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 language spoken in Australia is English.
Like any tropical region, Mission Beach has a wet season and a dry season. The former lasts from October to March when temperatures range from 20 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius while the latter lasts from April to September with temperatures reaching between 18 degrees Celsius and 26 degrees Celsius.
Mission Beach is ten 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 26 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. Those aged between 26 and 30 can also apply for a working visa, but the conditions are much stricter. You have to prove that you working there will be ‘mutually beneficial’ to Australia and your own country.
There is a tourist information centre located on Porters Promenade. It opens between 9.00am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday and between 10.00am and 2.00pm at the weekend.
The post office is also located on Porters Promenade and doubles as a pick up point for all the hostel buses in the area so you can’t miss it. It opens between 9.00am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday. You can also purchase stamps in most newsagents.
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.
You will find branches of all the major Australian banks in most centres throughout the Great Barrier Reef region so exchanging currency or traveller’s cheques shouldn’t pose any problems. Opening hours and between 9.30am and 4.00pm from Monday to Thursday and until 5.00am on Friday.
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 Mission Beach 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.
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.