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General Info about Brisbane, Australia

Currency
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.

Language
The language spoken in Brisbane is English.

Climate
Brisbane has a hot, humid climate making it the country’s sunniest capital. With 300 days of sunshine every year and with average temperatures in winter reaching around 15oC and 30oC in summer, it is an extremely popular destination among visitors to Australia.

Time Zone
Brisbane is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Electricity
Electricity in Australia is 220-240V.

Tax
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.

Visa Requirements
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.

Tourist Office
Brisbane’s main tourist office is the Visitors and Convention Bureau located on Elizabeth Street and it’s open from 9.00am until 5.00pm from Monday to Thursday, until 7.00pm on Friday and 4.00pm on Saturday and it’s open between 10.00am and 4.00pm on Sundays. There is also another branch in the Queen Street Mall near Albert Street which opens at the same times.

Opening Hours
Shops in Brisbane are generally open from 8.30am until 5.00pm from Monday to Friday and from 9.00am until 4.00pm or 5.00pm on Saturdays. Now most major department stores and those aimed directly at tourists also open on Sundays. Office hours are normally from 8.30am until 5.00pm from Monday to Friday.

Currency Exchange
Changing both foreign currency or traveller’s cheques is not problem in the city and can be carried out in any one of Brisbane’s number of banks. Normal opening hours are between 9.30am and 4.00pm from Monday to Thursday and they open until 5.00pm on Fridays. You will also find foreign exchange bureaus at the airport and scattered throughout the city centre. 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.

Telephones
The country code for Australia is 61 and the area code for Brisbane is 07. Dial this number first if calling from outside Queensland 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.

Post Office
The main post office in Brisbane is situated at 261 Queen Street and this is open between 7.00am and 6.00pm from Monday to Friday. There is also another branch in the Myer Centre which is open between 9.00am and 4.00pm on Saturdays, 10.30am and 4.00pm on Sundays and it opens until 9.00pm on Fridays. You can also purchase stamps in most newsagents. All post offices will hold mail, keeping it for one month before returning it to the sender, although for a small fee you can arrange to have mail forwarded to you.

Tipping
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.

Public Holidays
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.

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