Travel Guide > Australia
Though Australia is often referred to as a country, the continent of Australia includes New Zealand and Pacific Islands. It is the smallest of geographical continents. A chain of mountains called the Great Dividing Range runs north and south along the east coast of the continent. These mountains block rainfall and moisture from the Pacific and cause the inland of this continent to be mostly scrublands and deserts. The Australians call this area the outback. The most important and striking physical feature lies just offshore of the continent. It is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest structure ever built by living creatures. It has wildlife that is found no where else in the world. Wildlife is rich and unique with animal groups such as macropods, monotremes, and cassowaries endemic. This is because it is so isolated from other large land masses, and its animals did not evolve in the same manner as in other areas of the world.
Most Popular Destinations
Sydney is the main entry point in this continent for most people, and the city offers many interesting sites to visit such as the Opera House, Darling Harbour with marine aquarium, lots of shopping malls, museums, and it is worth a visit to the other side of the bay including the Zoo and the beach of Mainly. Visiting the downtown tower (Sydney Tower) will have a complete view of the city from the top. The Blue Mountains will provide a beautiful panorama of the valley. Cairns is a small city without any big attractions, however the things you can do around are fantastic, such as going to the Great Barrier Reef. The Cable car until Kuranda over the rainforest offers unique views and you can go for a stroll and watch the waterfalls and forest in a closer look. Other day tours worth to visit such is Port Douglas and a little further Daintree National Park (It is considered the forest with the biggest variety of plants per square meter on the planet). Gold Coast has pretty beaches special for surfers and beach lovers.
Other attractions are the Theme Parks and the busy night life in Surfers Paradise. The surrounding mountains and National Parks should not be missed with many waterfalls, flora and fauna to be appreciated. Fraser Island is very nice with tracks on the sand for 4WD vehicles and pretty crystal clear lagoons besides lots of nature to see. Close by, in the Sunshine Coast, Noosa is the most interesting city to stop at least for one day and Brisbane the capital of Queensland, is an interesting city to stay or to be the departure point for all other cities in Queensland. Magnetic Island in front of Townsville has fantastic beaches and two-third of the island is considered a National Park with many colonies of Koalas and Kangaroos to be seen in their natural habitat. Whitsundays is paradise for nautical sports with one of the best gateways to the Great Barrier Reef and island resorts. It is a perfect place to do a tour in a sail boat. Ayers Rocks is in the heart of Australia, close to the city of Alice Springs. It is the biggest rock monolith in the world and a sacred place to the Aborigines. All the surroundings are deserts full of special places. Alice Springs is the departure point. Great Ocean Road is about 3 hours driving from Melbourne, following the coast and mountains. The erosion caused by the sea and winds created giant monoliths of rock, called The 12 Apostles. (Now only 8 remain standing). Melbourne is an excellent urban city to visit. The international atmosphere and multiculturalism and the variety of excellent restaurants, makes Melbourne a must visit city in this continent. Kakadu National Park is one of the most beautiful National Parks in here with plenty of wild life and variety of native plants. The only negative point, is that it is so popular, that it is difficult to walk alone in the park without finding other tourists. Tasmania - One of the prettiest places in here, and in a certain way it reminds you of landscapes in New Zealand. Nature is the highlight, with spectacular beaches. The mountains and lagoons are well known for their beauty and wild life, and there are many historical places from the time Tasmania was a biggest prison for British convicts
Best Time to Visit
The northern states are best visited during the winters, from July to September while the summer months are ideal for visiting the southern states. On the whole, September and October are the best, when it is neither too hot nor too cold.
Passport and Visa - To enter Australia you will need a current passport valid for the duration of your stay and a valid Australian tourist visa issued in your own country and entered into the passport before the travel date. New Zealand visitors are exempt from these requirements and are granted an entry permit on arrival. Tourist visas are generally valid for a stay of 3 or 6 months. At the time of making your visa application you will have to sign an undertaking that you have an outward bound ticket and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay.
Driving - Australian traffic drives on the left hand side of the road. If you are in doubt about your driving license being accepted in Australia, rather obtain an International License from your local automobile association prior to your departure.
Hitchhiking - Don't hitch-hike, it is illegal.
Children - Never leave small children or animals locked in vehicles in very hot weather. Dehydration occurs very quickly. This practice is illegal.
Air Travel - Avoid flying early morning and late afternoon on the eastern seaboard routes. These flights are usually heavily booked by business people traveling between the capital cities.
Travel Insurance - Visitors should always take out travel insurance cover prior to departure from their home country. The best prices for Australian travel insurance is for cover arranged direct with the insurer which can be 50% of the price charged by your travel agent.
Emergency - In an emergency dial 000 (not 999). This will link you to the ambulance, fire and police services.
Tipping - Tipping is not standard practice but is generally considered an appropriate gesture of appreciation when the level of service has exceeded expectations.
Currency - Australian currency consists of 5c 10c 20c 50c $1 $2 as coins. Notes are $5 $10 $20 $50 and $100.
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