Australia (AU)

Australia travel guide (Australia & Oceania)

Australia is the smallest continent and the continent furthest from Europe, besides the Antarctic. In the north the nation state borders on Arafura and the Timor Sea, in the east on the Coral Sea and the Tasmanian Sea of the South Pacific, and in the south and west on the Indian Ocean. Several islands in the Pacific Ocean are also part of Australia’s territory, including Tasmania, the Norfolk Islands, the Cocos Islands, the Christmas Islands, the Ashmore and Cartier islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory and Heard and McDonald Islands in the sub Antarctic.

the countryside in Australia is extremely varied, from dry red desert to lush green rainforests. The mesa in the west covers about 60% of the total area of the country, is relatively dry and has a desert type character. The Great Dividing Range extends from the east to the west measuring 3200 km (1988 miles), is Australia’s largest mountain range and the location of Snowy Mountain, the highest point (2229 m; 7312 ft) on the mainland. The mountain range extends along the whole of the east coast from the northeast and eventually gives way to the great Australian central plain. The reservoirs here provide the entire east of Australia with drinking water. Most central parts of the country are uninhabitable so that the majority of the population lives on the east and south east coast. In the far north, the Cape York Peninsula is covered in dense jungle.

Mountains and rivers:
the highest point in Australia is Mount Kosciuszko with 2,228 m (7310 ft) in the national park of the same name. It is located in the Snowy Mountains in the state of New South Wales. The longest river in Australia is the Darling River with a length of 2740 km (about 1700 miles) with its source on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range and flowing into the Murray River, which mouths into the Indian Ocean.

Climate and best time to visit
: due to its size, there are several climate zones on the Australian continent. The north is tropical to subtropical but towards the south the climate tends to be more temperate. Snow only occurs in the south-easterly mountainous regions of the country.

Language and communication
: the official and national language is English. Many mother tongues are spoken and understood by the immigrants. About 50 aborigianl languages and more than 250 dialects are spoken by the indigenous Australians.

Health and vaccinations:
vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. Australia has the strongest UV radiation on earth, which may lead to skin damage. Medical care is very good in all larger cities and the tourist resorts. Visitors are advised to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. A first aid kit should be packed and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten.

Entry requirements:
passports are required to enter Australia and must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry. Visas are also required and may be obtained from a travel agent, the Australian High Commission, or from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship.

Arrival and onward journey:
the Australian continent is served daily by a great number of the large internationally operating airlines such as Qantas (QF), Lufthansa (LH) or British Airways (BA), sometimes in combination with other airlines. Airlines serve the international airports in Sydney (SYD), Adelaide (ADL), Melbourne (MEL), Perth (PER), Brisbane (BNE), Darwin (DRW), Hobart (HBA) and Cairns (CNS). Flights within Australia are provided by local airlines as flying is as common as is travelling by bus in smaller countries due to the sheer size of the country. Domestic flights for example fly from Canberra (CBR), Karratha (KTA) or Alice Springs (ASP) to Ayers Rock and are provided by a number of airlines including Qantas Domestic, Eastern Australia Airlines (UN), Macair Airlines (CC), Skywest (XR) or the new low-cost airlines Jetstar (JQ) and Virgin Blue (DJ). Flights within Tasmania are provided by the small local carrier Tasair (TA).

Capital city:
the capital Canberra, with 350,000 inhabitants, is the eighth largest city on the Australian continent and is situated between Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra was developed on the drawing board and planned at the beginning of the 20th century due to the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, both of which harboured ambitions to become capital. Attractions include the government buildings, which are open to the public and the many art galleries, the botanic garden containing more than 5000 different species of plants, the futuristic national museum and the monument in honour of James Cook. There is also the dinosaur museum, 15 km from the city, housing the largest collection of dinosaur fossils of the southern hemisphere.

Places of interest and beaches
: Australia has many attractions scattered all over the continent. Along with the large cities, the biggest tourist attraction must be the Great Barrier Reef, measuring 2200 km (1367 miles), the largest coral reef in the world. The 60 m high limestone formations of the twelve apostles in Port Campell Nationalpark in the state of Victoria are also very popular with visitors, as is the outback covering almost 75 % of the area of Australia.

the best known attraction in Australia besides the Great Barrier Reef is no doubt the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. The park stands under the protection of UNESCO as it is the site of Australia’s two most important attractions: Ayers Rock and Olgas. Ayers Rock is composed of coarse sandstone with a length of 3.5 km and width of 2 km, which came about 800 million years ago, as did the Olgas. The Aborigines consider the mountain holy. In 1985 the entire area was given back to the indigenous inhabitants who since than have been responsible for maintaining the area and in 1995 officially renamed the holy sites Uluru for "Ayers Rock" and Kata Tjuta for "The Olgas", as they were originally called. The indigenous inhabitants do not approve of visitors climbing Ulurus, but neither do they actively prevent it. In the national park there are also a large number of rock drawings as well as several holy sites that are not accessible to the public.

75 % of the population of Australia is Christian, the minorities of other world religions and natural religions make up the remaining 25%.

Major Cities and accommodation:
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Alice Springs.

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