Category:Australia

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Flag of Australia Australia
Location of Australia
Ski Season June - September
Ski Areas NSW
Charlotte Pass
Perisher
Selwyn Snowfields
Thredbo
VIC
Dinner Plain
Donna Buang
Falls Creek
Hotham
Lake Mountain
Mt Baw Baw
Mt Buffalo
Mt Buller
Mt St Gwinear
Mt Stirling
TAS
Ben Lomond
Mt Mawson
Capital Canberra
35°15′S 149°28′E
Largest city Sydney
Official language(s) English
Area 7,686,850 km²
Population  
 - July 2006 est. 20,555,300 (53rd)
 - Density 2.65/km² (217th)
5.2/sq mi 
Currency Australian dollar
(AUDConvert
Time zone various2 (UTC+8–+10)
Calling code +61
Overview 

Climate

The snow climate in Australia is often regarded as warm and wet. We rarely get really dry snow and what we pass as powder in the mornings is often heavy in the afternoon. The moisture comes from the cold southern ocean but because it doesn't pass across a lot of land mass first the air and hence snow rarely gets very cold. Despite a record temperater of -23°C at Charlotte Pass night time temperatures rarely drop below about -5°C and often hover just below zero. Daytime temperatures usually reach +2 or +3°C for much of the season with spring temperatures often climbing towards +10°C in mid to late September.

Most snowfalls are preceeded by a very windy change and chairs going on windhold is a common thing in most Australian resorts.

Snow Areas

All of the commercial ski resorts bar two are in the Australian Alps positioned on the Victorian and NSW border. This may be because this area is the only area of the mainland that develops a sufficiently deep snowpack for snowsports. The region is also known, with typical Australian imagination, as 'The Snowy Mountains' or just 'The Snowies'.

On the Victorian side, there are 3 major ski resorts and 4 minor ski resorts. There are also many non-commercial ski resorts used for cross country skiing. On the NSW side of the Australian Alps, there are 2 major ski resorts and 2 minor ski resorts. There are also two small resorts in Tasmania.

There are also a number of ski clubs with lodges outside the resorts and some of them run their own backcountry rope tows

Snow in Australia is not as reliable as snow in other countries, apart from Yemen and Egypt, due to the low altitude (the highest peak is Mt Kosciuszko at 2228m high) and prevailing weather patterns. It is common for one year to be a shocker while the very next year is a bumper season. So it is wise to be prepared for the worst and have other activities available to make the most of your holiday.

One thing that many NSW folk never get their head around in Victoria, although once they return to civilisation the two people who gave the matter the slightest consideration realise how unimportant it is, is the difference between a Resort Management Board and a Lift Company. They are quite separate entities with different purposes.

New South Wales

Victoria

Tasmania


Height comparison

Resort

Peak

Base

Thredbo

2037

1365

Perisher

2034

1605

Charlotte

1840

1670

Selwyn

1614

1491

Buller

1781

1367

Hotham

1850

1455

Falls

1780

1400

Mt Mackay *

1842

Buffalo

1742

1604

Baw Baw

1564

1339

  • Backcountry, included for comparison.

Getting There

Australia can be an expensive country to reach due to its isolation, so be prepared to pay for high air tickets. The main tourists visiting Australia are Chinese, Japanese, European and American citizens. Majority of the people visiting Australia travel by air, but cruise ship regulary visit Australia as a stop-over. International ferries in Australia are largely non-existant.

Visas and Documentation

Tourists from countries that are part of the Visa Waver Program can enter Australia for up to 90 days without a visa. Be sure to check with the nearest Australian Consulate (Embassy) to find out if you are eligable to enter the country, or visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Airports

Australia has many entry ports to get into the country legally. The three main Australia hub airports are Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Airport.

All of the Australian international airports have duty free shops, airline lounges, waiting area, food courts in "International Zone", ATMs, toilets and frequent transport shuttles to and from the Airport to the CBD.

Sydney 'Kingsford Smith' Airport

Sorry.

Apparently the airport has won awards, however arriving in Sydney on an International flight can result in a significant wait to get through immigration, and another long wait for Customs.

The main problem with this is the seemingly total inability of the Airport Authority to provide adequate airconditioning in these areas. So, sorry.

Fortunately once past customs, you have several options to get out of the airport; bus (shuttle), train, taxi and hire car. The train may sound good, but it is bloody expensive and you still have to get from the stations to your destination! If there is more than one of you, and you are going to the city, a cab could be the best bet.

The International and Domestic terminals are physically separated - if you are transferring to a domestic flight, you will need to catch a shuttle bus to the domestic terminal. Check with your (domestic) airline for more information.

Customs and Quarantine

Due to Australia's isolation from the rest of the world, Australia has some of the toughest quarantine laws in the world. So it is important to check with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to find out what food product is allowed into the country and what is strictly prohibited.

"Nature made Australia unique - Quarantine keeps it that way", You would see this quote plastered around the airports on arrival, so please co-operate with the Customs in order to protect this unique ancient environment. If you don't, you face hefy fines up to $500,000 and a long prison sentence, and the possiblity of starring on 'Border Security'.

Tasmania has its own quarantine system to protect it from nasties that occur on the mainland. Don't take fruit, vegies and some types of meat to Tassie or those cute Beagles that run all over your luggage will find it and you will be hit with a big fine.

Cultural Info

National Holidays

  • January 1: New Years' Day
  • January 26: Australia Day
  • Easter weekend: Four day long weekend in March or April
  • April 25: ANZAC Day
  • Second Monday in June: Queen's birthday holiday
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day

Victoria

  • March 13: Labour Day (2nd Monday of the month)
  • November 7: Melbourne Cup (for metro Melbourne only) (1st Tuesday of the month)

Food and Drink

Food and Drinks in Australia tend to be very international. It is not rare to find a cafe that sells Asian alongside with traditional foods such as pizza.

Melbourne

Food in Melbourne tend to be very high quality and cheap. There are almost 1,000 cafes and restaurants to choose from that suit your taste or budget. Travel to Lygon Street in Carlton for some fine Italian foods or head to Londsdale Street in the CBD for some Greek celebration (make sure that the restaurant that you are at allows you to break their plates before actually doing so!).

Melbourne is famous for their coffee addiction. Melburnians like quality coffee, so it would be rare to find a cafe that is using nescafe to make their coffee. There is a wide range of different coffees that you can choose from in an average cafe such as latte, short black, long black, babychino (for the little children since it is just the milk frothing), many other types of coffees.

Sydney

Sydney, while not as exquisite as Melbourne, but not far behind, has a large range of excellent eateries scattered around the CBD for a hungry traveller ranging from budget to fine dining. Restaurants with a view of the world famous Sydney Harbour are mainly found at Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay and the King Street Wharf all placed on the water edge. Restaurants at The Rocks and Circular Quay are also worth a mention as they have an extraordinary view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

Hobart

Hobart has two locations with a good range of eateries. Salamanca Place is a charming tourist trap, but it is the sort of place that you'd like to be trapped in. North Hobart has a good range of cafes and restaurants and is more of a hang out for locals.

Canberra

Manuka. Err... Manuka. Anyone got else?

PLEASE EDIT

Transport

Most people in Australia get around by using their car as their main form of transport. Most of the public transport use happens during the "peak hour" in the urban centres around Australia.

Road

The roads in Australia are comparable to the rest of the world. A driver travelling between major regional centres would not be likely to face any significant problem, as the main regional highways are maintained at the highest standard possible.

In Victoria, the roads with the highest quality would be the 'A' roads linking the major urban centres, such as 'A1' linking Traralgon with Bairnsdale. Linking the small regional towns with population of 2,000-5,000 people would be the 'B' roads, for example 'B300' links Melbourne Eastern Suburbs to a small town of Mansfield. Lowest quality roads are the 'C' roads, their functions are connector roads, creating a link between two roads, or is an access to a small town less than 2,000 people. However, some 'C' roads are an exception in terms of road quality such as the roads leading up to the ski resorts.

All mainland ski resorts in Australia have sealed roads with adequate protections such as crash barriers. Main roads to the resorts are snow-cleared in winter, however back roads and private roads may take a day or two to be cleared after a heavy fall.

Rail/Train

Using rail as a mean of transport in Australia is possible, but can get a bit expensive at times and often involves inconsistent timetables. Security on the trains are sometimes questionable, but generally, it is a safe place.

Metropoliton Networks

Rail in the state capitals are often reliable enough to use on a day by day basis. The two biggest rail networks in Australia are in Sydney and Melbourne. The minor rail networks are in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Tram

Melbourne is the only city in Australia that has a reliable and comprehensive tram network used for non-tourist reasons, although Adelaide and Sydney have one tram line each.

Air (domestic)

Travelling by air in Australia shouldn't be much of a problem. The three main airlines in Australia are QANTAS, Virgin Blue and JetStar. One ski resort, Hotham, is linked by air to Melbourne and Sydney.

Getting To Australian Snowfields

Driving

Driving to the NSW and Victorian resorts are two different experiences. This reflects the fact that the major access to NSW resorts is from the east, and to Victorian resorts is from the west. The western side of the range is much steeper and more rugged than the eastern side.

Access to NSW resorts is on good roads with relatively gentle curves. The speed limit is 80 km/hr in the National Park and, with good road conditions, there is no reason why you can't do that speed for the majority of the trip. It is rare for it to be necessary to fit chains into Thredbo or to the bottom of the Skitube.

Access to the Victorian resorts is steeper, and via 'interesting' roads with many hairpin bends. Because the Hotham village is at the top of the hill it is often necessary to fit chains. (Remember it is compulsory to carry chains in Victoria whether or not you have a 4WD. Carrying chains in NSW is also compulsory for 2WD vehicles in most parts of the National Park)

In Victoria there are usually a choice of routes, depending on factors like where you are leaving from and whether you are in a hurry or want to admire the scenery. Some of the most popular are covered in Driving from Melbourne

From Sydney there are no real sensible variations now that there is divided road to Canberra, (except for the perennial "how to avoid Canberra - Queanbeyan or the airport" controversy) Drive to Jindabyne, and follow your nose is the only advice you need.

Access to the two Tasmanian resorts is quite different. The small Mt Mawson 'club field' near Hobart has a relatively easy drive to the main carpark (albeit on a gravel road), followed by a 20 minute walk to the tows. By contast, you can drive right to the tows at the larger Ben Lomond resort near Launceston, but the road climbs the infamous Jacob's Ladder. Essentially it goes straight up a cliff with some truly hairy hairpin bends.

When driving in the high country during winter, it is not uncommon to encounter 'black ice' well below the snowline, where water on the road has frozen overnight forming patches of invisible ice. Be wary of sharp and off camber corners, expecially if they are shaded from the morning sun.

Flying

You can fly to an airport 20 km away from Hotham by commercial or charter flight.

Cooma is the nearest airport to the NSW resorts. It is serviced by Rex Airlines with regular flights in and out of the airport each day. A shuttle will meet the flight, and the airport is about an hour+ drive from the resort.

For air travel to Falls Creek you can fly into Albury, but you are still 1.5 hours from the hill. Regular coaches visit the resort from Albury.

Bus

A number of coach companies run regular shuttles from Sydney and Canberra to NSW resorts, including Greyhound, Murrays, and Transboarder. They will drop you at Jindabyne, Bullocks Flat (for the ski tube to Perisher), and Thredbo.


Technology and Networks

The communication network in Australia is excellent, but the Internet speed is lagging 5 years behind majority of the other Western Countries.

Mobile coverage in Australia is fairly random due to the vastness of the country side. When travelling in the outback it is wise to carry a satellite phone for emergencies due to lack of population. All major ski resorts have good to excellent coverage by the major mobile networks such as Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone.

In the Eastern states (Vic, NSW and Qld), mobile phone coverage is often widespread and numerous along the major highways linking cities.

Every state capital in Australia has a full mobile phone coverage, so chances of losing contact is very slim when you are in the city.

In Jindabyne localy based Carrier/ISP Airlan provides wireless WiFi prepaid internet hotspots in Jindabyne, Perisher Vally, Thredbo, Smiggin Hole and most of the major hotel and motels. Excelent coverage with hotspots in local coffee shops and rental properties. airlan.com.au.

Taxes

One form of Tax is the "Goods and Services Tax" (GST) which is imposed onto almost all products that you buy from a shop, except fresh food. The GST is included in the price of goods (unless there is a specific reservation), so that the price on an article is the price you pay. The GST also applies to services such as the provision of accommodation, lift tickets, lessons and everything else. As with goods, the price quoted or displayed is almost always inclusive of GST, so nothing is added.

For large purchases, you can get the GST refunded at the point of departure by providing a receipt.

Credit Cards

The major credit cards are generally accepted in Australia. Very few places don't accept credit cards. If paying for your accommodation via credit, be sure to check if they accept credit card, particulary American Express or Diners. Some smaller accommodations will not accept them.

ATMs can be frequently found in cities and most small towns.

Cheques (Checks)

Cheques (or checks if you are American) are NOT a common form of payment in Australia. Many places will not accept cheques, while others will require significant ID and / or charge a surcharge to process them.

Attempting to pay with a cheque at the supermarket will earn you some very strange looks!

Tipping

Unlike North America, tips are not 'required' as a supplement to the staff wage; service industry staff are generally paid a little better than they are overseas when compared to the cost of living. Most Australians will only tip for good service; adequate or substandard service does not, and should not receive a tip.

Australians generally don't tip as much as in North America and Europe. However it is a good idea to shout a round of beer a few times (although why this constitutes a tip is a mystery).

It is conventional to tip 10%+ in restaurants and to leave small change on the bar for the bar staff. Rounding taxi fares up is common as (mirabilis) is taxi drivers rounding fares down.

Or give actual tips, such as 'Don't hold your nose while you sneeze' if you want to look like a fool.

Health and Safety

Australia has a nationalised health care system. Any person will be able to receive excellent quality emergency care without being asked for insurance details beforehand. Foreigners who are not from a country with reciprocal medical arrangements will still be charged for the services, so get that Travel Insurance to be on the safe side!

Emergency Numbers

  • '000' is the nationwide Emergency phone number for Fire, Police or Ambulance services. It is for immediate emergencies only.
  • Mobile phones can dial 112 if for some reason you are unable to connect with 000.
  • Non critical situations(e.g. break and enter) should be rung through on the Police Attendance Line - 131 444.

Medical Centres

Medical Centres are available at every commercially operated resort in Australia. Australian medical standards are amongst the highest in the world and resort medical centres are no exception.

Natural Disasters

Australia is a hostile place for people to live. Australia is known for the bushfires that often rage the scorched earth, and cyclones that can scour the top half of the countries coastline.

Droughts in Australia are common, so it is important to conserve water by limiting waste.

Crime

Crime exists everywhere, Australia is no exception. Even though many Australians are fair and honest, their are some members of the public who are ready to act out a crime such as mugging, pick pocketing and breaking into unlocked areas such as houses and cars. So one of the common advice is don't leave the car or house unlocked unattended. It is also recommenced that you make sure that valuable items are hidden from view to deter potential thieves from breaking in. Overall, Australia is regarded as a safe place.

Employment

Australian snowfields offer seasonal employment opportunities for a wide range of positions from instructors to hospitality. Find out more about Australian alpine jobs.

Resources

Subcategories

This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.