The Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise
Located on the central eastern coast, the Gold Coast is a perfect place to begin your travels in Australia. The State of Queensland offers tremendous natural beauty, including the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, the Gondwana Rainforests, and Fraser Island.
The Gold Coast area in particular has much to offer visitors; those who want a cosmopolitan beach holiday can enjoy great shopping, dining, and entertainment around Surfers Paradise. Just a short drive south from Surfers Paradise is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, featuring the Gold Coast’s native wildlife. The Gold Coast is also a great family destination, with several theme parks nearby including Sea World, Dreamworld, and Warner Bros. Movie World.
Australia is the world’s lowest, flattest, and oldest continental landmass. Its geographically diverse landscape has striking natural formations, such as the giant monolith, Uluru, in the Northern Territory and the ‘Bungle Bungles’, a mountain range in Purnululu National Park, Western Australia which resembles beehives.
Australia has many World Heritage sites, including Kakadu National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Shark Bay, and the Sydney Opera House among others.
Other major Australian cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are only a short flight from southeast Queensland. All of Australia’s major cities have a distinct culture, thanks in part to our multicultural population.
Australia is located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean, with an area of 7.69 million square km, making it the world’s sixth largest nation and Earth’s largest island.
Located in the southern hemisphere, the winter months are approximately June through August, but visitors from the north will enjoy Queensland’s mild winter. The Gold Coast is located at 28°S, 153.4°E, with average winter temperatures of 11-21°C (52-70°F). Expect clear blue skies, golden sands, and cool nights. Cities further south have colder winter temperatures.
Australia is a liberal parliamentary democracy, based on a two-chamber, popularly elected Parliament. The seven states and territories each have their own parliaments and pass separate laws on all matters not addressed in the federal constitution.
Government is run by whichever party or coalition holds a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. Australian parliaments are reputed for their robust public debates. All citizens over the age of 18 are required to vote, punishable by a small fine.
Although Australia is an independent nation, it remains part of the British Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and constitutional monarch.
Australia is a developed market economy, representing about 1.7% of the World Economy. Australia is rich in natural resources, and minerals account for 57% of Australia’s exports. Other major exported goods and services include meat products, wine, biotechnology, inbound tourism and education, and information and communications technology.
The service sector, which is supported by a skilled and multilingual workforce, accounts for 68% of Gross Domestic Product. The Australian dollar (AUD) is the official currency of a number of island territories, as well as the independent Pacific Island nations of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu.
One Australian dollar (AUD) is equal to USD0.84 (as at publishing date).Foreign currency can be exchanged at Travelex (airports) and American Express locations, as well as any bank. International ATM cards may be used at Automatic Teller Machines, as well as participating retail outlets, if your card has international access enabled, with the CIRRUS, PLUS, STAR, Interlink, or Maestro markings. Visitors to Australia should contact their banks at home for information on service charges.
For current exchange rates, you can refer to a currency conversion site such as www.xe.com/ucc.
Most banks are open 09:00-16:00 Monday - Thursday, and 09:00-17:00 Friday. In Queensland, some banks are open until 12:00 noon Saturday.
General hours are 09:00-17:00 Monday - Friday. Postage stamps are available at the front desks of most hotels and motels, as well as selected retail outlets.
Australian Eastern Standard Time is UTC +10. There is no Daylight Savings Time in Queensland (QLD), the Northern Territory (NT), or Western Australia (WA); however, New South Wales (NSW), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC), and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) do observe Daylight Savings Time.
Supply voltage is 240, 50Hz. A standard grounded Australian outlet supports 2- or 3-pinned Type I electrical plugs, and the sockets generally have a safety switch. Most visitors to Australia wishing to bring electrical appliances will need to use a Type I adaptor.
Weight and Measurement
Australia uses the metric system for units and weights.