Situated between, and isolated by, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia has many animals and plants, which are unique to the planet. The surface geology is typically old and flat.
Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics and the rest is in the temperate zone. The highlands and tablelands of Tasmania and the south eastern corner of the mainland are the coldest areas. Summer is from December to February; autumn from March to May; winter from June to August; and spring from September to November.
The British influence originating in Australia’s colonial origins has evolved over two centuries into a dynamic multiculturalism with invaluable contributions from migrants from all parts of the world.
Almost a quarter of today’s 18 million Australians were born in another country. There are nearly one million Asian-born Australians. About 2 per cent are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. More than 100 different ethnic groups are represented in Australia, making Australia one of the most ethnically diversified countries in the world.
Although English is the official language, a host of other languages are spoken in Australia.
Australia is predominantly a Christian country, however, all religions are represented in the community. Devotees will find churches, mosques, temples and synagogues located in most major cities.
Australia is rich in the arts. There are eight professional orchestras and a national opera company. Within Australia there are more than 1000 museums preserving and displaying Australia’s diverse cultural heritage.
Australian films are winning international acclaim and many Australian film directors, actors and technicians have been acclaimed in Hollywood at the highest level.
Australian authors have received international recognition particularly with the Booker Prize, won twice by Australians and with Patrick White winning the Nobel Prize for literature. Novelists, dramatists and poets are internationally accepted by their peers as having made a substantial contribution to world literature.
Australians traditionally have provided strong support for theatre, from regional amateur troupes to polished professional companies.
In music, Australia has developed a fertile environment that supports a great range of musical tastes ranging from the most avant-garde experimental to folk, from the youthful sounds of chart-busting pop to the unique music of the
Painting in Australia has a history that can not only be traced back over forty thousand years of Aboriginal culture but also is represented in the major museums and galleries of modern and avant-garde art, worldwide.
Sports and Recreation
Australians are very keen on sport and outdoor activities. Australia has more than 120 national sporting organisations and thousands of state, regional and club bodies. It is estimated that 6.5 million people, about a third of the population, are registered sports participants. While there are over 120 sporting organisations, Australians also take part in bushwalking, fishing, boating and water sports.
Australia has a world wide reputation for sports and outdoor activities. This is endorsed by the Olympic Committee’s selection of Sydney to host the Olympic Games in the year 2000.
The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts AC, 50 cycles. The Australian three pin plug is extremely safe. Adaptors are usually required for most foreign appliances. A transformer may be required if you bring an appliance from overseas that operates on a different voltage.
Australia has an extensive public transport system that includes trains, buses, tramways, ferries, two major national airlines and a number of regional airlines. Metropolitan areas are divided into zones and your ticket type and cost depends on which zone you are going to travel in and for how long. Tickets can be bought at train stations, on buses and trams and at newsagencies.
Tourist students may drive in Australia on a valid overseas drivers licence but if the document is not in the English language the visitor must carry a translation with the permit. An international driving licence is not sufficient by itself.
Metered taxicabs operate in all major cities and towns. You will find taxi ranks at transport terminals, main hotels or shopping centres or you can hail taxis in the street. A light and sign on the roof indicates if a cab is vacant. There is a minimum charge on hiring and then a charge per kilometre travelled. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped.