Fun Facts From Globus Tours
- Australia Day – January 26 – is the anniversary of ships arriving in Sydney carrying convicts
- Australia has the lowest precipitation of any of the world’s inhabited continents
- Australia has the world’s largest deposits of silver, zinc, and uranium
- Australia is the only country that is also a continent
In a distant corner of the southern hemisphere, the relaxed life of Australia beckons. Fabulous beaches, unspoiled territories, friendly locals, natural wonders, and cultural intrigue make up only a portion of what makes Australia a remarkable place. From the sophisticated spires of the Sydney Opera House to the famed Outback, Australia is a playground and every stop offers something different than the one before. Aussie culture is especially known for its sense of fun and enjoyment of life. If Australia has one universal symbol, it is undoubtedly a smile.
The most well-known and symbolic city in Australia is Sydney, known for its scenery, culture, architecture, business, fun, and people. The best way to frustrate a “Sydneysider” is to keep them indoors. They thrive on a spirit of play and love to spend time outside – festivals, water sports, beaches, sailing – life is short, go play! During your free time, you may wish to spend a little time playing outdoors at one of Sydney’s icons – Bondi Beach. While you’re in the midst of seeing the most iconic places in Sydney, the Sydney Opera House is not to be missed. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an intriguing structure that sits gracefully in the harbor – pieces of cut, angled globelike domes jutting out from the center and the night glow of its pristine walls casting brilliant light across the waters are stunning. There are so many great things to do and ways to enjoy this marvelous city – you can cruise the harbor or climb the Sydney Harbor bridge for superb views, scope out one of the leading wineries of Australia, dine on the harbor at a waterfront restaurant, stroll the unique Botanic Gardens of Sydney, get in some fantastic shopping, or just relax on the beach. Sydney is an unforgettable city – the spirit of Aussie fun!
The other major city that should be part of any trip to Australia is the culturally diverse Melbourne. In addition to a vibrant city atmosphere with great shopping, food, cuisine, and wine, the city is also home to the Australian Open tennis tournament and its residents are known to be quite sports-mad! The city is also packed with diverse architectural styles from The Shrine of Remembrance and Victorian Arts Centre to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Parliament building. The Central Business District (CBD) is a simple square, making it easy to navigate by foot or for a small fee you can buy a pass and travel on the local tram system. From here, explore the passionate food and wine scene that dominates the city. From the buzzing street-side cafes and high-end restaurants in the CBD to extraordinary Vietnamese and Greek cuisine in the suburbs, the city has something to satisfy all tastes. Another unique dining experience is in the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, where you can savor food and wine as you wind through the streets taking in the cityscape. A trip outside of the city to Phillip Island is delightful as you witness hundreds of cute little penguins waddling their way inland after a day at sea. Their playful nature will put a smile on your face for the rest of the night. While Melbourne is a bit more laid back than Sydney, it is decidedly one of the coolest cities in Australia.
Cairns, Port Douglas & the Great Barrier Reef
Of course, when visiting Australia, you can’t return home without saying you visited one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Cairns and Port Douglas. The Reef is an aquatic playground and to snorkel or dive here is like swimming in a massive fish tank, where thousands of fish, coral, and mammal varieties play around you. Just try describing the color you find here – from the water’s surface to the corals and the kaleidoscopic fish displays – not even a camera will fully capture it (well maybe a professional one). For those who want to see the sea life but would prefer to stay dry, the Reef offers semi-submersible watercraft tours so you can watch this unspoiled oceanic parade of brilliance.
Cairns is home to one of the most fabulous tropical rainforests in the South Pacific – the Daintree Rainforest – and there are many ways to explore it: on foot, by a cableway gondola, or by historic train. But to really get up close and personal, it’s best to combine those options. The Daintree Rainforest is thought to be the planet’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest and an experience you won’t want to miss. In the evening, check out the town’s exuberant nightlife for some local fun.
Port Douglas is a laid back beachside town surrounded by rainforest and the Coral Sea, just one hour north of Cairns. Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs or relaxing in the sun on 4 Mile Beach, Port Douglas is a perfect base for experiencing the best of Far North Queensland.
The Outback has long been a place of intrigue. It is the inspiration behind “walkabouts” – life-altering journeys. Out in the wild, it is a place unspoiled and devoid of human intervention. Move across an endless expanse of flat country and you’ll suddenly see Uluru (Ayers Rock), as the locals call it, rising unexpectedly out of the earth. Those who have been fortunate enough to see it, report a life-changing experience, as this is one of the most mystical spots on the continent. Embrace the local culture and spiritual nature in this territory of red earth and the rising rock that reeks of history and bewildering power. You’re going to want to see the rock at sunset and sunrise for an absolutely awesome experience of Uluru. Alice Springs sits northeast of Uluru and possesses some of the best cultural vibes in the Outback. It is also home to some unexpected activities – you can visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a remarkable organization that is able to provide medical service to people living in remote regions. Hospitals are not 30 minutes from town in these parts and it’s fascinating to understand how they manage the health and safety in the Outback. No trip to this area of the continent is complete without an Outback barbeque, a truly unique Aussie experience. Traditional campfire fare is accompanied by tales of the Outback, singing, and some of the best stargazing in the world.
If you enjoy train travel, one of the best ways to move across the outback of Australia is onboard the Ghan Train. This sleek, silent bullet can travel from Adelaide, on the southern coast, to the North coast in a mere 60 hours. It gives travelers the chance to meet both visitors and locals, see the Outback expanse, and enjoy fantastic cuisine and drinks. It’s certainly a comfortable and cultural way to be transported across “bush” country.
Adelaide is a charming, laid back town where everyday life is influenced by the ocean and the locals are friendly. A visit to Kangaroo Island is the highlight – as you sail out there, you’ll be surprised at the size of this unspoiled wildlife habitat. This is where you go to marvel at the Remarkable Rocks, crazy natural rock formations that look like they’ve been scooped out, hollowed, or molded into these wild lines and shapes – not a place to forget your camera! The Flinders Chase Wildlife Sanctuary offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Australia and it’s exciting to see the classic animals of this region still playful and free, like kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. At Admirals Arch you’ll also spot a colony of New Zealand fur seals resting on the rocks and playing in the waves. This haven off the coast is one of the purest on earth and a refreshing change of pace.
Hop just south of Melbourne to the island of Tasmania, home of the famed Tasmanian Devil and the infamous Port Arthur, a former prison and asylum in the Victorian era. The rugged and naturally formed coastline of the Tasman peninsula is a sought-after destination for geologic enthusiasts around the world and the fascinating grounds of Port Arthur are a chilling reminder of Australia’s punitive past. A great number of English and Australian convicts were housed here – an island prison entirely surrounded by water, said to have been shark infested during its reign, was surely an inspiration to California’s Alcatraz many years later. Walk through the bone-chilling halls and learn the grim history of prisoners held captive. You can also see the fascinating and endangered Tasmanian Devil, endemic to Tasmania alone. These are the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials with wild shrieks and ferocious appetites. “Tassie,” as it’s referred to by locals, promises intrigue and beauty unlike that on the mainland – boasting some of the cleanest air in the world, gorgeous scenery, and so much to do and see.
Darwin & Kakadu National Park
Darwin is a smaller city on the North Coast of Australia and is a fairly recent addition to tourism so it still has that quaint small-town feeling. Architecturally, the city is a mixture of historic colonial buildings and modern establishments that have survived a great deal of turmoil. Between Japanese bombings in WWII and the tropical Cyclone Tracy in 1974, leveling most of the city, Darwin locals are a proud culture. They also possess one of the best collections of aboriginal art in Northern Australia. The city also has a burgeoning nightlife scene with many restaurants and bars within walking distance. Close by you will find Kakadu National Park – an overwhelming exhibition of landscape. Waterfalls, marshes, lakes, towering rocks, cliffs, unique plant life, hundreds of wildlife species, unspoiled waterways, and historical Aboriginal rock art make Kakadu one of the most diverse and attractive spots to visit. Few places offer this much scenery and cultural experience in one beautiful package. This is also your best chance to see wild crocodile, fascinating creatures and symbols of Kakadu – so much so that their major hotel in the area resembles a crocodile from an aerial view!
Perth, capital of Western Australia, sits where the Swan River meets the southwest coast. It is a place for outdoor activities like cycling along the shore, enjoying a cruise on the Swan River, strolling the many lanes and the beautiful warm weather makes this possible almost year-round. Whether you’re watching the sunset over the city from Kings Park, relaxing on an uncrowded beach, or exploring the historic seaside town of Fremantle, Perth is sure to please. You can discover more about Australia’s amazing west coast at the Western Australia Museum or delve into an extensive collection of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. You can also feel a world away on a short trip to Rottnest Island, free of cars, and home to 60 beaches, coral reefs, shipwrecks, and a cute little marsupial, the cute quokka, found only here in Western Australia.
The Gold Coast
From the iconic shores of Surfers Paradise beach to the eclectic neighborhoods of Burleigh and Broadbeach and out into the lush hinterland, there’s an unexpected experience waiting for you at every turn. Theme parks, world-renowned beaches, and year-round sunshine are just a few of the reasons 10.5 million visitors flock to this vibrant region each year – a destination which is as scenic and peaceful as it is fast-paced and active. Water activities abound from snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding, cruises, whale watching (seasonal), and more. You can explore shopping districts, funky boutiques, and outlet malls. Rent a bike, play a round of golf, immerse yourself at a local art gallery or museum, and dance the night away. You are sure to find all that you desire in the vibrant Gold Coast!
VISAS, PASSPORTS, AND OTHER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
A visa for your visit to Australia is necessary for US citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to Australia.
In general, going through a visa service is more expensive but it offers convenience and peace of mind. If you choose to go this route, we recommend contacting Generations Visa Services (GenVisa), our preferred partner for visa and passport services, at least 90 days prior to departure. GenVisa has a special website Call 800.845.8968, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their below websites for additional information. Our travelers receive discounted prices and other special services:
- For Monograms, visit: genvisa.com/monograms
- For Globus, visit: genvisa.com/globus
- For Avalon, visit: genvisa.com/avalon
- For Cosmos, visit: genvisa.com/cosmos
All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.
The country code for Australia is 61. When calling to Australia from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in Australia are 9 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada: 011 61+# #### ####.
In Australia the local currency is the Australian Dollar. 1 Australian Dollar (AUD) = 100 cents
- Banknote denominations: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
- Coin denominations: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2
For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at Globusjourneys.com/Currency.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Australia, and you should have no problems using them in larger shops and restaurants. Visa and MasterCard are most accepted. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit Card. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit.
BUDGETING AND SHOPPING
The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.
- The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is US $3.
- An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately US $15.
- Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately US $50.
Generally, department stores are open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. Some locations offer longer hours on certain days of the week.
Please be warned that if you buy items on tour to be shipped to your home, customs import charges are hardly ever included in the price. Sales tax or GST (Goods & Services Tax) is normally already included on price tags; GST refunds, if applicable, are processed at the departing airport from the relevant country.
Although tipping is not as widely expected in Australia as compared to other parts of the world, it is customary to tip approximately 10% of your bill at a restaurant and round up your cab fare to the nearest dollar. Tipping hotel staff for bar or room service is not customary.
ELECTRICITY AND ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
Voltage for outlets is 240V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Therefore, you will need a converter for your travels. Adapters will be necessary to adapt your plug into the outlet, but these may not convert the voltage, so both devices are necessary. Australia uses a plug that looks like:
The climate is generally mild in cities like Sydney and Melbourne but ranges from extremely hot in the Outback to a tropical climate in the north near Cairns and Darwin. The seasons in the southern hemisphere are generally the reverse of the northern hemisphere. Winter is June to August, Spring from September to November, Summer from December to February, and Fall (referred to as Autumn in the South Pacific) is March to May.
To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures in Fahrenheit, for Australia.
To convert to Celsius, subtract 30, then divide by 2. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.
Australian cuisine began as ‘bush tucker’ where meals consisted of local flora and fauna. With English colonization, food took on British and Irish influences. Visitors would be remiss if they didn’t try some of the country’s native foods including kangaroo, crocodile, emu, and vegemite. Those with a more adventurous palate can try witchetty grubs and snake. Modern cuisine includes lamingtons, a sponge cake coated in chocolate icing and coconut often referred to as the ‘National Cake of Australia’, John Dory fillets, pavlova, prawns, sausage rolls, barramundi, and meat pies.
Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine and a visit would not be complete without sampling some from the world’s best vineyards. More popular varietals include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Also on the rise are local beer and spirit distilleries.
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the South Pacific. However, for sightseeing and excursions, we recommend you purchase bottled water to bring with you. Bottled water is also common in restaurants.
CUSTOMS AND CULTURE
Public holidays in the South Pacific are more numerous than at home. On these occasions you may find services in general slightly reduced.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE COUNTRY INFORMATION
Additional country-specific information for US citizens can be found on the US Government’s website www.travel.state.gov. Here, you can find the most up-to-date information about destination descriptions, passports/visas, safety and security, transportation, travel local laws, alerts/warnings, vaccinations, and more. For citizens of other nations, we recommend you consult your local consulate for travel information, regulations, and requirements.