Approximately the same size as the continental U.S. with a population of 18 million. A non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Sydney takes about 14 hours.
Like the US, Australia is broken into three different time zones. From Pacific Standard Time, the eastern states (New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania) are + 18 hours, the central states (Northern Territory, South Australia) are + 19, and Western Australia is + 20 hours. Some states practice daylight saving, so these times will differ during certain months.
You must have a passport, valid for not less than 6 months beyond the date of arrival, and a visitors visa. Consult your travel agent or airline.
Australian dollar, decimal currency system. Notes: $100, $50, $20, $10, $5. Coins: 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, $2.
Generally 9:30am to 4pm Monday through Thursday, and 9:30am to 5pm Friday.
Departure tax is A$38 (approximately US$27) per person over 12 years of age (included in international air ticket).
240/250 volts, AC 50Hz. As the 3-pin outlets differ from those in the US a converter/adapter kit is required. Most major hotels have 110v outlets for electric shavers.
English is the official language, but you will hear many colorful local expressions. Do not hesitate to ask questions, as people are very helpful.
9am-5pm weekdays, and Thursday to 9pm. Saturday 9am-4pm. Put Akubra hats, Driza-Bone bushman raincoats, Aboriginal objects, wool products, opals and pearls on your shopping list.
Tipping is not the general custom, and service charges are not added in hotels and restaurants. In better restaurants, however, it is usual to tip up to 10%. Porters at airports, taxi drivers and hairdressers do not expect to be tipped. At railway terminals porters have set charges, but not at hotels. At any time tipping is your choice.
As Australia covers 30 degrees of latitude, there is a wide variation in its climate. Looking to the north, about 40% of the continent is in the tropics. In the southeast region of the Australian Alps, there is snow for about 6 months of the year. Primarily, Australia is a sunshine country - even in the cooler southern regions. No capital gets less than 5.5 hours of sunshine per day. Perth is the sunniest state capital, with nearly 8 hours of sunshine a day. Remember that Australia, located in the southern hemisphere, has seasons opposite North America's.
Australians don't really have a dish that they can call their own. But the country does offer a multitude of foods, from native kangaroo tails and macadamia nuts, through avocados, fresh tropical fruits, oysters and lobsters, to tender beef and lamb. And what you will find is a variety of foods prepared with the skills of many nationalities - French, Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and many others.