Australia Destination Facts & Travel Tips

Quick Facts

Full country name: Australia
Area: 7,617,930km2
Population: 22,877,959
People: 37.13% Australian, 32% English, 9% Irish, 8% Scottish, 4% Italian, 4% German, 3% Chinese, and 2 % Greek
Language: English, Italian, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Greek, Chinese, and Hindi.
Religion: Australia has no state religion,, 64% Christian, 26% Roman Catholic, 19% Anglican, 2.1% Buddhism, 1.7 % Islam, 0.8% Hinduism, 0.5% Judaism.
Government: Federal parliamentaryconstitutional monarchy
Governor-General: Quentin Bryce
Prime Minister: Julia Gillard
GDP: $918.978 billion
GDP per head: $40,836
Major Industries: mining, industrial, education andtransport equipment, food processing,chemicals, natural gas, steel, agriculture,fishing, brewing, wine and tourism
Major trading partners: China (25.1%), Japan (18.9%), South Korea (8.9%), India (7.1%), United States (4.0%)

Country Facts

Events:
January: Sydney Festival (open-air concerts, street theatre, etc) and the Australian Open tennis championship, Melbourne.February (odd-numbered years): Womadelaide, Adelaide’s outdoor festival of world music and dance.March (Even-numbered years): Adelaide Arts Festival. April: Melbourne Comedy Festival.June: Barunga Wugularr Sports & Cultural Festival, held near Katherine.August: Darwin’s Beer Can Regatta in August, with boats made entirely of beer cans.September: Writers’ Festival, Melbourne.October: Melbourne International Festival.
Currency:
Australian dollar
It is easy changing foreign currencies or cash at almost any bank or exchange bureau. Travelers cheques generally get a better rate than cash but remember that banks charge a commission. Credit cards (particularly Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted (and pretty much compulsory if you’re going to rent a car). ATMs all over accept credit and Cirrus cards.
Beaten Track:
History:
The first humans travelled across the sea from Indonesia to present day Australia about 70,000 years ago. They were followed 20,000 years later by the ancestors of the Australian Aborigines. In the 16th century, English pirate William Dampier landed in the colony, followed first by Portuguese navigators and then Dutch explorers. Captain James Cook sailed the entire length of the eastern coast in 1770. After rounding Cape York, he claimed the continent for the British.
In 1779, Joseph Banks, who was a naturalist on Cook’s voyage recommended that Britain could solve the problem of overcrowding in its prisons by transporting convicts to the newly discovered continent. The first fleet of eleven ships set sail In 1787 under the command of Captain Arthur Philip, who was to become the colony’s first governor. Over the next decades free settlers began to be attracted to the colony. But the big rush started with the discovery of gold in the 1850s. New settlers took up land for farming or mining and Aborigines were ruthlessly pushed off their tribal lands.
Australia became a nation when a federation of the separate colonies was formed on January 1, 1901. But many legal and cultural ties with England remained intact. Australian troops fought alongside the British in the Boer War, WW I and WW II. But the USA’s role in protecting Australia from Japanese invasion during WW II marked the beginning of a shift in allegiance. Australia subsequently followed the USA into both the Korean and Vietnam wars in Asia.
Post WW II immigration brought a flood of European immigrants, many of them non-British. In the 1980s, Australia accepted large numbers of Asian refugees, especially from Vietnam.
Culture:
The multicultural society that is today’s Australia is largely the result of immigration waves post World War II, when large number of settlers from Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Turkey settled here. The country is blessed with a rich artistic heritage and a vibrant contemporary art scene.
Internationally-known artists have done very well in popular music (Kylie Minogue and AC/DC), literature (David Malouf), opera (Joan Sutherland), film (Peter Weir), acting (Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman), dance (Graeme Murphy) and painting (Fred Williams),
Sport and Australia go hand-in-hand. Australia has produced world champions in tennis, cricket, rugby swimming and cycling. Other popular sports here are basketball, yachting, golf and football.
Environment:
A large part of Australia’s interior is flat, barren and extremely sparsely populated. The majority of the population lives on the narrow, fertile eastern coastal plain and on the south-eastern coast. You will find a fascinating mix of native flora and fauna in Australia.
Its distinctive plants include the gum tree. Other common plants are banksia, waratahs and bottlebrushes. Endemic animals include the iconic kangaroo, koala and emu, and the platypus, wombat and dingo. There are many interesting birds, such as parrots, cockatoos and kookaburras. Be careful of the Australian spiders, especially the redback and funnel-web variety; snakes like the venomous brown tiger and death adder and crocodiles.
Getting There:
Almost all visitors to Australia come by air, with the main international airports being Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Other important airports are Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin and Cairns. Departure tax on international flights is US$19, is usually included in the plane ticket.
Getting Around:
Since Australia is so vast much of the long-distance trips are undertaken by air. There are many airlines in operation and air passengers are deluged with a wide range of discounts. Even though there are several long-distance bus companies only one is truly national in character, Greyhound Pioneer Australia. There is a skeletal rail network too but train travel is expense. Most tourists club together and hire a car. While on the highways, it is wise to stay out of the way of monstrous road trains (trucks with multiple trailers).

When to Go

It is great beach weather in the summer months (December to February) in the southern states. But it is very humid in the north. The best time overall is between the months of June till August. The wildflowers spring in the outback and it is very beautiful around Canberra and in the Victorian Alps. Skiers make a beeline to the snowfields of NSW and Victoria.

Explore Attractions


Adelaide


Adelaideis the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. The demonym Adelaidean is used in reference to the city and its residents. Named in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV, the city was founded in 1836 as the planned capital for a freely settled British province in Australia.[6] Colonel William Light, one of Adelaide’s founding fathers, designed the city and chose its location close to the River Torrens in the area originally inhabited by the Kaurna people. Light’s design set out Adelaide in a grid layout, interspaced by wide boulevards and large public squares, and entirely surrounded by parkland. The World Solar Challenge race attracts teams from around the world, most of which are fielded by universities or corporations although some are fielded by high schools. The race has a 20-year history spanning nine races, with the inaugural event taking place in 1987.

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Perth

Perth is the capital and largest city of Western Australia. It is the fourth most populous city in Australia. Perth was founded on 12 June 1829 by Captain James Stirling as the political centre of the Swan River Colony. As the business and administration centre for the resource-rich state, Perth has grown consistently. Perth became known worldwide as the City of Light when city residents lit their house lights and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead while orbiting the earth on Friendship 7 in 1962. The city repeated the act as Glenn passed overhead on the Space Shuttle in 1998. Perth is tied for eighth place in The Economist’s 2011 list of the world’s most livable cities.

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Melbourne


Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. Inhabitants of Melbourne are called Melburnians or Melbournians. Melbourne was founded in 1835 (47 years after the European settlement of Australia. It was named by governor Richard Bourke in 1837, in honour of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb€”the 2nd Viscount Melbourne. Melbourne was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1847. In 1851, it became the capital city of the newly created colony of Victoria. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, it then served as the interim seat of government of the newly created nation of Australia until 1927. Often referred to as the cultural capital of Australia,Melbourne is the birthplace of cultural institutions such as Australian film (as well as the world’s first feature film), Australian television, Australian rules football,[16] the Australian impressionist art movement (known as the Heidelberg School) and Australian dance styles such as New Vogue and the Melbourne Shuffle. It is also a major centre for contemporary and traditional Australian music. Melbourne was ranked as the world’s most liveable city in the World’s Most Livable Cities ratings by the Economist Group’s Intelligence Unit in August, 2011. It was also ranked in the top ten Global University Cities by RMIT’s Global University Cities Index (since 2006) and the top 20 Global Innovation Cities by the 2thinknow Global Innovation Agency (since 2007). The metropolis is also home to the world’s largest tram network. The main airport serving Melbourne is Melbourne Airport. Avalon Airport is currently being developed into Melbourne’s second international airport. Melbourne is an international cultural centre, with cultural endeavours spanning major events and festivals, drama, musicals, comedy, music, art, architecture, literature, film and television. It was the second city after Edinburgh to be named a UNESCO City of Literature and has thrice shared top position in a survey by The Economist of the world’s most liveable cities on the basis of a number of attributes which include its broad cultural offerings. Melbourne is a notable sporting location as the host city for the 1956 Summer Olympics games (the first Olympic Games ever held in the southern hemisphere), along with the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The city is home to three major annual international sporting events: the Australian Open (one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments), the Melbourne Cup (horse racing), and the Australian Grand Prix (Formula One). In recent years, the city has claimed the SportsBusiness title World’s Ultimate Sports City. The city is home to the National Sports Museum. Australian rules football and cricket are the most popular sports in Melbourne and also the spiritual home of these two sports in Australia and both are mostly played in the same stadiums in the city and its suburbs. The first ever official cricket Test match was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 1877. Melbourne is also an important financial centre. Two of the big four banks, NAB and ANZ, are headquartered in Melbourne.

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Gold Coast


Gold Coastis a coastal city located in the South East of the state of Queensland, Australia. Gold Coast is today known as a major tourist destination (often cited as the Miami of Australia) with its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, canal and waterway systems, its high-rise dominated skyline, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland, making tourism one of its most significant industries. Gold Coast will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Around 10 million tourists visit the Gold Coast area every year: of 849,114 international visitors, 3,468,000 domestic overnight visitors and 5,366,000 daytrip visitors. Tourism is the region’s biggest industry, directly contributing more than $4.4 billion into the city economy every year and directly accounting for one in four jobs in the city. There are approximately 65,000 bed spaces, 60 kilometres of beach, 600 kilometres of canal, 100,000 hectares of nature reserve, 500 restaurants, 40 golf courses and 6 major theme parks in the city.

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Tangalooma Resort Dolphin Feeding


Tangalooma Resort Dolphin Feeding
The highlight of any visit to Tangalooma is the opportunity to hand feed one of the wild bottlenose dolphins that visit the shores each evening at sunset. There are up to 8 of these playful creatures that visit regularly, each with their own distinctive and unique personalities. The wild dolphin feeding program operates to strict guidelines to ensure that the dolphins maintain their natural instincts and independence. The dolphins are only fed between 10 to 20 percent of their daily food requirements to ensure that they also hunt for themselves and do not become reliant on us. When it comes time to feed the dolphins be prepared to get wet! Feeding the dolphins often requires you to walk into waist-deep water, so wearing shorts or swimwear is ideal. A member of the Dolphin Care Team will be there to guide you through each step of the feeding process.

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Brisbane


Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane is named after the river on which it sits which, in turn, was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. The city is centered along the Brisbane River.
Brisbane has the largest economy of any city between Sydney and Singapore, which includes cities like Jakarta, Darwin, Townsville and Cairns. Brisbane is one of the major business hubs in Australia. Most major Australian companies, as well as numerous international companies, have contact offices in Brisbane, while numerous electronics businesses have distribution hubs in and around the city. Brisbane has multi-campus universities and colleges including the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University, all among Australia’s highest rated universities.
Beginning with the 1982 Commonwealth Games and following up with Expo ’88, it became a lively, cosmopolitan city with many interesting attractions. With its pleasant all-the-year-round climate, Brisbane is a popular tourist destination.Tourism plays a major role in Brisbane’s economy, being the third-most popular destination for international tourist after Sydney and Melbourne.

Events:

Two important events are held in August: the Royal National Agricultural Show and the international film festival. The next month, a major festival of the arts, the outdoor Brisbane Festival, is held. And the Livid Alternative Rock Festival is organized in October.

Orientation:

The river city is located 25 km upstream from the mouth of the Brisbane River. The compact city center is built along and between the looping meanders of the river. The transit centre, where tourists arrive by bus, train or airport shuttle, is about 500 m northwest of the city centre and the airport about 15 km away.

When to go:

Brisbane is most pleasant in winter (June to August). These are the months when the days are warm and sunny and the nights cool. But this is also the time when visitors throng in from chilly Sydney and Melbourne. So expect to bump into crowds.

Beaten Track:

Brisbane Forest Park
The Brisbane Forest Park is a 285 sq km reserve of natural bush land. The park starts on the outskirts of Brisbane and stretches for more than 50 km to the north and west. It’s a great area for bush walks, cycling, horse riding, camping and scenic drives. The park houses the Walkabout Creek, a freshwater study centre where you can see fish, lizards, pythons and turtles at close quarters.
Australian Woolshed
The Australian Woolshed is an impressive set-up celebrating the ‘outback experience’. It is a spacious and attractive park with free picnic and barbecue facilities, a small fauna park with huggable koalas and feedable kangaroos as well as Aussie attractions such as sheep shearing and wool spinning.
North Stradbroke Island
Most people come here for the beaches. It is a sand island and has plenty of vegetation and beautiful scenery. There are good walks around here and tourists can often spot porpoises, dolphins and manta rays. from the headland. You can swim in the freshwater Blue Lake in the centre of the island.
The Brisbane Bush Walkers Club has information on bush walks close to Brisbane. The swimming pool at Spring Hill Baths in Torrington Square is among the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. A number of river cruises are available on the Kookaburra River Queens, restored paddle steamers. The Cliffs, on the south banks of the Brisbane River, has some good rock climbing facilities- the area is floodlit until midnight.

History:

In 1824 Sydney and the colony of New South Wales (NSW) needed a better place to house its more recalcitrant ‘cons’ and this led to the establishment of Brisbane. The penal settlement was abandoned 15 years later and the area was thrown open to free settlers in 1842. Queensland’s huge agricultural and mineral resources developed quickly and Brisbane grew into a prosperous city. In 1859 the state of Queensland separated from the colony of NSW, and Brisbane was declared its capital.
Queensland’s early white settlers indulged in one of the greatest land grabs of all time and encountered fierce Aboriginal opposition. At the time of white settlement, Queensland was the most densely populated area of Australia, supporting over 100,000 Aboriginal people in around 200 tribal groups, who probably had been around for at least 50,000 years before the arrival of the whites. They were run off their lands.
During WW II, large areas of the state were transformed into military camps, with thousands of Americans being garrisoned throughout Queensland as Australia and the USA fought against Japan. The war resulted in Australia shifting its allegiance from the UK to the USA, as the north of the country, in particular, realized how vulnerable it was to invasion.
Brisbane’s rapid economic growth and its favorable climate have attracted a massive wave of internal migration. Since 1980 over half a million Australians from other states have moved to Queensland.

Getting There:

Brisbane’s Eagle Farm airport is a busy international arrival and departure point with frequent flights to Asia, Europe, the Pacific islands, North America, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The main bus terminal is the Transit Center on Roma St, and all the main bus companies arrive and leave from here. Buses run to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns, as well as towns up and down the coast. Trains also arrive at the Transit Center.

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A shuttle bus runs between the airport and the Transit Center about every half-hour till mid-evening. There are also shuttle buses to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The easiest way to get to or from the airport is to take the Airtrain from either Roma St or Central train stations. In addition to normal city buses, there are Cityxpress services, which run between the city center and the suburbs, and Rockets (fast peak-hour commuter buses).

Cairns


One of Australia’s top travel destinations, Cairns is the tourist ‘capital’ of the Far North. It is the launchpad for trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Green Island and Fitzroy Island, the beautiful Atherton Tableland, the market town of Kuranda and a string of enchanting beaches.
Named after Sir William Wellington Cairns, governor of Queens land (1875-77), it is linked by air, rail and road to Brisbane. It produces dairy products, sugar, corn (maize), fruit, tobacco, and peanuts (groundnuts). Lumbering, commercial fishing and tin mining are also carried on in the area.
Besides its port activities (especially the shipment of bulk sugar), Cairns has agriculturally based industries, sawmills, foundries, and breweries. The city has a Roman Catholic cathedral, a museum and art gallery, and a botanical garden.

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Sydney


Sydney is Australia’s premier city, the oldest settlement in the country and an economic powerhouse. Despite its brutal European beginnings as a British penal colony, over the years the city the city has successfully transformed itself into a thriving multicultural society.
Population: 4 millionCountry: AustraliaTime Zone: GMT/UTC +10Telephone Area Code: 02

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Most of January is taken up by the Great Ferry Boat Race and the gigantic Sydney Festival (consisting of a number of events ranging from open-air concerts to street theatre and fireworks). The Indie film festival Tropfest takes place in February. The Sydney Writers Festival is organized in May, and a month later, the Sydney Film Festival. August of the month for the annual 14 km City to Surf Run. The Rugby League Grand Final takes place in September.

Orientation:

Sydney was never a planned city. Its hills and the numerous inlets of the harbour, the focal point of the city, further complicate its layout. The centre of Sydney is on the south shore of the harbour, about 7 km inland from the harbour heads. Tall skyscrapers dominate the Central Business District (CBD). The airport, Kingsford Smith, is about 9 km south of the city centre. Central station, Sydney’s main train station, is in the south of the city centre, and the main bus terminal is just outside it.
The city’s budget accommodation centre is Kings Cross. Sydney’s theatres are scattered around the edge of the CBD. The Opera House is on the edge of Circular Quay. The mainstream cinema complexes are on George Street. The Rocks are a touristy area.

When to go:

The best times to visit are spring and autumn, especially around March-April or October-November. These seasons are delightful, with clear, warm days and mild nights. Sydney is blessed with a temperate climate and averages summer temperatures of around 25°C (77°F). Beach lovers should visit Sydney between December and February.

Beaten Track:

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park covers 150 sq km (60 sq mi) of sandstone bushland at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, 24 km north of Sydney. The park has over 100 km of shoreline, plenty of forest and wildlife, a number of walking tracks and some magnificent Aboriginal rock art.
Royal National Park
The Royal National Park, 30 km south of city, is the oldest gazetted national park in the world. The Hacking River dissects the park and there are riverside picnic and boat hiring facilities at Audley. There’s a spectacular 26 km coastal track stretching the length of the park. It passes the lovely lagoon beach at Wattamolla, and the popular surfing spot
The Sydney harbour offers sailing, canoeing, and windsurfing opportunities. Spit Bridge and Balmoral are the best places to hire equipment. Good surf beaches include Bondi and Tamarama on the south shore and Narrabeen, North Avalon and Palm Beach on the north shore. Manly is the center of Sydney’s diving scene.
If you want to go bodysurfing, head for Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte on the south shore, and just about any of the beaches lining the 30 km stretch of coast from Manly to Palm Beach on the north shore. Or try one of the 100 public swimming pools.
There are plenty of coastal bushwalks in the Royal National, Ku-ring-gai Chase and Sydney Harbor national parks. The 8 km Manly Scenic Walkway follows the harbour from the north shore beachside suburb to Spit Bridge on Middle Harbor. Another spectacular but much shorter walk is along the cliffs from Bronte to Bondi Beach. You can hire horses to ride in Centennial Park, the large park between Paddington and Bondi.

History:

The arrival of the British First Fleet in the 18th century made a significant impact on Sydney’s original Aboriginal communities. The Aboriginals were either driven away by force, murdered by the settlers or killed by unfamiliar diseases. The settlers eventually established themselves at Sydney Cove, north of the bay, and this is where the city of Sydney grew. Gold was discovered in Victoria and to Sydney’s west in the 1850s and settlers poured out of the town in search of wealth. Sydney’s importance diminished dramatically.
On January 1, 1901, New South Wales (NSW) became a state of Australia, and Sydney became NSW’s capital. Australia went to war in support of Britain in 1914, and the economy boomed until the late ’20s, when the Great Depression hit – in 1931 around a third of Sydney’s workforce was unemployed. But in 1932 wool prices rose, the city’s building industry took off and Sydney once again started booming.
Sydney suffered little during World War II, although several Japanese midget submarines were captured in the harbour. After the war, European immigrants flooded into the city. In 1973, one of its most famous landmarks, the Sydney Opera House, was thrown open to the public. During the Vietnam war, Sydney became a major Rest &Recreation stopover for US GIs.

Getting There:

Most visitors to Sydney arrive at Kingsford Smith airport, about 9 km south of the city center. Airfares to Australia are expensive – it’s a long way from anywhere and flights are often heavily booked. On the upside, you can get to Australia from just about anywhere. Australia’s domestic airlines offer discount flight passes which can be used once you’re in the country – if you’ve only got a short time here, it’s worth flying, because Australia’s a mighty big place. Airport Link trains run from city train stations to domestic and international terminals. Airport Express buses run to Central Station, Circular Quay and Kings Cross.
All the major bus lines run services into and out of Sydney. Most lines offer discounts for students, and Greyhound Pioneer/McCafferty’s has a good bus pass deal. There are also a number of specialized bus tours running out of Sydney. Interstate and regional trains run from Central station, and will take you to most other capitals, as well as cities and towns throughout NSW.

Getting Around:

Trains, buses and ferries are generally convenient, reliable and good value, and there are a number of good travel pass deals. Sydney’s underground city center train loop is the fastest way of getting around, but not exactly the most scenic. There are some gaps in the train network, notably the coast on the south shore and all of the north shore east of the Harbor Bridge. The bus network is extensive, but can be slow. There are plenty of fare deals and several hop-on, hop-off buses specifically designed for visitors who hate walking or for those who have no sense of direction.
The most pleasant way to get around is by ferry; a trip on the Manly ferry is the best way to experience the harbor if you can’t charm someone into taking you sailing. The monorail is an elevated toy train that shuttles between the city and Darling Harbor. Confusing one-way streets and hellish parking make driving a nightmare in central Sydney – take a taxi instead; they’re plentiful and easily flagged down.

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Activities
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