Travel Information - T
Tasmania is a wonderful destination for those wanting to explore an unspoiled part of the planet. Tasmania with its deep history of English settlement is as near as you can get to England without being there, and is remarkable in its architecture, its climate and its history to England. Parts are World Heritage listed and, being a small island, can be explored easily and in a short amount of time. There are also many historical places of interest like Port Arthur and the people are laid-back and welcoming. Visitors may fly into Hobart or Launceston or take the car-ferry from Melbourne. A well kept secret and probably one of the best places n the world to visit.
Most visitors don't travel half way around the world to watch television but it's hard to avoid. Australia basically has four free-to-air channels (3 commercial and 1 government owned). Expect the usual US and British top rating programs along with local drama and lifestyle programs. There is also pay television (CNN, Cartoon Network etc) which will be available in most major hotels.
Generally the eastern states of Australia are 10 hours ahead of GMT but this alters with daylight saving (followed by New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania but not Queensland). South Australia and Northern Territory is half an hour later, Western Australia 2 hours.
No service charge applies in Australia. Tipping is not mandatory but a 10% tip in restaurants is normal for good service. Do not feel obliged to tip 10% if your restaurant bill is inflated by the cost of very expensive liquor. Bar staff in pubs are happy with loose change. Porters (bellboys and girls) are generally pleased with $2 per bag in better hotels. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but it is usual to `round-up' the fare to the nearest dollar or two - a little more if you have plenty of luggage or the driver has been particularly helpful. Australians are not big tippers, though a few might tip a barber or hairdresser. Visitors may wish to tip a tour guide or tourist coach driver, though it's not expected either.
The Top End is just what it says, the most northern part of the Northern Territory. It is lush, green and tropical - a total contrast to the harsh, arid beauty of The Red Centre. The modern seaside city of Darwin, the Territory's capital, is the northern gateway to Australia. The Top End occupies the huge square bump at the top of the Australian map, half of which is the vast area of Arnhem Land, owned by the country's traditional Aboriginal people. Served by several international airlines and Australian carrier Qantas through Asia, Darwin has frequent air connections to all Australian capital cities. Tour companies offer a wide choice of tours to Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land and Katherine Gorge National Park. Four wheel drive and conventional rental cars are easily arranged. Let the experts show you around or pack a tent and go exploring - the choice is yours.
Tourist Refund Scheme
With the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax in Australia, travellers can now claim a tax refund on certain goods purchased within Australia, and to be taken out of the country. Full information about the Tourist Refund Scheme can be found at: Australian Customs Service.
There are organised tours for all major attractions around Australia and even the most independent traveller should consider some of them as they can be extremely good value and offer far more information that can't be gleaned without a professional and knowledgeable guide. Types of tours attract different types of people - the staff at Travel Online can point you in the right direction, obligation free.
Trading hours can differ from state to state but here's a guide: Most banks open from 9 till 4 Monday to Thursday and till 5pm on Fridays (ATMs open 24 hours a day). Post Offices are 9 till 5. Shopping hours are generally 9 to 5 as well, with most open Saturdays, many on Sundays. Thursday night is traditionally 'late-night' shopping night although major supermarkets have extended shopping hours seven days a week.
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Travellers cheques, especially in foreign currencies, are generally not accepted except by hotels and large stores and tourist shops. These display a 'travellers cheques welcome' sign. Cash your cheques at a bank or Bureau de Change to ensure you have enough spending money. The same holds true for foreign currency, which is not generally accepted by Australian businesses and shops.