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Australia - Tips for your trips

Australia

Tips for your trips

See also : Australia - what to see and do there

Getting there

Usually, the earlier you book your flights to Australia, the better.  However, sometimes you can get some great deals last minute!

The best times of year to go to Australia are the winter, spring or autumn (depending on where you want to visit!). 

The summer can be too hot - in a lot of tourist places, and some others are inaccessible due to the “wet season”. 

Winter is cold in the South and warm in the North.  (REMEMBER  Australia’s seasons are the opposite of France’s!).  Winter is the ideal time to visit Central Australia, as the nights are cool, but the days are very warm.  Spring is the ideal time to visit the Southern part of Australia as the cold winter (and yes – it does get cold!) has finished.  So, really the time of year is dependent on when you want to go, what you want to do and when you have the possibility to go!

Suggested airlines to take to Australia are:
QANTAS – the Australian airline.  When you book with QANTAS you can also get reduced rates with internal flights, which is a good point to keep in mind - if you want to fly within Australia.
Singapore Airlines
Air France

The best places to fly from are Paris or London.  You can also fly from Lyon, but this will surely incur a stop in Paris, London or another European destination.  As it is a very long way (minimum of 24hours in the air) you want to ensure you are comfortable and the above airlines are all very good to fly with “long haul”.

Getting around

The best way to see Australia is on the land.  The ideal way to do this is by hiring a car. You can also hire “camper-vans” so as you can drive and sleep in the one vehicle – this can reduce costs and be a lot of fun.

Some good companies for this are :
Camper Travel Australia
Britz
** Please note there is a company called “Wicked Campers” - They are very cheap, but at the moment there is a big controversy in Australia regarding their bad safety record.  If you can help it DO NOT hire camper-vans from this company**
If you want to fly from city to city and then have a car to “get around” you can hire cars from any airport.  You can get flights to and from all major cities and even some regional areas (if you are OK with small planes!).

The three airlines that operate within Australia are:

QANTAS
Virgin Blue
Jet Star
The public transport in Australia is not as efficient as in Europe – often public transport stops early in the evenings, does not travel to more regional areas and at times it can be very expensive.

If you do not want to hire a car, or fly from city to city, the following train and bus sites can help you.

Train Travel in Australia
Bus travel in Australia

Australia is a big country and if you have limited time for your holiday a mixture between flying and driving is ideal.

There are many sites on travelling around Australia and depending on how you want to travel – backpacking, hotels, camper-van or 5star at every stop – there are is a plethora of information.  If you paste “travel around Australia” into any search engine you are sure to find the best way to make the most of your holiday.


Some things to remember

  • Australia is an English speaking country.
  • The currency is the Australian Dollar. Xe.com will give you up-to-date exchange rates.
  • In Australia they drive on the Left Hand Side  of the road - as in Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, East Timor, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Grenada, Guernsey (Channel Islands), Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey (Channel Islands), Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Niue, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands (Britain), Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, Virgin Islands (British), Virgin Islands (US), Zambia and Zimbabwe – See not so rare!
  • The steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car.
  • If your driver’s license is not in English, you may need to get a translation and an international driver's license..
  • The speed limit through built up areas – example residential areas - is ALWAYS 50km/hr.  Near schools it can go down to 40km/hr.  Be aware  as there are many speed cameras on all roads.
  • Some roads and highways have T2 ou T3 lanes (transit lanes) at certain times of the day – normally peak travel times.  Again, be aware as the police really like to catch motorists in these lanes, when they should not be!
DO NOT hitch-hike in Australia.

Where to stay, what to eat.

As mentioned before there are a number of options for your Australian getaway. 

Hostel
Most towns have a “youth hostel” – the way to ensure you get a quality hostel is to have it recommended by somebody, or stay with the YHA  hostels.  You can become a member here in France before you go and semi-plan your trip according to where the hostels are.  Many independent hostels have bad reputations and even worse quality.

Hotel / Motel
As in France the star system refers to the quality of a hotel – 5 being the best.  Motels are hotels that you can drive up to – normally on highways - and are good for a night's stay when “on the road”.

Bed & Breakfast
These are becoming increasingly popular in Australia and they are a great way to meet locals, get inside information on the area and, of course, practise your English!

Camping
This is a great option in the warmer months.  Many caravan parks (where you camp) have pre-fabricated  bungalows, tents for hire or you can take your own.  It is best not to camp in unregulated areas, as you could incur big fines.

House swap
If you want to stay in one area for an elongated period of time house swapping may be what you are looking for.  This way you become part of a community and get a real feel for the country you are visiting.

Language

The Official language of Australia is English – more commonly British English, rather than American English.  For example, in Australia we drink fizzy drinks not pop or soda, we have fringes instead of bangs and we grill our food rather than broiling it!  There are many more differences here if you are interested!
Within Australia itself, there aren’t many dialects (this is not including the Indigenous languages which will be discussed later).  It is difficult to hear where someone is from.  However, many Australians from regional areas, or the outback do speak a strange Australian version of English named in the 1960’s as "strine".  This is a dialect that even some Australians find difficult to understand!
Before white man landed on the shores of Australia it was believed that there were between 200 and 300 Indigenous languages. Sadly only a small percentage of these are still alive today.

If you are planning a trip to Australia, a great page to refer to would be The Australian Slang Dictionary. This page gives many words that cannot be found in either Great Britain or America, but are used readily in Australia!



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