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, can apply for either a visitor Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or business ETA.
- ETAs are valid for 12 months, with stays of up to three months on each visit.
- ETA visas cost $20.
- Short-term Visitor visas have largely been replaced by the eVisitor and ETA visas. However, if you're from a country not covered by either, or you want to stay longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a Visitor visa.
- Standard Visitor visas allow one entry for a stay of up to three, six or 12 months, and are valid for use within 12 months of issue.
- Visitor visas cost from $130 to $1000.
Work & Holiday (462)
- Nationals from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the USA and Uruguay aged between the ages of 18 and 30 can apply for a Work and Holiday visa prior to entry to Australia.
- Once granted, this visa allows the holder to enter Australia within three months of issue, stay for up to 12 months, leave and re-enter Australia any number of times within those 12 months, undertake temporary employment to supplement a trip, and study for up to four months.
- Application fee: $440.
Working Holiday (417)
- Young (aged 18 to 30) visitors from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK are eligible for a Working Holiday visa, which allows you to visit for up to 12 months and gain casual employment.
- Holders can leave and re-enter Australia any number of times within those 12 months.
- Holders can only work for any one employer for a maximum of six months.
- Apply prior to entry to Australia (up to a year in advance) – you can’t change from another tourist visa to a Working Holiday visa once you’re in Australia.
- Conditions include having a return air ticket or sufficient funds ($5000) for a return or onward fare.
- Application fee: $440.
- Second Working Holiday visas can be applied for once you're in Australia, subject to certain conditions.
- Note that New Zealanders entering Australia are automatically granted a Special Category Visa, allowing them to live, work and stay in Australia without restrictions.
If you want to stay in Australia for longer than your visa allows, you’ll need to apply for a new visa (usually a Visitor visa 600). Apply online at least two or three weeks before your visa expires.
Although largely informal in their everyday dealings, Queenslanders do observe some (unspoken) rules of etiquette.
- Greetings Shake hands with men, women and children when meeting for the first time and when saying goodbye. Female friends are often greeted with a single kiss on the cheek.
- Invitations If you're invited to someone's house for a BBQ or dinner, don't turn up empty-handed: bring a bottle of wine or some beers.
- Shouting No, not yelling. 'Shouting' at the bar means buying a round of drinks: if someone buys you one, don't leave without buying them one too.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
Historically, Queensland has a poor reputation when it comes to acceptance of gays and lesbians. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Queensland in 1991, after the fall of the long-term National Party government.
Brisbane has a small but lively gay and lesbian scene centred on the inner-city suburbs of New Farm and Fortitude Valley, with a few nightclubs, pubs and guesthouses. There are also gay- and lesbian-only accommodation options in some of the more popular tourist centres, including Brisbane and Cairns. Elsewhere in Queensland, however, there can be a strong streak of homophobia, and violence against homosexuals is a risk, particularly in rural communities.
Gay and lesbian magazines include DNA, Lesbians on the Loose (LOTL) and Queensland Pride. Other resources:
Gay & Lesbian Counselling Brisbane Counselling appointments.
Gay & Lesbian Tourism Australia (www.galta.com.au) General info.
A good travel insurance policy covering theft, loss and medical problems is essential. Some policies specifically exclude designated ‘dangerous activities’ such as scuba diving, surfing, white-water rafting and even bushwalking. Make sure the policy you choose fully covers you for your activity of choice, and covers ambulances and emergency medical evacuations by air.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
In our Queensland listings we have allocated the internet icon where a venue provides terminals for guest/public use, and the wi-fi icon where wireless internet is available.
No one goes to internet cafes any more, do they? You can still find them in the big cities if you ask around, and most public libraries have internet terminals (generally provided for research, not for travellers to check Facebook).
If you’re bringing your palmtop or laptop, check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for access numbers you can dial into in Australia. Some major Australian ISPs:
Telstra BigPond (www.bigpond.com)
Wi-fi is still rare in remote Queensland, but the norm in urban accommodation, with cafes, bars, libraries and even some public gardens also providing wi-fi access (often free for customers/guests).
Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and other big carriers sell mobile broadband devices with a USB connection that work with most laptops and allow you to get online just about anywhere in the country. Prices are around $80 for 30 days of access (cheaper for long-term fixed contracts). If you're travelling here from overseas you might be better off buying a local SIM card with a data allowance you can top up.
Most travellers will have no contact with Australia’s police or legal system; if you do, it’s most likely to be while driving.
Driving There’s a significant police presence on Queensland's roads. Police have the power to stop your car, see your licence (you’re required to carry it), check your vehicle for roadworthiness, and insist that you take a breath test for alcohol (and sometimes illicit drugs). The legal limit is 0.05 blood-alcohol content. If you’re over you’ll be facing a court appearance, a fine and/or suspension of your licence.
Drugs First-time offenders caught with small amounts of illegal drugs are likely to receive a fine rather than go to jail, but the recording of a conviction against you may affect your visa status.
Visas If you remain in Australia beyond the life of your visa, you’ll officially be an ‘overstayer’ and could face detention and then be prevented from returning to Australia for up to three years.
Arrested? It’s your right to telephone a friend, lawyer or relative before questioning begins. Legal aid is available only in serious cases; for Legal Aid office info see www.nationallegalaid.org. However, many solicitors do not charge for an initial consultation.
- The RACQ publishes a good series of regional road maps that show almost every drivable road in the state – these are free to RACQ members and to members of affiliated motoring organisations. You can plan your route using its online trip planner. There are also plenty of good road maps for sale at service stations.
- Street directories by companies including Hema, Gregory’s and UBD are available from most newsagents and many bookshops in Queensland. Street directories are useful but expensive, bulky and usually only worth getting if you intend to do a lot of driving in one city.
- For bushwalking and other activities that require large-scale maps, the topographic sheets put out by Geoscience Australia (www.ga.gov.au) are the ones to get. Many of the more popular maps are usually available over the counter at outdoor-equipment shops.
- DVDs Australian DVDs are encoded for Region 4, which includes Mexico, South America, Central America, New Zealand, the Pacific and the Caribbean.
- Newspapers Leaf through Brisbane’s Courier-Mail or the national Australian newspapers.
- Radio Tune in to ABC radio (www.abc.net.au/radio).
- TV The main free-to-air TV channels are the government-sponsored ABC and multicultural SBS, plus the three commercial networks – Seven, Nine and Ten. There are also numerous additional channels from these main players.
ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops.
ATMs & Eftpos
ATMs Common in Queensland cities and towns, but don’t expect to find them everywhere, certainly not off the beaten track or in small towns. Most ATMs accept cards issued by other banks (for a fee) and are linked to international networks.
Eftpos Most service stations, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and shops have Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (Eftpos) facilities, allowing you to make purchases and even withdraw cash with your credit or debit card.
Fees Remember that withdrawing cash via ATMs or Eftpos may incur significant fees − check the costs with your bank first.
Credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted for most accommodation and services, and a credit card is essential (in lieu of a fat wad of cash) when 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 – but be aware that these withdrawals incur immediate interest. Diners Club and American Express cards are not as widely accepted.
Lost credit-card contact numbers:
- Currency The Australian dollar comprises 100 cents. There are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins, and $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.
For international travellers, debit cards connected to the international banking networks – Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and Eurocard – will work fine in Queensland ATMs. Expect substantial fees. A better option may be prepaid debit cards (such as MasterCard and Travelex ‘Cash Passport’ cards) with set withdrawal fees and a balance you can top up from your bank account while on the road.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
Changing foreign currency is usually no problem at banks throughout Australia, or at licensed money changers such as Travelex or AmEx in airports and cities. Expect substantial fees.
Taxes & Refunds
Australia has a flat 10% tax on all goods and services (GST), included in quoted/shelf prices. A refund is sometimes possible under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS): see www.border.gov.au/trav/ente/tour/are-you-a-traveller.
Tipping isn't traditionally part of Australian etiquette, but it's increasingly the norm to tip around 10% for good service in restaurants, and a few dollars for porters (bellhops) and taxi rides.
The ubiquity and convenience of internationally linked credit- and debit-card facilities in Australia means that travellers cheques are virtually redundant – but AmEx and Travelex will cash travellers cheques, as will major banks. In all instances present your passport for identification when cashing them.
Business hours sometimes vary from season to season, but use the following as a guide:
Banks 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday; some also 9am to noon Saturday
Bars 4pm to late
Cafes 7am to 5pm
Nightclubs 10pm to 4am Thursday to Saturday
Post Offices 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday; some also 9am to noon Saturday
Pubs 11am to midnight
Restaurants noon to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm
Shops 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday
Supermarkets 7am to 8pm
Availability & Printing If you're not happily snapping away with your smartphone, digital cameras, memory sticks and batteries are sold prolifically in cities and urban centres: try Officeworks, Harvey Norman or the larger department stores. Officeworks and Harvey Norman also have printing and CD-burning facilities. Cheap, disposable underwater cameras are available at most beach towns.
Etiquette As in any country, politeness goes a long way when taking photographs; ask before taking pictures of people. For Indigenous Australians, photography can be highly intrusive: photographing cultural places, practices and images, sites of significance and ceremonies may also be a sensitive matter. Always ask first.
Resources Check out Lonely Planet’s Travel Photography guide.
Australia Post (www.auspost.com.au) is the nationwide provider. Most substantial towns have a post office, or an Australia Post desk within a bank. Services are reliable, but slower than they used to be (recent cost-saving cutbacks are to blame). Express Post delivers a parcel or envelope interstate between Australia's urban centres by the next business day; otherwise allow four days for urban deliveries, longer for country areas.
New Year’s Day 1 January
Australia Day 26 January
Easter (Good Friday to Easter Monday inclusive) March or April
Anzac Day 25 April
Labour Day First Monday in May
Queen’s Birthday Second Monday in June
Royal Queensland Show Day (Brisbane only) Second or third Wednesday in August
Christmas Day 25 December
Boxing Day 26 December
Key times when prices are highest and much accommodation is booked out in advance:
- Christmas holiday season (mid-December to late January)
- Easter (March-April)
- Shorter (two-week) school-holiday periods, generally falling in mid-April, late June to mid-July, and late September to mid-October.
- Smoking Illegal in pubs, bars, restaurants, offices, shops, theatres etc, and within certain signposted distances of public-facility doorways (airports, bus depots, cinemas etc).
Regular Australian phone numbers have a two-digit area code followed by an eight-digit number. Drop the initial '0' if calling from abroad.
Australia’s main telecommunications companies:
Telstra (www.telstra.com.au) The main player − landline and mobile phone services.
Optus (www.optus.com.au) Telstra’s main rival − landline and mobile phone services.
Vodafone (www.vodafone.com.au) Mobile phone services.
Virgin (www.virginmobile.com.au) Mobile phone services.
Information & Toll-Free Numbers
- Toll-free numbers (prefix 1800) can be called free of charge, though they may not be accessible from certain areas or from mobile phones.
- Calls to numbers beginning with 13 or 1300 are charged at the rate of a local call.
- To make a reverse-charge (collect) call within Australia, dial 1800-REVERSE (1800 738 3773) from any public or private phone.
- Telephone numbers beginning with either 1800, 13 or 1300 cannot be dialled from outside Australia.
- When calling overseas you need to dial the international access code from Australia (0011), the country code, then the area code (without the initial 0).
- When dialling Queensland from overseas, the country code is 61, and you need to drop the zero in the 07 area code.
- Local calls from private phones cost 30c and are untimed.
- Local calls from public phones cost 50c and are untimed.
- Calls to mobile phones attract higher rates and are timed.
European phones will work on Australia’s network, but most American or Japanese phones will not. Use global roaming or a local SIM card and prepaid account.
Numbers Local numbers with the prefix 04xx belong to mobile phones.
Network Australia’s digital network is compatible with GSM 900 and 1800 (used in Europe), but generally not with networks in the USA or Japan.
Reception Queensland generally gets good mobile-phone reception, but service can be haphazard or nonexistent in the interior and far north (eg the Daintree Rainforest).
Connections To get connected, buy a starter kit, which may include a phone or, if you have your own phone, a SIM card (under $10) and a prepaid charge card. Pick up starter kits and SIM cards at airport mobile-phone shops or outlets in the big cities. Purchase recharge vouchers at convenience stores and newsagents.
Long-Distance Calls & Area Codes
- STD (long-distance) calls can be made from private, mobile and virtually any public phone and are cheaper during off-peak hours (7pm to 7am).
- When calling from one area to another area within the same area code, there’s no need to dial the area code before the local number. If these calls are long-distance (more than 50km away), they're charged at long-distance rates, even though they have the same area code.
Area codes within Australia:
New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory
Phonecards & Public Phones
- A variety of phonecards can be bought at newsagents, hostels and post offices for a fixed dollar value (usually $10, $20 etc) and can be used with any public or private phone. Shop around.
- Most public phones use phonecards; some also accept credit cards. Old-fashioned coin-operated public phones are becoming increasingly rare (and if you do find one, chances are the coin slot will be gummed up or vandalised beyond function).
Australia is divided into three time zones:
Eastern Standard Time (Greenwich Mean Time + 10 hours) Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania
Central Standard Time (30 minutes behind Eastern Standard Time) Northern Territory, South Australia
Western Standard Time (two hours behind Eastern Standard Time) Western Australia
Note that Queensland remains on Eastern Standard Time all year, while most of Australia switches to daylight-saving time over the summer (October to early April) when clocks are wound forward one hour.
- Toilets in Queensland are sit-down Western style (though you mightn’t find this prospect too appealing in some remote pit stops).
- See www.toiletmap.gov.au for public toilet locations.
Tourist information is provided in Queensland by numerous regional and local info centres in key tourist spots, often staffed by volunteers (chatty retirees). Keep in mind that some tourist info outlets are also booking agents and will steer you towards the tour/accommodation that pays them the best commission.
Australian Tourist Commission (www.australia.com) National organisation charged with luring foreign visitors.
Department of National Parks, Sport & Racing (www.nprsr.qld.gov.au) Information on national parks throughout Queensland, including campsite bookings.
Tourism Queensland (www.queenslandholidays.com.au) Official Queensland government-run website stacked with information, from accommodation to diving the Great Barrier Reef.
Travellers with Disabilities
Disability awareness in Queensland is reasonably high. Legislation requires that new accommodation must meet accessibility standards and tourist operators must not discriminate. Facilities for wheelchairs are improving in accommodation, but there are still many older establishments where the necessary upgrades haven’t been made: call ahead to confirm.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Australian Tourist Commission (www.australia.com) Publishes detailed, downloadable information for people with disabilities, including travel and transport tips and contact addresses of organisations in each state.
Deaf Australia (www.deafau.org.au)
Disability Information Service (www.communities.qld.gov.au/disability) Queensland government's Department for Communities, Child Safety & Disability Services; support throughout Queensland.
National Disability Services (www.nds.org.au) The national industry association for disability services.
National Information Communication & Awareness Network Australia-wide directory providing information on access, accommodation, sports and recreational activities, transport and specialist tour operators.
Spinal Life Australia (www.spinal.com.au) In Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.
Vision Australia (www.visionaustralia.org)
Wheelie Easy (www.wheelieeasy.com.au) Runs specialised tours in Far North Queensland for travellers with impaired mobility.
Travel With Children
If you can survive the long-haul distances between cities, travelling around Queensland with the kids can be a real delight. There's oodles of interesting stuff to see and do, both indoors and out, including beaches, zoos, theme parks and adventures on the Great Barrier Reef.
Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children contains buckets of useful information for travel with little 'uns.
Best Regions for Kids
- Brisbane & Around
Big-city kiddie adventures: ferry rides, an artificial riverside swimming beach, hands-on museums and galleries, and a koala sanctuary.
- The Gold Coast
The beaches here are beaut, and there are five massive roller-coaster-wrapped theme parks just north of Surfers Paradise.
- Noosa & the Sunshine Coast
Don't miss Noosa National Park, the native critters at Australia Zoo, and a visit to Mooloolaba’s bedazzling Underwater World.
- Fraser Island & the Fraser Coast
Check out the colourful sand cliffs at Rainbow Beach, or careen around the sand in a 4WD on Fraser Island.
- Cairns & the Daintree Forest
Rainforest walks, a swimming lagoon, playgrounds and boat trips to the reef or islands. Don't miss the scenic railway to Kuranda in the hinterland.
Queensland for Kids
Many Queensland motels and the better-equipped caravan parks have playgrounds and swimming pools, and can supply cots and baby baths − some motels also have in-house children’s movies and child-minding services.
Top-end hotels and many (but not all) midrange hotels are well versed in the needs of guests with children. B&Bs and some exclusive resorts, on the other hand, often market themselves as child-free. Check when you book.
Some of Queensland’s licensed child-care agencies have places set aside for casual care: phone local councils for a list of child-care providers. Avoid unlicensed operators.
Day-care or babysitting options with rates starting at around $25 per hour include the following:
Babysitters R Us Brisbane, Gold Coast, Caboolture and Noosa.
Busy Bees Babysitting Gold Coast, Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.
Dial an Angel Brisbane.
Change Facilities & Breastfeeding
Queenslanders are relaxed about breastfeeding and nappy (diaper) changing in public. All cities and most major towns also have centrally located public rooms (often in shopping centres) where parents can go to nurse their baby or change a nappy; check with the local tourist office.
Child concessions (and family rates) often apply to accommodation, tours, admission fees and transport around the state, with some discounts as high as 50% of the adult rate. However, the definition of ‘child’ varies from under-fives to under 18 years. Accommodation concessions generally apply to children under 12 years sharing the same room as adults. Kids under two years old receive discounts on many flights across Australia (they are seat-belted on to a parent's lap and thus don't occupy a seat).
Many cafes, restaurants, surf clubs and pubs around Queensland offer kids’ meals, or will provide small serves from the main menu. Some also supply high chairs. Many fine-dining restaurants, however, don’t welcome small children. If all else fails, grab some fish and chips and head for the beach. There are also plenty of free or coin-operated barbecues in parks around the state.
- Queensland has high-standard medical services and facilities, and items such as baby formula and disposable nappies are widely available.
- Major hire-car companies will supply and fit child-safety seats, charging a one-off fee of around $25. Taxi companies aren’t legally required to supply child seats, but may be able to organise one if you call in advance.
- Braving the roller coasters, IMAX movies and Bengal tigers: Dreamworld is hard to beat!
- Hitting Warner Bros Movie World for movie-themed rides and wandering VIP cartoon characters.
- Flinging yourself into pools, down slides and into aquatic mayhem: it's wet, it's wild, it's Wet'n'Wild.
- Cooling off on a humid Gold Coast afternoon at WhiteWater World.
- Talking with the animals at Australia Zoo – OK, so it's not technically a theme park, but the kids will love it just as much.
- Exploring museums and galleries in Brisbane: the hands-on Queensland Museum & Sciencentre; the Queensland Maritime Museum, where you can clamber through the corridors of a Navy frigate; and the kids' galleries and installations at the Gallery of Modern Art.
- Watching sharks, seals and other marine life at Underwater World – Sea Life Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.
- Visiting Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium for a look at the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Riding the zipline and clambering over obstacle courses inside the recreated rainforest at the indoor Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome, complete with resident crocs and koalas.
Mum, We’re Hungry
When to Go
- The southeast (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast) can be great fun any time of year, though it does get a little chilly during the winter (June to August), making for unpredictable beach days.
- Winter, on the other hand, is the best (but busiest) time to visit tropical Far North Queensland, with clear nights, stinger-free beaches and an absence of summer's oppressive heat, humidity and monsoonal downpours.
- Travelling during school holidays can be maddening and expensive – particularly on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
Lonely Planet’s Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference Around the World provides useful information about volunteering.
Conservation Volunteers Australia (www.conservationvolunteers.com.au) Nonprofit organisation involved in tree planting, walking-track construction, and flora and fauna surveys.
Go Volunteer (www.govolunteer.com.au) National website listing volunteer opportunities.
Greening Australia (www.greeningaustralia.org.au) Helps volunteers get involved with environmental projects in the bush or in plant nurseries.
Lizard Island Research Station (www.australianmuseum.net.au/lizard-island-research-station) Opportunities to help researchers studying marine ecology and seabirds.
Reef Check (www.reefcheckaustralia.org) Train to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef (not so healthy of late...).
Sea Turtle Foundation (www.seaturtlefoundation.org) Volunteer opportunities in sea-turtle conservation.
Volunteering Australia (www.volunteeringaustralia.org) Support, advice and volunteer training.
Volunteering Qld (www.volunteeringqld.org.au) Volunteering info and advice across Queensland.
Willing Workers on Organic Farms (www.wwoof.com.au) WWOOFing is where you do a few hours' work each day 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 $70. You’ll get a membership number and a booklet listing participating enterprises ($5 overseas postage). There's also an app available ($20).
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures Australia uses the metric system.
Queensland is generally a safe place for women travellers, although the usual sensible precautions apply. Sexual harassment is rare, though some macho Aussie males still slip – particularly in rural areas when they've been drinking. Hitch-hiking isn't such a great idea anywhere in Australia these days, even when travelling in pairs.
If you come to Australia on a tourist visa then you’re not allowed to work for pay. You’ll need either a Work & Holiday (462) or Working Holiday (417) visa: see www.border.gov.au for details.
- If you’re in Brisbane and happy with bar work or waiting on tables, the best advice is to go knocking on doors in Fortitude Valley or New Farm. Many places want staff for longer than three months, though, so it may take a bit of footwork to find a willing employer. The Courier-Mail newspaper has daily employment listings – Wednesday and Saturday are the best days to look.
- Backpacker magazines and hostel noticeboards are also good options for sourcing local work. Casual work can often be found during peak season in tourist hubs such as Cairns, the Gold Coast and the resort towns along the Queensland coast.
- Harvest work is popular elsewhere in Queensland (just don't expect to make a fortune). The main spots are Bundaberg, Childers, Stanthorpe, Bowen, Tully and Innisfail, where everything from avocados to zucchinis are harvested throughout the year, and hostels specialise in finding travellers work.
- People with computer, secretarial, nursing and teaching skills can often find work temping in the cities (via employment agencies).
Australian Job Search (www.jobsearch.gov.au) Government-run website listing myriad jobs around the country.
Career One (www.careerone.com.au) General employment site; good for metropolitan areas.
Harvest Trail (www.harvesttrail.gov.au) Harvest job specialists.
National Harvest Telephone Information Service (1800 062 332) Advice on when and where you’re likely to pick up harvest work.
Seek (www.seek.com.au) General employment site; good for metropolitan areas.
Travellers at Work (www.taw.com.au) Excellent site for working travellers in Australia.
Workabout Australia (www.workaboutaustralia.com.au) Gives a state-by-state breakdown of seasonal work opportunities.
- If you're earning money in Australia, you'll be paying tax in Australia and will have to lodge a tax return. See the website of the Australian Taxation Office (www.ato.gov.au) for info on how to do this, including getting a payment summary from your employer, timing and dates for lodging returns, and receiving your notice of assessment.
- As part of this process you'll need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) to give your employer. Without it, tax will be deducted at the maximum rate from your wages. Apply online via the Australian Taxation Office; it takes up to four weeks to be issued.