Surrounded by both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, most of Australia's major cities - the iconic Sydney, the sprawling, modern Brisbane, the cosmopolitan Melbourne which perfectly combines 19th century stately buildings and tree-lined boulevards with the modern Federation Square development, the laid-back Perth, and the cultural Adelaide - are coastal, but its inland capital, Canberra, is known as the 'Bush Capital.' Australia is just as well-known for its vast outback as it is for its surf beaches and Great Barrier Reef, and famous for unique animals such as kangaroos and koalas.
KEY FACTS BEFORE YOU GO:
- Capital: Canberra
- Currency: Australian Dollars
- Time Difference: Australia is a vast country and has three standard time zones: Australian Western Standard Time (AWST), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST), and Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
To make matters a little more complicated, some states - South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory - observe Daylight Saving Time, while Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland do not. Daylight Saving Time commences on the first Sunday of October and ends on the first Sunday in April. This means that during Daylight Saving Time, Australia effectively has five time zones!
Australian Western Standard Time (observed throughout the year without Daylight Saving Time) is 7 hours AHEAD of BST, and 8 hours AHEAD of GMT. AWST is observed by Western Australia (covering Perth, Fremantle, Broome, and Margaret River).
Australian Central Standard Time is observed by the Northern Territory (including Darwin, Uluru/Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta/The Olgas, Kakadu National Park, and Arnhem Land) throughout the year without Daylight Saving Time, and is 8.5 hours AHEAD of BST, and 9.5 hours AHEAD of GMT.
Australian Central Standard Time is also observed by South Australia, but with Daylight Saving Time. Popular destinations in South Australia include Adelaide (its capital), Barossa Valley, and Kangaroo Island. During Winter, ACST is 9.5 hours AHEAD of GMT, and 10.5 hours AHEAD of GMT during Summer.
Australian Eastern Time is observed by New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory, along with Daylight Saving Time. During Winter, AEST is 10 hours AHEAD of GMT, and during its Summer, it's 11 hours AHEAD of GMT.
Queensland (which covers Brisbane, Cairns, the Great Barrief Reef, and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts) also observes AEST, but does not observe Daylight Savings Time, and is 9 hours AHEAD of BST, and 10 hours AHEAD of GMT.
- Flight time: There are many popular hubs for Australia, most of which are indirect. However, it is possible to fly direct from London to Perth in 16 hours and 35 minutes. Qantas are looking to operate direct flights to Sydney from 2022 potentially. Flights to Sydney are from 21 hours and 40 minutes, Melbourne from 22 hours and 50 minutes, Brisbane from 22 hours and 10 minutes, all indirect.
- Official language: English
- Entry requirements: Visas are required for entry to Australia. There are two types of electronic visitor visa to choose from: an eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Border Protection (no application charge or service fee) or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) via your travel agent or airline. There is no visa application charge, but a service fee of A$20 applies. Further information on Australian visas can be found from the Department of Immigration & Border Protection, or from the Australian High Commission in London. In certain circumstances you may be asked to undergo a health examination before a visa can be granted, for example if you are aged 75 years or older. Factor in extra time for this when applying for a visa.
- Vaccinations and Health: For up-to-date information, please check this website (as recommended by the Foreign Office): https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/15/australia#Vaccine_recommendations
General information on travel vaccinations can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/
There are reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the UK and Australia, entitling British citizens resident in the UK and travelling on a British passport to limited subsidised health services from Medicare for medically necessary treatment while visiting Australia, but there are restrictions (i.e. does not cover pre-existing conditions or treatment that doesn't require prompt attention), and it is not a substitute for having full travel insurance, and you will still need to ensure that you have comprehensive medical insurance before you travel as any treatment not covered under the existing reciprocal healthcare arrangements can incur high costs. For more information, visit the Medicare website. If you visit one of their offices while in Australia, take your passport and your NHS card (if you have it).
To find out more, and for the most up-to-date advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
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