Some Additional Tips for Australia
I thought I'd include some helpful tips about Australia in case you decide to visit.
1. Money - Australia's currency is conveniently, Australian dollars and comes in denominations of $5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar bills along with coins in 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and also one and two dollar coins, similar to the Canadian currency. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted but it's always handy to have some cash available as needed. ATMS's are also readily available and many banks are part of a global network offering fee-free withdrawals.
2. Climate - Australia is in the southern hemisphere (hence the term, Down Under) so therefore has the reversed seasons to those of us in North America. It has an arid climate except in the extreme north where it is more tropical and the southern part where it is more temperate and Mediterranean-like.
3. Electricity - The standard voltage is 230 volts vs. our 120 volts and the socket type is "I", similar to New Zealand, China and Argentina.
4. Internet - WIFI is readily available EVERYWHERE, including McDonalds, Starbucks and most coffee shops (and they love their coffee), shopping centers, and the like. Just like anywhere though, one must be careful when utilizing any public sites (of which there are 1734 public sites!) considering hackers and the risk involved.
5. Cell Phone Service - There are 3 mobile network providers, namely Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Australian networks use the GSM standard which is the same as most other countries although if you're using CDMA here in the U.S., you may not be able to utilize your talk and text there. (AT & T and T-Mobile are GSM, while Verizon and Sprint are CDMA) You're best to talk to your cell phone provider prior to departure to confirm how best to handle your cell phone, if you choose to use it while you're abroad.
6. In Case of An Emergency - Triple zero (000) is what you dial in case of an emergency or you can dial 112 from mobile phones if you're out of phone network range.
7. Driving in Australia - Aussies drive on the left side of the road and the majority of the vehicles have the steering wheel on the right side of the car. Distances are in kilometers and meters and speed is in kilometers per hour.
8. Australian Culture - Australians are generally laid back, open and direct, and also very warm and friendly. They say what they mean and are generally more individual and outgoing than other cultures (kind of like Americans ;)) More than 3/4's of Australians live in cities and urban centers, primarily along the coast.
Australia is a truly BRILLIANT country with fabulous places to visit, wonderful people to meet, great culinary options with food, wine and beer, and I HIGHLY recommend putting it on your bucket list!
You can't go wrong with any part of this beautiful country and I'd be happy to help you with an itinerary that's perfect for you!
Note about this photo: I've included a photo of my very favorite beach in all the world, i.e. Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia. One of my very dear cousins has been awaiting me to include a pic of this great place in my newsletters so thought I'd better comply. He swims and runs along the beach and has done so for many, many years. Rene and I were supposed to be staying there on Cottesloe Beach this month with my parents but sadly had to cancel due to my Mom and Dad being unable to make the long trek there considering their ages. We had hoped to give them one last chance to see all of our 'rellies' (i.e. relatives) there. Rene and I plan to make a trip to Australia next year, for sure!