Australia - FAQ
What is the Weather & Climate like in Australia?
Australia’s seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere * Spring is September - November * Summer is December - February * Fall is March - May * Winter is June – August.
Australia's climate is generally pleasant without extremes in temperature. Broadly, there are two climatic zones in Australia. About 40% of Australia is in the Tropical Zone - that is north, above the Tropic of Capricorn. The cities of Cairns and Darwin lie in this zone. The remaining areas of Australia lie in the Temperate Zone, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth.
Due to Australia's vast size, there are variations within these two zones. The Temperate Zone has all four seasons, while those in the Tropical Zone have two - summer is 'wet' and winter is 'dry'
Do I need to have a Passport and Visa to enter Australia?
To enter Australia, a passport valid for at least 6 months after the completion of your trip and a pre-arranged entry authority known as an 'ETA' (Electronic Travel Authority) is required. An ETA is equivalent to a visa, but there is no stamp or label in your passport and there is no need for you to visit an Australian diplomatic office to submit an application. If you are eligible, the ETA can be issued electronically by your Aspire Down Under consultant for a fee of $20 per visa.
The tourist ETA is valid for multiple entries into Australia (each entry to a maximum of three months) over a period of one year. A business ETA can be obtained, allowing multiple entries into Australia for the life of your passport. Restrictions apply. ETA’s should be obtained at least ten days prior to your trip.
Visitors not eligible for an ETA and those wishing to stay for longer than three months, or to work, must obtain a visa to enter. Further advice and application forms may be obtained from the Australian consulate in Washington DC.
What is the customs quarantine procedure like when entering Australia?
Food, plant material and animal products from overseas could introduce some of the world’s most serious pests and diseases into Australia, devastating the valuable agriculture and tourism industries and unique environment. You must declare for inspection all food, plant material and animal products on arrival in Australia to ensure they are free of pests and diseases. More details...
Can I bring Tax Free/Duty Free items into Australia?
Each traveler over 18 years of age can bring into Australia 1125ml of alcoholic liquor and 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco products duty/tax free. For other goods, including those intended as gifts, a duty/tax-free allowance of $A400 per person or $A200 per person under 18 is available. These articles must accompany you through Customs and must not be intended for commercial purposes.
What is and how much is the Departure tax?
Australia's Passenger Movement Charge (departure tax) is $A38 per person and is pre-paid with your international airline ticket. Exemptions apply to children under 12 years and 24 hour transit passengers.
What languages are spoken in Australia?
English is the common language of Australia. However, as Australia is a multicultural society, you may hear other languages spoken.
What is the time difference between Australia and the U.S.?
The east coast of Australia is 15 hours ahead of the east coast of the US, and 18 hours ahead of the west coast of the US.
Both countries operate daylight savings time during their summer months, from April to October eastern Australia is 14 hours ahead of the east coast of the US, and 17 hours ahead of the west cost of the US.
From October to March, Australia is 16 hours ahead of the east coast of the US, and 19 hours ahead of the west coast of the US.
Not all Australian states observe daylight saving, so times in the country can vary by one hour.
What currency is used in Australia?
Australian currency ($A) is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit (100 cents = A$1). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 denominations. Coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c denominations.
What Credit Cards can I use in Australia?
The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and JCB.
What is the Currency exchange procedure like in Australia?
Exchange facilities are available at international airports. Changing foreign currency or travelers checks can be done at most banks. Cash withdrawals can be made from most Australia ATM’s.
What Taxes are currently in place in Australia?
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10%. Prices in Australia are shown as inclusive of GST. Departing travelers may be able to claim a refund for GST paid on goods purchased in Australia. The goods must have been purchased no earlier than 30 days before leaving Australia. Refunds can only be made on purchases totaling A$300 or more from each store. Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) facilities are located at international airports and cruise-liner terminals. To claim, travelers must show their passport, international boarding pass, retailer’s tax invoice and the goods. Other conditions apply.
When and how much should I tip in Australia?
Tipping is optional. However, the recommended ammounts are:
Restaurants: 10% for good service is standard
Porters: $A1-2 per bag
Tour Guides: optional
What electric voltage does Australia use?
230/240 volts, 50 Hz, 3 pin plugs. The power supply is 220/240 volts AC. Sockets accept three-flat-pin plugs so an adaptor is needed. 110v appliances will need a voltage converter.
Do I need insurance when traveling to Australia?
Before your visit you should arrange sufficient medical and travel insurance. Ensure the policy is adequate to cover costs for ambulance or helicopter rescue, emergency surgery, or transportation home. We offer travel insurance policies – ask your Aspire Down Under consultant for more details.
Do I need to get any specfic vaccinations before entering Australia?
Vaccinations are not required unless you have come from, or visited, a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival. No other health certificate is required to enter Australia.
Is all water safe to drink in Australia?
It is safe to drink tap water anywhere in Australia. Bottled mineral water is available throughout the country.
What precautions should I take to protect myself from the sun in Australia?
The sun in Australia is extremely strong, especially in summer (December – February). Wear a hat to protect your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes and a minimum SPF15+ to prevent sunburn.
What is the beach safety like in Australia?
Popular beaches are patrolled by volunteer Surf Life Saving Association members from October to April. Always swim between the red and yellow flags that mark the safest area.
When is the stinger season?
From late October to early May, venomous box jellyfish, also known as ‘stingers’, appear in the coastal waters of Northern Australia. These jellyfish do not exist in the waters surrounding most of the Islands in Queensland and are very rarely found on the Outer Barrier Reef, allowing visitors to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef year-round.
In the Northern Territory, stingers are present at all beaches, whilst in Western Australia, they affect the Kimberley coastline. Where beaches are affected by stingers there are clearly marked warning signs for visitors
Many beaches affected by stingers have protective enclosures, and visitors should restrict their swimming to these areas during Stinger season.
What do I need to know about driving in Australia?
Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. The steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60 km/h (35 mph) and on country roads and highways, 100 km/h (62mph) to 110km/h (68 mph) unless signs indicate otherwise. Strict drink-driving laws apply. Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times.
Visitors may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver’s license for the same class of vehicle. Licenses must be carried when driving.
If the driver's license is not in the English language, the visitor must carry a translation with the permit. An International Drivers Permit is not sufficient by itself and must be accompanied by a valid drivers permit.
Petrol (Gasoline) in Australia comes in super leaded, unleaded regular and premium unleaded grades and is sold by the liter. Prices are usually higher in country areas. Petrol stations are plentiful. Trading hours vary although many service stations operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most accept international credit cards.
If you have any additional questions about Australian vacations that are not listed here, including Australian honeymoon packages, please contact us at 877-7ASPIRE.