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To see information about each of the states or territory, please click on the links below where possible.
• Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
• New South Wales
• New Zealand
• South Australia
• Western Australia
The information on these pages is provided for your information and hopefully to make your stay in Australia a more enjoyable experience.
Australia in General
Want to see some general information about Australia? Look at the See Australia web site.
Commonwealth of Australia
7.69 million km2
22.08 million (Dec 2009 est.)
2,228 metres above sea level
15 metres below sea level
3,370 km (Murray-Darling river system)
Cloncurry, Queensland (warmest on record: 53°C)
Charlotte Pass, NSW (coldest on record: -23°C)
|Distance North to South||
|Distance East to West||
Cape York, Queensland
South East Cape, Tasmania
Steep Point, Western Australia
Cape Byron, New South Wales
Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised countries, with about 70 per cent of the population living in the 10 largest cities. Most of the population is concentrated along the eastern seaboard and the south-eastern corner of the continent.
Australia’s lifestyle reflects its mainly Western origins, but Australia is also a multicultural society that has been enriched by about five million settlers from almost 200 nations. Four out of ten Australians are migrants or first-generation children of migrants, half of them from non-English speaking backgrounds. Most of the population lives within 20 km of the sea.
Aboriginal people, along with Torres Strait Islanders are the indigenous peoples of Australia and are thought to have arrived about 60,000 years ago. Today they represent a small but distinctive cultural group within Australian society, constituting around 2% (approximately 375,000 people) of the overall Australian population. Aboriginal people live in diverse settings: 30% live in major cities, 43% in regional or rural towns and 27% in outback or remote areas. They have a distinctive heritage and culture which manifests itself in social and family life, in language, cultural traditions and beliefs.
Australia is the flattest and (after Antarctica) driest of continents, yet it has extremes of climate and topography. There are rainforests and vast plains in the north, snowfields in the southeast, desert in the centre and fertile crop lands in the east, south and southwest. About one third of the country lies in the tropics. Australia has a coastline of 36,735km.
Isolation of the Australian island-continent for 55 million years created a sanctuary for flora and fauna. Marsupials were saved from competition with more highly developed mammals. Birds unique to Australia also survived, and distinctive trees and plants developed.
The Commonwealth of Australia is an independent Western capitalist democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning monarch and is represented in Australia by a Governor-General at federal level and by Governors in each state.
The nation has a parliamentary system of government, a modified version of the Westminster system, with two houses (bicameral) in the legislature: the House of Representatives and the Senate. It came into existence as a federation of the colonies, now states, on 1st January, 1901. Each state continued with its own legislature, government and constitution after joining the federation.
The Australian flag was selected after federation in 1901 from a competition with over 30,000 entries and gazetted in 1903, but was not given Royal assent and adopted as the definitive Australian flag until 1954! It is based on the Blue Ensign of the United Kingdom, and is twice as long as it is wide. The small Union Flag (commonly called the Union Jack) represents the historical link with Britain, the large seven-pointed star (called the Commonwealth Star or the Star of Federation) represents the six States and the combined territories of the Commonwealth, and the small stars form the Southern Cross - a prominent feature of the southern hemisphere night sky. Used in navigation of the southern hemisphere, it strongly places Australia geographically and has been associated with the continent since its earliest days.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the exchange rate?
The currency is the Australian dollar, where 100 cents (¢) equals one dollar ($). The denominations are: coins - 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1 and $2; notes - $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. To find out how that converts please refer to www.xe.com/ucc/.
2. What number should I dial in an emergency?
Dial 000 for the Fire Brigade, the Police and Ambulance services.
3. Is tipping customary in Australia ?
Tipping, while appreciated, is not required in Australia . If you feel you have received superior service, however, a gratuity would be welcome.
4. Where can I buy a phonecard?
Newsagents, milk bars and 7-Eleven shops sell phonecards which can be used for local, interstate and international calls. Public phone boxes also accept coins. A local call costs a flat rate of 50 cents.