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Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, and is the home to of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, "The Great Barrier Reef." The Great Barrier Reef, which is located off of the Northeastern (Queensland) coast of Australia is home to thousands of species of beautiful fish, amazing coral, and clear blue waters. The reef, consisting of 1000+ islands is vast in size, and extends over 1,242 miles. The diving here is incredible! Queensland, Australia is in the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone. The local language of Australia is English.

Click here for a map of Australia

Click here to see descriptions of available accommodations/liveaboards in Australia


Seasons/ Weather/Climate/Water Conditions The best time to dive in the Great Barrier Reef is between the months of August (late) and December (early).

Throughout the year, Australia has a variety of climates that span across its states. In fact, in the winter months (June-Aug), you can actually ski in the southern states one day, and be diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland the next.

Australia's seasons are the opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere:
Spring: Sep-Nov (warmer water/clear visibility/light winds/coral breeding)
Summer: Dec-Feb
Fall: March-May
Winter: May-Aug (colder water/great visibility/clear days/stronger winds)

Rainy Season (Tropical Monsoon/Cyclones): January-March
Windy Season: May - August

The climate is generally pleasant without extremes in temperatures. Since Queensland is above the Tropic of Capricorn, it is considered to be in the tropics. In the tropics lightweight clothing is suitable all year round. You may want to pack water socks for foot protection in the coral pools of the Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland, Australia has a tropical climate with average air temperatures around 82 F. Average water temperatures range from 76F to 84F, and water visibility varies around 100 ft +.

When traveling to Queensland, Australia, you will fly into the Cairns International Airport (CNS). Air New Zealand/United Airlines, Continental Micronesia, and Quantas airlines fly to Cairns from major airports across America and Europe.

Taxis are available at the airport, as well as rental cars. When traveling by car in Australia, you will drive on the left hand side of the road. To rent a car, a valid national or international (English Language) driver's license is needed. If the driver's license is not in the English language, the visitor must carry a translation with the license. Some rental companies also have a minimum driver age of 21.

Entry and Exit Requirements
When entering/exiting Australia, proof of citizenship is required (i.e. valid Passport) along with a return ticket.

Beginning December 31, 2005, the United States will require a valid passport or other secure/accepted documents (Border Crossing Card, SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST cards) for re-entry of either U.S. Citizens, or legitimate foreign visitors/nationals. For more information and any updates on these new regulations visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html.

Australia's local currency consists of 5c 10c 20c 50c $1 $2 as coins. Notes are $5 $10 $20 $50 and $100.

The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates. You should cash travelers checks at banks or larger hotels as it may be difficult elsewhere. Some banks may charge a small fee for cashing travelers checks. Banks will cash most travelers checks in every currency.

If your bank account is linked to the CIRRUS MAESTRO worldwide ATM network, you can use your Debit Card to get cash in Australia. Check with your bank for details. Banks in Australia are open Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Fridays 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Telephone/Cell Phone
Australia has a modern telephone system which enables you to make local calls, long distance call within Australia (STD) and International Direct Dialing (IDD).

The minimum cost of a local phone call is $.40, and they are not timed. Long distance and international calls can be made on the public payphones that operate on a variety of Australian coin denominations, Telstra Smart Phonecards, and credit cards.

Mobile phones are available for rent, or with prior set-up you could bring your own mobile phone with you. Australia's mobile network operates on the 900 & 1800 band for GSM and 800 for CDMA. Please contact your telecommunications carrier for activating international roaming while you're visiting Australia.

The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts. You will need an adapter when traveling to Australia, as the Australian three-pin power outlet is different from that in North America. If your appliances to be used are not 240/250 volts, you will need a voltage converter. Universal outlets for 240V appliances are usually found in leading hotels.

Medical Information Visitors can bring reasonable quantities of prescribed medications into Australia. All should be clearly labeled and identifiable. For large quantities, bring a doctor's certificate to produce to Customs if necessary. US and Canadian visitors are not covered by Australia's national health insurance scheme. It is recommended that you travel with adequate travel insurance.

There are no required or suggested inoculations needed to enter Australia, as they have a very high standard of hygiene, and very safe food and drinking water. For more information on traveling abroad, contact the Center for Disease Control in the US.

There is no hyperbaric facility in Cairns; the nearest chamber is in Townsville. Cairns has one public hospital, Cairns Base Hospital. For the assessment of possible decompression illness, contact the Cairns Base Hospital. In Townsville, contact the Townsville General Hospital at (07) 4781 9211.

Shopping in Australia
Most shops in Australia's larger cities are open:
* Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
* Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.