Australian Travel Facts





The following facts and information were collected from various sources. I have written, updated, and edited them to contain the most up to date information. Together with my travel tips page, I have provided what I think is the most important necessary information for your trip to Australia. Click the links in the following text for more information. The pages will open a new window in your browser.

For other travel tips and information, try searching Google from my site.


General Information

American travelers to Australia typically do not encounter any particular difficulties. Visitors should make preparations as they would when traveling in the U.S., using normal reservation services for travel and accommodation, plus taking into account the requirement to have either an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or a valid Australian visa. ETAs are now available via the Internet at

Travel time from the U.S. to Australia is comparable to that of other Asian destinations, a 15-hour non-stop flight from the West Coast, with a choice of flights on several international airlines including United Airlines, Qantas Airways, Air New Zealand, and Virgin. Most departures from the U.S. leave in the evening and arrive in Australia early in the morning, with a day lost at the International Date Line. Travel to or from the rest of Asia, Europe, South America and South Africa is also convenient. Around 30 international airlines fly into Australia every week, from 37 countries around the globe.

Frequent interstate flights connect the five major Australian cities. Savings are available on domestic airfares when purchased in conjunction with international tickets. Australia has a very extensive and efficient domestic transportation system, including air, rail, coach, sea, chauffeured and rental cars, and urban public transport between cities and country areas. Air transport has become even more competitively priced with the operation of Virgin Blue on major air routes.

Australia is becoming well known as a travel destination. In the past seventeen years, tourism has become Australia’s largest export earner, with the number of international visitors increasing from 1.4 million in 1986 to 4.8 million in 2002, and well over 10 million in 2010. The Australian Tourist Commission, Australia's national tourist office, has a presence in Los Angeles. The Commission can assist with travel advice and information on where to go and what to do and see.

Australia is a sought-after international destination for conventions, corporate meetings, and corporate incentive travel. Australia is rated fourth in the world for the number of international conventions and business meetings held each year. Its convention centers and trade show facilities in capital cities and resort areas offer state-of-the-art technology, some accommodating as many as 10,000 delegates. Many executives and conference delegates extend their stays in Australia with a holiday.


Business Customs

Doing business in Australia is comfortable for American companies because the language, cultural environment, business practices and customer expectations are very similar. Business etiquette is similar to the U.S., with attention paid to advance planning, promptness, punctuality, and follow through.

Australians are personally gracious, yet informal and direct in their business dealings. Very soon after meeting, Australians do business on a first-name basis. Business cards are exchanged for information purposes, but without any special ceremony. Token gift exchange is not common. Luncheon and breakfast meetings are common, and Australians do not typically schedule business functions on weekends, which are dedicated to family and friends. Normal business attire is worn in the cities, with country areas being slightly more informal.


Time Zones

Australia’s three time zones, Eastern, Central and Western, are parallel to those in Asia. Eastern Time (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Cairns) is one hour ahead of Tokyo. The reversal of the seasons (and hence of daylight saving time in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres) complicates the time zone calculation. Not all Australian states have daylight saving time. Between the months of April and October, when it is 8:00 am in New York and 11:00 am in Los Angeles, it is 10:00 pm in Sydney and 8:00 pm in Perth. From November to March, at 8:00 am in New York, it is 12:00 am (midnight) in Sydney and 9:00 pm in Perth.


International Air Travel Times

Los Angeles to Sydney - 14 hrs
New York to Sydney (via Los Angeles and San Francisco)- 21 hrs
(via Japan) 25 hrs
Honolulu to Sydney - 9 hrs
Tokyo to Sydney - 9 hrs
Hong Kong to Sydney - 9 hrs
Singapore to Sydney - 8 hrs


Air Travel Times Within Australia

Sydney to Melbourne - 1 hr
Sydney to Brisbane - 1 hr
Sydney to Perth - 4 hrs
Sydney to Canberra - 35 mins
Melbourne to Brisbane - 2 hrs
Melbourne to Perth - 4 hrs
Brisbane to Perth - 6 hrs



A valid U.S. passport and either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) are required for Americans traveling to Australia for business and/or leisure. Visas can be obtained from Australian Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates. They are also available, in ETA form, via the internet at and from participating U.S. travel agents and airlines when making travel arrangements. The Australian Embassy has a list of participating travel agencies. U.S. citizens traveling to Australia should note that the ETA can only be obtained in the U.S.

Requirements for work and resident visas are more stringent. The nearest Australian visa office should be contacted well in advance. Visas are issued by Australian Embassies and Consulates.


Business Hours and Banking

Office business hours generally are 9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Retail shops increasingly keep longer business hours, and all city centers have evening shopping at least one day per week, along with Saturday and (in most areas) Sunday. However, Australia has not yet gone to the 7-day/24-hour shopping mode characteristic of most of the U.S. Banks are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (some later), Monday through Friday, with 7-day/24-hour ATM service. Restaurants and convenience stores are commonly open for extended hours.



Australia’s unit of currency, the Australian dollar (A$), is freely traded. The conversion rate is variable. The yearly update to this page in January, 2013, the Australian dollar has strengthened to parity against the US$ with A$1 trading at around US$0.951 with the Aussie dollar worth slightly more. The weak US dollar is a direct result of the bad economic policies of the current administration in Washington. In 1998 the US dollar was double verses the Aussie dollar. Travelers’ checks are accepted widely. Currency can be exchanged easily at international airports and most major banks, and ATM machines linked to Cirrus and other international networks are readily accessible. There are no major restrictions on importing or exporting currency or travelers checks to/from Australia, although a customs declaration is filed when taking out large amounts of cash AU$10,000 and above.


Credit Cards / ATM'S

Most international credit cards are accepted in Australia and, as in the U.S., can be used for purchases of goods and services and to confirm hotel and other travel arrangements. ATM machines have most international cash access systems available so that travelers can withdraw cash directly from U.S. accounts. Keep in mind that there are fees for such transactions when dealing with international exchange.


Telephones and Facsimiles

Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure is excellent; national and international prices continue to decline as competition increases. Services to businesses include Internet access, ISDN, voice messaging, and facsimile. The use of phone cards is common, and most major international phone cards can be used. Phone cards can be purchased locally from numerous retail outlets. Services such as Skype are also popular.

Australia runs GSM networks. GSM is provided by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone and a few smaller carriers. Users should receive wide coverage across Australia in the populated areas and major cities. Mobile phones are available for rent from locations at the airport and in the major city centers. Mobile coverage is not available in the outback except for Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, and Darwin.

Internet access is widely available at airports, hotels, and internet cafés. Facsimile services are also available for public use in post offices, hotels, and some news agencies.


Mobile Phones

In Australia, “cellular phones” are known as “mobile phones”. As noted above, Australia currently uses one international digital standard for cellular mobile telephones, GSM. You will need to make prior arrangements with your communications carrier or service provider to ensure you are able to use your cellular phone in Australia. If you have ATT or T-Mobile in the USA you should be good to go. Sprint sells a dual mode cell phone called the Motorola Photon or the Photon Q. It is both CDMA for USA use and GSM for international use. You are also advised to check if your cellular phone equipment is safe to operate in Australia. Power voltage is 240 volts/50Hz. You also need to check your service plan for international roaming use. It can get real expensive so beware of the cost. Buying a mobile phone and getting a sim card is in most cases the way to do it. Visit your nearest Optus shop in any major city.

For further information, see the Australian Communications and Media Authority website at

Mobile phones are available for rent from locations at the airport and in the major city centers.


Postal and Courier Services

Australia Post supplies modern and efficient postal services within Australia and overseas. Express delivery and insured service is available. Domestic and international faxes can be sent from post offices. Several international courier services operate from major cities, offering express worldwide delivery of documents and packages.


Hotels and Business Services

The business traveler to Australia can choose from a full range of hotels, from budget to five star international standard. Bookings for major chains can be made before leaving the U.S. Accommodation ranges from standard rooms to elaborate suites. Serviced apartment/hotels, with kitchens and living rooms, are available in the major cities and resorts. Most large hotels offer a full range of business and communications services, including e-mail, fax, word processing and copying. Temporary office suites are available for short-term rental.


Rental Cars and Local Transportation

As in Britain and most of Asia, Australians drive on the left side of the road. Major U.S. and Australian car rental agencies operate throughout the country. Reservations can be made through airports, hotels, travel agents or directly, using a credit card and a U.S. or international driver's license. Public transportation is well developed throughout urban areas. Comfortable and convenient bus, rail, and air services are available between cities and country towns.


Electrical Power

Voltage in Australia is 220-240V, 50 cycles. Three-pronged conversion plugs are available widely in retail stores. Voltage transformers, to convert American 110V appliances are available, but not often found. Dual-voltage devices are more practical.


Taxes and Customs Duties

On July 1, 2000, the Australian Government introduced a ten percent General Services Tax (GST) to replace various wholesale sales taxes. The GST is charged upon the purchase of generally all goods and services in Australia, including hotels and restaurants, and on goods imported into Australia. Tourists may be able to claim a refund at the airport upon departure from Australia for GST paid on goods purchased in Australia to be taken out of the country. Conditions apply and further details on the Tourist Refund Scheme can be obtained from information brochures available at the airport upon arrival, or from the Australian Customs Service web site



Australia has no notable health risks and public tap water is safe to drink. There are active campaigns to encourage the population to protect themselves from sun exposure and AIDS. Medical and dental services, and all types of health facilities, are comparable with those in the U.S. Visitors can receive medical attention easily, but may be required to pay for services immediately, by cash or credit card. Therefore, visitors should have their own health insurance arrangements in the U.S. from which to seek reimbursement.


Food and Drink

Australia's reputation as a world gourmet destination is growing, as awareness spreads of Australia's abundance of fresh, pure, and prime quality fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, dairy products, specialty cheeses and fine wines. Australia's cultural diversity provides a broad choice of cuisine, and modern Australian chefs are reaching new heights of creativity. The coastal cities are renowned for fresh seafood, and the traditional Australian barbecue (barbie) is a way of life. Australia is winning international wine awards and its wine industry's export earnings are growing exponentially.


Cultural Opportunities

Australia's vibrant, multicultural society offers cultural events to suit every preference. In major cities, opera, ballet, and theater companies perform throughout the year. Typically, there are a myriad of art exhibitions, music festivals and concerts. Country towns often stage annual agricultural, food and wine festivals, and ethnic groups hold their own celebrations. Sports of all types are well supported, in particular, the four football codes (Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union and soccer) and cricket.


Requirements For Temporary Entry of Personal Computers, Software, Exhibit Materials and Related Items

There are no restrictions to the temporary importation of personal computers and software applications for use in normal situations, nor does Australia have restrictions on encryption based-software. In most cases, items imported for the sole use of exhibiting at local trade fairs are not subject to import duties.

Commercial goods brought into Australia with the intention of being sold will be subject to the normal rates of duty and sales tax, where applicable. Goods, commercial or personal, which are brought into Australia to remain temporarily, may be admitted duty and tax free, subject to certain conditions. Carnets may be obtained for temporary duty-free entry of goods, such as commercial samples, jewelry, goods for international exhibitions, equipment for sporting events, professional television and film equipment, etc.

Before you arrive in Australia, you are advised to check if your communications equipment (for example, mobile phone, fax machine, wireless microphone, notebook computer) is safe to operate in Australia. Power voltage is 240 volts/50Hz.

For further information:


Country-Specific Travel Information Websites

Visa information
Australian Tourist Commission
New South Wales Tourist Commission
Victorian Tourist Commission
Queensland Tourist and Travel Corp.
South Australian Tourist Commission
Western Australian Tourist Commission
Northern Territory Tourist Commission
Tourism Tasmania
Australian Capital Territory


U.S. Government Websites in Australia

U.S. Embassy, Canberra

American Consulate General, Sydney
American Consulate General, Melbourne
American Consulate General, Perth





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Page updated December 27, 2016 04:01:43 PM

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