The number 000 called 'triple zero' or 'triple oh' can be dialled from any telephone in Australia free of charge. This number will connect you with emergency operators for the police, fire brigade, and ambulance service. The first question that the operator will ask is which service you need.
If you require assistance during a flood, storm, cyclone, tsunami, earthquake or other natural disaster you can contact the State Emergency Service in each state except for Northern Territory on 132 500. You will be connected with your local unit and help can be organised from there. Note that if the emergency is life-threatening, call triple zero.
If you want to contact these services but the situation is not an emergency, don't call 000: you can call the police assistance line on 131 444. Poisons information advice, which can also advise on snake, spider and insect bites, is available on 131 126. Information on locating the nearest medical services can be obtained by calling 1800 022 222 except for Tasmania.
You can dial 000 from all mobile phones. Mobile phones sold in Australia recognise it as the emergency number and will use any available network to place the call. However, if you have a phone obtained outside Australia, using the universal emergency number 112 is a better idea. Using 112 will use any available network, will work even if your phone is not roaming, and will work even if the phone does not have a SIM. 112 works from Australian purchased phones too.
Hearing or speech impaired people with TTY equipment can dial 106. Those with Internet connectivity can use the Internet Relay Service, via the website (http://www.relayservice.c...).
Calls from fixed line landline phones may be traced to assist the emergency services to reach you. The emergency services have limited ability to trace the origin of emergency calls from mobile phones, especially outside of urban areas, so be sure to calmly and clearly provide details of your location. Because of the number sequence for emergency calls, around 60% of calls to the emergency numbers are made in error.
Nobody will likely respond to your call unless you can effectively communicate to the operator that you need assistance. If you are in need of assistance, but cannot speak, you will be diverted to an IVR and asked to press 55 to confirm that you are in need of assistance and have not called by accident. Your call will then be connected to the police.
Emergency numbers from other countries for example, '911' in the USA do not work in Australia. '112' will not work from a landline phone.
If you need comprehensive coverage in rural and remote areas, you can use a satellite phone. Iridium, Globalstar and Thuraya satellite services are available in Australia. Expect to pay around $120 per week to hire a satellite phone, plus call costs. Satellite messaging units, which send your location and a help SMS or email, that can be hired for around $80 per week.
These units are only available from specialist dealers, often only in major cities away from the remote areas you may be visiting. You should be able to acquire or hire these units in your home country before departure if you wish.
Australia Post (http://www.auspost.com.au) runs Australia's postal service. Letters can be posted in any red Australia Post posting box, which are found at all post offices and many other locations. All stamps can be purchased from post offices, and some stamps can be purchased from newsagents and hotels. Posting a standard letter costs $0.60 within Australia up to 250g, or $1.40 for the rest of the world up to 20g only. 'Domestic' and 'international' stamps are different, as international is tax free, therefore, so make sure you use the right stamp. Parcels, express post and other services are also available.
You can receive mail via Poste Restante in any city or town. Mail should be addressed to your full name c/o Post Restante, and you simply call into the post office with ID to receive your mail.
Expect everyone to speak English. Generally the only Australians who are not fluent English speakers are older people who immigrated as adults.
There is no single commonly used second language. It is fairly rare to find signs in a second language, except in urban areas with a high population of Asian immigrants and students, where signs and restaurant menus in Vietnamese and Chinese are a common sight; and also around Cairns in tropical Queensland where some signs but not road signs are written in Japanese, due to the large number of Japanese tourists. Some warning signs at beaches are written in several foreign languages.
Australians usually do not speak a second language fluently unless they are part of a family who immigrated recently. As Australia has a large number of immigrants, there are a number of minority languages spoken by a sizable number of Australians including but not limited to Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, German, Italian, Polish and Greek. In Australia's Chinatowns in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, Cantonese is the dominant language.
Australian slang should not present a problem for tourists except possibly in some isolated outback areas. A few words and euphemisms that are considered offensive elsewhere are common vernacular in Australian speech. Fanny, as in the UK, means vagina and is not used widely. The word "thong" generally refers to flip-flops in Australia, and not necessarily a G-string as it does in most other places. Still, Australians are familiar enough with the differences to know what you mean, but they may still have a laugh at your expense.
Visitors who do not speak basic English will find communicating with Australians difficult, and should do some advance planning. There are some tour companies who specialise in offering package deals for Australian tours complete with guides who speak particular languages.
There are over a hundred Aboriginal languages still known and spoken by Aboriginal people. These languages are all different, and you won't see an Aboriginal phrasebook in the travel bookshops. Many Aboriginal place names derive from Aboriginal languages that have been lost, and their meanings remain uncertain. Aboriginal people living in rural Aboriginal communities continue to speak their respective languages. The Torres Strait Islander people, who originate from a group of islands in northern Queensland near Papua New Guinea also continue to speak their own languages. Almost all Aboriginal people speak English as well, although some elders may not be fluent.
It is best not to mention the name of a deceased person to an indigenous Australian. Though Aboriginal custom varies, it is best to avoid the possibility of offence.
Permission to photograph an Aboriginal person should always be asked, but in particular in the more remote areas such as Arnhem Land. There is an old belief among them that the flash of a camera will steal their soul.
Some areas of land are sacred to Aboriginal people, and require additional respect.
Many areas of Aboriginal land are free to enter. Some areas carry a request from the Aboriginal people not to enter, and you may choose yourself whether or not to honour or respect that request. An example of an Aboriginal request is climbing Uluru Ayers Rock. No law prohibits people from climbing the rock except in heat, rain or strong winds, however, local indigenous communities The Anangu request that you do not climb. Uluru holds great spiritual significance to the Anangu. The Anangu feel themselves responsible if someone is killed or injured on their land as has happened many times during the climb and request tourists not to place themselves in harm through climbing. Many people who travel to Uluru do climb, however, so you certainly won't be on your own if you choose to do this.
Some Aboriginal land requires permission or a permit, and some areas are protected and illegal to enter. You should check before making plans to travel off the beaten track. Permits are usually just a formality for areas which regularly see visitors, or if you have some other business in the area you are travelling through. Often they are just an agreement to respect to the land you are travelling on as Aboriginal land. Some Aboriginal Land Councils make them available online.
If you need to refer to race, the politically correct term is Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal people is usually okay and referring to sacred sites and land as Aboriginal sites, or Aboriginal land is okay too. Avoid using Aborigine or Aboriginal as a noun to describe a person, as some people see negative connotations in these words. The contraction "Abo" is deeply offensive and should never be used. The word Native should also be avoided when referring to a person, as should colour-based terminology such as Black or White the polite term for Australians of British or Irish descent is Anglo-Celtic.
Attempts to scam tourists are not prevalent in Australia; take normal precautions such as finding out a little bit about your destination. There have been instances of criminals tampering with ATMs so that cash is trapped inside them, or so that they record card details for thieves. You should check your transaction records for odd transactions after using an ATMs and immediately contact the bank controlling the ATM if a transaction seems to be successful but the machine doesn't give you any cash. Always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN to prevent any skimming devices which have cameras recording your PIN.
take care on the roads
Keep a sense of perspective. Tourists are far more likely to be killed or injured as pedestrians, drivers or passengers on Australian roads than all the other causes of death and injury combined.
Driving between cities and towns can take longer than you think, especially if you are used to freeway or motorway driving in Europe or North America. Speed limits vary by location, road and by state. Avoid the stresses of fatigue by not planning to drive too far in a day.
Driving between capitals also comes with the risk of hitting or crashing due to swerving to avoid wildlife, especially kangaroos which have a habit of being spooked by cars and then, bewilderingly, jumping in front of them. Take extra care when driving through areas with vegetation close to the road and during dawn and dusk when wildlife is most active. Wildlife is not usually an issue in major urban areas with the exception of Canberra where a series of parks provides ample habitat for kangaroos, which often cross major roads.
Urban Australians jaywalk, dodge cars, and anticipate the sequence of lights. Although most Australians will stop for a red light, running the amber light is common, so ensuring the traffic has stopped before stepping from the curb is always a good idea. People from countries who drive on the right will take a while to get used to looking the correct way when crossing.
Unless you are actively trying to insult someone, a traveller is unlikely to insult or cause offence to an Australian through any kind of cultural ignorance.
Australian modes of address tend towards the familiar. It is acceptable and normal to use first names in all situations, even to people many years your senior. Many Australians are fond of using and giving nicknames - even to recent acquaintances. It is likely being called such a name is an indication that you are considered a friend and is it would be rare they are being condescending.
It is generally acceptable to wear revealing clothing in Australia. Bikinis and swimming attire is okay on the beach, and usually at the kiosk across the road from the beach. It is normal to wear at least a shirt and footwear before venturing any further. Most beaches are effectively top optional topless while sunbathing. Just about all women wear a top while walking around or in the water. There are some clothing optional nude beaches, usually a little further removed from residential areas. Thong bikinis more commonly called g-string bikinis in Australia as thongs refer to flip-flop footwear are fine on all beaches and some outdoor pools for both women and men although they are not as common as conventional beachwear. Some outdoor pools have a "top required" policy for women.
Cover up a little more when visiting places of worship such as churches or mosques. In warm conditions casual "t-shirt and shorts" style clothing predominates except in formal situations. Business attire, however, is considered to be long sleeved shirt, tie, and long trousers for men, even in the hottest weather. In the northern part of the country, a short sleeved, open neck shirt with slacks, known as 'Darwin Rig', is acceptable.
Using Australian stereotypical expressions may be viewed as an attempt to mock, rather than to communicate. If you pull it off well, you might raise a smile.
Australians are often self-deprecating, and are rarely arrogant. However, it is rude to ever agree with a self-deprecating remark. Boasting about achievements is rarely received well.
Most Australians are happy to help out a lost traveller with directions, however many urban dwellers will assume that someone asking "Excuse me", is going to be asking for money, and may brush past. Looking lost, holding a map, looking like a backpacker or getting to the point quickly will probably help.
Australia does not have endemic communicable diseases that will require non-standard vaccinations. Like many other countries, it will require evidence of yellow fever vaccinations on entry if you will have been in a country with a risk of infection within 6 days before your arrival in Australia.
The tap water in Australia is almost always safe to drink, and it will be marked on the tap if this is not the case. The taste and hardness of the tap water will vary considerably across the country. Bottled water is also widely available. Carrying water on hot days is a good idea in urban areas, and it is a necessity if hiking or driving out of town. At sites where tap water is untreated, water sterilization tablets may be used as an alternative to boiling.
poisonous and dangerous creatures
Australia is home to many of the deadliest species of insects, reptiles and marine life on the planet. However the average tourist is unlikely to encounter any of these in an urban environment. The vast majority of deaths from bites and stings in Australia are due to allergic reactions to bees and wasps.
Some of the information spread about Australia's dangerous wildlife is blown out of proportion. However, you should take warnings about jellyfish and crocodiles seriously in the tropics, and keep your distance from snakes in the national parks and bushland.
If travelling in rural areas it would be a good idea to carry basic first aid equipment including compression bandages and to learn what to do after a snake or spider bite.
As described above, 000 is the Australian emergency services number and in any medical emergency you should call this number and ask for an ambulance and other emergency services as necessary, to attend.
Australia has first world medical standards. In particular, it is safe to receive blood transfusions in Australia, as donors are screened for HIV, hepatitis and many other blood borne illnesses.
However, since Australia's population density is low, parts of Australia are a long way from medical facilities of any kind. Towns with populations of 5,000 or more will have a small hospital capable of giving emergency treatment in serious emergencies, and larger towns will have a base hospital capable of routine and some kinds of emergency surgery. In severe cases, particularly any kind of injury requiring microsurgery, you will need to be evacuated to one of the capital cities for treatment. Evacuation procedures are well established and normally involve being evacuated by plane or helicopter. For this reason travel insurance or ambulance membership is highly recommended for those travelling to remote areas as helicopter evacuation could cost thousands.
Capital cities will have medical centres where you can drop in, often open on weekends or until late. In country towns you may have to make an appointment, and may have no alternative other than the closest hospital after hours and weekends. You can also expect to wait a few hours if your condition isn't urgent.
Australian citizens and permanent residents who live in the country can receive health care through the taxpayer funded Medicare.
Travellers from New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Malta and Norway are entitled to free reciprocal Medicare treatment for medical problems that occur during their visit, but should familiarise themselves with the conditions of the reciprocal arrangement. For example Irish and New Zealanders are only entitled to free treatment at a hospital, whereas the other reciprocal nationalities are entitled to subsidised treatment at general practitioners as well. No reciprocal programs cover private hospitals, and the full cost will have to be met. Consider travel insurance. If not a citizen or permanent resident of a reciprocal country, you can expect to pay around $60 to see a general practitioner, plus any additional costs for any pathology or radiology required. The charge to pay to visit a local hospital can be much more expensive, private hospitals even more so, up to $500 even if you are not admitted, and thousands if you are.
Poisons Information Hotline13 11 26. Will give free advice if any medication or poisons is taken inadvertently. Will also give advice on what treatment is necessary for things like a spider bite.
Crime rates in Australia are roughly comparable with other first world countries: few travellers will be victims of crime. You should take normal precautions against bag snatching, pick pocketing and the like. There are some areas of the large cities that are more dangerous after dark, but there generally aren't "no-go" areas in the sense that the police refuse to patrol them or that it is dangerous to enter them if you aren't a local.
Australian police are approachable and trustworthy, and you should report assaults, theft or other crime to the police as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should you offer an Australian police officer or for that matter, any other government official such as a customs officer a bribe or gratuity, as this is a crime and they will enforce the laws against it.
When leaving your car alone, make sure it is locked, that the windows are rolled up, and that there are no obvious targets for theft in the vehicle, as thieves will often smash windows to get at a phone, GPS or bag that is visible in the car.
Around 10-20 overseas travellers drown in Australia each year. Most of these drownings occur at ocean beaches, where statistics put visitors at at significantly higher risk than locals.
Beach goers should swim between the red and yellow flags which designate patrolled areas. Beaches are not patrolled 24-hours a day or even during all daylight hours. In most cases the local volunteer surf lifesavers or professional lifeguards are only available during certain hours, and at some beaches only on weekends, and often only during summer. If the flags aren't up, then there's no one patrolling - and you shouldn't swim. If you do choose to swim, be aware of the risks, check conditions, stay within your depth, and don't swim alone.
Hard surfboards and other water craft e.g. surf skis, kayaks etc., are not permitted between the red and yellow flags. These craft must only be used outside of the blue 'surfcraft permitted' flags.
Australian ocean beaches sometimes can have strong rips that even the strongest swimmers are unable to swim against. Rips are invisible channels of water flowing away from the beach. These channels take out the water which the incoming surf waves bring into shore. Beach goers can mistakenly use these channels or areas since they can appear as calm water and look to be an easier area into which to swim. Problems arise when the swimmer tries to swim back into shore against the outgoing current or rip, tire quickly, and end up drowning. Rips can be recognised by one or more of these signs: a rippled appearance when the surrounding water is fairly calm; foam that extends beyond the break zone; brown, sandy coloured water; waves breaking further out on either side of the rip.
If you are caught in a rip at a patrolled beach, conserve your energy, float or tread water and raise one hand. The surf lifesavers will come out to you. Don't wait until you are so tired you can't swim any more. You will probably find local swimmers or surfers will also quickly come to your aid. Usually the flags are positioned where there are no rips, but this isn't always the case as rips can move.
If you are caught in a rip at an unpatrolled beach stay calm to conserve energy and swim parallel to the beach not against the pull of the current. Most rips are only a few metres wide, and once clear of the undertow, you will be able to swim or catch a wave to return to shore. Never swim alone. Don't think that the right technique will get you out of every situation. In the surf out the back of the beach, treading water can be hard with waves pounding you every few seconds. Unless you have seen it happen, its hard to appreciate how quickly a rip can take you 50 metres out to sea and into much larger wave breaks. If you are at an unpatrolled surf beach proceed with great caution and never go out of your depth.
Beach signs often have a number, or an alphanumeric code on them. This code can be given to emergency services if required, for them to locate you quickly.
Crocodiles and Box Jellyfish are found on tropical beaches, depending on the time of year and area. Sharks occur on many of Australia's beaches. See the section below on dangerous creatures. Patrolled beaches will be monitoring the ocean for any shark activity. If you hear a continuous siren go off at the beach and a red and a red and white quartered flag is waved or held out of the tower, it indicates a shark sighting, so make your way to shore. Once it is clear, a short blast of the siren will be sounded, which usually means it is safe to return to the water.
Mosquitoes are present all year round in the tropics, and during the summer in southern areas. Screens on windows and doors are common, and repellent is readily available. Ross River Virus is spread by mosquitoes in the tropics, and can make you sick for a few weeks. There have been cases of dengue fever. Malaria is not present in Australia.