Although the island is located in the tropics, it is fortunate enough to be located in a rain shadow means that it only rains for a few weeks of every year. It also results in slight temperature variations throughout the year, meaning it is warm and sunny practically every single day.
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$33 fee for a three-month stay and you’ll have to provide your passport and a passport photo with your application. Visitors between the ages of 18 and 30 from Britain, Ireland, Canada, Holland, Malta, South Korea and Japan may be eligible for a working holiday visa. You can work either full-time or part-time for as much of the year that you want, but you can’t work for the same employer for more than 3 months.
Australia’s currency is the Australian dollar A$ and it is divided into one hundred cents. Notes come in denominations of five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred dollars and the coins in use are five, ten, twenty and fifty cents and one or two dollars.
Foreign cash can exchanged in the Commonwealth Bank Agency which is located in the post office in Picnic Bay. All major credit cards are accepted and travellers cheques are also accepted in most shops and restaurants. And, if you need even more, there also several ATMs on the island where you can withdraw cash if your card is networked to the machine that you are using. You will be able to tell by looking at the bank of your card to see if there is a symbol matching those pictured on the ATM. You will usually be looking for the Plus or Cirrus logos.
The country code for Australia is 61 and the area code for Magnetic Island 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.
The Island Travel Centre has an information and booking office which is situated between the end of the pier and the shopping centre in Picnic Bay. Telephone 4778 5155. There is also tourist office on the mainland in Townsville on No. 6, The Strand and the phone number for this centre is 617 4771 3061.
Magnetic Island is covered by Eastern Standard Time (EST) which is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
The electricity voltage used in Australia is 220-240 volts and the plugs are three pin. They are not the same as the British three pin, however, so it is worth remembering before travelling that if you are bringing shavers or hairdryers you will need an adaptor. With regard, to items that use two pin plugs, you may as well leave the shaver at home as adaptors for this type of plug are extremely hard to find.
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.