The minimum legal 'drinking' age is 18. Young people going to bars and discos should carry identification to prove they are at least 18 years old. They will not be let in otherwise. No one may buy liquor from a bar or liquor store (bottle shop) unless they are at least 18. Buying liquor for a 'minor' is illegal.
Rental cars are freely available in Sydney from Budget, Avis, Hertz, Thrifty, Delta Europcar and several smaller operators. Vehicles are generally no more than eight months old, with automatic transmission and air-conditioning. Renters have to be 21 or older and hold a current driver's licence. An international licence is not necessary. Travel Online can certainly help you with your rental car requirements, visit our Campervans and Car Rental websites for details.
Australia's seasons are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, with summer officially starting in December and winter commencing in June. Australia is a vast continent and the climate and weather can change considerably from region to region. But the for the most part Australia is a great destination to enjoy all year round. For the majority of areas in Australia, winters are generally mild, and a great time to visit. Such is the diversity that you can be skiing in the Victoria's ski fields one day and lying on the beach in the Whitsunday the next. Summers can be quite hot in most Australian states but also a perfect time to visit the beach. In the Northern Territory and North Queensland summer time is also the tropical season. The best time to visit Tropical North Queensland is during their dry season from June through to November. Sydney is in the southern part of Australia and does not suffer extremes of cold or heat. The climate in Sydney is similar to coastal California and the northern Mediterranean. For more information on the climate during the time you travel you can ask our consultants at the time of booking.
All banks have automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible 24-hours a day, generally outside the branch or in the foyer. Check with your card issuer that your charge or account-linked credit card can be used in this way, and at which bank as none accept every brand of card. Be warned, cash snatching is not uncommon so be conscious of the people around you and avoid ATMs in dark or seemingly deserted places. Major credit cards are accepted on the trains that we represent for purchase of meals, drinks etc.
Australian currency (AUD) is decimal and the basic unit is the dollar, with 100 cents equaling one dollar. Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 denominations. Coins are available as $2,$1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c denominations. The law provides that the TOTAL bill is rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents. So $19.97 becomes $19.95, $19.98 becomes $20.00. Check our currency converter for today's rates.
During the Summer months several Australian states (not all) have daylight saving. New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia operate on daylight savings time from the end of October until the end of March. In Tasmania daylight savings beings at the start of October through to the end of March. Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia do not have daylight savings time.
Australians drive on the left, which can be disconcerting for visitors used to driving on the right side of the road. Roads are generally good and major routes well signposted. Speed limits and distances are expressed in kilometres and vary substantially from 50 kph in residential and heavy traffic areas to 110 kph on freeways (please follow signage for speed limits). Drink driving is a serious offence and heavily policed. Drivers can be stopped anywhere at random and subjected to a breath analysis test. Offenders are arrested and fingerprinted, so it can be a bad end to a fine evening or a long lunch. The legal limit in Australia is a blood alcohol content of .05%.
The amount of luggage passengers may take on board these trains is limited, and it is recommended that items not required for your train journey be packed separately. At check-in, your through luggage can be labelled and stored in the secured baggage car and not accessible until you reach your destination. It is suggested that large and/or hard cases should be checked as through luggage. Luggage for your compartment should contain only clothing and items required during your journey. Please consider that storage space is limited on trains, and for you own comfort it is important to pack lightly for your train journey. It is recommended that your tickets, passports and any medication be kept with you and not packed in your through or compartment luggage.
Australian health care professionals are highly trained and medical services are among the best in the world. Medical and dental services and a wide range of alternative therapies are widely available in Sydney and are comparatively cheap by most international standards.
Visitors from the UK, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, and Sweden are entitled to free or subsidised medical and hospital care under reciprocal national health care agreements with the taxpayer funded Medicare organisation. It is highly recommended that all travellers should take out travel insurance when visiting Australia. Major hotels have doctors on-call.
January 1 New Year's Day
January 26 Australia Day
March/April Easter (depending on full moon)
April 25 ANZAC Day
June 9 Queen's Birthday
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day
Local and State public holidays also observed throughout the year.
Visitors who have a medical condition requiring treatment should ensure they carry a letter from their doctor outlining their condition and the medication required. This is also important if the drug is uncommon or contains narcotics, which may be a restricted import. Most medication is available in Australia, but only on a doctor's prescription. Prescription drugs are dispensed by qualified pharmacist at 'pharmacies' or 'chemist' shops.
Australia is predominantly a Christian country, but Australia has such a diverse ethnic cross-section nearly all major religions are practiced and have their own places if worship. Places of worship and religious organizations are listed in the Yellow Pages telephone directory.
It is recommended that exposure to the harsh Australian sun be minimized by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, cover up and apply water-resistant sunscreen frequently.
Australia is blessed with some fantastic beaches. It is however advisable to follow precautions when swimming in the ocean. Australia's popular beaches are patrolled by volunteer lifesavers from October to April each year. All visitor's and Australian's alike are advised to 'Swim between the Flags'. The red and yellow flags at the patrolled beaches mark the safest area for swimming. Also take your time entering the water and don't swim alone.
Australian has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10%. Prices in Australia are shown inclusive of GST. GST is payable on tourism services such as accommodation, day tours, transfers, and meals.
Australia has three time zones, running East to West. Eastern Standard Time (EST) operates in Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland. South Australia and the Northern Territory operate on Central Standard Time (CST) and Western Australia on Western Standard Time (WST). WST is two hours behind EST. CST is half and hour behind EST. See Daylight Saving for further details on Summer Time.
Travellers cheques, especially in foreign currencies, are generally NOT accepted EXCEPT by hotels and big stores and tourist shops. Travellers Cheques can be cashed at a bank or Bureau de Change to ensure you have enough spending money. The same holds true for foreign currency, which is not generally accepted by Australian businesses and shops.
No service charge applies in Australia. Tipping is not mandatory but a 10% tip in restaurants and hotel bars is normal for good service.
What to Pack
The seasons in Australia are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. From December to February, the summer month, temperatures are warm to hot and humidity can be high. It is recommended to bring lightweight clothes and a jacket or sweater handy in case the nights are cool. For the winter months, from June to August, warmer clothes including light coats, sweaters, jumpers etc are recommended. In the tropical areas such as Darwin and Cairns, lightweight clothing is suitable throughout the year.
For formal dining or if attending the theatre men may require a jacket and tie or suit with women required to dress more formally.