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Travel Guide > Australia & Oceania > Australia

Australia Good to Know

  
 
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Internet

Australia offers many Internet access options for travellers. Be aware that many internet companies cap usage, finding an unlocked Wi-Fi connection is uncommon.

Terminals

Internet cafés abound in most centres of population that normally cost $4-$5 per hour. Many internet cafés have 12-20 computers sharing a single broadband connection, sometimes making the internet painfully slow. If possible ask if you can check the speed of a café's connection before forking out $4-$5 for an hour.

Public libraries usually offer some for of Internet access to travellers, either free or for a small fee. Some restrict access to email, promoting research use of their facilities. Others offer Wi-Fi as well as terminals, with Wi-Fi usually being free of restrictions.

Major hotels offer Internet access, usually for a fee. It is still unusual to find in-room Internet access in smaller hotels and in motels. Most youth hostels and backpacker accommodation have at least an Internet terminal at reception.

Wi-Fi

  • Many coffee shops offer Wi-Fi free to their customers.
  • McDonalds has free Wi-Fi in just about all their stores.
  • Internode has free Wi-Fi hotspots, including much of Adelaide city centre.
  • Unwired has a similar service.

Some accommodation providers offer Wi-Fi to their guests, almost always with a charge.

3G Wireless

GPRS and 3G wireless Internet connections are available through all cellular phone networks. EDGE is offered by Telstra only. Australia has cellular networks operated by Telstra Optus Vodafone and Three

If you have a 3G/UMTS-enabled phone, make sure it supports the appropriate frequencies: 850/2100 MHz for Telstra and Three, and 900/2100 MHz for Optus and Vodafone. Also check your with your home carrier for data roaming fees (likely quite expensive).

Several carriers offer prepaid 3G access with no contract from around $30 per month with various bundles and inclusions. For around $50 you can get a USB modem or WiFi dongle.

There are no restrictions on overseas residents getting a Australian prepaid SIM card. In fact, it is extremely easy to go into Woolworths/Safeway (Australia's largest grocery chain) and buy a $2 SIM card over the counter (though no calls are included). Take your passport for identification in case it is required.

Dialup

There are many small but reliable ISPs offering dialup Internet the $12–$15 per month flat rate range.

There are also several ISPs who have a pre-paid arrangement at about $1 per hour of use. It can be surprisingly difficult to find Australian dialup ISPs with instant online signup, but they do exist (Beagle is one).

You can buy prepaid dialup cards for several ISP's from Dick Smith stores, for around $20 per month unlimited.

If moving around, check that your ISP has an access number that can be reached via a local call from landlines nationwide (the access number starts with 13), rather than just in the ISP home city. All prepaid cards that can be purchased from Dick Smith have access from anywhere in Australia for a local call fee.

Telephone

Dialing Codes

The country code for international calls to Australia is +61. When dialing from overseas, omit any leading '0' in the area code.

For example, the local number for the Broken Hill tourist information is 8080 3300. The area code is 08 as Broken Hill is in the Central & West area code region. To dial the number from Adelaide or anywhere else inside the same area code region you can optionally omit the area code, and just dial 8080 3300. To dial the number from Sydney or anywhere in Australia outside the area code region, you will need to dial 08 8080 3300. If you don't know your area code region, you can still dial the area code, and it will still work. To dial the number from overseas you will need to dial your local international access code (00 for most of Europe or 011 in the USA and Canada) and then dial 61 8 8080 3300, that is drop the leading '0' from the area code.

There can be many ways of writing the same number, as people try to present the number from the caller's perspective.

  • 61 (08) 8080 3300,
  • (61 8) 8080 3300,
  • (08) 8080 3300,
  • 61 8 8080 3300
  • 8080 3300

are all the same number, and the same rules apply. If you are dialing within Australia the area code must begin with a '0'. If you are dialing internationally, there is no leading '0'.

Australian Area Code List:

  • 02 = Central East (New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and north-eastern fringe of Victoria)
  • 03 = South East (Southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania)
  • 04 = Mobile phones Australia-wide (higher call charges apply).
  • 07 = North East (Queensland)
  • 08 = Central & West (Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and far Western New South Wales)

The outgoing international dialing access code (from within Australia) is 0011 (note, "00" and "011", common elsewhere in the world, will not work in Australia).

Local calls are about $0.25 on most fixed lines and $0.50 on all Telstra Pay Phones.

Special Numbers

13

Numbers commencing with 13 are charged at a local call rate, and what they connect you to can vary according to your location. They can be 10 or 6 digit numbers. For example 1300 796 222, will connect you with the Albury tourist information, no matter where you are in Australia. However, 131 008 will connect you with a different local taxi service depending on where you are. 13 22 32 will connect you to New South Wales Railways in Sydney or Victorian Railways in Melbourne. Calling these numbers internationally can be problematic.

18

Numbers commencing with 18 are free when dialed from a payphone or fixed phone, and commonly used for hotel reservation numbers, or tourist information numbers.

19

Numbers commencing with 19 are premium numbers, often with very hefty call charges (make sure you check before dialing).

12

Numbers commencing with 12 are carrier services, and are dependent on what network you are connected to. For example 12 456 is a general information number for Telstra. Vodafone offer a similar services on 123. These numbers can be premium services as well.

Calling special numbers internationally can often work - just try dialing the number prefixed with the 61 country code. Many locations will give an alternative direct number for use in international dialing. You can use the non-geographical number search on e164.org.au to look up a normal number from a 13 or 18 number.

Mobile Cellular Phones

Australia has three nationwide cellular (mobile) phone networks based on the GSM standard (900 and 1800mhz) operated by Telstra Optus and Vodafone There are also four UMTS networks, two of which are nationwide. One is operated by Telstra (UMTS 850mhz, also marketed by Telstra as Next G) and the other by Optus (a combination of UMTS 2100mhz and 900mhz). The other two networks are limited to capital cities, are on the 2100mhz band and are operated by Vodafone and Three Vodafone have announced a nationwide 3G (UMTS) rollout on the 900mhz band.

For those holding foreign SIM cards, international roaming is generally seamless onto Australia's GSM 900/1800 and 3G (UMTS/W-CDMA) networks, subject to agreements between operators. Check with your home operator before you leave to be sure.

All carriers offer service in major cities, large towns, and major highways on the East Coast. No carriers offer service in unpopulated areas away from major roads. Telstra's 850mhz 3G network provides wider coverage in smaller towns and lightly populated areas.

You can buy a cheap prepaid mobile phone in Australia with a SIM for around $40 in most retail outlets, supermarkets, and post offices, or a SIM for your existing phone at around $2-$3. You can then top it up with credit using recharge cards you can purchase at all supermarkets, newsagents, some ATMs, and other outlets.

Prepaid calls cost roughly 60c per minute plus 30c flagfall, again depending on the network. SMS is generally 25c. You can buy a seemly infinite variety or packages, caps and bundles, with combinations of data, sms, call time, and SIM cards. Read the fine print, and as a rule, the more "value" that is included in your "package" or "cap", the more expensive the elements of the package are. For example call charges can rise from 60c to $1.20 per minute on a $29 cap that includes $150 value. All is fine if you stay within the minutes allowed for the cap you choose, but it can cost a fortune very quickly if you exceed what you thought you would use.

There are no restrictions on overseas residents getting a Australian prepaid SIM card. Take your passport for identification in case it is required.

Satellite phones

If you need comprehensive coverage in rural and remote areas, you can use a satellite phone. Iridium, Globalstar and Thuraya satellite services are available in Australia. Expect to pay around $120 per week to hire a satellite phone, plus call costs. Satellite messaging units, which send your location and a help SMS or email, that can be hired for around $80 per week.

These units are only available from specialist dealers, often only in major cities (away from the remote areas you may be visiting). You should be able to acquire or hire these units in your home country before departure if you wish.

SMS

Text messages can be sent from many public phones, using the keypad in much the same way as a mobile phone. Follow the instructions on the phone display.

Post

Australia Post runs Australia's postal service. Letters can be posted in any red Australia Post posting box, which are found at all post offices and many other locations. All stamps can be purchased from post offices, and some stamps can be purchased from newsagents and hotels. Posting a standard letter costs $0.60 within Australia (up to 250g), or $1.40 for the rest of the world (up to 20g only). 'Domestic' and 'international' stamps are different, as international is tax free, therefore, so make sure you use the right stamp. Parcels, express post and other services are also available.

You can receive mail via Poste Restante in any city or town. Mail should be addressed to your full name c/o Post Restante, and you simply call into the post office with ID to receive your mail.

Essential Places in Australia

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