Medicare, Australia’s public health care system, allows travellers from the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Malta and the Netherlands to receive free or discounted medical treatment, limited to public hospitals and visits to the doctor.
Residents of these countries can apply for a Medicare card, which covers consultation fees for doctors, and provides benefits to help pay for tests and examinations. Medicare cards are available from any Medicare centre or office. If you’re staying in Victoria on an extended working holiday visa, it’s advised you get one.
For emergencies, ring 000 for fire, police or ambulance.
Victoria has few dangerous animals. Venomous snakes, including the tiger snake, copperhead snake and red-bellied black snake are mostly found in bushland but they can also live in built-up areas.
Poisonous spiders, such as the redback spider and the white-tailed spider, are commonly found in houses, sheds and garages. The danger posed by snakes or spiders is, however, extremely low.
Beaches can be dangerous, with rips and undercurrents, so make sure you swim on patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags.
If you plan to be out in the sun for extended periods, take proper precautions against sunburn by wearing a shirt, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Australia is one of the safest destinations in the world, but you should observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions as you would in any other country or at home.
Talk to other travellers about their experiences for advice, and invest in comprehensive travel insurance before departing.
If you are carrying $10,000 AUD cash or more (or foreign currency equivalent) into or out of Australia you will need to fill out a Cross-Border Movement – Physical Currency (CBM-PC) form. If asked at the border, you must also tell a Customs or police officer, if you are carrying any Bearer Negotiable Instruments (BNIs) – also known as promissory notes, travellers cheques, personal cheques, money orders and postal orders. Even if the BNI has no face value (for example, a blank cheque), it still needs to be disclosed to a Customs or police officer on request. You will be given a form to fill out if required.
For more information visit the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) website or call the AUSTRAC Help Desk on 1300 021 037.
Departing travellers may be able to claim a refund for GST and WET (Wine Equalisation Tax) paid on goods purchased in Australia. The refund is applicable to goods, totalling at least $300 AUD (GST inclusive) that are being taken out of Australia and that have been purchased no earlier than 30 days before leaving Australia.
TRS facilities are located at international airports and cruise-liner terminals. To claim, make sure you have your passport, international boarding pass, retailer’s tax invoice and the goods. Other conditions may apply.
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 per cent on most goods and services such as accommodation, day tours, guides, translators, food, transport (including coach, rail and cruise) and other tourism services within Australia.
International airfares do not attract GST. For international visitors, all prices quoted for a Victorian holiday will include the 10 per cent GST, payable at the time of ticketing.
Tipping is not a general custom in Australia, and is at your discretion when in restaurants, cafes and taxis.
Around 10% of the total bill will bring a smile to the face of the person serving you.
Brands like American Express and Travelex are widely accepted in Victoria, and can be cashed at banks, foreign exchange brokers, larger hotels and restaurants, and for car rental. Passport ID is required when you cash travellers cheques.
Fees for changing travellers cheques vary from bank to bank. Major credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club and their affiliates – are widely accepted throughout Victoria.
Some retailers in larger centres will also accept JCB cards. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with around-the-clock access are available in convenient locations like banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.
Banking hours are generally Monday to Thursday 9am–4pm and Friday 9am–5pm. All the major banks, such as Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth and National Australia Bank, have offices in St Kilda and are equipped to exchange foreign currency.
You can also exchange foreign currency any day or night at the airport, or during normal business hours at foreign exchange bureaus in Melbourne's central business district.
Australia has a decimal system with 100 cents to the dollar ($AUD). Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and $1 AUD and $2 AUD; notes have values of $5 AUD, $10 AUD, $20 AUD, $50 AUD and $100 AUD.