Australia

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Context of Australia

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. Australia is the largest country by area in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country. Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils. It is a megadiverse country, and its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes and climates, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east, tropical savannas in the north, and mountain ranges in the south-east.

The ancestors of Aboriginal Australians began arriving from south-east Asia approximately 65,000 years ago, during the last ice age. Arriving by sea, they settled the continent and had formed approximately 250 distinct language groups by the time of Euro...Read more

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. Australia is the largest country by area in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country. Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils. It is a megadiverse country, and its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes and climates, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east, tropical savannas in the north, and mountain ranges in the south-east.

The ancestors of Aboriginal Australians began arriving from south-east Asia approximately 65,000 years ago, during the last ice age. Arriving by sea, they settled the continent and had formed approximately 250 distinct language groups by the time of European settlement, maintaining some of the longest known continuing artistic and religious traditions in the world. Australia's written history commenced with the European maritime exploration of Australia. The Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon was the first known European to reach Australia, in 1606. In 1770, the British explorer James Cook mapped and claimed the east coast of Australia for Great Britain, and the First Fleet of British ships arrived at Sydney in 1788 to establish the penal colony of New South Wales. The European population grew in subsequent decades, and by the end of the 1850s gold rush, most of the continent had been explored by European settlers and an additional five self-governing British colonies established. Democratic parliaments were gradually established through the 19th century, culminating with a vote for the federation of the six colonies and foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. This began a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom, highlighted by the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, and culminating in the Australia Act 1986.

Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Australia's population of nearly 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Canberra is the nation's capital, while its most populous city is Melbourne. The next four largest cities are Sydney, the nation’s financial centre, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. It is ethnically diverse and multicultural, the product of large-scale immigration, with almost half of the population having one parent born overseas. Australia's abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade relations are crucial to the country's economy, which generates its income from various sources including services, mining exports, banking, manufacturing, agriculture and international education. Australia ranks amongst the highest in the world for quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights.

Australia has a highly developed market economy and one of the highest per capita incomes globally. Australia is a regional power, and has the world's thirteenth-highest military expenditure. It is a member of international groupings including the United Nations; the G20; the OECD; the World Trade Organization; Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; the Pacific Islands Forum; the Pacific Community the Commonwealth of Nations; and the defence/security organisations ANZUS, AUKUS, the Five Eyes and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. It is a major non-NATO ally of the United States.

More about Australia

Basic information
  • Currency Australian dollar
  • Native name Australia
  • Calling code +61
  • Internet domain .au
  • Speed limit 50
  • Mains voltage 240V/50Hz
  • Democracy index 8.96
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 26473055
  • Area 7692024
  • Driving side left
History
  • Indigenous peoples
     
    Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

    Indigenous Australians comprise two groups: the Aboriginal peoples of the Australian mainland (and surrounding islands including Tasmania), and the Torres Strait Islanders, who are a distinct Melanesian people....Read more

    Indigenous peoples
     
    Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

    Indigenous Australians comprise two groups: the Aboriginal peoples of the Australian mainland (and surrounding islands including Tasmania), and the Torres Strait Islanders, who are a distinct Melanesian people. Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun 50,000 to 65,000 years ago,[1][2][3][4] with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea crossings from what is now Southeast Asia.[5] It is uncertain how many waves of immigration may have contributed to these ancestors of modern Aboriginal Australians.[6][7] The Madjedbebe rock shelter in Arnhem Land is recognised as the oldest site showing the presence of humans in Australia.[8] The oldest human remains found are the Lake Mungo remains, which have been dated to around 41,000 years ago.[9][10]

    Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continuous cultures on Earth.[11] At the time of first European contact, Aboriginal Australians were complex hunter-gatherers with diverse economies and societies and about 250 different language groups.[12][13] Recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained.[14][15] Aboriginal Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime.[16]

    The Torres Strait Islander people first settled their islands around 4000 years ago.[17] Culturally and linguistically distinct from mainland Aboriginal peoples, they were seafarers and obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas.[18]

    European exploration and colonisation
    Landing of Lieutenant James Cook at Botany Bay, 29 April 1770 
    Landing of James Cook at Botany Bay on 29 April 1770 to claim Australia's east coast for Great Britain

    The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited sporadically for trade by Makassan fishermen from what is now Indonesia.[19] The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland, and the first recorded European landfall on the Australian continent, are attributed to the Dutch.[20] The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutch navigator, Willem Janszoon.[21] He sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in early 1606, and made landfall on 26 February 1606 at the Pennefather River near the modern town of Weipa on Cape York.[22] Later that year, Spanish explorer Luís Vaz de Torres sailed through and navigated the Torres Strait Islands.[23] The Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines and named the island continent "New Holland" during the 17th century, and although no attempt at settlement was made,[22] a number of shipwrecks left men either stranded or, as in the case of the Batavia in 1629, marooned for mutiny and murder, thus becoming the first Europeans to permanently inhabit the continent.[24] In 1770, Captain James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast, which he named "New South Wales" and claimed for Great Britain.[25]

    Following the loss of its American colonies in 1783, the British Government sent a fleet of ships, the First Fleet, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, to establish a new penal colony in New South Wales. A camp was set up and the Union Flag raised at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, on 26 January 1788,[26][27] a date which later became Australia's national day. Most early convicts were transported for petty crimes and assigned as labourers or servants to "free settlers" (non-convict immigrants). While the majority of convicts settled into colonial society once emancipated, convict rebellions and uprisings were also staged, but invariably suppressed under martial law. The 1808 Rum Rebellion, the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia, instigated a two-year period of military rule.[28] The following decade, social and economic reforms initiated by Governor Lachlan Macquarie saw New South Wales transition from a penal colony to a civil society.[29][30]

    The indigenous population declined for 150 years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease.[31] Thousands more died as a result of frontier conflict with settlers.[32]

    Colonial expansion
    A calm body of water is in the foreground. The shoreline is about 200 metres away. To the left, close to the shore, are three tall gum trees; behind them on an incline are ruins, including walls and watchtowers of light-coloured stone and brick, what appear to be the foundations of walls, and grassed areas. To the right lie the outer walls of a large rectangular four-storey building dotted with regularly spaced windows. Forested land rises gently to a peak several kilometres back from the shore. 
    Tasmania's Port Arthur penal settlement is one of eleven UNESCO World Heritage-listed Australian Convict Sites

    The British continued to push into other areas of the continent in the early 19th century, initially along the coast. In 1803, a settlement was established in Van Diemen's Land (present-day Tasmania),[33] and in 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, opening the interior to European settlement.[34] The British claim extended to the whole Australian continent in 1827 when Major Edmund Lockyer established a settlement on King George Sound (modern-day Albany).[35] The Swan River Colony (present-day Perth) was established in 1829, evolving into the largest Australian colony by area, Western Australia.[36] In accordance with population growth, separate colonies were carved from New South Wales: Tasmania in 1825, South Australia in 1836, New Zealand in 1841, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859.[37] South Australia was founded as a "free province" — it was never a penal colony.[38] Western Australia was also founded "free" but later accepted transported convicts, the last of which arrived in 1868, decades after transportation had ceased to the other colonies.[39]

    In 1823, a Legislative Council nominated by the governor of New South Wales was established, together with a new Supreme Court, thus limiting the powers of colonial governors.[40] Between 1855 and 1890, the six colonies individually gained responsible government, thus becoming elective democracies managing most of their own affairs while remaining part of the British Empire.[41] The Colonial Office in London retained control of some matters, notably foreign affairs[42] and defence.[43]

    In the mid-19th century, explorers such as Burke and Wills went further inland to determine its agricultural potential and answer scientific questions.[44] A series of gold rushes beginning in the early 1850s led to an influx of new migrants from China, North America and continental Europe,[45] as well as outbreaks of bushranging and civil unrest; the latter peaked in 1854 when Ballarat miners launched the Eureka Rebellion against gold license fees.[46]

    From 1886, Australian colonial governments began introducing policies resulting in the removal of many Aboriginal children from their families and communities (referred to as the Stolen Generations).[47]

    Federation to the World Wars
     
    The Big Picture, a painting by Tom Roberts, depicts the opening of the first Australian Parliament in 1901.

    On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, constitutional conventions and referendums, resulting in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia as a nation and the entering into force of the Australian Constitution.[48]

    After the 1907 Imperial Conference, Australia and several other self-governing British settler colonies were given the status of self-governing "dominions" within the British Empire.[49][50] Australia was one of the founding members of the League of Nations in 1920,[51] and subsequently of the United Nations in 1945.[52] Britain's Statute of Westminster 1931 formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom. Australia adopted it in 1942,[53] but it was backdated to 1939 to confirm the validity of legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during World War II.[54][55]

    The Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the Australian Capital Territory) was formed in 1911 as the location for the future federal capital of Canberra. Melbourne was the temporary seat of government from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was being constructed.[56] The Northern Territory was transferred from the control of the South Australian government to the federal parliament in 1911.[57] Australia became the colonial ruler of the Territory of Papua (which had initially been annexed by Queensland in 1883)[58] in 1902 and of the Territory of New Guinea (formerly German New Guinea) in 1920. The two were unified as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in 1949 and gained independence from Australia in 1975.[59][60][61]

     
    The 1942 Bombing of Darwin, the first of over 100 Japanese air raids on Australia during World War II

    In 1914, Australia joined the Allies in fighting the First World War, and took part in many of the major battles fought on the Western Front.[62] Of about 416,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 152,000 were wounded.[63] Many Australians regard the defeat of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli in 1915 as the nation's "baptism of fire" — its first major military action,[64][65] with the anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove commemorated each year on Anzac Day.[66]

    From 1939 to 1945, Australia joined the Allies in fighting the Second World War. Australia's armed forces fought in the Pacific, European and Mediterranean and Middle East theatres.[67][68] The shock of Britain's defeat in Asia in 1942, followed soon after by the bombing of Darwin and other Japanese attacks on Australian soil, led to a widespread belief in Australia that a Japanese invasion was imminent, and a shift from the United Kingdom to the United States as Australia's principal ally and security partner.[69] Since 1951, Australia has been a formal military ally of the United States, under the ANZUS treaty.[70]

    Post-war and contemporary eras
     
    Postwar migrants from Europe arriving in Australia in 1954

    In the decades following World War II, Australia enjoyed significant increases in living standards, leisure time and suburban development.[71][72] Using the slogan "populate or perish", the nation encouraged a large wave of immigration from across Europe, with such immigrants referred to as "New Australians".[73]

    A member of the Western Bloc during the Cold War, Australia participated in the Korean War and the Malayan Emergency during the 1950s and the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1972.[74] During this time, tensions over communist influence in society led to unsuccessful attempts by the Menzies Government to ban the Communist Party of Australia,[75] and a bitter splitting of the Labor Party in 1955.[76]

    As a result of a 1967 referendum, the Federal Government received a mandate to implement policies to benefit Aboriginal people, and all Indigenous Australians were included in the Census.[77] Traditional ownership of land ("native title") was recognised in law for the first time when the High Court of Australia held in Mabo v Queensland (No 2) that the legal doctrine of terra nullius ("land belonging to no one") did not apply to Australia at the time of European settlement.[78]

    Following the final abolition of the White Australia policy in 1973,[79] Australia's demography and culture transformed as a result of a large and ongoing wave of non-European immigration, mostly from Asia.[80][81] The late 20th century also saw an increasing focus on foreign policy ties with other Pacific Rim nations.[82] While the Australia Act 1986 severed the remaining vestigial constitutional ties between Australia and the United Kingdom,[83] a 1999 referendum resulted in 55% of voters rejecting a proposal to abolish the Monarchy of Australia and become a republic.[84]

    Following the September 11 attacks on the United States, Australia joined the United States in fighting the Afghanistan War from 2001 to 2021 and the Iraq War from 2003 to 2009.[85] The nation's trade relations also became increasingly oriented towards East Asia in the 21st century, with China becoming the nation's largest trading partner by a large margin.[86]

    During the COVID-19 pandemic which commenced in Australia in 2020, several of Australia's largest cities were locked down for extended periods of time, and free movement across state borders was restricted in an attempt to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.[87]

    ^ Cite error: The named reference ClarksonJacobs2017 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Nunn, Patrick (2018). The Edge of Memory: Ancient Stories, Oral Tradition and the Post-Glacial World. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-4729-4327-9. ^ Fagan, Brian M.; Durrani, Nadia (2018). People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory. Taylor & Francis. pp. 250–253. ISBN 978-1-351-75764-5. ^ Veth, Peter; O'Connor, Sue (2013). "The past 50,000 years: an archaeological view". In Bashford, Alison; MacIntyre, Stuart (eds.). The Cambridge History of Australia, Volume 1, Indigenous and Colonial Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9781107011533. ^ Oppenheimer, Stephen (2013). Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World. Little, Brown Book Group. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-1-78033-753-1. ^ Malaspinas, A. S., Westaway, M. C., Muller, C., Sousa, V. C., Lao, O., Alves, I., Bergström, A., Athanasiadis, G., Cheng, J. Y., Crawford, J. E., Heupink, T. H., Macholdt, E., Peischl, S., Rasmussen, S., Schiffels, S., Subramanian, S., Wright, J. L., Albrechtsen, A., Barbieri, C., Dupanloup, I., et al., Willerslev, E. (2016). A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature, 538(7624), 207–214. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18299 press release ^ Dorey, Fran. "When did modern humans get to Australia?". Australian Museum. ^ Gilligan, Ian (2018). Climate, Clothing, and Agriculture in Prehistory: Linking Evidence, Causes, and Effects. Cambridge University Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-108-47008-7. ^ Tuniz, Claudio; Gillespie, Richard; Jones, Cheryl (2016). The Bone Readers: Science and Politics in Human Origins Research. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-315-41888-9. ^ Castillo, Alicia (2015). Archaeological Dimension of World Heritage: From Prevention to Social Implications. Springer Science. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4939-0283-5. ^ "Aboriginal Australians the oldest culture on Earth". Australian Geographic. 18 May 2013. 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ISBN 978-0-387-35263-3. ^ a b Davison, Hirst & Macintyre 1998, p. 233 ^ Brett Hilder (1980) The Voyage of Torres University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Queensland ISBN 0-7022-1275-X ^ Davis, Russell Earls (2019) A Concise History of Western Australia Woodslane Press ISBN 978-1-925868-22-7 pp. 3–6 ^ Goucher, Candice; Walton, Linda (2013). World History: Journeys from Past to Present. Routledge. pp. 427–428. ISBN 978-1-135-08829-3. ^ "European discovery and the colonisation of Australia". Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Commonwealth of Australia. 11 January 2008. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2010. [The British] moved north to Port Jackson on 26 January 1788, landing at Camp Cove, known as 'cadi' to the Cadigal people. Governor Phillip carried instructions to establish the first British Colony in Australia. The First Fleet was underprepared for the task, and the soil around Sydney Cove was poor. ^ Egan, Ted (2003). 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"When Melbourne was Australia's capital city". Melbourne, Victoria: University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 2 April 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010. ^ Souter, Gavin (2012). Lion & Kangaroo: The Initiation of Australia. Xoum Publishing. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-922057-00-6. ^ Overlack, Peter (26 October 1978). "QUEENSLAND'S ANNEXATION OF PAPUA: A BACKGROUND TO ANGLO-GERMAN FRICTION" (PDF). CORE. ^ "Papua New Guinea Legal Research Guide". University of Melbourne. Retrieved 2 April 2021. ^ "New Guinea Act 1920". Australian Government. Retrieved 2 April 2021. ^ "Papua and New Guinea Act 1949". Australian Government. Retrieved 2 April 2021. ^ "First World War 1914–1918". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 7 December 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2006. ^ Tucker, Spencer (2005). Encyclopedia of World War I. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 273. ISBN 978-1-85109-420-2. ^ Macintyre, Stuart (2000) A Concise History of Australia Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 151–53, ISBN 0-521-62359-6 ^ Reed, Liz (2004). Bigger than Gallipoli: war, history, and memory in Australia. Crawley, Western Australia: University of Western Australia. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-920694-19-7. ^ Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin; Bou, Jean (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. pp. 32, 38. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2. ^ Beaumont, Joan (1996). "Australia's war: Europe and the Middle East". In Beaumont, Joan (ed.). Australia's War, 1939–1945. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-039-4. ^ Beaumont, Joan (1996a). "Australia's war: Asia and the Pacific". In Beaumont, Joan (ed.). Australia's War, 1939–1945. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-039-4. ^ Davison, Hirst & Macintyre 1998, pp. 22–23 ^ Davison, Hirst & Macintyre 1998, p. 30 ^ Hosking, Susan; et al., eds. (2009). Something Rich and Strange: Sea Changes, Beaches and the Littoral in the Antipodes. Wakefield Press. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-1-86254-870-1. ^ Hodge, Brian; Whitehurst, Allen (1967). Nation and People: An Introduction to Australia in a Changing World. Hicks, Smith. pp. 184–. ^ "Immigration to Australia During the 20th Century – Historical Impacts on Immigration Intake, Population Size and Population Composition – A Timeline" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Australia). 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008. ^ Coulthard-Clark, Chris (1998). Where Australians Fought: The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles (First ed.). St Leonards: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-611-2. OCLC 39097011. ^ Frank Crowley (1973) Modern Australia in Documents, 1939–1970. pp. 222–26. Wren Publishing, Melbourne. ISBN 978-0-17-005300-6 ^ Calwell, Arthur Augustus (1972). Be just and fear not. Hawthorn, Victoria: Lloyd O'Neil Pty Ltd. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-85550-352-9. ^ Edwards, William Howell (2004). An Introduction to Aboriginal Societies. Cengage Learning Australia. pp. 25–26, 30, 132–133. ISBN 978-1-876633-89-9. ^ Davison, Hirst & Macintyre 1998, pp. 5–7, 402 ^ "Fact Sheet – Abolition of the 'White Australia' Policy". Australian Immigration. Commonwealth of Australia: National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2013. ^ Davison, Hirst & Macintyre 1998, pp. 338–39, 442–43, 681–82 ^ Sawer, Geoffrey (1966). "The Australian Constitution and the Australian Aborigines" (PDF). Federal Law Review. Canberra: Australian National University. 2 (1): 17–36. doi:10.1177/0067205X6600200102. ISSN 1444-6928. S2CID 159414135. Retrieved 3 August 2020. ^ Thompson, Roger C. (1994). The Pacific Basin since 1945: A history of the foreign relations of the Asian, Australasian, and American rim states and the Pacific islands. Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-02127-3. ^ "Australia Act 1986 (Cth)". Documenting a Democracy. Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Retrieved 25 July 2020. ^ "Part 5 – Referendums and Plebiscites – Referendum results". Parliamentary Library of Australia. ^ Neville, Leigh (2019). The Australian Army at War 1976–2016 (First ed.). London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781472826312. ^ "Fifty years of Australia's trade" (PDF). Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 11 January 2022. ^ Dawson, Emma (2020). What Happens Next? Reconstructing Australia After COVID-19. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 9780522877212.
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  • Stay safe Emergencies

    The number 000 (called 'triple zero' or 'triple oh') can be dialled from any telephone in Australia free of charge. This number will connect you with the police, fire brigade, coastguard or ambulance service after you tell the emergency operator which service you need.

    ...Read more
    Stay safe Emergencies

    The number 000 (called 'triple zero' or 'triple oh') can be dialled from any telephone in Australia free of charge. This number will connect you with the police, fire brigade, coastguard or ambulance service after you tell the emergency operator which service you need.

    If you want to contact these services but the situation is not an emergency, don't call 000: you can call the police assistance line on 131 444. This includes requesting a call out for noise complaints. Poisons information advice, which can also advise on snake, spider and insect bites, is available on 131 126. Information on locating the nearest medical services can be obtained by calling 1800 022 222 (except for Tasmania).

    If you require assistance during a flood, storm, cyclone, tsunami, earthquake or other natural disaster you can contact the State Emergency Service in each state (except for Northern Territory) on 132 500. You will be connected with your local unit and help can be organised from there. If the emergency is life-threatening, call 000 instead.

    You can dial 000 from all mobile phones. Mobile phones sold in Australia recognise it as the emergency number and will use any available network to place the call. However, if you have a phone obtained outside Australia, using the universal emergency number 112 is a better idea. Using 112 will use any available network, will work even if your phone is not roaming, and will work even if the phone does not have a SIM. 112 works from Australian purchased phones too.

    Hearing or speech impaired people with TTY equipment can dial 106. Those with Internet connectivity can use the Internet Relay Service, via the website.

    Calls from fixed line (landline) phones may be traced to assist the emergency services to reach you. The emergency services have limited ability to trace the origin of emergency calls from mobile phones, especially outside of urban areas, so be sure to calmly and clearly provide details of your location. Because of the number sequence for emergency calls, around 60% of calls to the emergency numbers are made in error.

    Nobody will likely respond to your call unless you can effectively communicate to the operator that you need assistance. If you are in need of assistance, but cannot speak, you will be diverted to an IVR and asked to press 55 to confirm that you are in need of assistance and have not called by accident. Your call will then be connected to the police.

    Except for 112 from a mobile, emergency numbers from other countries (for example, '911', '17' or '100') do not work in Australia.

    Driving

    Keep a sense of perspective. Tourists are far more likely to be killed or injured as pedestrians, drivers or passengers on Australian roads than all the other causes of death and injury combined.

    Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited. Most states use a prescribed standard of alcohol in the blood to determine whether driving is criminal. The prescribed (allowed) content ranges from zero to 0.05. Random breath testing for blood and alcohol is carried out.

    Australia is a huge country and driving between cities and towns can take longer than you expect, especially if you are used to freeway or motorway driving in Europe, Asia or North America. While the major highways are comparable to those overseas, secondary highways in rural areas need to be treated with some care. Speed limits vary by location, road and by state. Avoid the stresses of fatigue by not planning to drive too far in a day. Authorities strongly recommend a break (with some walking outside the car) every two hours. Often, there are designated rest stops on numbered M, A routes as well as National Highways and Routes, but they are almost non existent on unpaved highways, state routes, B or C highways.

    Driving between towns and cities comes with a risk of hitting or crashing due to swerving to avoid wildlife. Kangaroos have a habit of being spooked by cars and then, bewilderingly, jumping in front of them. Take extra care when driving through areas with vegetation close to the road and during dawn and dusk when wildlife is most active. Wildlife is not usually an issue in major urban areas (with the exception of Canberra where a series of parks provides ample habitat for kangaroos, which often cross major roads).

    Urban Australians jaywalk, dodge cars, and anticipate the sequence of lights. Although most drivers will stop for a red light, running the amber light is common, so ensuring the traffic has stopped before stepping from the curb is always a good idea. People from countries that drive on the right will take a while to get used to looking the correct way when crossing.

    Beaches
     
    A lifeguard at Bondi Beach in Sydney

    Around 10–20 overseas travellers drown in Australia each year. Most of these drownings occur at ocean beaches, where statistics put visitors at significantly higher risk than locals. Check the Beach Safety website.

    Beach goers should swim between the red and yellow flags which designate patrolled areas. Beaches are not patrolled 24-hours a day or even during all daylight hours. In most cases the local volunteer surf lifesavers or professional lifeguards are only available during certain hours, and at some beaches only on weekends, and often only during summer. If the flags aren't up, then there's no one patrolling. Many beaches in rural areas aren't patrolled at all. If you choose to swim, be aware of the risks, check conditions, stay within your depth, and don't swim alone.

    Many beaches in Australia have a sudden drop off which can take non-swimmers by surprise. If in doubt, ask the locals.

    Hard surfboards and other water craft such as surf skis, kayaks etc., are not permitted between the red and yellow flags. These craft must only be used outside of the blue 'surfcraft permitted' flags.

    Australian ocean beaches can sometimes have strong rips that even the strongest swimmers cannot swim against. Rips are almost-invisible channels of water flowing away from the beach. Many locals can spot rips, so if in doubt, ask. These channels take out the water which the incoming surf waves bring into shore. Beach goers can mistakenly use these channels or areas since they can appear as calm water and look to be an easier area into which to swim. Problems arise when the swimmer tries to swim back into shore against the outgoing current or rip, tire quickly, and end up drowning. Rips can be recognised by one or more of these signs: a rippled appearance when the surrounding water is fairly calm; foam that extends beyond the break zone; brown, sandy coloured water; waves breaking further out on either side of the rip.

    If you are caught in a rip at a patrolled beach, conserve your energy, float or tread water and raise one hand. The surf lifesavers will come out to you. Don't wait until you are so tired you can't swim any more. You will probably find that local swimmers or surfers will also quickly come to your aid. Usually the flags are positioned where there are no rips, but this isn't always the case as rips can move.

    If you are caught in a rip at an unpatrolled beach stay calm to conserve energy and swim parallel to the beach (not against the pull of the current). Most rips are only a few metres wide, and once clear of the undertow, you will be able to swim or catch a wave to return to shore. Never swim alone. Don't think that the right technique will get you out of every situation. In the surf out the back of the beach, treading water can be hard with waves pounding you every few seconds. Unless you have seen it happen, it's hard to appreciate how quickly a rip can take you 50 m out to sea and into much larger wave breaks. If you are at an unpatrolled surf beach, proceed with great caution and never go out of your depth.

    Beach signs often have a number or an alphanumeric code on them. This code can be given to emergency services if required so they can locate you quickly.

    Crocodiles and Box Jellyfish are found on tropical beaches, depending on the time of year and area. Sharks occur on many of Australia's beaches. See the section below on dangerous creatures. Patrolled beaches will be monitoring the ocean for any shark activity. If you hear a continuous siren go off at the beach and a red and a red and white quartered flag is waved or held out of the tower, it indicates a shark sighting, so make your way to shore. Once it is clear, a short blast of the siren will be sounded, which usually means that it is safe to return to the water.

    Natural disasters

    As a large country, Australia is affected by a range of natural disasters.

    Cyclones

    Tropical cyclones (hurricanes) occur in the tropics (the northern part) of Australia between November and April, and you should understand how a tropical cyclone may impact you during the tropical wet season. The impact of cyclones varies with their intensity and your proximity to them. Weak cyclones may just cost you a day or two of your holiday to rain and wind while you stay indoors in your hotel, and an hour's drive from the cyclone's centre can still have good weather. More severe tropical cyclones can be deadly to the unprepared, may force you to evacuate and can seriously disrupt your travel plans. Even low intensity cyclones or tropical depressions in more remote areas can close roads for days to weeks at a time.

    On average, a town in the tropics experiences a tropical cyclone every 30 years or so. The sparseness of population in Australia's north and north-west (where cyclones are most prevalent) means that many cyclones pass the coast with little impact on towns.

    Still, if you are planning to travel to the tropics during cyclone season, you should understand and review the Bureau of Meteorology's information page before you set out, and keep a general eye on the page while you travel for early alerts of any problems developing.

    Floods

    In the tropical north the Wet Season occurs over the summer months of December, January and February, bringing torrential rains and frequent floods to those regions. It is not unusual for some coastal areas to be cut off for a day or two while the water recedes. It can still be a good time to visit some of the well populated, tourist-oriented areas, and, except in unusually heavy flooding, you can still get to see the pounding waterfalls and other attractions that can make this an interesting time to visit.

    Floods in outback and inland Australia are rare, occurring decades apart, so you would be unlucky to encounter them. However, if you are planning to visit the inland or the outback and the area is flooded, then you should reconsider. The land is flat, so the water can take weeks to move on, leaving the land boggy. Insects and mosquitoes go crazy with all the fresh water pooling around, and these things eat insect repellent for breakfast and are still hungry. Roads close, often adding many hours to driving times. Many attractions often lie on a short stretch of dirt road off the main highways, and these sections become impassable, even if the main road remains open. Plan to return in a few weeks, and the land will still be green, the lakes and rivers will still be flowing, and the bird life will still be around.

    The wettest period for the south of the country is usually around the winter months of June, July, and August. There is rarely enough rain at one time to cause flooding. The capital cities are rarely, if ever, significantly affected by floods.

    Flash floods

    Flash flooding occurs in many eastern cities at least once a year, generally in summer, and is a nuisance. However, stay inside and follow the advice of SES and ABC local radio. Never attempt to drive in flood waters, dozens of cars are destroyed every year by the thought "it's not that deep". You don't want to be the person floating under that bridge waiting for the police to rescue you.

    Flash flooding often brings large hail, which can damage cars. Seek undercover (not underground) car parking.

    It is usually predictable. You'll generally hear grumblings about a storm coming from locals, and bom.gov.au will list a severe weather warning.

    Water supply

    Australia is a very dry country with large areas of desert, and can also get very hot.

    When travelling in remote areas, away from paved roads, where the potential to become stranded for up to a week without seeing another vehicle is very real, it is vital that you carry your own water supply (4 gal or 7 L per person per day). Do not be misled by entries on maps such as 'well' or 'spring' or 'tank' (or any entry suggesting that there is a body of water). Nearly all are dry, and most inland lakes are dry salt pans.

    Many cities and towns have water restrictions, limiting use of water in activities like washing cars, watering gardens, or public showers. It is common to see signs in accommodation asking visitors to limit the length of their showers.

    It is common for many regional towns public bathrooms water supply to be non-potable. Do not drink from a tap labeled "Do not drink" or "Non-potable", as this is generally just untreated groundwater.

    Earthquakes

    Although Australia is not located on any plate boundaries, earthquakes occur from time to time. These are usually minor and very rarely cause major damage or fatalities.

    Bushfires

    Bushfires are a seasonal danger in many parts of Australia - and if you're venturing out into the bushland or rural areas it pays to check the fire danger and the status of any bushfire activity first. Although most fires are quickly controlled, on very hazardous fire days, bushfires can be life-threatening - especially if on foot, or not having the protection of a substantial building.

    If you are caught in a bushfire, most fires will pass over quickly. You need to find shelter that will protect you from the smoke and radiant heat. A house is best, then a car, then a clearing, a cave, or on the beach is the best location. Wet everything that you can. Stay low and cover your mouth. Cover yourself with non-flammable (woollen) clothing or blankets, and reduce the skin directly exposed to the heat. If you have access to a tap gather water early; don't rely on water pressure as the fire front approaches.

    The Fire Danger Rating (pictured to the right) tells you how dangerous a fire would be if one started. It is not a predictor of how likely a bushfire is to occur.

     
    Fire danger signs are located across Australia
    Severe: Hot, dry and windy conditions. A fire that starts in these conditions may be uncontrollable. Only well prepared buildings that are actively defended can provide safety. Leave at the first sign of fire. Extreme: Hot dry and windy conditions. Any fires that start and take hold will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. Only homes & buildings built to withstand bushfires that are well prepared and actively defended may provide safety. Avoid forested areas, thick bush or long, dry grass, It is recommended to leave such areas to ensure you are not caught up in a bushfire. Catastrophic/code red: These are the worst conditions possible for a bush or grass fire. Avoid forested areas, thick bush or long, dry grass. It is highly advisable to leave forested and bushy areas.

    It is worth noting that many locals will leave their outback homes to seek refuge in large towns for the entire day, on the few days per year designated as "Catastrophic".

    National parks and state forests

    If the fire risk is extreme or higher, national parks may be closed, especially the backcountry areas, so you will need to have an alternative plan if you intend to camp or hike in parks during summer. If there is a fire in a park, it will usually be closed entirely.

    If you are staying in a park or forest during an extreme fire danger period the safest option is to leave the night before or early in the day. If you learn of a fire, or see smoke, take action quickly.

    Travelling during active fires or during the fire season

    If you are driving outside of cities during bushfire season, tune in to local ABC radio. During a bushfire or any other ongoing emergency, every thirty minutes a warning siren will sound, followed by an update on the current bushfire situation in that area. You may receive evacuation warnings on your phone.

    Emergency and bushfire management is a state responsibility in Australia - so find the website or app appropriate for the state you are in. Websites such as Emergency WA and VicEmergency list all current emergencies in their respective states and are often the most up-to-date method of getting information about a current emergency.

    It is possible that you will get yourself into a situation where it becomes too late to leave.

    During the bushfire season, have a plan consisting of two escape routes, and the ability to pack what you need quickly.

    Shopping Centres or Main streets of built up towns are safe locations to be in during Extreme or Code Red days, unless you hear otherwise via radio.

    Entire country towns can sometimes be evacuated when there is a bushfire threatening them. Often there can be no signs of the fire at evacuation time, but you should leave early, as evacuating through a fire front is dangerous. The best advice is just to move on, and not stay around to watch.

    Lighting fires

    Make sure any fires you light are legal and kept under control. The fire service operates a total fire ban system during periods of extreme fire danger. When a total fire ban is in place all outdoor fires are forbidden. Most parks will advertise a ban, and it is your responsibility to check the local fire danger levels. Fines or even jail terms apply for lighting fires that get out of control, not to mention the feeling you may get at being responsible for the property, wildlife, and person damage that you may cause.

    Venomous and dangerous creatures See also: Pests

    Although Australia is home to many of the deadliest species of insects, reptiles and marine life on the planet, the traveller is unlikely to encounter any of these in an urban environment, and even in the bush these creatures try to avoid humans for the most part. The vast majority of deaths from bites and stings in Australia are due to allergic reactions to bees and wasps.

    Some of the information spread about Australia's dangerous wildlife is blown out of proportion, often jokingly by Australians themselves. However, you should take warnings about jellyfish and crocodiles seriously in the tropics, and keep your distance from snakes in the national parks and bushland.

    If travelling in rural areas it would be a good idea to carry basic first aid equipment including compression bandages and to learn what to do after a snake or spider bite.

    Snakes

    It's not common to encounter snakes in urbanised areas in Australia, but they are common in grassland, national parks and other bushland. Snakes will generally try to put as much distance between themselves and you as possible, so if you see a snake while out walking, simply go around it or walk the other way. Walking blindly into dense bush and grassy areas is not advisable, as snakes may be hiding there. For the most part, snakes fear humans and will be long gone before you ever get the chance to see them.

    Never try to pick up any snake, even if you believe it to be a non-venomous species. Most people bitten by snakes were trying to pick up the snake or kill the creature, or inadvertently step on one while out walking.

    Australia has some snakes that are deadly. So treat all snakes with respect, and seek medical treatment urgently for any snake bite. Take a first-aid kit suitable for snake-bites if you are going off the beaten track. If bitten you should immobilise the wound by wrapping the affected area tightly with strips of clothing or bandages and seek immediate medical help. Do not clean the wound as venom residues can be tested to determine the anti-venom to use. If you are in an isolated area send someone else for help. The venom of some snakes (the taipan in particular) can take effect within fifteen minutes, but if the wound is immediately immobilised and you rest it is possible to delay the onset of the venom spreading by one to a few hours. Polyvalent anti-venoms are available in most hospitals that contain anti-venom for all dangerous Australian snakes.

    Spiders
     
    Sydney funnel-web spider in a warning posture

    Although famous for its arachnids, fatalities from spiders in Australia are extremely rare. It is common to see spiders in Australia, and most will do you no harm. Wear gloves while gardening or handling leaf litter. Check or shake out clothing, shoes, etc. that have been left outside before putting them on. Don't put your fingers under rocks or into tree holes, where spiders might be. Some spiders are commonly found inside buildings and homes, including the large and hairy Huntsman spiders, that are generally harmless, and reduce insect pests like cockroaches. The large spider webs strung between trees occupied by garden or orb weaving spiders are more an annoyance than a danger.

    However, some spiders are also very dangerous. The world's most venomous spider is the Sydney Funnel-Web spider, found in and around Sydney and eastern New South Wales - usually under rocks and leaf litter. The spider is anywhere up to 5 cm large, and is usually black. If you are in an area that is known for having Funnel-Web spiders and you are bitten by a spider that you believe could be a Funnel-Web it is important you get to hospital as quickly as possible. The Funnel-Web spends most of its time underground (it can typically live for only 30 minutes outside a humid hole) and therefore you are very unlikely to encounter one walking around. The last confirmed fatality was in 1979.

    The Red Back spider (usually easily identified by a red mark on its abdomen) is common and after a bite it is important to seek medical attention, although it is not as urgent as with a Funnel-Web. Red Backs typically hide in dark places and corners. It is highly unusual to see them indoors; however, they can hide in sheds, around outdoor tables and chairs and under rocks or other objects sitting on the ground.

    First aid treatment for spider bites may vary in Australia compared to other areas of the world. Always seek medical advice after a bite has occurred. If possible, you should attempt to identify the creature that bit you. Take a photo or trap it so that the appropriate anti-venom can be administered swiftly. But don't risk getting bitten again.

    Jellyfish

    Travellers in northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, or northern Western Australia should be aware of the risk of fatal stings from the Box Jellyfish if swimming in the ocean between October and May. They are very hard to detect and can be found in very shallow water. Stings from these jellyfish are 'excruciating' and often fatal. Vinegar applied immediately to adhering tentacles will lessen the amount of venom injected, but immediate medical assistance will be required. The danger season varies by location. In general the jellyfish are found close to shore, as they reproduce in the estuaries. They are not generally found out on the Great Barrier Reef, and many people swim on the reef without taking any precautions. Seek out reliable local information. Some locals at the beach can be cavalier to the risks.

    Irukandji are another species of tiny (fingernail sized) jellyfish that inhabit the waters off Northern Australia and the surrounding Indo-Pacific islands. They are also very hard to see, and can be dangerous, although stings are rare. Unlike the box jellyfish they are found out on the reef. The initial sting can go unnoticed. There is debate as to whether they can be fatal, but they certainly can place a victim in hospital, and cause extreme pain lasting days. If you have nausea or shooting pains shortly after emerging from the water seek medical treatment.

    A "stinger-suit" that is resistant to jellyfish stings costs around $100 or can be hired for around $20 a week.

    Blue ring octopus

    Found in rock pools around the coasts of Australia is the tiny Blue Ring Octopus. Usually a dull sandy-beige colour, the creature has bright blue circles on its skin if threatened. The Blue Ring Octopus is rare and shy. Avoid placing your hand under rocks or in crevaces in rock pools or near the shore as this is where they tend to hide. Most locals do the same. It has a powerful paralysing toxin which can cause death unless artificial respiration is provided. In the history of Australia there are only two confirmed deaths by Blue Ring Octopus.

    Crocodiles
     
    Saltwater crocodile

    Travellers in northern Queensland, the Northern Territory or north Western Australia should be aware of the risk of fatal attacks by saltwater crocodiles in and adjacent to northern waters (ocean, estuarine and fresh water locations) between King Sound, Western Australia, and Rockhampton, Queensland. Saltwater crocodiles in these areas can reach 25 feet in length and can attack in water without warning. Despite what their name implies, they can be found in both salt and fresh water. On land, crocodiles usually lie motionless, but they have the ability to move with extraordinary speed in short bursts. There are relatively few attacks causing injury – most attacks are fatal. Dangerous swimming areas will usually have prominent warning signs. In these regions only swim in inland waters if you are specifically advised that they are safe. Since 1970 there has been about one crocodile attack on a human each year.

    The smaller freshwater crocodile is, unlike the saltwater, timid and will avoid humans if possible. The freshwater may attack to defend itself or its eggs or if startled. They can inflict a nasty bite but due to their small jaws and teeth this will rarely cause death in humans.

    Dangerous flora

    The Gympie bush (Dendrocnide moroides), also known as the stinging tree, is a stinging plant, whose microscopic stinging hairs on leaves and branches can cause severe pain for up to several weeks. They are mostly found in northeast Queensland, especially in rain forest clearings. However, the Gympie bush and other closely related species (there are about five) of stinging tree can be found in southeast Queensland, and further south in eastern Australia. People bushwalking in such areas are advised not to touch the plant for any reason.

    Crime

    Crime rates in Australia are roughly comparable with other developed countries: few travellers will be victims of crime. You should take normal precautions against bag snatching, pick pocketing and the like. Some cities and towns have areas that can be dangerous at night, but these are generally off the tourist trail and highly unlikely for you to wander into by accident.

    Australian police are approachable and trustworthy, and you should report assaults, theft or other crime to the police as soon as possible.

    There are two types of police in Australia; the state/territorial police and the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Typically you will only interact with the state police, with the AFP being largely dedicated to very specific government-related roles, the exception being the Australian Capital Territory where the AFP is the main police force, operating under the name of ACT Policing.

    Under no circumstances should you offer an Australian police officer (or for that matter, any other government official such as a customs officer) a bribe or gratuity, as this is a crime and they will enforce the laws against it.

    When leaving your car alone, make sure it is locked, that the windows are rolled up, and that there are no obvious targets for theft in the vehicle, as thieves will often smash windows to get at a phone, GPS or bag that is visible in the car.

    Racism

    Australia is outwardly a multicultural and racially tolerant society and there are strong laws that prohibit hate speech and other forms of discrimination on grounds of race. Nevertheless, racism is still a sensitive subject for a nation still not fully reconciled to its history of colonial occupation. Forced appropriation of Aboriginal lands along with formal discrimination, state-sanctioned racism and even forced separation of Aboriginal children (known as the Stolen Generations) from their families extended well into the 20th century. Gradual change throughout the last century saw the abandonment of the white-only immigration policy, citizenship for the Aboriginal people, and the establishment of large communities of Asian, Middle Eastern and African origin. However, to this day, Aboriginal people are still discriminated against, and while on paper, they have equal rights, they are often charged for things that a white person would usually not.

    Visitors to Australia are fortunately unlikely to encounter random incidents of racial abuse. If it does happen then you can report it to the police and expect action to be taken. Violent incidents are even rarer.

    Words referring to racial background can be used between friends of different ethnic groups, but it is strongly advised not to try them out yourself. You may well hear Pom (British), Yank (American), Paki (Indian sub-continent), Wog (of southern European or middle-eastern) and Curry Muncher (South Indian) being used. In particular British people would regard some of these terms as particularly racist, but they are used far more casually in Australia. Never refer to Aboriginal people as "Abo's", "native tribes" or "Noogas" - as it is regarded as a highly racist term.

    There are anti-immigration and anti-multicultural groups that operate in Australian society, for the most part agitating against the immigration of people from Muslim and African countries. As a visitor you would be unlikely to come into contact with them, although if it's late at night in a pub, and you start prodding people for their racial views, then all bets are off - be prepared for anything. The western suburbs of Melbourne has experienced some violent crime involving youths of African descent, which in turn has been greatly exaggerated by much of the local media and many politicians, fuelling racist sentiments.

    It is not offensive to use Aussie (Ozzie) to describe Australian people, but it isn't a term Australians generally use to self-identify. They are more likely to apply it to things (Aussie Rules, etc.) than to themselves. When the chant of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie - Oi Oi Oi goes up at an international sporting event, some Australians will cringe, and others will join in. Often this depends on their own perceived social standing, or their state of inebriation, or both.

    And while Australia may seem multicultural in major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Hobart or Canberra; rural areas are usually less so and stick to their Anglo-Celtic roots. People who do not look Aussie on the outside are often subject to racism, though this is usually targeted at immigrants (often those of Vietnamese, Middle Eastern or Somali descent) rather than tourists.

    Scams

    Attempts to scam tourists are not prevalent in Australia; take normal precautions such as finding out a little bit about your destination. There have been rare instances of criminals tampering with ATMs so that cash is trapped inside them, or so that they record card details for thieves. You should check your transaction records for odd transactions after using an ATMs and immediately contact the bank controlling the ATM if a transaction seems to be successful but the machine doesn't give you any cash. Always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN to prevent any skimming devices which have cameras recording your PIN.

    ATM Skimming is rare and easily avoided by using ATMs from trusted banks (ANZ, Commonwealth, Westpac, Nab), or ATMs located inside a bank "gallery" which are generally open 24/7 but are more secure than an outdoor ATM.

    Additionally, the ATO will never try and ask you to pay off your debts with Spotify or iTunes gift cards, and this ongoing scams have been targeting especially the elderly and those who are unaware of it. If you go to a Coles, Woolies, Myer, Target, Big W, Kmart etc. there will be warning notices at all checkouts, and it can never hurt to read it.

    Illegal drugs

    Opium, heroin, amphetamines (speed), cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, marijuana and hashish among other drugs are all illegal to possess and to sell in all jurisdictions of Australia. Trafficking offences carry a long jail term, and in serious cases can even lead to life imprisonment. Australia shares information on drug trafficking with other countries, even those with the death penalty.

    Penalties for possession or sale of small amounts of marijuana are typically lower than for other drugs, and vary between states. In South Australia, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory jail terms do not apply to first time marijuana offences. Some states can issue on-the-spot fines for small amounts of marijuana whereas others always require a court appearance. Foreigners should not expect more lenient treatment than locals from Australian police for drug offences. Driving while under the influence of drugs is a serious offence, and doing so will invariably lead to arrest and prosecution, and in serious cases even a jail sentence.

    Do not under any circumstances attempt to bring illicit drugs into Australia, including marijuana; this is strictly illegal and punishable with long jail terms of up to life in prison, and customs officers often employ dogs to sniff drugs out of arriving passengers' luggage. Dogs can even tell that you smoked marijuana from the day before you flew to Australia, so you may be held back for some long questioning.

    Australia's proximity to Asia means that heroin is a far more commonly used illicit drug than cocaine or crack cocaine. In some areas of large cities you will need to be careful of discarded needles: however these will generally be found in back streets rather than in popular tourist spots.

    Firearms

    Firearm ownership is rare in Australia, with strict licensing requirements resulting in gun ownership being typically limited to hunters and farmers in rural areas, as well as sport shooters. Criminal gangs sometimes carry illegal firearms in urban areas, although it is unlikely that travellers will run into them.

    It is very difficult to bring firearms into Australia, with a police permit required for each federal state to be visited before arrival.

    Gay and lesbian travellers See also: LGBT travel

    Australia has an equal age of consent set at 16 for all states except Tasmania and South Australia where the age is 17. Same sex marriage is legal in Australia, having been passed into law in December 2017 after the nation strongly voted for it (with 61% choosing change) in a national postal survey.

    Attitudes to homosexuality are similar to those found in most Western countries. Although inner Sydney is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, caution is still advisable in conservative rural areas, including rural parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory. Australia has outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and legal recourse may be available should you experience discrimination. Police assistance may be difficult to obtain in remote and rural areas for discrimination.

    Sydney is Australia's gay capital, and hosts one of the world's most famous gay pride festivals - the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras - annually during February and March. The festival culminates in a huge parade through central Sydney which attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators. Alice Springs celebrates the "Alice Is Wonderland Festival", a gay and lesbian pride festival in late April/early May. Melbourne has a "Pride March" every year on the first Sunday of February.

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