Top events in Australia


First held in 1982, each year Brisbane's Story Bridge Hotel celebrates Australia Day with the Cockroach Racing World Championship. More about the...


Aussies love their national day and thousands of people flock to the city to celebrate, making Skyworks one of the biggest Australia Day...


Commemorating the arrival of the first British fleet in 1788, Australia Day is the biggest annual civic event in the country. It’s a full public...

Ayres Rock, Australia
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Ayres Rock, Australia

© / Ron Summers

Australia Travel Guide

Key Facts

7,692,024 sq km (2,969,907 sq miles).


23.4 million (2014).

Population density

3 per sq km.




Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1901.

Head of state

HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Tony Abbott since 2013. All individual states and territories have their own autonomous legislative, executive and judicial systems (though certain powers remain under the jurisdiction of the federal government).


220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Three-pin plugs are in use, although these differ from UK three-pin plugs. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances are found in most hotels.

Capable of winning over the most sceptical of travelling hearts, Australia is a land of savage beauty, big adventure and even bigger horizons. There are good reasons why it finds itself held up as one of the ultimate travel getaways, catering as it does for everyone from the most judicious luxury-seeker to the roughest-hewn backpacker. It has personality in spades. It has landscapes to die for. It has far more than its fair share of sunshine. And if beaches, rainforest and outback aren’t your thing, then its major cities are life-packed destinations in their own right.

In many ways the country breeds extremes. The fiery atmosphere of a gill-packed Aussie Rules match in Melbourne and the champagne-fuelled glitz of a Sydney Harbour cruise seem to belong to another planet entirely when compared to the quiet, epic expanses of the Red Centre and the glorious ocean-bashed coastlines of the west. Likewise, 40,000 years of aboriginal culture sometimes seem an unnatural bedfellow for the famed ‘no worries mate’ BBQ lifestyle of modern times. When taken as a whole, however, the sum of Australia’s quirks and contrasts makes it somewhere as fascinating as it is ferociously diverse.

Knowing where to go is arguably the toughest part. There are well-travelled paths, with Sydney and the east coast being a particularly popular choice, but when you’re faced with a country of this magnitude, potential itineraries are numberless. For the gastro-curious there are vineyards, food festivals, produce markets and local delicacies. For adrenaline nuts there are surf beaches, mountain trails, ski slopes and reef dives. Options are similarly plentiful for hedonists, families, wildlife-lovers and culture vultures. So when the tourist board controversially coined the slogan ‘So where the bloody hell are you?’ a few years ago, it raised a fair point.

There are iconic Aussie clichés by the barrel-load (from cork hats, barbecues and koalas to crocodiles, cricketers and bush tucker) but the real beauty of the place lies in the stuff you’re not expecting. The sun-baked open road that suddenly unfurls to reveal a mile-wide panorama of green hills. The cold beer at an outback pub that turns into an evening-long chinwag with the locals. The stroll to the beach that throws up a street market, an open-air concert and an implausibly-hued sunset.

The size of the country (which comprises not only the mainland, of course, but also the not inconsiderable add-on of Tasmania) means that travellers can, and do, make numerous repeat visits. Taking in the whole destination on one trip is nigh impossible (unless you have a couple of years to spare), so it pays to focus on one region at a time. Like its increasingly celebrated food and wine, the country is best sampled unrushed. Set piece sights like the Opera House, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef might draw the majority of the headlines, but they represent the tiniest fraction of the overall appeal. A trip Down Under is now synonymous with escape, exploration and the promise of long-haul adventure – and it’s not easy to see that image changing anytime soon.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 24 January 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit

Over 620,000 British nationals visit Australia every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Australia is a vast country. You should plan journeys carefully, particularly if you’re travelling to remote areas, bushwalking or going swimming.

Australia is prone to seasonal natural disasters including tropical cyclones, flash flooding, dust storms and bushfires (forest fires). Tropical Cyclones occur, mainly in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia between November and April. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms.

You will need to get a visa before you travel. 

Beware of scam adverts claiming to help you extend a working holiday visa. Several British nationals have had their visas cancelled as a result. 

There is a general threat from terrorism. The Australian Government changed its terrorism public alert level to ‘high’ in September 2014. It was last at this level in 2003.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Make sure this covers you for all activities you plan to do while in Australia, including manual labour if you’re backpacking; and adventure sports like bungee jumping, diving and paragliding.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Our Living in Australia guide sets out essential information for British nationals living in Australia.