Thinking of heading Down Under? Before you go, read our mini guide, which has info on visas, weather, Aussie slang and the country’s famed creepy-crawlies!
THE BASICS Population: 26 million Capital: Canberra Re l i g i on : P r edomi nan t l y Christian Emergency number: 000 FACT FILE • Australians eat both animals that feature on their coat of arms: the kangaroo and the emu. • The world’s largest urban Greek population outside of Athens is in Melbourne. • Australia’s unique football code, Aussie Rules, is believed to be based on the Aboriginal game of Mangrook. • When Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t stop fighting over which of them should be the capital city, Canberra was selected instead. Despite the rumours, though, it ’s not halfway between the two cities – it’s much closer to Sydney. KEY DATES • 26 January: Australia Day; though there is controversy about the date, this is the country’s official national day. • 25 April: Anzac Day, marking the anniversary of the major WWI mi l i tary conf l ict at Gallipoli involving troops from Australia and New Zealand. • First Tuesday in November: Melbourne Cup, the horse race that “stops a nation”. • 31 December: New Year’s Eve is always done in style, and with plenty of fireworks.
HOT SPOTS AND ITINERARIES Popular destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coas t , the Whitsundays, Tasmania, Byron Bay and Alice Springs. Among the 19 World Heritage Sites are Kakadu, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Sydney Opera House. Some itinerary ideas • Sun and surf: Brisbane – Sunshine Coast – Cairns – Great Barrier Reef • Cool capitals: Sydney – Melbourne – Great Ocean Road • Outback: Darwin – Kakadu – Alice Springs – Uluru • Food and wine: Perth – Fremantle – Margaret River
STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY Firstly, pack plenty of factor 50+ sunscreen, wear a hat, and avoid spending too long outside in the middle of the day; the Aussie sun can be brutal! If you’re driving in remote areas, tell someone where you’re going, and carry much more water than you think you’ll need. If you’re on the beach, follow the safety instructions applied by the lifeguards. Finally, be sure to check the latest COVID restrictions and requirements.
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