Australia is an isolated country located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. The continent is almost the same size as the contiguous 48 states of the USA. With Canberra as its capital, Australia’s unique plant life, marine life, and wildlife make it an interesting tourist destination for those who can afford it. The low crime rate makes Australia an ideal place to enjoy a vacation without having to worry about personal security more than what is normally necessary. Outback exploration, Great Barrier Reef snorkeling, Fraser Island camping activities, and Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) sightseeing are among the many tourist attractions available in Australia. With the aforementioned things in mind, I will construct some useful travel tips and information for those planning on making it to the wild outback.
- Travel Documentation – If you are planning to enter Australia, you will need a valid tourist visa. Australian tourist visas can usually be obtained at your local Australian embassy or online, assuming that your current passport has not and will not expire during the time you plan on spending in the country. This visa is usually entered into your passport before you enter the country and is valid for 3 to 6 months.
- Money Matters – As is with most places that are modern and up to date, plastic can prove to be the best and most easy method of payment. Visa, MasterCard, and most ATM cards are accepted as long as they carry either the INTERLINK, MAESTRO, EUROCARD, CIRRUS, PLUS, or STAR international ATM mark. However, as a traveler please familiarize yourself with the fees or service charges that are involved with using your card at a foreign location; and yes they do have ATM machines in most major towns. If you plan on using traveler’s checks, please understand that you will more than likely be charged a fee or commission when exchanging them; because they can usually only be cashed at banks and larger hotels and nowhere else. Changing foreign currency can be done at most banks or at the foreign exchange kiosks at the international airports.
- Transportation – A good way of getting around, is the nice little invention called the rent a car. Please make sure that you have an international drivers license if you plan on using a car rental and aren’t sure if your regular license will be accepted. Remember, all traffic drives on the left hand side of the road in Australia. If you plan on outback exploration that will require driving on roads that are not main roads, please thoroughly check that all things are working properly on your vehicle. Also, let someone know ahead of time the details of where you are going so that everybody can take the necessary emergency precautions if you do not return on time. And remember that in most country locations; animals sometimes congregate in the road, and quickly approaching head lights can easily confuse animals so that they will not know which way to go. So please be very careful.
- The Sun and its Heat – The sun in Australia can get very hot and carries high UV light levels so it can easily be compared to desert like conditions. It is illegal to leave animals or small children locked in vehicles while the weather is hot, this can also result in a fine being issued. It is a good practice to use SPF 30 or better sunscreen in these type of conditions to prevent damage.
- Going Swimming – Whether it is the Great Barrier Reef, The Ningaloo Reef, or the Golden Surf; the beach and ocean is an integral part of Australian life and Australian tourism. Please be informed that there are poisonous and deadly creatures lerking in these waters such as the box jellyfish, coral snakes, stone fish, sharks, and many others that are known to cause death. It is wise to swim only in flagged areas that are near beaches that are regularly patrolled. Sometimes crocodiles swim in salt water when they are changing habitat, so it is a good idea to know what you could be up against. Heed all warning signs when they are seen. And remember that the Australian surf is rough and there are dangerous rip tides that are capable of making swimming difficult and deadly.
- Important information to know – If an ambulance, police, or fireman is needed then the number to dial is 000. North American electrical appliances will require a voltage converter adapter socket to work in Australia, because the Australian electrical supply is 240/250 volts compared to the North American 110/115 volts.
You are now ready for your journey to the wild outback and beyond. Be safe in your travels.