The legal 'drinking' age is 18 and young people are required to carry proof of age identification to purchase liquor or enter licensed premises. Buying liquor for a 'minor' is illegal. Australians drive on the left hand side of the road with distances and speed limits expressed in kilometres. Major routes are well signposted and roads are in good condition. Drink driving is a serious offence which is heavily policed by random breath analysis. The legal limit is a blood alcohol content of .05%.
Australian currency (AUD) is decimal and the basic unit is the dollar, with 100 cents equalling one dollar. Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 denominations. Coins are available as $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c denominations. The law provides that the TOTAL bill is rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents. So $19.97 becomes $19.95, $19.98 becomes $20.00. All banks have automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible 24-hours a day outside the branch or in shopping centres. Travellers cheques, especially in foreign currencies, are generally NOT accepted EXCEPT by hotels and big stores and tourist shops.
Australian has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10%. Prices in Australia are shown inclusive of GST. GST is payable on tourism services such as accommodation, day tours, transfers, and meals. No service charge applies in Australia. Tipping is not mandatory but a 10% tip in restaurants and hotel bars is normal for good service.
During the summer months New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia operate on daylight savings time from the end of October until the end of March. In Tasmania, daylight savings begins at the start of October through to the end of March. Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia do not have daylight savings time.
The amount of luggage passengers may take on board these trains is limited, and it is recommended that items not required for your train journey be packed separately. At check-in, your through luggage can be labelled and stored in the secured baggage car and not accessible until you reach your destination. Please consider that storage space is limited on trains, and for you own comfort it is important to pack lightly for your train journey. Rental cars are freely available in Sydney and renters must be 21 or older and hold a current driver's licence. An international licence is not necessary.
The seasons in Australia are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. From December to February, the summer month, temperatures are warm to hot and humidity can be high. It is recommended to bring lightweight clothes and a jacket or sweater handy in case the nights are cool. For the winter months, from June to August, warmer clothes including light coats, sweaters, jumpers etc are recommended. In the tropical areas such as Darwin and Cairns, lightweight clothing is suitable throughout the year.
Australian health care professionals are highly trained and medical services are among the best in the world. Medical and dental services and a wide range of alternative therapies are widely available in Sydney and are comparatively cheap by most international standards. Visitors from the UK, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, and Sweden are entitled to free or subsidised medical and hospital care under reciprocal national health care agreements with the taxpayer funded Medicare organisation. It is highly recommended that all travellers should take out travel insurance when visiting Australia. Major hotels have doctors on-call.
Visitors who have a medical condition requiring treatment should ensure they carry a letter from their doctor outlining their condition and the medication required. Most medication is available in Australia, but only on a doctor's prescription. Prescription drugs are dispensed by qualified pharmacist at 'pharmacies' or 'chemist' shops.
January 1 New Year's Day
January 26 Australia Day
March/April Easter (depending on full moon)
April 25 ANZAC Day
June 9 Queen's Birthday
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day
Local and State public holidays also observed throughout the year