Land Area – 8 million square kilometres, the whole of the UK would fit into the state of Victoria.
Population – 21 million
Capital – Canberra, ACT
Government – The Federal Government has overall control of the different states, and is currently headed by the Labour Party Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Each state has its own semi-autonomous government.
Health – There are excellent standards of healthcare offered by the system of state-funded and private healthcare working in tandem. Travel insurance is a good idea, to make sure you are fully covered on your visit. Tap water is safe to drink unless otherwise specified. Avoid sunstroke by covering up and staying hydrated.
Safety – Australia is considered to be a safer country than the UK. Use the same caution that you would at home, don’t hitchhike and take care of your possessions and personal safety.
Law – The minimum drinking age is 18 and there are lower limits in place for drink-driving than in the UK. Marijuana is illegal in Australia. It is mandatory for cyclists to wear helmets on roads. Smoking is banned in all food service venues and in most pubs and hotels.
Driving – You drive on the left. You can use an international driver’s licence for the first year, a UK licence is allowable for three months. Full UK licence holders can qualify for an Australian licence by passing a theory test.
Electricity – UK appliances can be used in Australia but you’ll need to use a socket adaptor with UK plugs.
Transport and Travel – Australia is geared up for travel around its vast expanse, there are excellent and affordable bus, train and plane networks and lots of hire-car networks. Guided tour companies offer the flexibility of jump-on, jump-off services around the country. Tourism information is easy to find and there is a wide range of accommodation on offer, ranging from £8 a night hostel buns to luxurious island resorts and international hotels.
Costs – Budget independent travellers should budget £25 a day for food, transport and accommodation. A beer costs around £2, a takeaway about £3 and dinner for two with wine in a local restaurant can be had for about £20. Petrol prices are about half the price of the UK.
Money – The Australian Dollar is currently worth about 63p. ATM’s are widely available in pubs, malls and petrol stations as well as banks and street corners, they accept most UK cards