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Australia Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +10 (GMT +11, Oct - Apr)

Electricity

Electrical current is 240/250 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin flat blade plugs are used but are different to those in most other countries, so an adapter is normally required.

Language

English is the official language of Australia.

Travel Health

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers over one year of age arriving within six days of having stayed overnight or longer in an infected country. No other special immunizations or medications are required for most trips to Australia, however insect repellents are strongly advised because of the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses. Another health risk is sunburn, and visitors are advised to take precautions. Medical services are excellent, but can be expensive so travellers should ensure that they have adequate insurance. Australia has a reciprocal health agreement with the United Kingdom providing for free hospital emergency medical treatment; proof of UK residence is required.

Tipping

There are no mandatory gratuities in restaurant service charges of any kind in Australia, and tips are not expected anywhere, although it is becoming more common in expensive restaurants in the bigger cities to leave some money for good service.

Safety Information

The crime rate in Australia is low; however, travellers should be aware that tourists could be targeted by petty criminals. Be vigilant about personal possessions and travel documents, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as along the Gold Coast. Tropical cyclones normally occur between November and April in some parts of Australia, usually in Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory. There is a serious risk of bush fires in summer, especially in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and ACT. During the summer months, usually between October and May, the shallow coastal waters of northern Australia and Queensland become infested with marine stingers, commonly known as box jellyfish, whose sting is highly dangerous and can be deadly. Visitors should pay attention to signs on beaches and follow the instructions of local lifeguards.

Local Customs

Generally an informal attitude, in dress and behaviour, prevails in most social and business situations. Sport, particularly rugby and cricket, is almost a religion.

Business

Those doing business in Australia are sure to find that the friendly, yet professional corporate atmosphere of the country will provide them with an exciting opportunity to develop their careers. The business culture of Australia is a bit of a hybrid breed, incorporating the trappings of British formality and conservatism, the egalitarian ethos of Scandinavian countries, and the dynamic, innovative approach to business that is generally thought of as American in origin - rounded out, of course, with characteristic Antipodean warmth and friendliness. The approach to management in Australia is consultative, pragmatic, and strictly non-hierarchical. Those in positions of relative power are accorded respect in virtue of their human and interpersonal qualities, not simply because they happen to be the boss.

Business etiquette in Australia further reflects this egalitarian ethos. Use titles initially, though you will almost certainly be told to dispense with them - at which point, you should refer to your colleagues by their first names. Maintain eye contact when speaking to your associates, as this is regarded as a sign of forthrightness and trustworthiness - qualities which Australian businesspeople tend to favour over showiness, self-aggrandisement or empty promises. Business meetings in Australia should be scheduled a week in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place.

Be punctual, as lateness can be seen as a symptom of flakiness or indifference. Business meetings in Australia do not generally proceed from a set agenda - rather, they are viewed as open forums, in which ideas are to be debated and discussed. In fact, over-preparing for a meeting can make you seem pushy and maverick - as though you wish to bully others into adopting your opinions on the issue at hand. The dress code for business in Australia remains surprisingly traditional: dark suits and ties are the norm for men; for women, business suits, worn either with pants or a skirt. Avoid loud jewellery and accessories - as to Australian eyes, they might make you seem arrogant and unprofessional. The official language of business in Australia is English, and business hours are generally from 8:30am (or 9am) to 5pm (or 5:30pm), Monday to Friday.

Communications

The international access code for Australia is +61. The outgoing code is 0011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001144 for the United Kingdom). The area code for both Canberra and Sydney is (0)2. Mobile phone operators use GSM networks; mobile phones are available for rent. Internet cafes are widely available.

Duty Free

Travellers to Australia over 18 years do not have to pay customs duty on 2.25 litres of alcohol; and 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars or tobacco products (note that all tobacco products in your baggage are included in this category, regardless of where they were purchased). Gifts are included in the A$900 duty-free allowance. Fresh produce and animal/plant products are prohibited.

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