Australia Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Australia
How safe is Australia?
Threat level: Low-Medium
The current travel advice for Australia is to remain vigilant to terrorist threat to the country. Australia has implemented an alert system whereby the current national threat level is ‘probable’ and there is an underlying threat of terrorism from extremists. Tourists are advised to be on high alert.
For specific travel advice for Sydney, see: Sydney Travel Advice.
For specific travel advice for Melbourne, see: Melbourne Travel Advice.
On Friday the 9th of November 2018, Police were called to an incident in Bourke Street, Melbourne, where an individual had carried out a knife attack. One person was killed and three were injured. Police shot the suspect at the scene.
On the 5th of June 2017, there was a shooting and a two-hour siege in Melbourne. This occured in the foyer of an apartment block in the suburb of Brighton. The 29-year-old, Yacqub Khayre from Somalia, was shot dead following a stand off. An escort girl he had taken hostage escaped without injury, but three police officers were injured.
In January 2017, 4 people were killed and many others injured when an individual in a car started deliberately hitting people outside of the Bourke Street mall in Melbourne. This incident is not thought to be terror-related.
As recently as 2016, there have been flash floods in the north of Australia as mini cyclones hit areas such as Queensland, however there were no deaths or serious injuries. Travellers should continue to remain alert to any instructions or advice offered by the local news and authorities.
Since 2015, the country has taken a tough stance on managing asylum seekers and migration flows, which has prevented high levels of immigration to Australia.
Australia is a popular tourist destination, particularly for young travellers, and providing the correct precautions are followed, visitors should not have any major issues during their stay. The general crime rate in Australia is relatively low, allowing tourists to enjoy their time in the country with few hindrances. You should ensure that valuables are well hidden or kept on you at all times to prevent pick pockets or petty theft. It is a country set up for travellers, and as such, accommodation, travel and destinations are all relatively safe and easy to access.
It is strongly recommended that travellers do not try and hitch hike around Australia, as there have been a number of incidents including violence with hitch hikers and drivers. Hitch hiking is not illegal, however most states regard it as a traffic offence and you can be charged accordingly.
Australia's International Relations
Australia’s relations have been influenced by its roles as a leading trade nation. It is also an active member in important organisations such as the United Nations and Commonwealth of Nations. Relations with New Zealand are exceptionally close as it has long-standing ANZAC ties with the country. Further bilateral relations include the United States and more recently with China.
Australia has also placed a focus on relations between developed and developing countries, with particular focus on Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. Relations with the United Kingdom are strong both on a political level and social level too, with the countries enjoying rivalries in sports such as cricket, rugby and hockey. The country has diplomatic representatives in over 90 countries worldwide.
Relations between Australia and Fiji are strained as it condemned Fiji’s military coup, which overthrew the current government in 2006. As such, the High Commissioner for both Australia and New Zealand were banished from Fiji in 2009 by the Fijian military leader, who argued that the countries had tried to undermine their judiciary and weaken the economy. Consequently, the Fijian high commissioner was banished from Australia in response.
Travelling around Australia
Australia is a huge country and as such, you should ensure that you are adequately prepared with enough fuel, water and equipment for the entire journey. Journeys between major cities can take many hours. Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road.
You should be aware that there are speed cameras everywhere in Australia and you can easily receive a driving fine if you are speeding. In rural areas, you should be cautious of animals such as kangaroos roaming the roads.
The laws regarding types of driving licences vary from state to state, however most states, except the Northern Territory, will allow you to drive with an overseas driving licence as long as it is valid. If you are unsure, you can apply for an international driving permit or contact your local embassy for further information.
Many car rental companies require the driver to be at least 21-year-old when renting a vehicle, however a small number of companies cater to younger travellers.
Extreme weather in Australia
The climate in Australia can be severe and extreme. Between the months of November to April, cyclones are common in the north of Australia, particularly Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The severe rainstorms often lead to flooding and landslides, which can have catastrophic effects, such as damage to buildings and infrastructure, severe injury and occasionally death. It is recommended that travellers regularly monitor the local media and updates from weather experts, and follow advice provided by the local authority.
The dry heat of Australian summers (November to February) can lead to severe bushfires breaking out. The fires can often start with no prior warning, and quickly spread and change direction. If you are travelling in an area of high risk, make sure you know what to look out for and ensure that if there is a total fire ban in place, you do not ignore this. If there is a fire in the area you should follow instructions given by the local authorities or radio stations. There is also a useful app called ‘Fires Near Me’, which may help. You should exercise extreme caution in these areas and familiarise yourself with what to do if you find yourself near a bush fire.
Heatwaves in Australia can prove deadly to many in the country at the time. Temperatures can exceed 40C for many consecutive days, leading to power shortages across thousands of houses and heat stroke which can prove fatal. You must ensure you are hydrated at all times and keep out of the sun unless absolutely necessary. Heatwaves are also one of the key reasons that bushfires break out.
Wildlife in Australia
Australia’s diverse and extensive selection of wildlife should be treated with care and respect. If this is done, your interaction with any wildlife should pose no risks. Spiders and snakes are the animals typically associated with the country, yet the majority are mostly harmless. Precautions you can take to avoid bites are things such as avoiding areas that have been undisturbed for a long time, checking shoes/ clothes if left outside and wearing protective footwear. The risk of death or serious injury from snake or spider bites is extremely low.
Whilst shark attacks are uncommon and infrequent, they can be catastrophic or fatal. When swimming in the sea, always swim between the flags as they have been set out for your safety. You should avoid entering the water alone or swimming at dusk or in the evening.
Emergency services in Australia:
Poison information helpline: 13 11 26
St. Johns Ambulance: 13 12 33
Currency: Australia Dollar
Time now in Canberra:
Consular information for Australia
British Embassy Canberra
Canberra ACT 2600,
Telephone: +61 02 6270 6666
Telephone: +61 (0)29247 7521 (Sydney)
Telephone: +61 (0)3 9652 1600 (Melbourne)
Telephone: +61 (0)8 9224 4700 (Perth)
Telephone: +61 (0)7 3223 3200 (Brisbane)
U.S. Embassy Canberra
Telephone: +61 02 6214 5600
Telephone: +61 (2) 9373 9200 (Sydney)
Emergency telephone: +61 (2) 4422 2201 (Sydney)
Telephone: +61 (3) 9526 5900 (Melbourne)
Emergency telephone: +61 (3) 9389 3601 (Melbourne)
Telephone: +61 (8) 6144 5100 (Perth)
Emergency telephone: +61 (8) 9476 0081 (Perth)
Telephone (Out of hours): +61 2 4114 24608
Visa requirements for Australia
Most travellers visiting Australia must obtain an Electronic Travel Authority in order to enter the country and you can apply for it through the ETA website for a small fee (around AUD $20). You may also be able to apply for an eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Border Protection. Both electronic visas allow visitors to stay for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
Only visitors from New Zealand do not require a visa to enter Australia. You should check with your local Australian Embassy for more information on visas.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Australia are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get a Tetanus vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Visitors staying for longer than a month who will be travelling through rural areas with rice fields and marsh land are recommended to get immunised against Japanese encephalitis - a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. Most travellers who are planning on staying mainly in urban areas are at low risk.
This country has some areas with high mountain regions with altitude that go up to 2400m or more. Travellers in Australia ought to watch out for signs of altitude sickness in order to avoid this risk when travelling in the mountain regions.