Australian dollar ($)
Budget: Less than $200
- Hostel dorm bed: $40
- Double room in a basic motel: $100–150
- Simple main meal: $15–20
- Short bus or tram ride: $5
- Double room in a B&B or hotel: $150–250
- Brunch in a good cafe: $25–40
- Small gig or show: $30
- Short taxi ride: $25
Top End: More than $350
- Double room in a top-end hotel: from $250
- Three-course meal in an upmarket restaurant: $125 per person
- Theatre or festival tickets: from $100 per person
- Domestic flight between two main cities: from $100
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.
Australian dollars is the only currency accepted. You won't have much trouble finding an ATM (cashpoint) but be aware, 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 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 come to pay.
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.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com
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 (www.commbank.com.au)
National Australia Bank (NAB; www.nab.com.au)
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.