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About Australia

Climate / Weather

roos on beach
As you drive northwards from Brisbane the climate changes from subtropical to tropical and the summer is hot, humid and wet with the winters being much drier. South of Brisbane the climate is more temperate with wetter winters and drier summers. The centre of the continent is dry with occasional heavy rain, usually associated with the passage of cyclones along the north and west coasts. It is worth remembering that the winters can be quite cold with temperatures falling well below zero, even in Alice Springs. The southern cities, such as Melbourne and Adelaide, can often be the hottest places in Australia with wild swings in temperature in the summer. There are some superb ski resorts which operate from June to September.

Health

The Australian version of the British NHS is called Medicare and the Belgians, British, Dutch, Finns, Norwegians and Swedes on short term visitor visas (includes the Working Holiday Visas) are entitled to treatment under the same terms as Australians for any health problems which might arise whilst they are here. You cannot expect to receive treatment for pre-existing health problems and for that reason you need medical insurance. Maltese and Italians are entitled to Medicare facilities for the first six months of their visit. The Irish and New Zealanders are entitled to emergency Raftingmedical treatment. The Australian Medicare system offers health cover to the same standards as the NHS but you may have to travel some distance to reach a doctor or hospital. The remote areas are covered by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and helicopter evacuation is widely available in the less remote areas for acute cases.

The ambulance service is not part of the Medicare system and if you need to be transported by ambulance you will be expected to pay. That is something, along with repatriation, which must be covered by your insurance. Dentists and Opticians are not covered by Medicare and can be very expensive.

When you arrive at Springbrook we will help you fill out the Medicare registration form and submit it on your behalf. The Medicare card will arrive at Springbrook after you have left and we will forward it to you. If you need medical care before the card arrives you can use your passport as a means of identification and tell the doctor that you have applied for registration; you need to pay and then reclaim when your card arrives.

Pro Dive CairnsHeatstroke and sunburn are two hazards which you do not face in the northern hemisphere to the same extent as you will whilst in Australia. To avoid heat exhaustion you must be aware of the need to drink what may seem to be excessive quantities of water. Remember that beer, tea and coffee do not replace the lost fluids as well as plain water. By the time you feel thirsty, you are probably dehydrated. When out in the sun you will need to wear long sleeved shirts, a broad brimmed hat and long trousers, at least until you are acclimatised, and use liberal quantities of a high rating sun protection cream. The sun cream will need to be replaced every couple of hours and don‟t forget the backs of the neck and hands. The advise, “slip, slop, slap” is well worth heeding. Slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen and slap on a hat.

We recommend that you have an up to date tetanus injection before coming to Australia as you will be working outdoors with animals and machinery. No other injections are necessary for entry into Australia; however, if you plan stopovers then you are advised to consult your doctor as to what injections may be necessary.

Tax

When you arrive in Australia we will complete a Tax File Number (TFN) application form on your behalf. The allocation of a TFN allows your employer to deduct tax at the appropriate rate of 32.5%. Without a TFN an employer is required to deduct tax at 49%! The letter allocating your number will be sent to Visitoz and we will forward it to you. It takes Sydneyabout 10 days to arrive. When you have received it you must give the number to your employer. Internship holders have a lower tax rate.

When you leave your employment you should ask your employer for a Group Certificate, this records the amount you have earned and the tax deducted. Keep this document in a safe place as you may need it when you leave Australia and keep all your work related receipts such as bus tickets to your job. However, as a backpacker you are not entitled to a tax refund unless you spend longer than 6 months at the same address, please see the ATO website, www.ato.gov.au

You may be able to reclaim any Goods and Service Tax you have paid on departure and it will be worth retaining any bills you have for larger purchases, over $300. (Only “Goods” not services.)

Quarantine

Australia, being an island, has been isolated from many of the agricultural diseases which affect other countries in the world and is justifiably intent on maintaining that disease free status. When you arrive in Australia you will face an immigration officer who will question you in a manner which may, at first sight, appear to be excessive, please bear with him or her.

Lone Pine Koala SanctuaryOn the aircraft you will be required to fill in a statement to the effect that you are not carrying any prohibited items. Be prepared for the immigration officer to ask you to verify your statement. On the way from the Arrival Lounge to Immigration you will see bins into which you can dump suspect items such as the piece of fruit you bought at the last stop or the biscuits you kept from your meal on the plane. Plants, wooden articles such as curios and straw hats are all likely to give you problems. It goes without saying that the maximum penalties for quarantine infringements are huge!

There are drug sniffing dogs at all airports and also food sniffing ones, the beagles at Brisbane are even quiet friendly! Sealed tins and jars (such as Marmite) are allowed. If you are a Marmite lover bring some with you, there is something called Marmite here but it does not taste the same.

If you want to bring your own riding boots and other riding gear from home please make sure they are spotlessly clean – no mud! – otherwise you may have trouble at Customs and Immigration.

It is necessary to have Ambulance cover in Australia, Ambulance cover is available as part of the Nomads Insurance package.

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