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Australian Travel Information

Things to do on your Australian Dive Holiday

Looking for some information to make your diving trip to Australia run smoothly?

This section contains tourist information for your visit to the following locations:

• Cairns
The diving capital of Australia ...

Uluru, or Ayer's Rock, is one of Australia's most famous landmarks

One of the biggest attractions for tourists visiting Australia is the amazing natural beauty that it offers. From the sunbaked desert with the awe inspiring Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) to the single biggest attraction for divers: the Great Barrier Reef.

At over 2,600 km long, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms visible from outer space. The expanse of the reef includes over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands in an area that covers more than 334,000 km².

The diversity of marine life which relies on the Great Barrier Reef and its marine park simply boggles the mind. More than 1,500 species of fish, 400 species of hard and soft coral, 6 species of turtles and multiple species of shark, dolphin, whale, sea snake and even saltwater crocodiles.

With more reef and associated sea creatures for one diver to explore in a lifetime, it's easy to understand that attraction of the Great Barrier Reef. Little wonder that it attracts divers from all over the world to the shores of Northern Queensland for the diving holiday of a lifetime.

Of non-diving activities Australia also has no shortage, featuring action packed adventure activities such as white water rafting, jet boating, kite surfing, abseiling, horse riding, jungle treks and bungy jumps, ensuring that your holiday on land is as exciting as it is in the water.

The rest of this page contains information about Australia:

Tourist Security and Safety

Public safety is a high priority in Australia, as these trainee lifeguards would attest

We consider Australia a safe place for tourists to travel. Australia is an exceptionally popular tourist destination with top grade infrastructure and a reputation for safe travel, even for single females. It enjoys popularity with travelers of all ages, from the legions of gap year backpackers to the super rich staying in fabulously luxurious resorts.

The Australian authorities take a harsh view on drug related offenses and visitors should be advised that what may be acceptable in their own countries may incur heavy penalties in Australia.

In addition we highly recommend that you take out insurance to cover diving and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance programme for a competitive quote. Indeed some liveaboards will not allow you onboard without proof of evacuation cover in Australia, due to the distances and costs involved.

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How to Get There

Australia is vast, over 2 times the size of Europe. As such there is always a certain amount of planning involved in getting about.

Most visitors arrive by air with the main airports being Cairns, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and Melbourne. These are well service from both Europe and the US although the routes can get busy so it is important to book in advance.

With Australia being so large, by far the most convenient way of travel within its interior is air travel. Australian domestic flights can be quite economical as there is fierce competition for passengers. The net result is excellent prices on most of the main routes.

Most of the population is located in cities near the coast line. The vast interior is sparsely populated due to both its remoteness and the harsh environment. This is not to say that the interior doesn't make an amazing place to visit, but the area is so large that a good deal of planning needs to be made.

For instance, the outback is so large that the discovery of the vast beehive shaped sandstone formations, known as the Bungle Bungles, only happened as recently as the late 1980's. They are 300 meters high at some points and cover an area of 320,000 hectares, so it is incredible to think that they were not stumbled upon before.

If you require accommodation in Australia you can get the best value rooms with Agoda, our affiliated resort reservation specialists:

Visit Agoda.com and review details, prices and make a reservation for Australian and worldwide hotels (opens in a new window)

If you live in the UK or Ireland and wish to purchase international flights to AustraliaOpens in a new window you can visit Cheapflights Ltd. They have over 150 travel partners including Expedia, Virgin and British Airways, which they use to search for the best up-to-date online flight prices.

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General Information

This section contains information about:

Sydney Opera House is the most photographed building in Australia

Climate

Australia has a relatively temperate climate, with an average temperature throughout the year ranging between a minimum 8°C in winter to a maximum 32°C in summer. Around the Australian coast ocean temperatures vary from 6°C to 32°C, although the Great Barrier Reef's water rarely dip below the 24°C mark.

Monsoons are prevalent from January to March, during which time cyclones may occur, while in April to June heavy trade winds are rife. Strong winds can persist through August.

The Great Barrier Reef is pretty much a year round diving destination, and even the colder waters of South Australia has something to offer in the line of great white shark action.

History

Australia was likely populated around 42-48,000 years ago, by what may well be ancestors of today's indigenous Australians. They arrived via land bridges and short-sea crossings from present-day South East Asia.

The first European sighting of the Australian mainland was recorded by a Dutch navigator in 1606, and during the 17th century the Dutch chartered the whole of the western and northern coastlines. They never attempted a settlement though. So it was Lieutenant James Cook, who charted the east coast of Australia, who claimed it for Great Britain in 1770.

The first settlement, that of the British Crown Colony of New South Wales, was established on 26 January 1788. Several colonies emerged in the following decades and on 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved. In 1911 the Federal Capital Territory was created and Canberra was constructed for the purpose of being the nation's capital, completed in 1927.

Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January, the date the first colony was settled in Australia.

The Local People

Australia, for being such a large country, has a relatively tiny population estimated at around 21.3 million people in 6 states, 2 mainland territories and several minor territories.

9 in 10 Australians are of European descent of mainly British or Irish origin. The Indigenous population of Australia, namely mainland Aborigines and Torres Straits Islands, make up about 2.2% of the population.

English is the national language, but Australians, as we're well aware, have their own distinctive accent and vocabulary. English is the home language spoken by 80% of Australia, with Chinese, Italian and Greek in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places respectively. It is believed that at the time of first European contact with Australia, there were 200-300 Aboriginal languages. Only 70 of these havesurvived today. Indigenous languages are the home language of at least 50,000 Australians.

Of Australia's GDP, 69% is made up of tourism, education and financial services. Natural resources and agriculture only constitutes 5% and 3%, but are substantial contributors when it comes to export performance.

Australia is a secular state, but around 65% of the population is believed to be Christian of any denomination. School attendance is compulsory from age 6-15 (except for South Australia and Tasmania where it's 16 and Western Australia and Queensland where it's 17).Literacy is estimated at 99%.

Health

Tourists face no problems with serious disease in Australia.

Sun related injuries account for most of the health problems that are encountered by holiday makers, especially on liveaboards or near the coast where the cooling breezes tend to mask the fierceness of the sun.

Cover up, wear a hat and sunscreen, and remember to drink lots of water (especially when diving) and you should have no problems. The term "Slip, slop, slap, wrap" was invented here, referring respectively to clothing cover, sunscreen, hat and shades, and is definitely worth heeding. The liveaboards all either have water makers onboard or carry adequate supplies for the trip plus, of course, bottled water and other beverages.

Many of the upscale resorts have their own doctors on call and there tend to be local surgeries in all but the smallest towns. These, especially in the outback, rely on the famous 'Flying Doctor' service if there is a major problem.

As always medical insurance and or diving insurance is strongly recommended. As stated, some of the liveaboards will not accept you onboard without proof of insurance. As for vaccinations and other health precautions, we recommend you consult your local doctor when planning your Australian dive trip.

Tourist Visas

Many tourists visiting Australia are eligible for an Electronic Travel Authority, or ETA. The ETA allows visitors from eligible countriesOpens in a new window the authority to enter Australia at the time that they make their travel arrangements.

There is normally no need for you to have to visit an Australian embassy. The ETA is usually issued almost instantaneously online and allows you to stay in Australia for up to 3 months at a time. Once issued, the ETA is valid for a period of 1 year and can be used for multiple entries into Australia during that period.

Time Zones

There are 3 time zones covering the 6 states of Australia.

  • Eastern Standard Time (EST) covers New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.
  • Western Standard Time (WST) covers only Western Australia.
  • Central Standard Time (CST) covers South Australia and the Northern Territories.

Australia have also implemented daylight saving and as such the times in the various zones are between 8 and 11 hours ahead of GMT.

Business Hours

The larger retail centres in Australia, in keeping with most others worldwide, are increasingly keeping their doors open later and later. It is not uncommon for the major malls to be open till 11 pm.

The standard business hours are 9 am until 5 pm Monday to Friday, with banks tending to close at 4 pm.

Electricity

The electricity in Australia is 220 to 240 volts AC at 50 cycles and utilises an angled 3 flat pin plug (not the UK type). Most hotels will have adaptors available and many stores carry these in stock if you need to purchase one.

Photographic Facilities

There are photo shops in all major areas offering traditional film services as well as the more modern convenience of being able to either print out or download your memory card. As always make sure that all the required images have been transferred before deleting the files off the memory card.

Communications

The Australian postal service is excellent both for domestic and international packages and letters. In general post offices are open from 9 am until 4 pm, Monday to Friday, although in many shopping centres they are open for extended hours.

The telecommunications infrastructure in Australia is superb with both international and national prices being very reasonable. Phone cards as well a public pay phones are common, but what an increasing large number of tourists are doing, simply for convenience, is buying a prepaid mobile phone card upon arrival. These, as well as phone cards, are available at many retail outlets and most newsagents will sell both.

Internet access is widely available both in internet cafés, hotels, shops and even restaurants these days with the expansion of WiFi networks.

For those that simply have to stay connected, there are not that many towns and cities where you are more than a few minutes away from a connection.

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Codes of Behaviour

Tipping and bargaining

Tipping in Australia is generally not expected, although tipping for outstanding service is certainly appreciated. Where larger groups are concerned a higher expectation of a tip may exist and 10% is usually suggested. The same applies to bars, taxi and restaurants.

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Interested?

If you're keen to discover this diving and travel mecca, then click below to check your options for:

Be sure to book up in plenty of time to avoid limited choice! The best Australia scuba diving vacations are booked by repeat customers who book well in advance to ensure their reservation!


 
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