Australia is divided into six states:
The states and territories each have a capital city.
State governments are modelled on the British Westminster Parliamentary system. Each state has a premier who is the leader of the political party in power. All states have an executive council consisting of the governor, state premier, and selected ministers.
State parliaments deal with domestic affairs such as education, transport, law enforcement, health services and agriculture as well as sharing mutual responsibilities with the Federal parliament.
The powers and responsibilities of local governments vary from state to state. However they encompass community matters such as urban planning, roads, water resources, parks and recreation grounds, and public libraries.
Australians are one of the world’s most urbanized societies. Nearly 90 per cent of the population is city dwellers living along the coast. The largest and most populous city is Sydney with 4.4 million people, closely followed by Melbourne, its southern rival, counting just over 4.18 million. Third largest city is Brisbane, 2.18 million, followed by Perth 1.9 million, Adelaide 1.26 million, Canberra 418,000, Hobart 206,000 and Darwin 119,000.
Australia’s seasons are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere – summer starts in December, autumn in March, winter in June and spring in September. Due to its size, geographical location and the lack of extensive high mountain ranges Australia has a wide range of climates but generally no extremes. The average temperature ranges from 23-26°C above the Tropic of Capricorn with the southern areas more temperate although subject to variations.
This and the fact that Australia is the driest continent on earth make our land a great all-year destination. In fact during our winter you can ski in the southern states one day and be diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland the next.
English is Australia’s official language – though there is an Australian accent. The people in Australia are very friendly and helpful.
Since 1945, the country’s original Anglo-Irish population base has been enriched by successive waves of immigrants including immigrants from Europe, Vietnam, China and India who added their own cuisine to the Australian diet.
Given its climate, fresh produce and diverse ethnic roots, it is no surprise that the sunny, spicy flavours of the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia permeate our menus.
Meat is the staple Australian diet and the choice and quality is impressive and still inexpensive by international standards. Lamb, pork, poultry or if you are more adventurous kangaroo, emu, crocodile or even witchetty grub – an Aboriginal delicacy – are available.
Australia has a superb range of seafood – prawns (shrimp), lobsters, octopus, oyster, and mud crabs. A huge variety of fresh fish is on offer complimented by vegetables and salad, all grown locally.
Australian currency is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit (100 cents equals one dollar). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5 denominations. Coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, and $2 denominations.
Enjoy a healthy lifestyle in Australia, where standards of hygiene and health care are high, particularly in food preparation. Doctors and dentists are highly trained and hospitals are well equipped. In the event of illness, your hotel can call a doctor or refer you to one, or you can ask your Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for a list of approved doctors. Overseas visitors are strongly recommended to take out health insurance before departure to cover the duration of their stay in Australia. Ensure you have personal insurance or travel insurance with a comprehensive health component to cover the possibility of illness or accident.
Visitors from New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Malta, Sweden, Italy, Finland and the Netherlands are covered by Australia’s national health insurance scheme, Medicare. To be eligible, enrol at any Medicare office in Australia. Before travelling to Australia contact your national health scheme to make sure you have the correct documents you will need to be eligible to enrol in Medicare.
The Tourism Australia website is an excellent source for information about living and visiting places of interest in Australia. The website has a wealth of information for travellers who require information on any tourism products and events. The website also has numerous links to other associated websites.