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General Info about Darwin, 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 Darwin is English.

Climate
The ideal time to visit Darwin is between May and September when days are mild and nights are balmy and cool. The coolest months of the year are June and July but the daily temperature still reaches between 19 and 30 degrees. The hottest are October and November when temperatures can reach up to 35 degrees. The wet season takes place between December and March compliments of the area’s monsoon climate and the cyclone season is from October to April.

Time Zone
Darwin is 9.5 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
The main tourist information office for the city which is the Darwin Region Tourism Association (DRTA) and it is located on the corner of Knuckey and Mitchell Streets. Its opening hours are between 8.30am and 5.45pm from Monday to Friday, 9.00am and 2.45pm on Saturday and 10.00am and 2.45pm on Sunday. There is also a branch of the DRTA at the airport.

Opening Hours
Shops in Darwin 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 Darwin’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 Darwin 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.

Post Office
The main post office in Darwin is situated on the corner of Cavenagh and Edmunds Streets. The postal service in the city is relatively efficient. Generally, post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. If you wish to purchase stamps you can buy them from most newsagents as well as the post office. 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 would be 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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