The currency used is the Australian dollar (AUD) which is made up of 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and the coins in use are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2.
The climate in Alice Springs is excellent all year round. Winter takes place between June and August with temperatures ranging from about 5 degrees at night to 25 degrees Celsius during the day. Summer which takes place from December to February sees temperatures reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius and both autumn and spring enjoy mild, warm weather with average daily temperatures staying in the mid twenties.
Alice Springs in nine and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Electricity in Australia is 220-240V.
Last year a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced in Australia and this applies to most products and services. Under the Tourist Refund Scheme, however, visitors can claim a tax refund on any purchases which cost over AU$300, were bought in the same shop and which were purchased within the last month of your stay in the country. To avail of this service you need to hand in your receipt at customs and your refund will be paid there and then.
All visitors to Australia need a passport and a visa. Those from New Zealand are issued a visa on arrival; all other visitors must obtain one in advance. There are several different types of visa depending on the reason for visiting, but most holiday visitors will need a standard tourist visa. To apply for a visa you’ll need an application form, available from Australian diplomatic missions overseas and many travel agents. There’s a US$33 fee for a three-month stay and you’ll have to provide your passport and a passport photo with your application. Visitors between the ages of 18 and 30 from Britain, Ireland, Canada, Holland, Malta, South Korea and Japan may be eligible for a working holiday visa. You can work either full-time or part-time for as much of the year that you want, but you can’t work for the same employer for more than 3 months.
The Central Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA) is located on Gregory Terrace in the town centre. It’s open between 8.30am and 5.30pm from Monday to Friday and from 9.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The town’s post office is located on Hartley Street and can be contacted on 8952 1020.
In general, shops open between 9.00am and 5.30pm from Monday to Friday, from 8.30am until 5.30pm on Saturday and 10.30am and 4.00pm on Sunday but most shops directly aimed at tourist have even more extensive opening hours. Office hours are generally between 8.30am or 9.00am until 5.00pm.
Changing both foreign currency or traveller’s cheques is not problem in Alice Springs and can be carried out in any branch of any bank or in the Bureau de Change at the airport or on Gregory Terrace near Todd Mall. Normal opening hours for banks are between 9.30am and 4.00pm from Monday to Thursday and they open until 5.00pm on Fridays. You will also find currency exchange centres in some of the major hotels. These usually have more extensive opening hours but their commission is higher and the rates they offer are usually not as impressive.
All major credit cards are also widely accepted and if you have the PIN you can also use these to receive cash in compatible bank machines. The same applies to bankcards which are members of any of the international banking networks including Cirrus and Plus.
The country code for Australia is 61 and the area code for Alice Springs is 08. Dial this number first if calling from outside the Northern Territory and omit the 0 if calling from overseas. Local calls from public phones cost 40c for an unlimited amount of time. You can make local calls from Telstra payphone booths and also from the gold and blue phones found in many shops and hotels. Long-distance calls can be made from almost any public phone. Many public phones accept Telstra Phonecards which come in $5, $10, $20 and $50 denominations and are available from retail outlets which display the Phonecard logo. Otherwise you can use coins of 10 cents and upwards. Long-distance calls are charged according to distance and rates vary depending on what time you call. The lowest rates are currently at weekends and after 8pm during the week.
In Australia tipping is not compulsory as it is in America and some parts of Europe. It is considered as a ‘thank you’ for good service rather than an obligation. If you decide to tip the amount should be in accordance with how good you felt the service was. Ten percent of the bill is considered reasonable.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Australia they occur on January 1st, January 26th,Good Friday, Easter Monday, April 25th, June 12th, December 25th and December 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.