"Australia's biggest attraction is its natural beauty. The landscape varies from endless sunbaked horizons to dense tropical rainforest to chilly southern beaches. Scattered along the coasts, its cities blend a European enthusiasm for art and food with a laid-back love of sport and the outdoors.
Visitors expecting to see an opera in Sydney one night and meet Crocodile Dundee the next will have to re-think their grasp of geography in this huge country. It is this sheer vastness that gives Australia - and its diverse population - much of its character".
Australia Day: January 26. Commemorates the first settlement by the British in 1788 under Captain Arthur Phillip.
ANZAC Day: April 25. A holiday in Australia and New Zealand which honors all who died in wars, and memorializes in particular the troops who were slaughtered at Gallipoli in World War I. ANZAC is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. [also observed in Tonga and Western Samoa
Queen's Birthday: June 8. The actual birthday of the Queen is April 15, and the birthday of the Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, is June 10. The holiday is observed in June to allow a break before winter.
Labour Day: An eight hour work day was established in 1871. The date varies by territory.
This great red dome of rock is as potent a symbol of the Outback as the opera house is to Sydney. With The Olgas, a collection of similar massive rock monoliths 30 miles away, Ayers Rock is the core of Australia's famous Red Centre easily reached via Alice Springs and all parts of the country.
The Great Barrier Reef
The only living structure on Earth visible from the moon, the reef is more than 1200 miles long, stretching from the south of Queensland almost to Papua New Guinea. Home to hundreds of different corals and species of fish and other creatures. Most easily reached from the Cairns / Port Douglas area.
Sydney's heart is its magnificent harbour, with its 150 mile shoreline presenting one of the world's most spectacular skylines. The cheapest way to see it is by buying a ticket on one of the many ferry boats that ply from Circular Quay. Home also to the famed Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the adjoining entertainment centre of Darling Harbour.
Gold and Sunshine Coasts
The tourist development of recent years is dwarfed by the magnificence of the beaches on both. That of the Gold Coast stretches for nearly 20 miles of white sand and ocean rollers. Beaches at Noosa Heads, Mooloolaba and Caloundra are the chief tourist magnets to the Sunshine Coast. Both have well developed visitor attractions, including sophisticated theme parks.
Western Australia's capital Perth more closely resembles Sydney than any other Australian city. Sparkling ocean washed beaches are only a bus ride away and it claims 300 sunny days a year to enjoy them. Impressive modern skyline on the Swan River with great restaurants (also in neighbouring Fremantle) and outdoor living.
Time Zone Australia has three standard time zones: eastern(UTC+10),central(UTC+9:30) and western (UTC+8).
Language Spoken English, Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic are other languages spoken on a regular basis in Australia.
Passport/ VISA UK nationals must have a passport valid for intended period of stay. An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required for British passport holders endorsed British Citizen or British National (Overseas) if residing in Hong Kong. Other British passport holders are not eligible for an ETA and require a visa.
Climate Australia is temperate, most of the country receiving more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. In summer (December to March) the average temperature is 84F (29C). The hottest region is the northern two-thirds of the continent, which experiences humid and wet conditions in summer. Further south summer is warm with occasional hot spells and mild nights. Winter (June to August) averages 56F (13C) for the country as a whole, with warm days and mild nights in the northern areas, becoming cool and showery in the south (although there are still plenty of sunny days).
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