Australia's minimum drinking age is 18 and visitors will be required to carry proof of age in the form of identification to purchase liquor or gain entry into licensed premises. It is illegal to purchase alcohol for a 'minor' and all wine tasting in the Hunter Valley observes the minimum drinking age policy.
The Australian dollar is made up on 100 cents with coin denominations in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2. Notes are made from a waterproof plastic compound and are colour coded in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Some retail items are priced in odd amounts such as $1.99. The law provides that the total is rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are also available 24 hours a day outside bank branches or in retail precincts however check with your card issuer to ensure your card can be used in this way. Foreign currency and travellers cheques are not readily accepted however some tourist stores, large shops and hotels will accept them. Look for a 'travellers cheques welcome' sign otherwise cash cheques at a bank or currency exchange. Service charges do not apply in Australia and tipping is not compulsory.
Australians drive on the left side of the road with speeds and distances expressed in kilometres and major routes well signed. Road conditions are generally good with speed limits varying from 50kph to 110kph. The legal blood alcohol content in Australia is .05% and is heavily policed with random breath analysis tests able to be conducted anywhere. Drink driving is a serious offence and offenders will be fingerprinted and arrested.
Rental cars are available from the airport and city centre however drivers must hold a current license and renters must be at least 21 years of age. Private cars, limousines, coaches and mini-buses are also available for transfers. Helicopter transfers are also available and are a stunning way to reach your accommodation. Just 2 hours from Sydney along the major F3 Freeway which links with the New England Highway near Newcastle, the Hunter Valley offers easy access along major roads. Some roads in wine country and the national park are not sealed and can pose slippery conditions so caution is advised.
The casual atmosphere of the Hunter Valley means you don't have dress up however covered footwear is expected in most establishments. The Australian sun can be quite powerful especially for those not used to a warmer climate so hats and sunglasses a recommended, particularly in the summer months. Warm and waterproof clothing is also recommended for nature exploring.
Australian medical services are some of the best in the world and are offered by highly trained health care professionals. Thanks to a reciprocal healthcare agreements under a taxpayer funded organisation, visitors from New Zealand, the UK, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Malta enjoy highly subsidised or free hospital and medical care however it is wise to take out travel insurance while on holiday.
A part of the state of New South Wales, the Hunter Valley operates on daylight saving time where clocks are brought forward by an hour during October to March. Normal Eastern Standard Time is observed for the remainder of the year which is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.