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Useful information - Facts about Australia (general)

USEFUL INFORMATION

Please see future Melbourne 2006 Media Services monthly Operational Arrangements documents for additions to this information.

ATA Carnet

The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that permits duty-free temporary import of goods for up to one year. The initials 'ATA' are an acronym of the French and English words 'Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission'.
The ATA Carnet operates under international Customs conventions administered by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and is managed by the World ATA Carnet Council in co-operation with WCO.

A Carnet disposes of the need for raising bonds or depositing duty at Customs posts in different countries. The Carnet contains the appropriate Customs clearance documentation, and this method generally is preferred by Customs Authorities.

For further information on the ATA Carnet system, please view the ATA Carnet Explanatory Note. When registering online please ensure that the security required by VECCI is paid at the time of pick-up of the carnet.

For further information please contact:
Sabina Riego
Carnet Officer
Tel: 61 3 8662 5380
Fax: 61 3 8662 5201
E-mail VECCI.

Australian Embassies, Consulates & High Commissions

To find the Australian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in your country please refer to Australian Embassies World Wide.

Australian time zones

Australia has four different time zones across the country. The table below shows the time difference in each State and Territory when it is 12:00 midday in Melbourne, Victoria. Some States and Territories of Australia do not have daylight savings (summer time). The table below also shows the time difference in each State and Territory when daylight savings ends on 2 April 2006.

Victoria is GMT/UTC +10 (Eastern Standard Time)

Australian State Time Time after daylight savings ends
Victoria 12:00 midday 12:00 midday
New South Wales 12:00 midday 12:00 midday
South Australia 11:30 am 11:30 am
Western Australia 9:00 am 10:00 am
Northern Territory 10:30 am 11:30 am
Tasmania 12:00 Midday 12:00 Midday
Queensland 11:00 am 12:00 midday
Australian Capital Territory 12:00 midday 12:00 midday

Time Difference in Commonwealth Countries

Australia AEST (Daylight Saving) AEST
Antigua and Barbuda Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Anguilla Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Bahamas Less 16 hours Less 15 hours
Bangladesh Less 5 hours Less 4 hours
Barbados Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Belize Less 17 hours Less 16 hours
Bermuda Less 15 hours Less 13 hours
Botswana Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
British Virgin Islands Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Brunei Darussalam Less 3 hours Less 2 hours
Cameroon Less 10 hours Less 9 hours
Canada Less 14 – 18 hours Less 14 – 18 hours
Cayman Islands Less 16 hours Less 14 hours
Cook Islands Less 21 hours Less 20 hours
Cyprus Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
Dominica Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
England (London) Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Falkland Islands Less 14 hours Less 13 hours
Fiji Plus 1 hour Plus 2 hours
Gambia Less 11 hours Less 10 hours
Ghana Less 11 hours Less 10 hours
Gibraltar Less 10 hours Less 7 hours
Grenada Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Guernsey Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Guyana Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
India Less 5 1/2 hours Less 4 1/2 hours
Isle of Man Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Jamaica Less 16 hours Less 15 hours
Jersey Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Kenya Less 8 hours Less 5 hours
Kiribati Plus 1 - 3 hours Plus 2 hours
Lesotho Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
Malawi Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
Malaysia Less 3 hours Less 2 hours
Maldives Less 6 hours Less 5 hours
Malta Less 10 hours Less 9 hours
Mauritius Less 7 hours Less 6 hours
Montserrat Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Mozambique Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
Namibia Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
Nauru Plus 1 hour Plus 2 hours
New Zealand Plus 2 hours (19th March onwards Plus 1 hour) Plus 2 hours
Nigeria Less 10 hours Less 9 hours
Niue Less 22 hours Less 21 hours
Norfolk Island Plus 1 1/2 hours Plus 2 1/2 hours
Northern Ireland Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Pakistan Less 6 hours Less 5 hours
Papua New Guinea Less 1 hour No difference
Samoa Less 22 hours Less 21 hours
Scotland Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Seychelles Less 7 hours Less 6 hours
Sierra Leone Less 11 hours Less 10 hours
Singapore Less 3 hours Less 2 hours
Solomon Islands No difference Plus 1 hour
South Africa Less 9 hours Less 8 hours
Sri Lanka Less 5 hours Less 4 hours
St Helena Less 11 hours Less 10 hours
St Kitts and Nevis Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
St Lucia Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
St Vincent and The Grenadines Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Swaziland Less 7 hours Less 8 hours
Tonga Plus 2 hours Plus 3 hours
Trinidad and Tobago Less 15 hours Less 14 hours
Turks and Caicos Islands Less 16 hours Less 15 hours
Tuvalu Plus 1 hour Plus 2 hours
Uganda Less 8 hours Less 7 hours
United Republic of Tanzania Less 8 hours Less 7 hours
Vanuatu No difference Plus 1 hour
Wales Less 11 hours (26th March onwards Less 10 hours) Less 10 hours
Zambia Less 9 hours Less 8 hours

Climate

Victoria experiences warm to hot summers, mild autumns, cool to cold winters and cool springs. The climate varies across the State with the north experiencing much drier and warmer weather than the south.

Summer - December to February: Temperatures from 21°C to 34°C, average 28°C.With average maximum temperatures of 28°C, typical summer days in Melbourne are warm and sunny with a freshening sea breeze from the south to south-east in the afternoon. A hot summer spell can produce temperatures that exceed 40°C accompanied by an occasional hot north wind. Hot weather usually ends with an abrupt cool change, sometimes with thunderstorms.

Autumn - March to May: Temperatures from 11°C to 19°C, average 17°C. Autumn is generally considered the most pleasant season with temperatures falling to around 20°C in Melbourne. Many days are mild and sunny with afternoon sea breezes. Cloudy, showery weather increases towards the end of autumn.

Melbourne is well known for having 4 seasons in 1 day, so it is important to pack the right clothing. Even though it can get quite hot during the day it is usually cooler at night so lightweight clothes are suitable for daytime, but keep a jacket or sweater handy for nights. It is also advisable to carry a rain jacket most days.

Customs and quarantine

Prior to landing on Australian soil, you will be handed an immigration form to fill out, as well as Customs and Agriculture Declaration forms. Australia has particularly strict quarantine laws – you must declare all goods of animal or plant origin, and you’re not allowed to bring into the country fresh fruit or vegetables. If you’re concerned about bringing any items into Australia, declare them and you will be directed to a Quarantine officer who will make the decision as to whether the foodstuffs may enter Australia or not. If you’ve been snacking on the flight, place any leftovers in the amnesty quarantine bins available in the arrival area or on the way to the luggage collection bay.

Quarantine officers with sniffer dogs are present in the baggage collection hall of all international airports in Australia and constantly patrol to check all baggage. The Quarantine officers are authorised to impose on-the-spot fines when they are satisfied that a passenger has knowingly failed to declare or has mis-declared items of quarantine concern. More serious quarantine breaches will still be pursued through the courts. Further to the officer and dog patrols all baggage is X-rayed prior to leaving the customs area of the airport.

For further information on prohibited items please refer to Australian Customs Regulations

Australian customs regulations allow anyone over 18 to import the following goods duty free: AUD$400 worth of goods, not including alcohol or tobacco; 1.125ml alcoholic liquor; 250 cigarettes, or 250 grams of cigars or tobacco products (other than cigarettes).

Driving laws

Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60km/h (35mph) and on country roads and highways, 100km/h (62mph) - 110 km/h (68 mph) unless signs indicate otherwise such as some residential built up areas, the speed limit is 50km/h (31mph) and in school zones the speed limit is 40km/h (25mph).

Strict drink-driving laws apply with a maximum blood/alcohol level of 0.05%. Seat belts must be worn by drivers and passengers at all times. Breaking any of these laws will attract large fines and possible jail sentences.

Tourists may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver's license for the same class of vehicle. Licenses must be carried when driving, in addition to a valid passport. An International Drivers Permit is not sufficient by itself and must be accompanied by a valid drivers permit.

Leaded and unleaded grades are sold by the litre. Gas (petrol) costs between A$0.85 - A$1.10 per litre. Prices are often higher in country areas. Petrol stations are plentiful; trading hours vary. Most accept international credit cards

Electricity

Voltage/Electricity is 240 volt with 2 & 3 prong adapters

Emergency

For all emergency situations dial 000 for fire, police or ambulance and advise which service you need and explain in detail the situation and your location.

Health and safety

Australia may be one of the safest destinations in the world, but that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions as you would in any other country or at home. Importantly, talk to other travellers about their experiences and advice. It is recommended that you invest in comprehensive travel insurance before departing.

Medicare, Australia’s public health care system, allows travellers from the UK, New Zealand and Malta to receive free or discounted medical treatment, limited to public hospitals and visits to the doctor. It’s recommended that all visitors invest in comprehensive travel insurance before arriving in Australia. In the event of illness, your hotel can call a doctor or refer you to one, or you can call your country's High Commission, Embassy or Consulate General for a list of doctors.

If you are taking medications you should contact the Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in your capital city (for locations please refer to Australian Embassies World Wide) well before departure to confirm that medicines and the quantities to be carried are permitted. It will help if you have a prescription and a doctor's letter explaining your medical condition for Australian Customs. Chemists/pharmacies can fill most prescriptions but some may need to be re-issued by an Australian-registered doctor.

Watch out for natural hazards such as changeable weather conditions in Victoria’s alpine regions or remote national parks. If you’re going to spend some time in Victoria’s bushland, plan your hike, and let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to return.

Beaches too have a number of potential hazards, like rips and undercurrents, so make sure you swim between the red and yellow flags placed on the beaches by Surf Life Saving Australia. And if you plan to be out in the sun for any period, take proper precautions by wearing a shirt, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen – Australia’s sunlight is extremely harsh.

Important dates

In Victoria Daylight Savings (Summer Time) begins on 30 October 2005 and ends at 2am on 2 April 2006 where clocks will be moved back 1 hour to Local Standard Time.

Monday 13 March 2006 is a Labour Day holiday in Victoria. In general this means all offices, banks, post offices and Government agencies will be closed.

Language and food

English is the native language but as Australia is a multi-cultural nation you will hear many languages spoken. Australians tend to speak quickly as well so if you find it hard to understand someone just ask them to speak a little slower.

Due to the multi cultural flavour of Australia you will find an enormous variety of food available, from African to Indian and fast food chains to fine dinning, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

Money matters

Banking and foreign exchange

In general, Melbourne’s banking hours are Monday to Thursday 9.30am–4pm and Friday 9.30am–5pm. All the major banks, such as our Financial Services Partner the National Australia Bank, have offices in Melbourne, as well as in cities and many of the larger towns in regional Victoria. In Melbourne Central Business District (CBD), all main banks are equipped to exchange foreign currency. You can also exchange foreign currency any day or night at the airport or during normal business hours (Monday to Friday 9:30am – 5:00pm) at banks including National Australia Bank, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne or National Australia Bank, 164 Bourke Street, Melbourne. Visit National Australia Bank for further bank locations.

Traveller’s cheques are widely accepted in Victoria, and can be cashed at all the major banks, such as our Financial Services Partner the National Australia Bank, foreign exchange brokers, larger hotels and restaurants, and for car rental. Passport ID is required when you cash traveller’s cheques. Fees for changing traveller’s cheques sometimes vary from bank to bank.

Major credit cards like Visa – Preferred Card of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games are widely accepted throughout Victoria. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with around-the-clock access are available in convenient locations like banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.

Australia has a decimal currency system with 100 cents to the dollar (AUD$). Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and AUD$1 and AUD$2; notes have values of AUD$5, AUD$10, AUD$20, AUD$50 and AUD$100.

Tipping is not a general custom in Australia, and is at your discretion.

Passport and visas

Non-Australian citizen needs a valid visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) to enter and spend time in Australia. With the exception of New Zealand citizens, all foreign nationals must obtain a visa/ETA before travelling to Australia. New Zealand citizens are issued with a visa on arrival in Australia. Visas are available from Australian visa offices, such as Australian Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates in your capital city, for locations please refer to Australian Embassies World Wide.

Australia's Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system is an electronically-stored authority for travel to Australia for a short-term tourist or business entry. It replaces the visa label or stamp in a passport and removes the need for application forms.

ETAs are issued within seconds of being requested through computer links between the department, travel agents, airlines and specialist service providers around the world. You can only apply for an ETA while you are outside of Australia and you also must hold an ETA-eligible passport. The following countries are eligible for ETAs:
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Singapore
  • UK - British Citizen
  • UK - British National (Overseas)*
* Holders of UK passports which indicate their nationality to be British National (Overseas) can only be processed for an ETA if resident in and applying in Hong Kong.

For more information on visa requirements please refer to the Australian Immigration Department.

Shopping hours

City shops generally open from 9am-5pm but some have hours of 10am till 6pm, Monday to Friday. On Friday, many shops in the Central Business District (CBD) and suburban shopping centres remain open late, until 9pm. On Saturday and Sunday, the hours in the CBD and shopping centres are generally 9am-5pm. Shops in tourist areas may be open on Sundays.

Smoking

Smoking will not be permitted in any Commonwealth Games Venue including the Main Press Centre and Venue Media Centres.

It is worth noting that smoking is not permitted in any office space, airport, train, bus, tram or taxi. Hotels will have certain rooms available that you can smoke in, but usually reserve a majority of rooms as non smoking. Some restaurants do not permit smoking within the restaurant but allow smoking at their outdoor seating.

Taxation

A new tax system was introduced in Australian on 1 July 2000. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a broad-based tax of 10 per cent on most goods and services such as accommodation, day tours, guides, translators, food, transport (including coach, rail and cruise) and other tourism services within Australia. International airfares do not attract GST. For international visitors, all prices quoted for a Victorian holiday will include the 10 per cent GST, payable at the time of ticketing.

The Tourism Refund Scheme enables you to claim a refund, subject to certain conditions, of the goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET) that you pay on goods you buy in Australia. The TRS is open to all overseas visitors and Australian residents.

To claim a refund you must:
  • Spend $300 or more in the one store and get a single tax invoice
  • Buy goods no more than 30 days before departure
  • Wear or carry the goods on board and present them along with your tax invoice, passport and international boarding pass to a TRS facility.
Claims are only available up to 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of your flight.

The refund only applies to goods you take with you as hand luggage or wear onto the aircraft or ship when you leave Australia. It does not apply to services or goods consumed or partly consumed in Australia, such as chocolate and perfume. However, unlike other tourist shopping schemes, most of the goods, such as clothing and cameras, can be used in Australia before departure.

If you wish to claim a refund, you must get an original tax invoice from the store where you buy the goods. All stores registered for GST will be able to give you a tax invoice. A refund cannot be given without it.

A tax invoice prominently states the words 'tax invoice' and the Australian Business Number (ABN) of the retailer, the purchase price including the GST paid, a description of the goods, the name of the supplier and the date the purchase was made. Tax invoices for purchases of $1000 or more need additional information, such as the name and address of the purchaser.

For further information please see Australian Customs Regulations.

Telephones

Making internationals call from Australia can be done two ways, either by dialling direct using the prefix 0011 followed by your country code, area code and telephone number. Or you can use an operator assistance service by dialling 1234 and asking for international operator connections.
For a list of country codes and time zones please refer to International Dialling Codes. Click on the heading of Tools and scroll down to Online Tools where you will find International Dialling Codes.

Vaccinations

Australia falls within the low risk category for infectious diseases, but does require a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate for all travellers coming from a Yellow Fever infected area. For further information and weekly updates on requirements or possible outbreaks you can visit Australian Vaccination Requirements.


Please see future Melbourne 2006 Media Services monthly Operational Arrangements documents for additions to this information.
This Website is closed and for reference purposes only. To guarantee the stability of Games data, all external links are being removed.

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