My Australa Travel Guide is created to showcase all that Australia has to offer. Australia is a country in the Asia-Pacific region. Often regarded as part of Oceania, it is the only country to occupy an entire continent - albeit the smallest one. The land area of Australia totals 7,617,930 square kilometers (2,941,299 square miles), making it the sixth largest country in the world. The population of Australia, however, is a mere 22.1 million, giving it a population density of less than 3 persons per kilometer.
The modern settlement of Australia was founded when British colonies were created in parts of New South Wales. This began with the founding of Port Jackson by Captain Arthur Phillip on 26 January, 1788. That date is used as Australia's national day, called Australia Day. The passing of the Australia Act 1986 cut the final constitutional ties between Australia and the UK.
The capital of Australia is Canberra. It is located on the northern part of the Australian Capital Territory, which was carved out of New South Wales in 1911. Canberra was named the National Capital of Australia two years later, in 1913.
Australia's independence from Britain began with the drafting of the Australian Constitution on 1 January, 1901. It continued with the Statute of Westminster of 1931, which severed constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom.
Most of the population of Australia is concentrated into half a dozen major cities, while the rural areas are sparsely populated. Visitors to Australia come to appreciate its landscape and its nature. Distances are great and going from one place to another may take a full day, if not days. Nevertheless, there is much to see, from the Great Barrier Reef in the northeast to the desert and natural rock formations in the central and western parts of Australia.
For a country the size of Australia, there is something to do to fill every season. You can split Australia into two climatic zones: the tropical zone all the way from the north to the Tropic of Capricorn, and south of that, the temperate zone. The summers (December to February) are hot, but it's a great time to head to the beach. In the north, however, it gets very humid and often rainy in summer. The weather is milder in spring and autumn. Winters are cold in the temperate zone, while in the tropics, it is cool and dry. You can ski at some mountain resorts in New South Wales in winter.
In the south, lightweight clothing is sufficient for summer, with warmer clothing in the cooler months. In the north, you can survive with lightweights throughout the year. Protection from the sun is recommended if you are going to the sea, the beach or the desert.
Australian Time Zones
Mainland Australia operates under three time zones:
Eastern Standard Time (EST, +10GMT), in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.
Central Standard Time (CST, +9.5GMT), in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Western Standard Time (WST, +8GMT), in Western Australia.
Australia Entry Requirements
Apart from the nationals of New Zealand, everybody else require a visa to enter Australia. Please check with on the Australian Immigration website, www.immi.gov.au. Citizens of some countries may also use the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa. For details, go to www.eta.immi.gov.au
Preparing Money for your trip to Australia
The currency used in Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD). The following are the latest rates for Australian dollar in the last 24-hours.
International travellers may enter Australia through any of its major cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin. Approximately half the international travellers to Australia arrive through Sydney, most staying in Sydney Hotels.
Sydney Airport (in full, Sydney Kingsford-Smith International Airport, SYD), located south of Sydney in Mascot, NSW, is the most important airport in Australia for both international and domestic flights. Sydney Airport is only 8km from the city centre, and has three main terminals: T1, T2 and T3. T1 is the International Terminal, while T2 and T3 are for domestic flights. T1 is separated from T2 and T3 by a runway, so travellers transiting between terminals should allow sufficient time between flights. Terminals T2 and T3 are next to each other, so you can walk between them. To reach T1 from T2 and T3 or vice versa, you need to take a transport. If you are flying with Qantas, you can use the air-side shuttle service. Otherwise, the options are train, bus and taxi.
The train between terminals is the AirportLink, AirportLink, which is connected to Sydney's suburban train network. It takes just 2 minutes to go between terminals. Follow the train sign to the station, and make sure the train is heading in the right direction. The fare is $4.70.
The bus service, called T-Bus, use the normal road to go between terminals. It takes 10 minutes to shuttle passengers between terminals, some times more if they get stuck in a jam. The fare is $5.00
The third option is by taxi. Taxis are not entirely happy to ferry passengers between terminals. That's because they have been in the taxi queue for a while, and doing so puts them at the end of the queue again, for a 10-minute journey that does not earn them as much as a trip to the city. Nevertheless be firm about it, for it is legal requirement for taxis to take you there. The fare is $10.00
Getting Out of Sydney Airport
The following options are available to travellers leaving the airport:
By Taxi. The fare to the city is approximately $25-$30, including tolls. It will cost more to farther destinations in Sydney, ie The Rocks $35-$40, North Sydney $35, Manly $50, etc. Expect long queue for taxis if arriving on Friday evenings.
By Train. Airport Link, connects Sydney Airport to the city. One way fare is $12.00. Airport Link connects to Cityrail, www.cityrail.info/ the commuter rail system of Sydney. They share the same ticketing system. As the trains are part of Sydney's commuter lines, expect them to be busy during rush hours (7:30am - 9:30am).
By Car. If you want someone to collect you from the airport, take note that waiting is not allowed. Minimum charge for parking is $7.00 for the first half an hour.
By Rented Car. Car rentals are available at all terminals. To book your car online, the low-cost option in Australia is EasyCar
The Tourism NSW Information Desk is available at Level 1 of the T1 terminal, and open from 6:00am to 11:00pm every day, to provide you help on accommodation, tours, etc.
Budget Travel within in Australia
Visitors planning to explore Australia on their own must always take into consideration the great distances between places. The most practical option to traverse tge distance between cities is to fly, and upon arrival to drive.
Unlike more densely populated developed countries, Australia does not have a high-speed train service across the country. There are a few great cross-country trains as is documented below. Those taking the train across Australia will be rewarded with memorable experiences that cannot be duplicated by domestic flights.
Great Southern Railway, www.gsr.com.au offers one of the most absorbing train experiences across Australia, on three lines, namely The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland:
The Ghan: The Ghan is the name of a historic train journey that is still available today. Originally the trip was between Adelaide and Alice Springs, but in 2004, 70 years after it began, the journey was extended to Darwin, covering a distance of 2979km either direction in two nights.
Indian Pacific: As the name suggests, the route links Perth in the west to Sydney in the east, passing through Adelaide. It covers a distance of 4352km in 3 nights either direction.
The Overland: Named after the pioneers who travelled between Melbourne and Adelaide on horseback, the Overland is a day trip covering 828km in either direction.
Savannahlander, www.savannahlander.com.au is another great train experience. It travels from Cairns on a 4-day journey through mountains, bushland and other arresting sights.
CountryLink, provides train services linking the towns in New South Wales, with services from Sydney to Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra as well.
CityRail, is the train network that serves the Sydney metropolitan area.
VLine, is the public transport provider for Victoria.
MetLink is the public transport provider for the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Transwa provides trains and bus services for Western Australia.
TransPerth provides train, bus and ferry services for the Perth metropolitan area.
You are quite spoiled for choice when in Australia. Use this link to see a comparison of room rates from different Hotels in Australia, provided by the best Hotel Booking sites on the web. Also, it is well known that Sydney hotels offer excellent services with great rates.
Money matters in Australia
The Australian Dollar (AUD, symbol A$) is composed of 100 cents. Banknotes come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 while coins are available in 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, $1 and $2. Banking hours are 9:30am to 4:00pm Mon-Thurs and 9:30am - 5:00pm Fridays, but may vary slightly across the country.
At time of writing (Oct 2007), USD1.00 = AUD1.11, €1.00 = AUD1.57. For the latest exchange go to the Oanda Currency Converter.
Plan your perfect trip abroad this year by arranging a holiday in Australia. Make sure to stop by Sydney. You will find a list of Sydney vacation ideas all over the web. Whether it's a couples getaway or a family holiday, make sure you get cheap flights to Australia online.