Australia has a population of over 22 million people. They live mostly along the coastal regions of this vast land of ours. You cannot do day trips from one capital city to another except by plane.
A table of distances between capital cities is shown below.
The Barrier Reef / Uluru (Ayres Rock)
It is not possible to comfortably visit the Barrier Reef in a day trip from any Friendship Force club other than Cairns and Bundaberg.
Likewise, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is in the center of Australia consequently it is not an overnight trip. If these and other attractions are on the list of places ambassadors would like to see whilst in Australia, they should investigate the option of continuing on after the exchanges are over.
The tradition of a three bedroom home on a 1/4 acre of land has changed in recent times to either smaller parcels of land and larger houses or apartment living closer to public transport. Many people choose a rural lifestyle on the outskirts of cities.
Sport is an important part of Australian life with about one third of the population being registered sports participants. The most popular active sports for men are golf, bowls, cricket, football, basketball and fishing; for women golf, bowls, tennis and netball. Water sports have a huge following, Australians are also enthusiastic sports spectators.
On a per capita basis Australians are among the leading book and magazine buyers in the world. Australian literature is seen internationally as one of the most vital branches of contemporary English language writing. Australians are enthusiastic concert and theater goers and large numbers of people visit art galleries for major exhibitions.
Australian films continue to win acclaim and leading Australian directors and actors are in demand internationally. Australia is the worlds fourth largest supplier of popular music, with rock music a growing export. The aboriginal culture, expressed in music, dance and art is achieving international recognition and acclaim.
The climate is generally pleasant without extremes in temperatures. Broadly there are two climatic zones - tropical and temperate. In the north about 40 % of Australia is in the tropical zone. Within this zone there are two seasons,summer-wet and winter-dry. The temperature zones in the south experience all four seasons but at opposite times to the northern hemisphere,(ie. summer: Dec-Feb; winter: June- Aug).
Schooling is compulsory until the age of 15 or 16 (varies between states). About 72% of children are educated in government schools where tuition at primary and secondary levels is free. Secondary schooling begins in year 7 or 8 and continues to year 12. Co-educational comprehensive or multipurpose high schools are the most common type of secondary school offering a wide range of subjects and activities. About 75% of secondary school students remain at school until year 12. Of that number, around 23% will go on to tertiary studies in either full or part time courses.
Australia's official language is English, by common usage rather than law. Australian English does not differ significantly from other forms of English, although some colloquial and slang expressions are unique to Australia. A small proportion of people speak a language other than English within their homes, e.g. Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese, and indigenous Australian languages.
The Australian health care system has a blend of public and private sector involvement; private medical practitioners provide primary and specialist care. Public (state controlled) and private hospital systems provide comprehensive services. Visitors can bring reasonable quantities of prescribed medications. All should be clearly labeled and identifiable.
Pharmacists can fill most prescriptions but some may need to be reissued by an Australian registered doctor.
Australia's national anthem is 'Advance Australia Fair'. However a song that is sometimes played at international gatherings and is often thought to be the national anthem is the popular folk song 'WALTZING MATILDA'
Advance Australia Fair
Australians all let us rejoice, for we are proud and free, We've golden soil and wealth for toil, our home is girt by sea, Our land abounds in natures gifts of beauty rich and rare, In history's page let every stage, Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross, We'll toil with hearts and hands, To make the commonwealth of ours renowned of all the lands, For those who've come across the seas, We've boundless plains to share with courage let us all combine to Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains the let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.
Canberra the national capital is situated equidistant between Sydney and Melbourne. Created in 1901 following the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia. Canberra is a city of outstanding architecture and natural beauty.
Australia's National day,January 26th, celebrates the date in 1788 on which the first fleet of settlers, soldiers and convicts arrived from England and landed at Port Jackson, now the site of Australia's largest city, Sydney.
Planning Your Exchange
December and January are busy months in Australia.
The school year finishes in late December and many people take annual leave to coincide with the six week school break.
Our climate is mild in winter (no snowbound roads) so traveling within the country is not a problem and in some areas, particularly the tropical and sub-tropical, winter is the best time to visit.
If visiting southern regions in winter keep in mind that although homes are heated it is not the same all-over warmth of the northern hemisphere. A warm jacket could prove useful.
Australia has a three tiered system of government: Federal, State and local. The Australian parliament (Federal Government) deals with all matters of national interest.
The six state governments and the governments of the two territories complement the activities of the national government.
Local government comprises about 900 councils at the city, town, municipal and shire level.
In 1902 Australia became one of the first countries to grant all women the right to vote; that right having been available to the women of South Australia since 1894.
Christianity is the predominant faith, but all major religions are represented. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are located in most major cities.
Australia is an island of 7.7 square million kilometers, a little smaller than the United States of America and a little larger than Europe.
It is the worlds flattest land mass after Antarctica and apart from Antarctica the driest continent.
Although 20% of the land mass is desert, Australia has a wide range of climate and topography.
There are rain-forests and vast plains in the north; fertile croplands in the east, south and southwest and snowfields in the southeast.
The continent is one of the oldest land masses with erosion revealing bedrock more than 3000 million years old.
Australia is an independent western democracy and its lifestyle reflects its predominately western origins.
With a population of over 22 million it is one of the worlds most urbanised countries.
About 70% of the population lives in the 10 largest cities mostly concentrated along the eastern seaboard and the southeastern corner of the continent.
The aboriginal race has inhabited Australia for at least 40,000 years. Comprising 2.2% of the total population, about 66% of indigenous people now live in cities or towns.
A small number of those who live in rural or remote areas still maintain a broadly traditional way of life.
Australian government legislation and policies aim to rectify disadvantages suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with policies based on a recognition of their right to determine their own future.
Australia was colonised by England in 1788.
In the first 150 years most settlers were from the British Isles but Australia is now a nation of rich cultural diversity enriched by the 22% of the population who were born overseas.
At the last census 200 different ancestries were reported, the most common being Australian followed by English, Irish, Italian, German, Chinese, Scottish and Greek.
When planning Friendship Force exchanges it is wise to check the distance of clubs from airports and get advice from host clubs as to the best means of transport within Australia.
Distances in Australia often prove to be greater than envisaged by incoming travelers.
Lack of knowledge of the geography has in the past meant some people have had to travel long distances to their destinations when shorter more interesting options were available.
Before finalising your travel plans ask the Australian club about alternate ways (e.g. Coach or rail) of getting from one club to another.
This can make your visit much more interesting.
All traffic travels on the left hand side of the road.
Please note; the Australian continent is roughly the same size as the United States of America.
Customs - Australia has very strict laws concerning the importation of animal products, foodstuffs. plant material and narcotics.
Electricity - The electric current in Australia is 240/250 volts AC 50Hz.
The Australian three pin plug is different from that of North America, the UK and other countries.
Water -In the major cities and towns is of high quality.
Vaccinations - Vaccinations are not required unless people have come from or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within 6 days prior to arrival.
Visas - Everyone except holders of Australian or New Zealand passports require a visa to enter Australia.
Time Zones - Three times zones exist between the east and west coasts of Australia.
Western Australian time is two hours behind Eastern Australia.
Central standard time in South Australia and Northern Territory is 0.5 hours behind Eastern Australia.
In summer daylight saving operates in most states ( not in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.)
Tipping - Tipping is not obligatory. For special service a tip of 10% is acceptable for waiters. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip but will appreciate a small gratuity.
At any time tipping is a matter of choice.
Goods and Services Tax = GST
Where GST is applicable it is included in the advertised price.
There is no GST on fresh food.
Copying for commercial purposes is not permitted.