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Australia country information

Australia map
Commonwealth of Australia
Area: 7,741,220 sq km
Population: 21,468,700 (2008 est.)
Population density: 2.6 per sq km
Capital: Canberra
Passport & Visa
Visa required ?
British Yes
Canadian Yes
Other EU Yes

Valid passport required by all nationals referred to in chart above.

Required by all nationals referred to in the chart above except:
(a) those continuing their journey to a third country (who hold confirmation of booking and documentation to enter country) within eight hours of arriving in Australia.

All other nationals must obtain a transit visa before travel if intending to remain in Australia no longer than 72 hours and a stopover is intended. Transit visas are free of charge.

Note: (a) Not all airports remain open all night; travellers should check with the airline. (b) Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the Department of Immigration at the high commission to check visa requirements.

Visa Note
Australian visa regulations (including visa application charges) change from time to time. The information provided here is valid at the time of publication, but visitors should check that this information is still current by visiting the Department of Immigration online ( ) or by calling the Australian Immigration and Citizenship London Contact Centre (tel: 0906 550 8900, in the UK; calls cost £1 per minute; lines open 0900-1600.)

Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visas
The ETA is an electronically stored authority for travel to Australia for tourism, short-term business or elective study purposes, that allows multiple entries for stays of up to three months for people from certain countries (see below). The ETA is valid for 12 months from date of issue, or for the life of the passport if it is less than 12 months. An ETA is invisible and therefore will not show up in your passport.

All nationals referred to in the chart above are eligible for an ETA except: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

Other types of visa
Visitors not eligible for an ETA, or seeking a longer stay than an ETA offers, may apply for eVisitor, Tourist (Non ETA) and Business Short-stay (Non ETA) visas. 

There are also student visas, employers' visas for overseas workers and sponsored family visitor visas available; enquire at the Australian high commission.

Types of Visa and Cost
ETAs: Visitor/Short Validity Business: Free of charge. Business Visitor (Long Validity): A$90.

Note: A service fee of A$20 is charged when applying for an ETA online through the DIMIA ETA website. Some travel agents and airlines issuing ETAs also charge a processing fee.

Non-ETAs: Tourist and Business Short-stay visas: A$105. eVisitor visas: Free of charge.

Visa fees are generally adjusted on 1 July each year.

Visitor ETAs are valid for 12 months from date of issue (or until the passport expires, whichever comes first) and permit multiple entries into Australia for a stay of up to three months on each visit. Short Validity Business ETAs are valid for 12 months from date of issue (or until the passport expires, whichever comes first) with stays of up to three months on each visit and can be used for single or multiple entry travel. Business Visitor (Long Validity) ETAs are valid for 10 years (or the life of the passport) and permit multiple entries for a stay of up to three months for each visit.

For non-ETA visas, the validity varies according to the type of visa, the purpose of the trip and the validity of the passport. Visas are usually valid from three to 12 months. The validity will be stated on the visa label in your passport.

Applications to:
ETA: Authorised travel agents or airlines; by telephone; some nationals may apply online through the main Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) ( ) (Visitor and Short Validity Business ETAs only).

Non-ETA: Australian embassies, high commissions and consulates.
There is a Tourist Short-Stay visa available online ( ) for all nationals referred to in chart above.

Working Days Required
ETA: When issued through DIMIA's ETA website, or through travel agents or airline offices, usually processed and valid immediately, or, in a few cases, within three working days. Non-ETA: 10-15 working days.

Getting there

By Air
The national airline is Qantas (QFA)
Approximate flight times to Sydney:
Istanbul: 18 hours and 30 minutes
London: 21 hours and 10 minutes
New York: 19 hours and 50 minutes
Dubai: 15 hours
Singapore: 7 hours and 50 minutes
Buenos Aires: 14 hours and 40 minutes

Main (international) airports

For a list of all airports in Australia, check Wikipedia here.

By Water
The only way to get to Australia by water, is via a passenger-carrying freighter or a cruise ship. There are no regular (ferry) connections between Australia and Indonesia or Australia and New Zealand, but cruise ships dock in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart.

The following cruise companies dock in Australia:

For more info on freighter ships to/from Australia:

Cycling & Maps
See the Western Australian Transport's website solely dedicated to cycling in the State
Cycle Trails Australia: 'on ya bike' with 13 epic bike adventures in Australia
Bicycle Victoria: an independent, non-profit organisation working to get more people cycling more often
Cost of living
all prices in Australian Dollars ($AUD)
drinks and snacks food: local markets; restaurants; & stores
water (mineral)
soft drink (can)
soft drink (bottle)
1.5 litre
1 litre
1.5 litre
bread loaf-white
bread loaf-whole grain
pizza - take-away
sunrice 3 minute cup
sanitarium nutmeat
one serving
414g can
beer - local
tea (Lipton)
coffee (cafe / bar)
Nescafe instant
coffee - ground
25 bags
per cup
rice (white)
crushed tomatoes
per dozen
yoghurt / curd
cheese (processed)
Magnum icecream
1 litre
green beans
salted peanuts
dried apricots
200g pack
museli bars
375g pack
100g block
220g pack
8 x 25g bars
pineapple (can)
oil (canola)
peanut paste
500g jar
400g jar
accommodation personal
budget city hostel
budget city hotel
18.00+ per dorm bed
75.00 (double) share bathroom
deodorant - roll-on
disposable razor
toilet paper
150g bar
10 pack
4 pack
camping 15.00 in campground w/o electricity,
6.50 in NP & wild camping possible
in some areas
internet 5.00+ per hour
* tba = price to be announced
* January 2009: at time of writing 1.00 USD = 1.56 AUD
all prices have been taken from internet resources such as wikitravel, hostel world, leading supermarket chains, travel blogs, forums and of course our own travel experiences and purchases of everyday products in food markets, bazaars and local shopping facilities. They are only an indication and designed to give you a general impression of the cost of living in Australia. Items are geared towards the budget conscious traveller with an occasional craving for a bit of luxury.

A couple of extra tips:

The above prices are only a guide as the cost of living varies greatly between the different states and whether you reside in the city or an isolated outback town.

Bargaining is not widely practiced except when buying case lots of fruit and vegetables or bulk items at markets. Some warehouse/ wholesale establishments may also provide discounts for large purchases.

Tipping is now common practice in Australia and encouraged throughout all facets of the hospitality industry. Either rounding the bill up to the nearest five or ten dollar amount is fairly customary, though the decision to tip or not is entirely up to you. In restaurants and some larger hotels, an optional tip line/box will be included on your credit card slip: again entirely discretional.

Taxi fares are always metred, unless you plan a long distance and then the price will be fixed before hand. Therefore tipping is not expected, though if your taxi-driver has run a miracle in getting you somewhere fast or on time, then a little extra is always appreciated.


If you are spending much of your trip to Australia on the back of your bike, this is a great way to sightsee on a budget. And as a popular destination for backpackers and gap year travellers, you can find plenty of hostels and cheap hotels in Sydney as well as the smaller towns around Australia at

Opt for a hostel and you will not only save on the price of a room, but also on lots of facilities that are particularly useful to cyclists. Many offer secure cycle storage but if you don’t bring your own wheels, many city hostels such as Sydney, Perth, Cairns or Melbourne backpackers offer cheap or free bike rental to guests. You can also use their self-catering kitchens to pack up a picnic for the day. After a weary day of pedalling, you can relax in the TV lounge and share your travel experiences with other guests. If there is an onsite bar the drinks are often reasonably priced too.

In the cities, expect to pay between AUD$25 and AUD$35 for a bed in a dorm room. But if you prefer a private room you are more likely to be charged between AUD$30 and AUD$40. It is worth remembering that not all private rooms in hostels are en suite, they might be located down the hallway. However, an increasing number of boutique hostels, particularly in the popular cities offer dorms with en suite facilities.

Packing up the caravan, camper van or car is a common yearly event for holidaying Australians and therefore you don't have to look hard to find a caravan park somewhere in the region. Prices vary and for the cycling tourist it can work out expensive in the more touristy places, though a nice touch to the Ozzie campground is the common room, where guests can gather of an evening to chat or watch television. Quite often this includes a fully equipped kitchen area as well.

National Parks are another option, often cheaper and have beautifully natural settings to pitch the tent in. Expect to pay between AUD $6.00 and $10.00 per plot. Quite often an honor box is supplied to pop this fee into, but don't be at all surprised if a ranger also drops by to see if you are alright during your stay. Abide by the rules and cook on the cement slabs if provided and whatever you do, don't light a fire unless it states that it is okay.

Every state has its own rules and regulations about free camping, though in remote areas, both inland and on the coast, you'll hardly have any problems if you keep yourself well hidden. Farmers are also generally obliging if you ask nicely to camp on their property. Don't forget though that Australia has a large collection of creepy-crawlies that may find your temporary home just as cosy as you do. To scare off snakes in the bush, make a noise when you walk; don't leave your bags or your tent open; and bang out the shoes before popping your toes in them the next morning.

OzCamps designed by Brett Kinross is a dymanic community website for those who enjoy free-independent camping. Only started in August 2008 so not yet extensive, but nonetheless great information available for wild camping possibilities. has some great information about the National Parks, their camping facilities and fees
For a free-camping map of Tasmania take a look at the Travelling Two's website (Friedel and Andrew)

TIP: When camping, never camp underneath a gum tree! The reason is, the branches are very brittle and you could find your tent being crashed into in the middle of the night.

Motel and hotel accommodation is readily available throughout Australia too, though a little out of the price range of the budget traveller. Often pubs in small towns will have a number of rooms available with share bathrooms. The price is generally indicative of what to expect.

Food & drink

Australian cuisine has very strong ties with the British kitchen, though due to a completely different climate some original cookery ideas and conventions have emerged over the years. Closer to the English way of life, is the common belief that the main meal of the day should consist of "meat and three veg".

In Australia, this is served in the evening and not at lunch as traditionally done in the UK. The meat can take the form of a steak, chop, sausage, pie, burger or roast and Australians are known for their love of this element at any meal time. FAO statistics show that while beef is Australia's largest argricultural export, there was enough left over in 2002 for a consumption of around 2,230,000 metric tonnes and according to The Weekly Times in 2007, amounted to an expenditure of 8.2 billion ozzie dollars each year on beef and lamb alone.

You might then believe that finding vegetarian food is difficult, but on the contrary if in the larger cities or trendy coastal backpacking haunts. While it still considered an alternative way of life, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more and more popular. As testimony to this, HappyCow lists many small eateries and cafes throughout Australia supplying vegans and vegetarians with a wonderful array of a supply of burgers, sandwiches, light meals, cakes and fair trade chocolate.

It is quite common for most restaurant menu's to have one or two choices for the non-meat eater and some even go as far as offering an entire vegetarian section. In the more remote areas, you'll may encounter a few more difficulties, especially if you are vegan. While it shouldn't be a problem to prepare something, occasionally the attitude of locals towards those who choose not to eat meat may be a little condescending.

Australia has immigrants from all over the world and these people have also enriched the culture by bringing the art of their cuisine with them. Many of the Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Greek, Italian and Vietnamese restaurants have plenty of vegetarian options on their menus as well.

The quality of fruit and vegetables, both at markets and shopping centres in Australian cities and towns is extremely good and very diverse, so self catering is always a cheap and easy way around not being able to find what you want. Furthermore, there are many varieties of soya based products in the supermarkets these days and the Ozzie brand: Sanitarium has great nut meats for a full-on protein fix. Look for the tins of Nutolene, Nutmeat and Veggie Sausages. Even the bakeries have come around in recent years and the traditional meat pie is also available as a vegan faux-meat pie, containing soy protein and mushrooms. Vegetarian pasties are also widely available.

As well as the local bakery you can also get tasty snacks from the milk/sandwich-bar or local take-away. They can be found in every town and suburb and usually sell chips, pies and pasties, as well as freshly made sandwiches. Another option is to head to the food court at the nearest shopping mall. These are similar to the Asian style food court and there is an array of cuisine to choose from.

But if you really want to do it in true Ozzie style, then pack the eski (cool-box) with some of your favourite foods from the supermarket and your choice of beer and wine and head to the nearest, park, river, lake or beach front. Going for a picnic is a traditional favourite amongst Australians and some recreational spots also have free tennis courts and barbeques that you can insert coins to get them started. What ever you do, don't forget the hat sunglasses and sunscreen. The Australian sun can cook you red raw.

Australia doesn't have a lot of authentic dishes that are suitable for the vegetarian, but there are a few fun concepts you should try-out and a tonne of deliciously yummy desserts to feast not only your eyes upon but your stomachs as well.

Over the years, Aussies have developed a multitude of colloquial terms that are now ingrained firmly in the language. So, you'll be forgiven if you haven't got a clue what the locals are talking about. Below is a list of some of the food terminology, you may possibly hear.


a veggie = a vegetarian
barbie = a barbecue
ridgey didge = fridge / refrigerator
eski = any type of portable cool box
nosh = a snack or to eat
nosh-up = a raid on the fridge or a super good meal.
tucker = food
grub = food
dee-lish = delicious
tea = dinner (evening meal) or a cup of tea

little boys = small frankfurters that should be avoided if you are a vegetarian. Often served at Friday happy hour in the local pub
mash = creamy mashed potato traditionally served with bangers (sausages) of which you can now get vegan varieties in most supermarkets.
mushie = mushroom
caulie = cauliflower
chook = chicken
bum-nuts = eggs
sambo, sammie or sanga = sandwich
snag = sausage
tomato sauce = tomato ketchup
marge = margarine
peanut paste = peanut butter
vegemite = the national salty spread for toast or sandwiches made from yeast extract
bickie = biscuit
lamington = sponge cake squares covered in chocolate icing and sprinkled with coconut
pav = pavlova: a meringue dessert covered with cream and fruit
lollies = candy or sweets

time to put the billy on = time for a cup of tea. Originates from the swagman's bush tea boiled in a billy (tin container) over a fire.
smoko = tea / coffee break
cuppa = cup of tea or coffee
moo-juice = milk
grog = alcohol
booze = alcohol
plonk = super cheap wine
bundy = bundaberg rum as in the standard 'bundy and coke'
champers = champagne
amber fluid = beer
shandy = beer and lemonade

VB = Victoria Bitter - brand of beer in Victoria
four-ex (XXXX) = Queensland brand of beer
stubby = small bottle of beer
tinny = can of beer
long neck = 750ml bottle of beer
schooner = large glass of beer
middy = medium glass of beer

local drinking hole = local pub or bar
bottlo = bottle shop, often with a drive-in section, so you don't even have to get out of the car. Just tell the attendant what you want and he'll get it for you.
hair of the dog = first drink the next day after a drinking session the night before
BYO = bring your own. Many restaurants allow you to take in your own alcohol. You will be charged a corkage fee per bottle.
BYOG = bring your own grog (party term)
bottoms up = cheers

Why not try these for starters?

Drop into the pub for a counterie
A counterie or counter meal is what Australians call the meal served at the local pub. Traditionally they were served at lunch and in the lounge bar. Nowadays, they are served at dinner time as well and you often get the option of sitting in the front bar or back in the lounge. Prices may vary between these two places. All pubs will have a couple if not more vegetarian options on offer.
Bush Tucker
If you get the opportunity to visit a restaurant that specialises in Australian Bush Tucker then make sure you go all out and try some of the unusual tastes of the native bush. Such flavours include lemon myrtle, wattle seed, quandongs or pepperberries. And of course if you haven't already, then you just have to sink your teeth into a big juicy macadamia nut: Australia's most commercially successful native plant food.
Simple bread dough traditionally wrapped around a stick and baked over an open fire in colonial times. Present day, it is not commonly found on sale, except for a few quirky bakeries and in bush tucker restaurants. However, if you get the chance to camp with a few locals, ask them to go all out and make you some of this bread. More for the experience than the taste.
Definitely an acquired taste, but seeing as most Australians are brought up on the stuff, they love it. This famously salty yeast-based spread, comparable to the British product: marmite, is gobbled up nationally on hot buttered toast for breakfast or smeared in a fresh buttered roll for lunch. Most cafes or coffee shops will serve it, if you ask for it. Variations to the sanga (sandwich) are to serve it with a layer of philadelphia cheese; crunchy iceberg lettuce; or crunchy straw potato chips.
Veggie Burger with the Lot
Basically waltz into any take-away and ask for their 'hamburger with the lot' without the meat element. It is totally unnecessary anyway when you get a seeded burger bun with fried egg, onions, grilled cheese, lettuce, tomato, beetroot and pineapple. With a serving of crunchy thick cut chips, you've got a meal and a half.
Chip Buttie
If the above burger seems all a bit too much to handle, then why not try a surfer's favourite snack. Sold at take away stores on the beach front, the chip buttie is simply a burger bun stuffed with a serving of hot chips and smothered with tomato sauce. Heart warming, but definitely not for those watching the health of their hearts.
Vanilla slice
Similar to the French mille-feuille or the Dutch tompouce, this morning tea delight is one of Australia's favourite baked goodies. Characteristically recognisable in colour from the thick set yellow vanilla custard between two layers of flaky pastry and topped with a sweet layer of bright pink icing. Great with a strong cup of freshly brewed black coffee.
The Lamington
Apparently discovered by accident when the former Governor of Queensland, Charles Cochrane-Baillie: the 2nd Baron Lamington's cook accidentally dropped a piece of sponge cake in melted chocolate and then rolled it in desiccated coconut. It is said that he actually hated it, but that didn't stop millions of Australians from consuming this bakery delight and today you can find this simple cake establishments ranging from coffee houses to bakeries, to supermarkets and take-away stores. Often they will be sliced in two and served with a layer of jam and cream in between and recently lemon and strawberry varieties have also found their way into bakery shops.
This dish is still cause for argument between New Zealanders and Australians, as it is not exactly clear, who invented this mouth-watering sweet in honor of the Russian dancer, Ánna Pávlova during one of her tours in Oceania. Wherever it was discovered, both countries frequently devour this dessert on any celebratory occasion,: national or local. Crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, this meringue-marsh mellow cake is served with lashings of whipped cream and covered with fresh fruit.
The Tim Tam Slam
If you have never tried two chocolate biscuits filled with a creamy chocolate fudge and covered in milky chocolate, then you are in for one of the finest moments in your life. And when you have got over your first delightfully gastronomic bite, why not explore this sensation further by embarking on the "Tim Tam Slam".
Nibble off both chocolate ends and then use your tim tam as a straw in cup of strong coffee. The brew will melt the fudge centre and the entire biscuit if you are not quick enough to suck everything up into your mouth in time. A unique chocolate experience that words cannot portray: you just have to give it a go for yourself. And don't be worried if you fail the first time, there are twelve biscuits in a pack.
ANZAC biscuits
Believed to have dated back to World War 1, when loved ones sent these long shelf life biscuits to soldiers fighting abroad. A mix of coconut, oats, flour, sugar, butter and golden syrup make an energy filling snack, which are popular with bush-bashers (bushwalkers) today. As well as being commercially produced for fundraising purposes, they can be found in supermarkets as well as local bakeries.

Water from the tap is potable everywhere in Australia, but the quality and taste does vary from state to state. In South Australia, for example most people have bottled water delivered weekly as the mains water isn't particularly pleasant to drink. The price of water varies depending where you are. In a populated region it is cheap, but in the outback it is like liquid gold and almost costs the same as well. It stands to reason that if you intend to go cycling in remote areas, it pays to read up on where your water stops will be along your route. There are long stretches of dry arid desert where there is no sign of life for miles. Dropping into the local police station is always a good idea, just to catch up on any recent news in the area, including confirmation about the availability of water.

Beer, also considered by many as liquid gold, is pumped out by two main breweries: Carlton United and Lion Nathan. What with them producing a plentiful flow of the amber beverage and the warm weather, the beer drinking culture is firmly embedded in the Ozzie lifestyle. While Fosters has had huge international appreciation, it is not often consumed by Australians. In fact, if you spy any of it in someone's ridgey didge (refrigerator), they'll tell you it was left over from a recent party and to help yourself. Besides the mass produced beers, there are a number of smaller brewers like Coopers and Boags who have national recognition and are widely available throughout the country.

Wine is one of Australia's success stories and there are wineries of all sizes, with and without attached restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts and other attractions dotting the entire lower third of the country. The only pitfall is that this delicious juice is not at all cheap, especially if you want something of a decent quality.

Alcohol cannot be purchased in the regular supermarket, though these days many decent sized shops have an attached liquor store. Otherwise you'll need to make a separate trip to the bottlo (bottle shop) down the road.

Bike shops all online Australian bicycle shops !
climate chart Cairns Australia climate chart Darwin Australia
climate chart Hobart climate chart Melbourne Australia
climate chart Perth Australia climate chart Sydney Australia
Road distances


Australia over-the-top: pdf with distances from Perth to Melbourne via Darwin


Australia road distance chart

Western Australia road distance chart

Queensland Australia road distance chart

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