Australia gave the world Vegemite, Uggs, attractive actors (Hugh Jackman, anyone?) and much, much more. The land of koalas and kangaroos is a vast nation with 7, 692 km², almost as big as the United States or the whole of Europe. Visit Australia and discover its captivating deserts, breathtaking coral reefs, waterfalls, tropical rainforest and snow-capped mountains.
Historical records show that Australia's Aboriginal people have the oldest continuous culture in the world. It is believed that humans arrived on the continent 50,000 years ago. When the first Europeans came, an estimated million Aboriginals lived across Australia. Some of Australia's main tourist attractions include activities in which visitors can connect with aboriginal cultures such as The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.
Australian History: what you need to know
Captain James Cook chartered the east coast in 1770 and claimed it for the British crown. Thus began the colonization of Australia, the first fleet of eleven ships carrying 1500 people arrived in Sidney Harbour in 1788. It should be noted that the fleets brought in a large number of convicts. As the free settlers flowed-in the region, the situation for women and Aboriginals was precarious. Australia's colonization destroyed the Aboriginal's way of life, taking away their land and bringing in diseases and foreign invasive customs from Europe.
During the early 18th century, many soldiers, officers, and convicts turned their government-given-land into profitable farms. In this period, the land was cheap and the possibility for work brought in more boats from Britain. Some of these settlers moved deeper into Aboriginal lands, usually armed, to conquer more resources. In 1851, gold was discovered in New South Wales and Central Victoria. This discovery triggered newcomers from all over the globe. Mining licenses were imposed on goldfield workers and this caused a violent uprising, Eureka Stockade in 1854.
On January 1st, Australia became a nation under a single constitution. By 1914, upon the First World War, 420,000 men volunteered to serve and about 60,000 were killed or wounded. Australia's Government created the Soldier Settler Scheme to support returning soldiers. Australians also supported the Allies in the Second World War.
War created opportunities for women who soon became a pillar of the workforce. Thousands of people from Europe and the Middle East migrated to this region. The economy flourished in the 50s and projects like the Sydney Opera House became a reality. When the 60s came along, the population embraced diversity and voted "yes" in a national referendum to led the federal government pass laws on behalf of the Aboriginal People.
Australia is the 12th largest economy in the world and today people from over 200 countries make up the Australian community. More than 300 languages are spoken in Australian homes. When traveling to Australia you will be able to explore the country's distinctive and diverse biosphere. Several species of plants and animals can't be found anywhere else in the world, but here.
Australia Basic Information
Australian English, Indigenous Languages
- Time Zone:
When to Go
The best time to travel to Australia is in Spring. With that said, the country is so vast that the weather differs greatly from North to South and East to West. Before you head to Australia, you should identify the kind of temperature you’re most comfortable with. Here we provide you with the essential details about Australia’s weather.
- High Season is Australia’s summertime. From December to February locals enjoy this period as much as any visitor. Beaches are busy and cities host outdoor concerts, film screenings, and food festivals.
- Shoulder Season happens from March to May and from September to November. During these months the sky is clear and the weather is warm. Autumn is particularly special in Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia.
- Low Season, Australia’s winter, lasts from June to August. The temperature drops and rainy days take over the southern area. Visitors can visit the desert, the northern area or go for the snow.
Australia is a good destination for:
Australia Entry Requirements
All foreigners with the exception of New Zealand citizens need to apply for a visa before traveling to Australia
Travelers of specific countries who wish to Australia are required to hold a valid Travel Authorization. The ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) can be obtained by applying online. The ETA is valid for a period of 12 months.
Most European passports are eligible for a free eVisitor visa that allows them to stay up to 12 months.
Visa requirements differ depending on the traveller’s nationality as well as the length of stay. Though there are no restrictions on people of any country, all visitors must have a valid passport and a visa upon arrival.
The Australian government is very strict and quarantine is taken seriously. Luggage is carefully screened or at times X-rayed. On arrival, travellers are expected to delcare their items.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection strictly forbids illegal drugs and weapons.
When traveling with medication it should be kept in its original, labelled container. A prescription is required and a signed and dates letter from a doctor describing the individual’s medical conditions and medications.
Plant and animal matter should be declared on arrival.
Australia Country Atractions
Choosing Australia’s top attractions is a laborious ordeal. “The Lucky Country” offers sandy beaches with wild waves and snowed-in mountains. It has Unesco Heritage sites and aboriginal reserves where visitors can enrich their curious minds. Here is our attempt at a list of Australia’s main attractions:
- Bondi Beach: the closest one to Sydney, Bondi is a fantastic beach, offering consistently good waves. A haven for surfers, there are two clubs that patrol the beach to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Queensland Cultural Centre: located in Brisbane, this wonderful havoc for culture offers activities for people of all ages. There’s the Queensland Performing Arts Centre as well as a museum, an art gallery, and a library.
- Kadaku National Park: a top choice by many, Kakadu acknowledges the important link between the Aboriginal custodians and the country. Spread over 20,000 sk km it boasts a unique ecosystem and a concentration of ancient rock art. The landscape changes with every season.
- Royal Botanic Gardens: Melbourne is home to this beautiful garden. It features Victorian-era landscapes and a global selection of plants. The park built mini ecosystems to evoke nature’s mesmerizing creations.
- Sidney Opera House: build in the 1950’s it changed the course of 20th-century architecture. An iconic symbol for Australia the opera house has over 40 shows and events a week including music, dance, and comedy.
- Daintree Rainforest: A Unesco World Heritage, its custodians are the Kuky Yalanji people. The Daintree includes a rainforest, rive, a reef, and villages. It’s now a protected national park where people can explore a vibrant biosphere.
For most people, traveling to Australia is an exciting adventure in a far-away land. However, many don’t always take into consideration distances, currency or cultural practice. Prepare your trip to Australia with these essential tips:
- Australia is a vast country. First-time visitors often think that it is possible to see it all. It’s not. Distances are large and are best to tackle one or two areas in one visit.
- The weather is not the same throughout the country. The best time to visit Sydney is actually November to April, but in the Barrier Reef and Tope End is rain season.
- Kangaroos are unique creatures but they’re much bigger and wild than visitors think. Beware of standing near them.
- Australia has its own plug sockets. European or American adapters are not going to work.
- The official language in Australia is English, however, Australia is a diverse country with a large migrant population and it’s not rare to hear other languages.
- Learn the local language. Although Australians speak English they have strong slang languages and knowing a few will help.
- It is safe to swim in Australia. Beaches are patrolled by lifesavers most os the year. Red and yellow flags let people go if it is okay to go in the water.
- Sunblock is very important, Australian sun is harsh and the beaches heat up quickly.
- Summer is different throughout the continent. Perth has a dry summer while Brisbane has a humid summer. However, it’s always a good time to go to Australia.