Australia's main telecommunication companies:
Optus (1800 780 219; www.optus.com.au)
Telstra (13 22 00; www.telstra.com.au)
Virgin (1300 555 100; www.virginmobile.com.au)
Vodafone (1300 650 410; www.vodafone.com.au)
From payphones Most payphones allow International Subscriber Dialling (ISD) calls, the cost and international dialling code of which will vary depending on which international phonecard provider you are using. International phone cards are readily available from internet cafes and convenience stores.
From landlines International calls from landlines in Australia are also relatively cheap and often subject to special deals; rates vary with providers.
Codes When calling overseas you will need to dial the international access code from Australia (0011 or 0018), the country code and then the area code (without the initial 0). So for a London telephone number you'll need to dial 0011-44-20, then the number. In addition, certain operators will have you dial a special code to access their service. If dialling Australia from overseas, the country code is 61 and you need to drop the 0 in state/territory area codes.
Local calls cost 50c from public phones, and 25c from private phones (although it depends on the provider) – there are no time limits. Calls to/from mobile phones cost more and are timed.
Long-distance calls (over around 50km) are timed. Australia uses four Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) area codes. These STD calls can be made from any public phone and are cheaper during off-peak hours (generally between 7pm and 7am, and on weekends). The area codes are as follows.
Area-code boundaries don't necessarily coincide with state borders; for example some parts of NSW use the neighbouring states' codes.
European phones work on Australia's network, but most American and Japanese phones don't. Use global roaming or a local SIM card and a prepaid account.
Numbers Numbers with the prefix 04 belong to mobile phones.
Networks Australia's digital network is compatible with GSM 900 and 1800 (used in Europe), but generally not with the systems used in the USA or Japan.
Reception Australia's mobile networks service more than 90% of the population, but leave vast tracts of the country uncovered.
Providers It’s easy enough to get connected short-term: the main service providers (Telstra, Optus, Virgin and Vodafone) all have prepaid mobile systems. Buy a starter kit, which may include a phone or, if you have your own phone, a SIM card and a prepaid charge card. Shop around for the best offer.
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 by dialling a toll-free access number and then the PIN number on the card. Shop around.
Public Phones Most of the few public phones that remain 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).