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Preface Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:40 AM

Canberra: Australia is an island continent about the size of the continental U.S. Geologically, it is one of the oldest continents, but in terms of European settlement is one of the most recent. The country’s 18 million people enjoy a high standard of living in a land still developing its great natural resources.

Melbourne: Australia has considerable interest and appeal to Americans: a development paralleling that of the U.S., its unique geography where there is striking contrast between the highly civilized coastal cities and the untamed Outback of the bush, and breathtaking flora and fauna. U.S.-Australian ties cover the spectrum of international relations, including commercial, cultural, political, and defense cooperation.

Perth: Australia’s increasing economic importance and the firmness of Australian-American relations add to the challenge of an assignment here and provide a chance to make a useful contribution to U.S. interests.

Note to the reader: This outline divides a post report into four distinct parts. Part I describes Australia in general terms as the host country; Part II discusses the U.S. Embassy located in Canberra and the surrounding area of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT); Part III covers the other areas where Consulates General are located and their region (Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney); and Part IV covers topics that address traveling personnel.

In the interest of brevity, some parts of this post report will refer back to others when the information is the same.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:41 AM

Australia is a large, comparatively dry, and sparsely inhabited continent, almost as large as the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Australia, the only continent that consists of a single nation, is also the only inhabited continent which is isolated from all others (total coastline exceeds 22,000 miles). Average elevation is about 985 feet, which makes it the flattest continent on earth. This is among the prime reasons for sparse annual rainfall—16.5 inches, which is less than two-thirds the world average (26 inches). Further, the rain falls mainly on coastal regions: forty percent of the surface gets less than 10 inches per year, and annual evaporation exceeds annual rainfall on about three quarters of the land. Overall runoff is less than half that of the Mississippi basin; Australia has no navigable rivers of any commercial significance.

In general, the country is warmer than the U.S. (the northern one-third is in the Tropics, the rest in the Temperate Zone). Temperature extremes are much less pronounced. Sydney’s average daytime temperature in the coldest month (July) is 59°F; in the warmest month (January), 81°F.

Population Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:41 AM

Most of Australia’s 18.6 million people live in the south and southeast coastal areas (Temperate Zone). The States of New South Wales and Victoria contain 56 percent of the population. The State of Queensland, however, has the fastest growing population. Australians are mainly city dwellers: sixty-four percent reside in the eight capital cities, with about 39% residing in Sydney or Melbourne.

About 80% of Australians are of British or Irish descent. After World War II, Australia began to encourage immigration from other European countries also, and these immigrants and their descendants make up most of the balance. Approximately 23% of Australians were born overseas (8% in the UK, Ireland, or New Zealand), and about 20% to homes where English is not the dominant language. Immigration from Asia has increased in the last 20 years, especially from Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. Thirty-three percent of current immigrants come from Asia, and Asian-Australians are projected to account for 7% of the total population by 2040. New Zealand, however, has provided the largest single group of immigrants annually since 1997 (19%) followed by the UK (12%), China and Hong Kong (10%), South Africa (6%), and India (4%). In 1997, the population’s annual rate of growth was estimated to be 1.1%; less than half of that stemmed from immigration. The government promotes pluralism, ethnic tolerance, and social diversity, describing this policy as multiculturalism.

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders total about 283,500 (approximately 1.6% of the population). Most of them live in northern coastal regions and the interior, but there are also significant Aboriginal communities in metropolitan Brisbane, Sydney, and other Australian cities.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:44 AM

Australia is divided into six States and two Territories: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra). All eight regional jurisdictions are represented in both houses of Parliament. Australia also governs external territories such as Norfolk Island in the Pacific (about 1,000 miles northeast of Sydney), as well as the Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands in the Indian Ocean (about 1,600 miles northwest of Perth).

Without the power to tax personal incomes or corporate profits, Australian State and Territorial governments mainly depend on grants from the Federal Government. Nevertheless, the States and Territories have broader administrative authority than States of the U.S., for they manage various functions that Americans usually associate with local government (e.g., police, schools, and hospitals). In Australia, local governments provide relatively minor services (e.g., water supply, recreation facilities).

Canberra, the capital, is about 180 miles southwest of Sydney. During the nation-building ferment of the 1890s, it became clear that partisans of Sydney and Melbourne could not reach agreement on either city as the permanent capital. The site of Canberra, the compromise, was selected after the six States federated in 1901. Chicago architect Walter Burley Griffin designed the basic plans, and construction started in 1913.

The Commonwealth (Federal) government and the six State governments operate under written constitutions which mainly draw on the British (Westminster) tradition of a Cabinet government that is responsible to a majority in Parliament’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives. The Federal constitution, however, also contains some elements that resemble American practice (e.g., a Senate in which each state has equal representation).

The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British monarch, but she exercises her functions through personal representatives who live in Australia (i.e., the Governor-General of Australia and the Governors of the six States). All seven are Australian citizens and are appointed at the recommendation of the corresponding head of government (the Prime Minister or the Premier of one of the States). Most of their duties are ceremonial, and they mainly act on the advice of Cabinet ministers. Democratically elected representatives thus exercise effective rule, and in recent years there has been considerable debate about proposals to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic. A referendum to establish a republic was defeated in November 1999.

Voting is compulsory, and seats in the 148-member Federal House of Representatives allotted to the states and territories according to population. Members of the House are elected to three-year terms from specific “divisions” (districts) by means of a preferential voting system, but the Prime Minister may recommend new national elections before the three years have elapsed. (The Governor-General traditionally follows such advice.)

The Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers are all serving members of Parliament. By tradition, most are members of the House of Representatives, which is the focus of intense debates and a highly structured competition that pits the government against the opposition. Party discipline is strict; almost all controversial proposals are debated and enacted along party lines. It is rare for a member to cross the floor (i.e., vote against party views), and anyone who does so risks expulsion from the party or rejection for “pre-selection” in the next electoral cycle. Australia does not have primary elections. A candidate for the House of Representatives is nominated during a meeting of the party’s local members.

Each of the six States elects 12 Federal Senators who serve for six years, but their terms overlap—so that half these seats are contested every three years. In addition, each of the two territories elects two Senators who serve three-year terms. The Upper House thus has 76 members in all.

Drafters of the constitution intended that the Senate mainly represent the States and protect their rights. However, because of strict party discipline and complex electoral methods—at-large voting involving proportional “quotas” and sequential tallies that take account of second and subsequent preferences marked on the ballot—Senators mainly represent the interests and policies of political parties, with relatively minor variations that attest to regional concerns. Senators may serve as ministers, and in recent years about one-third of the overall number have come from the Upper House.

The Senate cannot originate or amend tax or expenditure bills, but has the constitutional authority to reject them or propose changes. In all other respects, the two Houses have equal standing. Under complex conditions specified in the Federal constitution—in essence, extended deadlock between the House and Senate—both Houses may be dissolved simultaneously, so that ensuing national elections would involve all seats in Parliament. This is unusual and has occurred only six times.

All major parties support the U.S.-Australia alliance and stress the importance of close relations between Australia and the United States. This long-standing and stable pattern is essentially unaffected by the outcome of national elections.

In March 1996, the governing Liberal-National Coalition unseated the Australian Labor Party (ALP) after 13 years in office. The Coalition under the leadership of Prime Minister John Howard won reelection in October 1998. Both the Coalition and the ALP agree on the need to liberalize trade and enhance global economic ties, and both favor in differing degrees a free-market, entrepreneurial approach to economic growth. The Coalition, however, stresses individual rights, personal autonomy, and managerial initiative, and has sought a more rapid shift toward enterprise contracts to replace detailed Federal and State regulations on pay levels and fringe benefits. During its first term in government the Coalition made work place and budget reform its key priorities. The Liberal Party holds about three-quarters of the Coalition’s seats in Parliament. Its junior partner, the National Party (formerly called the Country Party), is closely associated with conservative social values and the interests of farmers.

During its period in government (1983–1996), the ALP, which maintains close ties to the trade union movement, carried out major restructuring of the economy (e.g., floating the Australian dollar, cutting tariffs by substantial amounts, reducing and simplifying regulations that affect business). Liberalizing trade and enhancing economic integration with Asia-Pacific countries are major tenets of the ALP.

Three minor parties—the Australian Democrats, the Australian “Greens”, and the One Nation Party—are represented only in the Senate but have political and media influence which is disproportionate to their numbers. The Democrats, who present themselves to voters as a balancing force between the liberal ALP and the conservative Coalition, stress good government, public-sector services, and social equality. The Australian “Greens” take a special interest in environmental matters and often express concern about the effect of large social institutions (e.g., government bodies, corporations, and trade unions) on individuals and local communities. The far-right One Nation Party had a significant effect on public debate throughout the first Howard government on issues ranging from immigration to welfare to rural services. The One Nation Party supports restricted immigration favoring English speakers and protectionist trade policies.

The High Court of Australia equates to the U.S. Supreme Court. It has the power of constitutional review, as well as general appellate jurisdiction over other Federal courts and the courts of the various States. The Federal court system is less influential than in the U.S., for Parliament has invested State courts with substantial authority to enforce federal statutes.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:45 AM

Education is compulsory through age 15. Reflecting the Government’s drive to expand educational access, the number of Australians finishing high school has risen from 34% in 1983 to more than 70% today. Approximately 66% of students attend Government schools; the rest attend private schools. The number of students completing the Australian equivalent of a college education (i.e., at a university, teachers’ college, college of advanced education, or technical school) is growing annually. The Australian Government supports two significant organizations that encourage Australian and American scholarship and academic exchanges: the Australian Fulbright Commission and the Australian Centre for American Studies.

In science, Australia holds a significant place in radio astronomy, geology and marine sciences. Its observatories constitute the principal center of optical astronomical research in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also an important base for monitoring U.S. space flights and satellites with two critical NASA Space Tracking Stations. With the Great Barrier Reef on the country’s northeast coast, Kakadu National Park in the far north, and the unusual array of flora and fauna, Australia is considered a giant ecological laboratory. Australia’s proximity to Antarctica has also fostered considerable scientific research in the area of the South Pole.

Private and community events organizers, as well as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), annually bring to Australia internationally acclaimed performing artists who tour Australia’s principal cities. The major cities have symphony orchestras and lively professional theaters with productions ranging from the classics to the avant-garde. National and foreign opera, ballet, and theater companies perform in sites outside their headquarter cities on a regular touring basis. Some Australian companies such as the Australian National Ballet have received international acclaim.

Australia’s art scene is dynamic. Government-supported galleries in Canberra and the State capitals have important collections of Australian and overseas artists. Commercial galleries in the larger cities display top-quality work as well. Traditional and contemporary aboriginal art is popular with local and foreign collectors. Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra host annual or biennial arts festivals. They include all of the arts and attract world famous writers, musicians, singers, actors and dancers. Activities in the arts and politics are well covered by newspapers and magazines. Australia’s publishing scene is lively. Novels, travel books and more “academic” publications by local authors are plentiful. Bookshops are usually well stocked, yet books, even paperbacks, are substantially more expensive than in the U.S. because of Australian arrangements with British publishers.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has a World Wide Web page that covers a great deal of current information about Australian culture. This internet site is regularly updated. The address for the main page is The section “Australia in Brief ” is highly recommended for detailed information concerning life in Australia.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:47 AM

Australia has a highly developed market-based economy dominated by its services sector (65% of GDP), yet dependent on the agricultural and mining sectors (which accounts for 9% of GDP combined) for the bulk of its export income. Hence, Australia’s trade balance tends to fluctuate in response to shifts in global commodities’ prices, while domestic conditions remain relatively stable. Australia’s comparative advantage in primary products is a reflection of the natural wealth of the Australian continent and its small domestic market: 19 million people occupy a continent the size of the contiguous United States.

The manufacturing sector has been in relative decline for several decades, and now accounts for just over 14% of GDP. Within the manufacturing sector, however, there has been a clear shift in recent years away from simple goods (such as textiles) towards more elaborately transformed products (such as transport equipment).

The United States is Australia’s single largest source of imports and foreign investment, so U.S. brands and companies are prevalent. Along with consumer goods, Australia’s imports from the U.S. include aircraft, computers and electronics equipment. However, Australia’s largest trading partner is Japan, which accounts for 20% of Australia’s exports, mostly in the forms of raw materials for industry (such as coal and iron ore). Despite the effects of the Asian financial crisis, the bulk of Australia’s trade remains with the East Asian region.

Australia enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world, and despite reductions in government expenditure in recent years, retains a significant social welfare infrastructure, including large outlays on public health and housing. Government participation in telecommunications and utilities has declined in recent years, a result of an extended program of privatization and deregulation. Wages in Australia are determined by a combination of government direction (mostly for minimum standards), collective, and individual bargaining.


Automobiles Last Updated: 11/19/2003 9:56 AM

Vehicles in Australia are more expensive than American vehicles. Imported vehicles are strictly controlled and must be made for the Australian market. Please contact the Embassy General Services Office before any proposed purchase or importation of vehicles.

Local interest rates on vehicle loans may be higher and a U.S. financial arrangement may be more competitive. Some employees have been able to obtain car loans denominated in U.S. dollars at competitive U.S. interest rates from an Australian bank.

The Community Liaison Office (CLO) packet includes information on car dealers, and consumer publications for new and used cars are readily obtainable from local newsagents.

Canberra is a city in which most people find a car necessary. It would be possible to live in Sydney or Melbourne without a vehicle due to the local rail and tram services, but residents of Perth would also require a vehicle. All cities have local bus services, but they are not always convenient.

People wishing to buy a car from a departing Embassy employee should notify the CLO who can put a note in the Embassy newsletter on their behalf.

The ACT government will issue a local driving license without charge on sighting of a current U.S. driver’s license and DFAT card. Eye tests are compulsory. “DC” plates are issued to persons on the Diplomatic List and “DX” plates to Administrative and Technical staff personnel.

Tax paid on gasoline is refunded to American diplomatic and consular officers. Admin and Technical staff are not entitled to tax-free gasoline on the open market. All grades and types of fuel are sold; unleaded gas is available.

Third-party personal (liability) insurance is mandatory for all vehicles registered in Australia. Minimum third-party insurance is required; comprehensive insurance is recommended. Insurance rates are somewhat higher than in the U.S. A letter from your insurance company stating that you have made no insurance claims during the previous 5 years will enable you to get a “no claim” bonus from the local insurance companies. The bonus will allow for insurance rate reductions of up to 60%.

Duty and Sales Tax on Motor Vehicles. The Government of Australia (GOA) imposes goods and services tax (GST) on all locally manufactured new vehicles and duty plus GST on all imported vehicles. Approval, after arrival at post, must be sought from GOA to purchase a duty/sales tax-exempt vehicle.

Duty on foreign-made vehicles is payable at entry to the Australian market, while GST on foreign and Australian made vehicles is made at point of purchase. Therefore, to obtain exemption on duty it will be necessary to order a specific vehicle from a dealer which may take some time depending on whether they have a bond store or not. Purchase from the showroom floor will not obtain exemption only from duty. Often the hire of a rental vehicle is more than the duty component, but needs to be examined in each case. Individuals may make purchase arrangements with a local dealer before arriving so that the vehicle is at the point of entry when the owner arrives.

Accredited diplomatic and consular officers may purchase one duty-free vehicle every three years, or two vehicles where there is a dependent family member forming part of the household.

Administrative and technical staff may purchase only one duty-free vehicle per family provided this is completed within the first six months of arrival.

GST on vehicles must be paid, but will be refunded by the GOA after necessary documentation has been filed. For other consumer goods, employees may file quarterly submissions for the refund of GST paid on invoices with a minimum value of A$2000. GST paid on services, including hotels, restaurants, and insurance, is not reimbursable. Request for GST refunds on vehicles may be submitted at the time of purchase, without waiting for the next quarterly submission.

Vehicles purchased under privilege may be sold with approval from the GOA. No refund of duty or sales tax is required if the vehicle is held for 3 years after the date of entry to Australia, or from the date of delivery when purchased from the shop floor. Pro rata duty/sales tax will be charged for any shortfall of the withholding period of 3 years.

Importation of Motor Vehicles. Any new or used vehicles imported for use in Australia must meet Australian safety standards (Australian Design Rules or ADRs) and have fitted a compliance plate indicating that the vehicle meets these requirements. ADRs include being right-hand drive and having strict emission controls. Imported vehicles under 15 years old, sold through authorized motor vehicle dealers, will be fitted with a compliance plate.

Compliance plates can only be fitted with the approval of the Federal Office of Road Safety. Vehicles newer than 15 years old cannot be registered and used on public roads in Australia without a proper compliance plate. It is essential that a compliance plate be issued before importation is considered to Australia.

Vehicles more than 15 years old may be imported to Australia, provided that they conform to standards applicable to an Australian car of the same age, including being right-hand drive.

Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Vehicles belonging to SOFA personnel may be imported temporarily for use in Australia without compliance plate requirements, including left-hand drive vehicles.

It is worth noting that there are stringent requirements that must be met in order to take advantage of this SOFA privilege. It is strongly urged that the employee contact the 337th (02–6214–5879) to obtain all of the necessary information before committing one’s car to importation. Also, some members have reported difficulties in obtaining replacement automotive parts for their personally imported vehicles. The CLO has a catalog through which some parts can be ordered to help alleviate this problem.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:48 AM

Bus service in Canberra is available; however, it is sometimes unreliable due to industrial work stoppages. Most people do not live within walking distance of large shopping centers or the Embassy, and many families find it necessary to have a second vehicle. Other major cities have a good system of commuter trains, buses, streetcars, and harbor ferries. Public transportation there is efficient though crowded during rush hours.

Taxi service in all major cities is good. Tipping is not expected unless the driver helps with baggage. Rent-a-car services are available in all cities. Rates are higher than those in the U.S. Railway porters have a set charge for each piece of luggage handled, varying slightly from city to city.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:48 AM

Australia’s size makes air travel the most convenient method of in-country travel. Several international airlines operate regularly in and out of Australia. There is an extensive but expensive domestic air network with an impressive safety record.

Rail service is good between major cities. Bus service is available between most cities and is less expensive than either air or rail.

Road conditions in Australia vary greatly. Few four-lane highways exist, and these are mainly for short stretches on the approaches to the larger cities. Most highways are two-lane asphalt; some have a third lane for passing on hills and other dangerous points.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:49 AM

Telephone service within Australia and worldwide is excellent. An Australia-to-U.S. call is easy to place. Itemized billing is available but must be requested when ordering telephone service as it is not automatically installed. Aside from Telstra direct-dial international call facilities, there are call-back services that offer highly competitive rates. Telegraph facilities are excellent.

It is not advisable to have cordless/cellular phones in personal effects as they may be confiscated by Australian Customs. Phones coming into Australia must be registered with Telecom before entering Australia. Permits are very expensive.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:51 AM

APO service is available in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Mail is sent and received daily on weekdays at the Embassy and all Consulates General.

APO letter mail takes from 6 to 8 days to and from the U.S., and parcels sent SAM (Space Available Mail) and PAL (Parcel Air Lift) take from 2 weeks to 1 month; parcels sent Priority Mail take from 7 to 10 days. Contact APO up to 3 months prior to arrival for a post office box number.

Address letters and packages sent APO as follows:

For Canberra: Name of Employee PSC 277 Box … APO AP 96549

For Sydney: Name of Employee PSC 280 Box… APO AP 96554

For Melbourne: Name of Employee PSC 278 Box… APO AP 96551

For Perth: Name of Employee Unit 11021 APO AP 96530

Mail service within the country and between Australia and the U.S. is good. International airmail to and from the U.S. takes from 4 to 8 days and surface mail from 2 to 3 months. Though more costly, international airmail in most cases is faster than APO mail. Address international mail:

Canberra: American Embassy Moonah Place Yarralumla ACT 2600 AUSTRALIA

Sydney: American Consulate General MLC Centre, Level 59 19–29 Martin Place Sydney NSW 2000 AUSTRALIA

Melbourne: American Consulate General 553 St. Kilda Road 6th Floor Melbourne VIC 3002 AUSTRALIA

Perth: American Consulate General 16 St. George’s Terrace 13th Floor Perth WA 6000 AUSTRALIA


Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:52 AM

AM and FM radio stations reach the entire country. Shortwave broadcasts, including VOA, can be picked up but reception is unreliable. TV programs are similar to those in the U.S. with many American programs and films shown. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation presents an abbreviated version of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” nightly and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) presents an extensive range of foreign television news programs, including PBS’ “The News Hour.” All five TV channels broadcast in color using the PAL system, which means that U.S.-made TVs cannot be used without modification. TV modification from NTSC (U.S.) to PAL is expensive, not always satisfactory, and will render the set unusable in the U.S. until it is converted back to NTSC. Contact the CLO for additional information on TVs.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:54 AM

Australia’s metropolitan press consist of two daily papers in Sydney and two in Melbourne; one each in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, and Perth; and two national daily newspapers. Circulation figures range from 580,000 (Melbourne’s Herald Sun) to 41,000 (the Canberra Times). Each State capital has at least one Sunday paper. Many daily papers are published in provincial areas. Triweeklies, biweeklies, and weeklies are published in other cities and towns throughout the country. Australia has a flourishing periodical press, ranging in circulation from 1,152,000 (the Australian Women’s Weekly) to small, specialized journals published at intervals of up to one year, catering to a great variety of interests. U.S. newspapers are not available locally; however, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune are available at a limited number of news agents. Subscriptions to the Stars and Stripes and other military periodicals (Army Times, Navy Times, etc.) are available.

Newsstands carry Time Australia, the Asia-Pacific edition of Time, as well as Who magazine (People). Newsweek and Fortune have been incorporated as part of the Bulletin magazine. Numerous bookstores in each capital city carry such American magazines as Fortune, Saturday Review, Scientific American, Harper’s Bazaar, the New Yorker, the New Leader, and European magazines such as Paris Match, Realities, Punch, the Observer, the New Statesman, and Encounter. Airmail delivery or locally printed editions of the more popular magazines listed above means that issues are up to date. Subscriptions normally would be necessary for only the specialized publications.

Avid readers may be frustrated by higher priced books and might consider joining a book club or shopping on-line to avoid the extra costs. Devotees of weekly magazines enjoy reading stories of current events and entertainment from an American perspective, even with the built-in delay of delivery, should consider subscribing to their favorite magazines as well.

Because of APO privileges, all shipping of magazine subscriptions and book club materials, etc., will be at the domestic postage rate. Delivery to one’s home address would incur substantially higher costs as well as a longer delivery time frame.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:56 AM

Although no posts in Australia have a health unit, the Embassy and Consulates General are stocked with basic first aid supplies for emergency and work-related problems. Also readily available are well-qualified doctors, surgeons, and specialists as well as good hospitals and laboratory facilities. It is not necessary to go outside Australia for medical care except in rare instances that require a trip to a specialist in the U.S. The regional medical officer in Singapore makes trips periodically to Australia and is available for consultation and medical advice.

Canberra has two public hospitals and three private hospitals, which cater to all sections of the community. They are well equipped and provide the usual pathology and X-ray services and outpatient care. The city has many general practitioners and a variety of specialists. Good dentists, several opticians and ophthalmologists are available. Fees for general practitioners are about A$35 to A$45 per visit. Specialists (need to be referred by G.P.) fees for initial consultation are approximately A$200 and A$75 for successive visits. Dental fees vary with the type of work required. Laboratory fees are expensive.

Each State capital where Consulates are located has several large and well-equipped hospitals. Many excellent doctors, surgeons, and specialists of all kinds practice in these cities. Competent oculists and opticians are readily available although eyeglasses, lenses and contact lenses are more expensive than in the U.S.

All residential areas have a large number of general practitioners competent to handle all general ills not requiring a specialist. Gynecologists and pediatricians are excellent. Hospital accommodations are sometimes limited and, except for emergency care, should be reserved as far in advance as possible. Dentists use modern methods and equipment. Good orthodontic, periodontal and endodontal care are available. Pharmaceutical services are provided by chemist shops (drugstores) in all suburban and city shopping areas. Pharmacies (“chemist shops”) are well stocked with prescription and patent medicines.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:57 AM

No unusual health problems or hazards exist. Sewage and garbage disposal services are similar to those in the U.S. Water supply is ample for household use and for watering lawns. Water is soft and safe (drawn from a mountain reservoir in the mountains near Canberra) and is chlorinated and fluoridated. Safe pasteurized and homogenized milk is available.

Flies are pests throughout Australia in warm weather. In mid-summer, the native bush fly is a constant annoyance outdoors, but it disappears in cold weather. People with gardens find snails and slugs a great nuisance. Zipper-type garment bags are useful to protect fine and seldom-worn clothing from moths and silverfish. A number of spiders and snakes, some of them poisonous, are native to Australia and may be encountered, particularly in rural areas. Antivenom is widely available in affected areas and should be sought at once if bitten.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:58 AM

No serious endemic diseases exist and no special health precautions are necessary for those assigned to Australia. All shots are available here. Sabin polio vaccine is available; take the series either before or after arrival, especially children under 2, as well as a measles, mumps, and rubella shots. The usual children’s diseases (measles, mumps, chicken pox) occasionally reach epidemic proportions, as immunization is not mandatory for children to enter public school. Mild outbreaks of influenza, gastroenteritis, and other seasonal diseases are common, as are sinusitis, colds, other minor respiratory illnesses, asthma, and allergies. Children should be immunized against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and Hemophilus influenza B. Adults should keep tetanus and booster shots current. Yellow fever immunizations are currently required for personnel who have previously resided in tropical Africa or Brazil. No unusual health hazards exist. No known cases of rabies have occurred in Australia in recent years.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/19/2003 10:59 AM

Australian law restricts the issuance of work certificates to other than the country’s own and intended citizens. However, in 1984 Australia and the United States signed a bilateral work agreement permitting spouses and eligible family members to be employed locally. Due to the Rockefeller amendment and changes in the Foreign Service Act, eligible family members may now apply for Foreign National (FSN) vacancies. Also, dependents can apply for temporary positions within the Australian Government.

Job opportunities for dependents within the Embassy exist, and some Embassy spouses work on the local economy. The procedures for seeking employment outside of the Embassy vary, depending on the status of the sponsor’s employment within the Embassy. Family members of employees in Australia on diplomatic status must contact the Embassy personnel officer when a job is secured, as a letter must be then sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to formally notify the Government of Australia of the employment. Dependents of SOFA (Status of Forces) personnel must contact the Staff Judge Advocate’s (SJA) Office prior to actually accepting employment.

Currently, the employment situation for teenage eligible family members is less favorable than for adults as the teen unemployment rate is high.

American Embassy - Canberra

Post City Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:02 AM

The national capital, Canberra (an aboriginal word meaning “meeting place”), is in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in the southern tablelands of New South Wales. It is 1,900 feet above sea level with much of the surrounding mountainous terrain above 3,000 feet. Built to be the seat of the Federal Government, Canberra is one of the most carefully planned and rapidly growing cities in Australia. It is often called the “garden city” because of its millions of trees and shrubs. More and more the city is becoming the nation’s political, administrative, educational, and scientific hub. It is also a growing tourist center. Its lake, national buildings, parks, and wide avenues attract over 500,000 visitors a year. In the heart of the city is man-made Lake Burley Griffin. Always an integral part of the city’s master plan, the lake (11 km long with a 41 km shore line) was completed in 1964. Planned community shopping centers are in each suburb. Modern new buildings attest to the fast growth of the capital.

Wheat and dairy products are produced in the ACT; the surrounding treestudded upland country is used for the most part for sheep grazing. To the south are the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric development and Mount Kosciusko (about 7,316 feet), the highest point in Australia. The highlands are timbered mainly with native eucalyptus and radiata pine planted by the Forestry Commission. The Molonglo River flows through Canberra, but much of the city’s water supply comes from the Cotter River dam about 12 miles away.

Canberra’s climate is sunny year round with only short periods of rain or overcast skies. Summers are warm, with temperatures occasionally above 37°C (98°F); evenings are usually cool. Winters are cold, with early mornings often below freezing but warming up during the day. It almost never snows. January is the hottest month; July, the coldest.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:04 AM

U.S. Government representation in Australia is carried out through the Embassy in Canberra and Consulates General in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. The Embassy consists of Executive, Political, Economic, Administrative, Consular, Security, and Public Affairs Sections, along with associated agencies. The Embassy provides administrative support to all associated agencies. The Embassy is located on a 9.5-acre site just off State Circle, in the residential district of Canberra called Yarralumla. The large grounds include the Ambassador’s residence, the Chancery, the General Services Office (GSO), the receiving building including the APO, and the consular/ finance annex. The buildings are designed in the colonial Williamsburg style. The largest consular offices are located in Sydney and Melbourne. Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) representatives are at all Consulates General. The U.S. is represented by a number of other agencies, which include FCS, Legal Attaché, Defense Attaché/CINCPAC Representative, Office of Defense Cooperation, the Army Standardization Office, and the Defense Personnel Exchange Program. NASA operates a network of tracking stations outside Canberra. The FAA is located within the Sydney Consulate General. The senior commercial officer is resident in Sydney.

Embassy working hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Embassy phone number is 6214–5000 during office hours and 6214–5900 after hours. A Marine Security Guard is always on duty in the Chancery. The cafeteria in the Chancery serves light breakfast and lunches on days when the Chancery is open for business.

Sydney, about 180 road miles away (about 4 hours by car and 45 minutes by air), is the main port of entry and Australia’s largest city. Air travelers arrive at Kingsford-Smith Airport in the suburb of Mascot about 5 miles from the city center. Airlines provide bus service to the city and domestic terminals for a small fee. Taxi service from the airport is good. If possible, arriving travelers should bring some local currency (especially on weekends or late evenings), as airport banking facilities are not always open.

Frequent air service links Sydney and Canberra, and new arrivals usually can fly on to Canberra the same day. Morning flights to and from Canberra during the winter months (June–August) are sometimes cancelled or delayed because of dense fog. You will be met at the airport (about 6 miles from the Chancery). Notify the Embassy Administrative Section of your travel plans so that hotel reservations, arrangements for transportation, and clearance of effects can be made. Include names of accompanying family members showing dates of birth of children, name, and flight number of aircraft.

Employees of State, FSC, and FAS are paid biweekly through the Financial Service Center in Charleston. Employees of other agencies should check pay arrangements with their headquarters.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:04 AM

Normally, newly arrived employees move directly into their permanent quarters. Should they be unavailable, temporary quarters—either vacant residences or serviced apartments—will be reserved for the employee. These are fully equipped including a fully furnished kitchen, washer/dryer and TV. The daily rate for Embassy selected accommodations will be within the current allowance. Any other charges incurred (e.g., telephone calls) are the sole responsibility of the employee.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:05 AM

The Canberra housing program encompasses all U.S. Government employees assigned to the Mission. The Mission utilizes both government-owned (GO) and short-term leased (STL) housing. All assignments are made by the Mission Interagency Housing Board, which is representative of all agencies at post. Government-owned residences vary from small, single-occupancy townhouses to senior representational houses. No residence is designated for a particular officer or agency, the Ambassador and DCM residence excepted. For all other employees, Department of State housing policy and standards as specified in A–171 are enforced. Usually, a property which meets these standards is available prior to the employee’s arrival, and he/she will be assigned to these quarters and moved in upon arrival. On the rare occasions this is not possible, the General Services Office will search for suitable leased housing while the employee resides in temporary quarters.


Furnishings Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:05 AM

Australian post housing is furnished, so bring a limited shipment of household effects (HHE). Furniture normally consists of complete sets (including lamps) for a living room, dining room, and bedrooms, plus outdoor patio furniture. Additional furniture (i.e., family room or study) is allotted as available. Furniture will be replaced if warranted, provided replacements are available. Bookcases will be provided if available. The Embassy does not provide stereo stands, and stocks a limited supply of wall units.

All houses are normally provided with a refrigerator, stove, microwave, washing machine, dryer, and vacuum cleaner, plus heaters, portable air conditioners, fire extinguishers, transformers, and fans as required and available. (Note: some agencies have regulatory limitations.) Freezers and dehumidifiers are not provided. Residences with gardens are provided with a lawn mower and small garden implements. Employees are responsible for maintenance and care of gardens and lawns.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:06 AM

The Government pays all utility charges and the housing office arranges for all connections and disconnections. Electricity is 240v, 50 hertz.

Electrical outlets take a three pronged plug with two angled prongs. The third prong is for grounding, a sensible safety precaution with 240v current. Adapters to convert U.S. and some European-type plugs are available at local hardware stores. Single phase appliances are recommended.

Air conditioning is uncommon in Canberra but common in the coastal cities. Houses that are not centrally heated are provided with built-in electric or gas heaters, although not in every room.

Local electricity is 50 cycles and any appliance with a synchronous motor made for 60-cycle current will run at five-sixths the intended speed. This makes little difference with most items; but timing devices or appliances where speed of rotation is important will be affected. Conversion of some items, such as phonograph turntables, can be done locally (direct drive turntables do not require cycle conversion). Most timing devices, particularly electric clocks, are harder to convert. Make such adjustments in the U.S., if possible, since getting proper conversion parts may be a problem in Australia.

Television. Television in Australia is the PAL System and conversion of a U.S. set is not recommended due to the unavailability of conversion kits and high cost. Color television sets can be purchased locally at a cost slightly higher than U.S. prices or multisystem sets can be purchased by mail from the Army-Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). In addition, TV sets can be rented for approximately US$30 per month with an option to purchase after the first year by applying the rental price to the purchase price.

Telephones. Telephone bills are the responsibility of the occupant. They are sent monthly, and are payable by check, phone, or in person.

Gardens. The occupant of any house, whether government owned or leased, is required to maintain garden and lawn areas. Occupants of leased properties must be aware that Canberra tenancy laws and customs impose garden maintenance requirements which are stricter than those found in the United States.

Food Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:07 AM

There is an excellent range of food products at local markets and stores. Beef, lamb, pork, veal, chicken, fish, and shellfish are of good quality and available year round, as are a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products. All types of baby formulas and most canned goods, including baby foods, are available. Some Stateside favorites are unavailable.

There are American-style supermarkets in major shopping areas for one-stop shopping, but in addition smaller grocery/ convenience stores are found in each suburb.

There are also butcher shops, news agents, and markets for fresh fruit and vegetables in many suburbs. No post exchanges, commissaries, or group-purchasing arrangements exist in Australia.

Clothing Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:07 AM

Most clothing needs can be met in Australia, but the range of sizes and choice is not as great as in the U.S. Good quality clothing is available although more expensive than in the United States, but department and discount stores stock reasonably priced clothing. Availability of sizes and reduced selection are more a consideration than price. It is difficult to find shoes in narrow widths, or in extra wide or large sizes. Those needing fittings other than medium should either bring a supply to last their tour or plan to order from U. S. catalogs.


Men Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:08 AM

Men’s dress in Australia is similar to that in Washington, D.C. Many American men wear medium-weight suits of wool or woolen-synthetic mixtures year round. Heavier suits are worn in winter with comfort, particularly in Canberra. Sport coats are also worn. Lighter weight suits are comfortable in summer. Bring a light-to medium-weight topcoat and/or raincoat.

Casual attire is very much the same as in the United States. Track suits are popular. A warm jacket is needed for winter, but there is little need for a heavy parka except for skiing. Hats are needed for sun protection.

The Marine Ball is the most formal event of the year for most staff. Senior officers need black tie for occasional formal functions. All types of styles and materials are worn in dinner jackets and tuxedos. Morning dress and white tie are not required. Formal wear rental is available.


Women Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:09 AM

Women’s clothing styles are current, and influenced by U.S. and European designs, as well as some excellent Australian designers. Good quality women’s clothing is available but more expensive than in the U.S., and the selection and size range are more limited. Petite and tall sizes in women’s clothes are not widely available. Clothing needs are very similar to the U.S. — casual for the most part, but more formal for office and official events.

Warm clothing is needed for colder months in Canberra. Clothes that can be layered are very useful. Most houses are chilly in winter so bring warm clothes for indoor wear. Many wear wool sweaters; some, thermal underwear. A light to medium-weight coat is sufficient. Hats and gloves are not required even for formal official functions, but Australians wear hats of all kinds to protect against the sun in all seasons. A wide range of women’s sunhats is available.

Evening wear ranges from casual to dressy. An invitation specifying “formal” or “black tie” requires formal evening wear. The Marine Ball is for many the main “formal” function of the year. As Canberra summer evenings can be cool, sweaters and light-weight jackets are useful.

Dressmakers are difficult to find as well as expensive. Good quality lingerie is available. Hosiery is available but quality and sizes are different. Sewing materials and patterns are also more expensive.


Children Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:10 AM

Bring children’s clothing for all seasons, although heavy winter clothing is not necessary unless skiing trips are planned. Snow is a rarity in Canberra, though winter nights are often below freezing.

Most public schools through grade 10 have a school uniform, which children are required to wear. Therefore, a large wardrobe is often not necessary. Sneakers are popular in Australia and are often worn to school. For attendance at private schools, black or brown oxford-type shoes are required. Almost all private schools require students to wear the school uniform, which for older students often includes blazer (or suit) and tie in winter. After-school clothing is much the same as is worn in the U.S. Jeans are popular but the name brands are expensive so bring a supply.

Clothing for infants and preschool children is available, and at reasonable prices in the larger stores. Some U.S. brands are stocked but are expensive. Arrange to get some U.S. catalogs to order clothing for children and adults. CLO has some mail-order catalogs available as does the APO.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:11 AM

Some American-brand cosmetics, including Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, Clinique, and Estée Lauder, are sold locally but are expensive. Paper products are available, and the range much greater than a few years ago. Table and bed linens are available in a limited range, sizes are slightly different, and high quality items are more expensive. Normally, queen-size and twin beds are provided for government-furnished quarters, so send appropriate linens or order from U.S. catalogs. Personal items for men, such as shaving supplies, etc., are sold locally; this includes several makes of electric razors. (If you bring an electric razor from the U.S., make sure it will run satisfactorily on the local current.)

Bring all needed baby furniture if practicable. Items such as bassinets, playpens, cribs, carriages, and high chairs are available but more expensive than in the U.S., as are large outdoor and indoor toys and play items.

Christmas tree decorations, including lights, are available. U.S. tree lights operate with a transformer, but replacements for U.S. 110v bulbs are not available. Do not bring Christmas items made of straw or pine cones as they may be damaged when subjected to fumigation on arrival.

Bring any special supplies or decorations for celebrating U.S. holidays or special days, such as Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and Halloween. Easter is celebrated much the same as in the U.S.; however, egg dye kits are hard to find. Father’s Day in Australia falls in September rather than in June. Mother’s Day is celebrated in May.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:11 AM

Laundry and drycleaning services are good. Drycleaning services vary from 1 day to 1 week; 60-minute drycleaners are also available. Coin-operated laundromats are available, and a few of these include coin-operated drycleaning equipment.

Hair salon services are good. It is not customary to tip barbers and hair stylists in Australia.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:12 AM

Most Americans in Australia do not have household help. Full-time, qualified domestic help is difficult to find. Part-time help is available for cleaning and ironing, as is trained help for entertaining. Most families use local high school students to babysit, and the CLO maintains a list of Embassy dependents willing to babysit. Babysitters can be obtained from an agency but are expensive and charge for transportation and a light snack. Full-time child-care givers can be found but not easily.

Employers are required by law to carry worker’s compensation insurance; the procedure is simple, and the premium is reasonable.

Parking. The Embassy has adequate parking for employees, both in a small lot and off street. There is no charge.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/19/2003 11:13 AM

Members of all major religious denominations find places of worship easy to locate. It is common for communities to have congregations made up of Australians as well as families from all over the world. Newcomers are always welcome.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:28 PM Education in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) is not comparable to education in the United States and all schools (public and private) have been designated “inadequate” by the State Department Office of Overseas Schools:

An “adequate” school means an elementary grade school (grades K–8 or equivalent) or secondary school (grades 9–12 or equivalent) not requiring mandatory denominational religious instruction and providing an educational curriculum and services comparable to those normally provided without charge in public schools in the United States. The major criteria of “adequacy” is whether a child of normal ability, upon completion of a grade, or its equivalent, can enter the next higher grade in a public school in the United States. (State Department Office of Overseas Schools STR 270 Education Definitions)

Grade placement for children transferring from the Northern Hemisphere can sometimes be a problem due to the differences in the dates of the school year. The school year is divided into four semester blocks. It begins the first of February and ends in mid-December, when the summer vacation occurs. There are short breaks of approximately 2–3 weeks at the end of terms in March/April, June/July, and September/October. High schools, colleges, and some private schools close in early December.

Since the school year cycle differs from that of the U.S. school system, students must be evaluated before entering schools to determine if they will advance or stay back a grade. Therefore it is vital to hand-carry up-to-date school records to post. Upon returning to the U.S. educational system, students will again find themselves at a mid-year point in their academic year.

There is no American or international school in Canberra and no school with an American curriculum. Students sometimes find language classes begun at one school are not offered at a new school. Subjects required for completion of U.S. high school certificates, such as U.S. history, are not offered in Canberra schools. At the request of eight students, one local high school formed a U.S. History course. Others have completed such required subjects by correspondence through the University of Nebraska’s Distance Learning Program. Also, Advanced Placement Courses are not offered in local high schools (such courses being defined as giving “students the opportunity to pursue college-level studies while still in secondary school and to receive advanced placement and credit, or one of these, upon entering college” in the STR–271 Education Allowance Definitions).

Another major factor in determining adequacy of overseas schools for U.S. Government students is guaranteed placement. There is no guaranteed placement for American students within any school, public or private, in Australia.

Parents and students are advised to visit the schools of interest and speak with the administration, as schools do vary in their emphases. Each family and the school must assess each student individually. If a student is within the age range of his/her grade, is a good student, and arrives in Canberra between February and mid-July, he/she usually can go ahead a grade. A student arriving after July would probably continue in the grade that he/she was in upon departing the Northern Hemisphere and then continue into the next grade the following February. However, a supplementary education allowance may be available to help defray tutoring expenses for children who require additional instruction to enter or remain in the grade appropriate for their age and previous education. This is especially useful to help students fit into the mathematics program as it is taught so differently here in Australia. Check with your agency/human resources section to see if this allowance is available for you.

Uniforms are required by private schools and while they are not compulsory in public schools, most primary schools do have a uniform and children are expected to wear it. Public high schools have a dress color code in lieu of a uniform proper. Uniforms can be purchased locally through school clothing shops or retail outlets, and second hand uniforms are available through school clothing pools.

There is an education allowance for Canberra. At present, about two-thirds of the American community children are enrolled in private schools, including Catholic schools. A small number of families have elected to home-school their children. Expenses in excess of the maximum amount granted for education allowance cannot be reimbursed. Present allowances cover reimbursable costs for all schools. They do not cover costs of uniforms or elective classes.

A listing of all schools in Canberra, both public (“Government”) and private (“Non-Government”) can be found on the World Wide Web at Some schools will have links to their own pages giving more detailed information about their facility, while all will have a direct link to e-mail the school.

Public Schools. Schools are located in most suburbs of the city. In Canberra, children attend preschool at age 4, primary school for kindergarten through year 6, and transfer to high school for years 7 through 10. Students may leave school after grade 10, and many, even in the private schools, choose to do so. Students who continue into years 11 and 12 attend secondary college. One secondary college in Canberra offers the international baccalaureate program for those students who are academically talented.

All 5-year olds and children turning five on or before April 30 in any year, enroll in kindergarten at the beginning of that school year in early February. Public schools request a small parent contribution to cover the cost of special resources, sporting equipment, and library books. Many primary schools in the ACT offer before and after school care. All public schools are coeducational and non-selective.

Private Schools. Most private schools are church-sponsored by either the Catholic or the Anglican Church of Australia, although membership in the sponsoring church is not a requirement for admission. It can be difficult to enroll children in private schools, as waiting lists may be long. While you must place your child’s name on a waiting list, or pre-enroll, students are not accepted until after an interview process. Private-school fees are expensive; however the educational allowance is adequate to cover most costs. If you have children, and wish to consider enrolling them in a private school, write to the CLO early to obtain further information. Some of the private schools provide educational facilities from kindergarten through grade 12. Others follow a structure similar to that of the public schools. Most private schools are not co-educational.

A complete listing of Catholic schools in Canberra is contained in the brochure “ACT Catholic Schools Information” available in the CLO or from:

Catholic Education Office P.O. Box 3317 Manuka, ACT 2603 Tel: (02) 6234–5455 Fax: (02) 6239–6567

For information regarding Anglican and other private schools, contact the CLO.

Testing. In some states, teachers rely heavily on examinations to grade students. In the ACT, year 10 and year 12 certificates depend on a system of continuing assessment of student progress, including performance, tests, and written work. In addition, year 12 students who study a certain quota of accredited courses and sit the Australian Scaling Test (AST) receive a Tertiary Entrance Statement that is recognized for entrance to tertiary institutions.

The U.S. College Board achievement tests can be taken in Australia. In Canberra, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Achievement Tests are usually given twice a year. In addition the PSAT/NMSQT and the ACT tests are given at the Embassy in October each year. Information is also available regarding the Secondary Scholastic Achievement Test (SSAT), which measures general school ability and is required for admission for grades 6 through 11 at private schools. For further information on all these exams, contact the CLO.

Preschool. Preschool facilities, both privately run and government-sponsored, are available in most areas for 4-year olds. The public preschools are generally located near the primary schools but operate separately with some parental help. There are Montessori, Steiner, French-Australian, and Chinese-Australian preschools. In some areas there is a waiting list for preschool admission, especially in private schools. Playgroups are plentiful for children under 4 years.


Special Needs Education Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:28 PM

Educational offerings in Canberra are geared toward the mainstream; opportunities for children with learning disabilities or for gifted children are limited. Parents contemplating an assignment in Canberra are advised to check with Post and to discuss their children’s special needs directly with potential schools. The ACT maintains FOCUS programs for students with significant sensory impairment and integration support for students with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities who cannot be supported in mainstream settings. The emphasis here is on students with hearing, vision, and communication disorders. Children with mild learning disabilities, often including ADD/ADHD, may not be considered by Australian education authorities to be eligible for special education support.

Students enrolled in mainstream settings may receive support from a Special Teacher’s Assistant for some part of the day or week. These assistants are not always specially trained special education teachers. Alternatively, mainstreamed students may be enrolled in small units called Learning Support Centers attached to regular schools (ratio: 14–16 students per instructor).

Koomari, Malkara and Cranleigh are special schools for the moderately, severely and profoundly intellectually and physically handicapped children. These schools concentrate on training in self-care, gross and fine motor skills, sensory experiences and language development. Parental involvement is encouraged. The Senior School at Koomari also provides a prevocational program preparing the students for workshop employment.

Placement for children with special needs should be raised with Post early in the assignment process.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:30 PM

There are two universities in Canberra—the Australian National University (ANU), an internationally recognized school with a strong research orientation and large graduate program; and the University of Canberra (UC), with a full range of professional degree programs, including teacher and nursing degrees. Entry to both is competitive, but overseas students are accepted subject to satisfactory academic qualifications and availability of places. At present, both universities require U.S. educated students to have a U.S. high school diploma and a minimum of 1,050 to 1,100 in SAT scores, with much higher scores for entry to some degree courses. No “subsidized” fees exist for overseas students and Australian students. In addition, there are no concessions for diplomats or military personnel assigned to the Embassy. In 1999, the fees for overseas students for undergraduate degree courses range from A$11,550 to A$16,000 per annum. Books, room and board are extra. Books, including school textbooks, are expensive.

Further educational opportunities are available through the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), which is a large multi-campus provider of a wide range of tertiary education and training courses. The CIT is part of the Australian TAFE (Tertiary and Further Education) system that is government-funded and provides vocational education and training programs to persons in the workforce, school leavers, and members of the community. CIT offers more than 300 courses from certificate to diploma, through nine teaching schools. Fees vary by course, but are now about A$7,000 per annum for full-time overseas students. CIT opened a new hotel-management school in 1995, run in conjunction with Cornell University of New York. The Institute is planned to be a world-class provider, so fees are substantially higher than regular CIT course programs.

Non-degree or diploma-level instruction is available in many subjects through the Technical and Further Education Program at CIT, the Centre for Continuing Education at the ANU and many local secondary colleges. Costs are higher for non-Australians. Sports, computer training, arts, crafts, business courses, languages and home-making skills are among the many subjects covered. Both evening and day instruction are available. Contact the CLO for more information.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:30 PM

Although once considered the “bush capital,” Canberra is a thriving, cosmopolitan city without the traffic, pollution, and crime problems of many larger cities. It has been well planned, has excellent recreational amenities, and is becoming a significant stop for international tourists. There are frequent festivals, fairs, and exhibitions, the Royal Canberra show, a thriving symphony orchestra and philharmonic society, and frequent touring companies. The Floriade festival in September/October is recognized internationally.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:34 PM

Canberra is a very sports-minded city. Cricket, football, tennis, golf, swimming, and bowling (lawn and 10-pin) are all popular. Also available are ice and field hockey, basketball, ballooning, rifle shooting, softball, horse riding, volleyball, cycling, fishing, ice skating, skiing, croquet, polo, squash, baseball, bush walking (hiking), rowing, sailing, and soccer. Five versions of football are played—rugby league, Australian rules, rugby union, soccer, and gridiron (American) football. The Canberra Raiders Rugby League team has a place in local culture similar to the Washington Redskins and won the National Competition in 1994.

American personnel may join most clubs or associations for a nominal fee. Dress for the various sports is similar to that in the U.S., and quality sports equipment is available but at higher than U.S. prices. Children’s bicycles and sports items are available.

There are several public golf courses available as well as clubs that offer membership privileges. Some private golf clubs offer concessions to transient, diplomatic, and military personnel.

Tennis, mostly hard court, is popular. Limited numbers of public courts are available but small clubs are inexpensive to join. Squash courts are also available.

The Australian Institute of Sport (A.I.S.) in Bruce is a world-class training facility with residential programs for athletes of many sports. Indoor and outdoor stadiums are located there and their swimming and other facilities are available for some public use.

Lake Burley Griffin in the center of the city is the focus of many water activities. There are several sailing clubs with races held each Saturday and Sunday during summer. The rowing clubs participate in regular rowing regattas, and dragon boat races have become a popular annual event for amateur teams. A tourist boat regularly provides cruises (some with meals), around the lake. Powerboats are not permitted on the lake.

Some streams are stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Lake Burley Griffin is stocked annually with both species, which may be taken only with a line and rod. Good ocean fishing is available on the south coast of New South Wales, about 100 miles from Canberra. A fishing license is not necessary in the Territory although New South Wales has recently instituted a license required for freshwater recreational fishing. Size restrictions and bag limits apply in both areas.

Swimmers have a choice of a number of pools in the city (indoor and outdoor) and several natural pools on rivers outside the city. However, swimming is prohibited in the large lakes, such as Lake Burley Griffin. Most public pool facilities offer swim lessons for children. Canberra is a 2-hour drive from the ocean and has good, if chilly, surf beaches.

Most school children join one or more of the many sports clubs operating for children, which practice once or twice weekly, and compete on weekends. In addition, the YMCA and YWCA cater to children 8 years of age and older. Activities include basketball, volleyball, squash, judo, trampoline, gymnastics, yoga, etc. Also active are various church groups, scouts, girl guides, and the Canberra Police and Citizen’s Youth Clubs.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:35 PM

The Canberra area has a wide range of options for every member of the family. In the city, the major sites include the new and old Parliament Houses, the High Court, Questacon (the Science and Technology Centre), the National Gallery of Australia, the War Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Royal Australian Mint, the Australian National Library, and Regatta Point—a display center to explain Canberra’s planned development. Also close by are a Dinosaur Museum, the National Aquarium and Australian Wildlife Sanctuary, the National Museum, Cockington Green (a miniature English village) and a number of other tourist attractions.

For those who like the outdoors, there is Namadgi National Park plus many nature reserves and recreation areas for bush walking, bird-watching, camping and barbecues. The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, the NASA Tracking Station and a dry alpine slide are each about a 45-minute drive from Canberra. Many picnic spots with facilities at lakeside areas are available, as well as picnic grounds in the city, often equipped with free electric grills or firewood. There are also about 10 wineries to visit near the city. The only real problem with outdoor activities is the large number of flies during summer, which can be bothersome.

There are many seaside resorts on the coast, 100–200 miles from Canberra, which are accessible by paved road. The beaches are beautiful and the drive is scenic. Accommodations are heavily booked in summer holidays.

Good skiing at about five resorts, as well as on cross-country trails, is available about 100–130 miles from Canberra in the Snowy Mountains. The ski season tends to be short. Equipment can be hired in Canberra, Cooma, or at the ski resorts. The Snowy Mountains, location of the large Snowy Mountain hydroelectric development, is also an attractive area for summer recreation with camping, picnic and fishing areas, water sports, a llama farm, riding (both day or longer trail rides), and other activities.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:36 PM

Except for opera, for which it is necessary to go to Sydney or Melbourne, it is possible to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities in Canberra very easily and relatively inexpensively. The Canberra Theatre Center, which has a theater seating 1,200 as well as a smaller playhouse, sponsors a full range of live theater with both local and touring companies and performers. The Canberra Repertory Group is one of several groups producing high-quality plays. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra and Musica Viva arrange a number of subscription concerts annually. Active music clubs and a number of other societies offer a wide variety of cultural and intellectual programs. The Canberra School of Music presents a number of concerts and recitals of near-professional caliber in Llewellyn Hall. Movie theaters show American, British, Australian, and continental films. Movie and theater tickets are more expensive than the U.S.

Canberra has a casino, and a few nightclubs together with several discos and restaurants with live entertainment/ dancing. There are more than 300 restaurants providing a wide range of ethnic cuisine. In addition, most Canberrans belong to social or sporting clubs which provide inexpensive restaurants for members as well as recreational facilities and slot/poker machine gambling.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:36 PM Most social and official occasions enable Americans to mix freely with Australians. Americans residing in Canberra include U.S. Government employees and their families, research fellows at ANU, American spouses of Australian officials, and business representatives. The American Embassy Women’s Association (spouses and employees) meets regularly and the Australian-American Association has a wide range of events. Canberra’s social life varies with the wishes of the individual. Active, outgoing individuals find little effort is required to be accepted by Australians or American coworkers. As Canberra is an open, English-speaking environment, there are fewer Embassy only community activities than in some posts. Living in Canberra is similar to living and working in any modern, Western country. Most employees find that their contacts with Australians are as important an aspect of their social life as relations with coworkers.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:36 PM There are more than 70 Embassies and High Commissions with representatives resident in Canberra. The United States Embassy is the largest. Embassy personnel can develop contact with other diplomats through school, sporting, or other social organizations, such as the Diplomatic Association, Pan-Pacific, or the Women’s International Club.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:37 PM

Cocktail party receptions are held as well as smaller, more casual buffets. Dinner parties are also a popular form of entertaining. All are equally well received by Australians and foreigners. Most diplomatic missions also hold large receptions on their national days. Various black-tie balls are held throughout the year.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:38 PM

On arrival in Canberra, the Chief of Mission and the DCM make courtesy calls on their appropriate diplomatic colleagues. (In some cases Heads of Mission may choose to make “joint” calls, including their wives.) Newly arrived officers call on those of equal or higher rank within the Embassy. Calls upon and introduction to officials and private persons with whom you will have contact in the course of your duties will be arranged by your section chief.

Most diplomatic officers should bring at least 200 calling cards, but check with your predecessor; some positions require a much higher number. Australia is a very open society and professionals exchange business cards frequently. Married couples need a reasonable number of “Mr. & Mrs.” invitation cards. Engraving of a high standard is very expensive, but printed cards of excellent quality are affordable but still more expensive than in the U.S. (Paper products tend to be costly in Australia.)

Social usage is similar to that in the U.S. Invitations should be acknowledged promptly either by phone or in writing. A “thank you” call to the host on the day after an informal function, excluding cocktail parties, is customary. More formal occasions require a “thank you” note.

Special Information Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:38 PM

Post Orientation Program

In addition to normal in-processing briefings, the post has a formal orientation program that is presented to newcomers upon arrival and is held once a year. This program includes a description of the Mission’s functions as well as security and CLO briefings. Newcomers are also provided with welcome materials from Human Resources. The CLO provides new arrivals with an information packet during individual CLO briefings. The Mission Housing Handbook is on the post’s Intranet site and is provided with prearrival information from the CLO upon notification of your assignment to Canberra. A Hail and Farewell is held about three times a year.

Consulate General - Melbourne

Post City Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:40 PM

Melbourne is the capital city of the State of Victoria at the southeastern corner of the Australian continent, and has a population of approximately 3 million. The city sprawls on gently rolling terrain on the shores of Port Phillip Bay about 50 miles from the ocean. It is bisected by the Yarra River.

The Melbourne consular district includes the States of Victoria (capital: Melbourne); South Australia (capital: Adelaide); Tasmania (capital: Hobart); and the Northern Territory (capital: Darwin). Tasmania is an island State about 150 miles to the south of Melbourne across the Bass Strait. The well-known desert town of Alice Springs is located in the southern portion of the Northern Territory. It is about 2,880 miles from Darwin to Hobart. The Consul General represents the U.S. Government in this area.

Melbourne’s latitude of about 38 degrees south corresponds to that of Washington, D.C., and San Francisco; but the climate is more changeable, with warm days and cool nights. Although temperatures rarely drop below freezing, cold evenings and morning frosts do occur in the winter months. The usual summer pattern is a week of gradually rising temperatures culminating in a few hot days suddenly broken by the “cool change,” which drops the temperature sharply and starts the cycle all over again. At any time of year the climate is highly changeable with rain, sunshine, heat, and cold sometimes all occurring in the same day. Because of the mild but variable climate, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania are well-suited for a wide range of flowers and trees that bloom all year round. South Australia and Victoria are noted for their good wines. All three states are rich farming and livestock-producing areas. Victoria, and especially Melbourne and its nearby districts, is a major industrial area. There are several other important industrial areas in South Australia. Tasmania is largely agricultural, although many new industrial and mining plants have been built since the World War II. The area of the Northern Territory around Alice Springs is comparable to southern Utah, Arizona, or New Mexico, varying from sparsely watered grasslands to desert, while the Darwin area is tropical.

Melbourne is a major port city and rail hub, as well as a major center of industry, business, and finance. Its parks are magnificent, its streets are ample, and it is an easy city to get acquainted with and in which to move around. Because of its size and given the high number of cars per capita in Australia, traffic is a growing problem. The center of the city, however, has numerous car parks, and the local transportation system of trains, trams, and buses is extensive. Taxicabs are clean, reliable, and easy to obtain.

The city has an impressive skyline. A recent construction boom resulted in a large increase in modern office and apartment buildings in the 15- to 50-floor category.

Australia’s post-World War II program of immigration has brought to Melbourne many “new Australians” from Western and southern European countries. These have injected a continental influence that is noticeable in many ways in delicatessens, restaurants, shops, sports, music and cultural programs, as well as in the frequency with which foreign languages are heard.

Since the late 1960s there also has been a substantial influx of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Lao, and Indonesians that has broadened the city’s ethnic and cultural base even further. Nearly 75% of the approximately 20,000 Americans in the consular district are located in the Melbourne metropolitan area, with the rest scattered throughout the district.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:41 PM

The Consulate General moved to its current quarters at 533 St. Kilda Road in February 1991. Its location is about 2 miles south of the downtown business area on St. Kilda Road, a broad multi-laned boulevard that permits fast access to the city by car or public transportation. The office of the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) of the Department of Commerce and its library are included in the Consulate General offices and are served by the same switchboard. The leased offices occupy the sixth and seventh floors of the seven-story building.

Mailing addresses: International: American Consulate General P.O. Box 6722 Melbourne, Victoria 3004

A.P.O.: American Consulate General (MELB) Unit 11011 APO AP 96551–0002 Telephone: (03) 9526–5900 (Office listed under American Consulate General)

Fax lines: ADMIN: (03) 9510–4646 FCS: (03) 9510–4660


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:41 PM

The Consulate General attempts to have suitable housing ready for newly arrived personnel, when possible. If housing is not immediately available, the post will make temporary arrangements at one of a number of apartment blocks close to the office. These are self-contained units of one, two, and three bedrooms, completely furnished with linens, bedding, dishes, silverware, and utensils. Washing and drying facilities are available.

Temporary duty personnel are usually housed at the Radisson or the Park Royal hotels. Luxury hotels such as the Regent, the Hyatt, the Melbourne Hilton, the Southern Cross, and the Windsor are located in the city’s center. Newly assigned personnel should plan to be “out of pocket” for approximately 2 to 3 weeks before receiving reimbursement for their Temporary Quarters Subsistence Allowance.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:42 PM

The only U.S. Government-owned housing is the official residence, a 15-minute drive from the office. The residence is a large two-story brick house of classic Georgian architectural style. The ground floor includes a living room and a study, each with a fireplace, a dining room that will seat up to 12, a large family room, and a well-equipped kitchen and adjoining laundry room. There is a powder room and a servant’s washroom downstairs. On the second floor are a large master bedroom suite, one large and one small guest bedroom, a study, and two smaller bedrooms (suitable for children or live-in help). There are also two additional bathrooms. The house is completely furnished and equipped, but occupants will want to bring pictures, lamps, small rugs and other items of personal furniture. It is located on a one-third acre lot at the corner of two tree-shaded residential streets and is surrounded on the street side by a six-foot-high brick wall. The garden is well-planted and there is a swimming pool and pool house.

FCS leases a residence for the Post Commercial Officer. An officer newly assigned to this position should correspond with the incumbent concerning current furnishings, although the residence is basically furnished and equipped.

Although the Consulate General admin staff will make every effort to identify appropriate housing prior to arrival, employees other than the Consul General may be required to locate their own housing after arrival. After appropriate housing has been found, the Administrative Section will prepare a U.S. Government Lease. The difficulty and time required in locating a residence depends on housing requirements and tastes. Most employees have located adequate quarters well within the 3-month period they are authorized temporary quarters allowance. Personnel are required to submit utility bills to the Administrative Section for payment. Routine maintenance and upkeep are the responsibility of the employee, as are phone bills.

Melbourne is a large modern city with extensive suburban districts. Houses tend to become more modern the farther out one goes, although there are modern apartments close to the office. Not all the older houses and modern apartments have central heating; if not, they usually have fireplaces or space heaters. Most houses (and apartments) are carpeted wall-to-wall and some furnish curtains even though the house may be rented unfurnished.

Apartments are sometimes easier to find than houses and are usually more modern. Many apartment buildings in nearby residential South Yarra and Toorak are convenient to the office and the city and make it easy to attend official, social and cultural events. However, they are considerably more expensive than equivalent quarters further out.

The relatively easy access to and from the office and the center of Melbourne by freeway or by local transportation makes it advantageous for families with young children to live further out. There are local shopping areas in appropriate suburban locations as in the U.S. (See Food.)

Real estate agents generally do not take clients around to look at housing. People must arrange their own transportation. It is advisable to check with agencies often as most agencies do not notify clients when a place is available.


Furnishings Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:43 PM

As noted above, Melbourne is now on a government-leased, government-furnished housing program. The furniture supplied is obtained through U.S. government contract. Each household is assigned a two-bedroom set of furniture and appliances. Adjustments are made depending on size of family and living quarters. The standard furniture package includes a master bedroom set, one other bedroom set, living room, dining room and kitchen furniture, an outdoor furniture set, and appliances such as washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave oven and vacuum cleaner.

The description below is of the current furnishings in the principal officer’s residence. Bring pictures, paintings, lamps, and wall hangings to supplement pictures already in the residence. Bring radios, record players (adjusted to 50- cycle current), and books for the library. Color TV (PAL II) and video recorder are provided in the Consulate General’s residence.

The dining room table, with matching chairs, seats 16 when fully extended. When divided into two tables, it is possible to seat 20. The dining room will accommodate a maximum of 12. In the less formal family room, the table can be extended to its full length. A full set of dinnerware for 18 is provided, along with an extensive collection of glassware and a coffee service for 24. The residence is equipped with a mixer, a food processor, a blender, a good quantity of pots and pans, kitchen knives and spoons, three refrigerators, one freezer, dishwasher, washer, dryer, two vacuums, and a polisher for parquet floors. Two large tablecloths with matching napkins are provided, but more cloths and mats would be desirable. The master bedroom has a queen-size bed. The two other main bedrooms have twin beds with matching headboards. The house has two partial air-conditioning/heating systems, supplemented by an adequate supply of electric space heaters.

Automobiles. Cars not meeting Australian design rules will not be registered. This includes left-hand-drive vehicles. Automobiles meeting Australian design rules are available duty-free. In order to obtain reasonably-priced insurance in Australia, insurance records for the previous 5 years should be brought along in one’s luggage.

Licenses. Everyone must take the written test. No registration fee is imposed in the State of Victoria. Consular Status are issued with DC plates and A&T are issued regular plates.

Electrical Appliances. Because of the high voltage (240 volts, 50 cycles), extreme caution must be taken in handling electrical appliances. Australian plugs are of a triangular configuration; adapter plugs are difficult to obtain here and expensive.

Food Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:44 PM

In Melbourne there are many supermarkets comparable to U.S. stores, such as Safeway. Imported items from the U.S. and Europe are available, but at higher prices than in the U.S. In addition, because of the large foreign population in Melbourne, there is an immense variety of delicatessens, butchers, and green grocers specializing in Italian, Greek, Eastern European, and Asian produce. Also some neighborhoods have countrystyle markets which are open several days a week. The largest, the Victoria market, sells everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to live chickens and sides of beef and lamb. Local seafood is excellent and varied, including good fish, oysters and crustaceans. The large saltwater crayfish, known as “rock lobster” in the U.S. is very expensive but worth it. There is a list of markets in the Melway Street Directory Guide under “Shopping Centers.”

Many supermarkets such as Safeway are open until midnight, but there are several Coles supermarkets operating 24 hours daily. Smaller supermarkets may close around 7 p.m. Almost all stores close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. City Center shops are open on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Milkbars” usually exist in the small neighborhood areas. Not only milk, but also other dairy products and “emergency” food items are available at these small stores all weekend. Some grocery stores and butchers will take telephone orders and deliver either free or for a small charge. For large shopping orders, there is a “half case” outlet next to the parking lot at Prahran Market just off Chapel Street and Malvern Road (see Melway). Similar stores exist in various suburbs; these are listed in the Melbourne telephone directory.

If your temporary quarters are in the South Yarra area, you will find on Toorak Road a post office, carry-out food shops, restaurants, reliable hairdresser/barber facilities, flower and book shops, etc. If you take the tram east you will come to the Toorak shopping center just before Grange Road, in which is the closest Safeway, a movie theater and various attractive shops, similar to South Yarra’s. Most shops in the city are open Friday nights until 9 p.m. These hours are not always applicable in the suburbs.

Clothing Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:45 PM

Clothing prices in Australia are high by U.S. standards. Personnel may wish to ship clothing and shoes to cover their requirements for a normal tour of duty.

No matter when one arrives in Melbourne there is always the question of what weight clothes to put on—and by the time a decision is reached, the weather has changed completely! Generally speaking, the sweater, light coat or jacket which can be removed is a successful formula, whether it is winter, spring, or autumn. Even in the summer either a long-sleeved cotton or a sleeveless dress with light sweater or short-sleeved jacket will be useful.

In the winter months (June–August), skiing is possible about 160 miles from Melbourne, so some winter clothing would be appropriate to wear for weekends on the slopes or just looking.

Melbourne has been known to experience all four seasons in one day. There is quite a lot of wind most of the year. In summer, Melbourne has a typical Mediterranean climate, except that the summer is as changeable as the rest of the year, so that hot weather alternates after 4 or 5 days with a cool change, and then back again. Daytime average temperatures range from 57°F in winter to 77°F in summer.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:45 PM

Employees will be surprised at the prevalence of American brands in supermarkets and department stores. However, due to the high import tariffs levied by the Government of Australia, the prices are significantly higher, even when a favorable exchange rate is factored into the equation. Many employees find that using catalogs and online shopping is much more feasible. The opposing seasons make it more difficult to obtain clothing unless shopping is done at end-of-season clearance sales, which limits selection but lowers prices.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:46 PM

Fees charged at dry cleaners, barbers and beauty salons, and other personal needs services are comparable to those found in large U.S. cities. Shopping around reveals that costs can vary greatly in regards to location, although quality usually remains consistent.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:46 PM

“Luxury” services such as maids and housekeepers are charged at slightly higher rates, and one must usually contact a service unless given a recommendation for a specific person. Parents will be happy to see the high quality of care at children’s centers, and in many cases the fees are quite reasonable.

Parking. See Canberra section.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:46 PM

As with all metropolitan areas of Australia, all major faiths are represented in Melbourne.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 11/19/2003 1:59 PM The school year in the state of Victoria runs from late January or early February through early December. The year is divided into four terms with 2–3 week intervals between terms. The first term ends about Easter, and the other breaks are usually in late June and early October.

In Melbourne most American children attend private nondenominational or church-related schools which are generally considered to be academically superior to the public schools (known in Australia as “State schools”). There is a great variety of these schools, but most American students have attended only a few of them. Sometimes pre-admission examinations are required, but most schools reserve a number of places for the children of temporary consular or business residents, who are admitted without any special formalities. Admission, which depends on the child’s scholastic record and existing vacancies in various grades, is most easily obtainable at the beginning of the school year in late January or February.

Students at most private schools wear school uniforms. A substantial initial outlay of approximately US$300 is usually needed to equip a child with the school basics, including regulation shoes, blazers, ties, socks, and gym equipment.

The Consulate General has a directory of private schools in Melbourne and can supply some basic information on selected schools. To obtain this information, write the administrative officer at post. Some information is also available from the Overseas Briefing Center.

Differences between the American and Australian educational systems are most pronounced at the secondary level, particularly in the last 2 years of high school. Subjects are roughly comparable up until year 10, although there is probably a smaller choice of subjects in Australian schools.

At least two high schools and a small number of private schools in Melbourne have introduced the international baccalaureate, an internationally recognized high school diploma equivalent to most European secondary school leaving certificates. The international baccalaureate usually requires students to pursue a rigorous course of study in a number of academic areas. Many American universities grant advanced standing to students who obtain the international baccalaureate.

Recently the state of Victoria introduced a new high school diploma that requires students to follow a special course of study in both years 11 and 12. It is known as the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and is being introduced over a period of years beginning in 1990. A controversial issue with many secondary and university educators in Australia, the VCE was introduced to allow more flexibility in subject matter for students in the last 2 years of high school. In addition to the regular course of study, it requires students to undertake a number of independent study projects, which are graded within the high school; but there are also major external examinations which students take upon completion of year 12 to obtain the VCE.

It should be emphasized that the VCE is intended to comprise a 2-year study unit in years 11 and 12. Therefore, students planning to attend high school in Melbourne in either of these 2 years would be well advised to obtain specific information from the schools of their choice regarding their special circumstances.

A good grade in the VCE and good high school grades would normally enable a student to gain admission to most American universities.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:00 PM

Australians are enthusiastic about the outdoors and Australia is noted for fielding “world class” sports teams. In Melbourne, golf and tennis are the most popular participant sports and are played year round. Sailing, swimming, fishing, surfing, and skin diving are also popular. Good ski slopes abound in the mountains about 160 miles east of Melbourne. Australian-rules football is a spectacle that attracts huge crowds in the winter season, as does cricket in the summer. Soccer is increasing in popularity with the influx of “new Australians” from European countries. There is a growing national professional basketball association (similar to the American NBA) and amateur basketball and baseball are played at schools or various club organizations. Melbourne has both private and public golf courses and the best of these, such as the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, are among the world’s finest.

Sports equipment of all kinds is available locally, including many well known brands from England, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. The broad range of different types of equipment makes it difficult to compare local and U.S. prices, but most sporting goods, including golf carts and tennis gear, are much cheaper in the U.S.

Tennis clubs are numerous and excellent; both grass and composition courts are available. Some tennis clubs admit children. There are several yacht clubs on Port Phillip Bay at which Consulate General personnel are welcomed. Official personnel of the Consulate General are sometimes able to obtain honorary or temporary memberships in private golf, tennis, and yacht clubs either free of charge or at very reasonable rates.

Deep sea, lake, and river fishing are possible in this vast consular district. Small boats may be chartered in Melbourne or the suburbs for any type of fishing. Trout fishing is especially good in Tasmania. Hunting (or “shooting” as it is called in Australia) of ducks, birds, and some animals is possible in many areas. Target shooting can be arranged through one of the various rifle clubs.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:01 PM

There are many 1- or 2- day trips to be made near Melbourne. Plans, maps and general tourist information for short or long tours may be obtained from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), which provides road and other services for its members similar to those provided by the American Automobile Association, and from Victour. Also recommended is Blair’s Guide to Victoria.

Roads outside the major cities are generally two-lane and are well maintained and provided with services such as wayside stops and gas stations.

Among the outstanding attractions in Melbourne are the attractively landscaped Royal Botanical Gardens. Because of the climate here, all tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate zone trees, plants and flowers can be grown. Most are informatively labeled. The National Gallery, part of Melbourne’s new Arts Center, has a choice Far Eastern collection, as well as splendid representation from other parts of the world. There is an excellent group of Australian Impressionist paintings. The several National Trust Houses in and around Melbourne are well worth a visit. The National Museum has an excellent scientific collection.

In addition to a well-stocked zoo in Melbourne where one can find a good section of Australian fauna, as well as new and imaginative areas being built for animals from all over the world, there is an excellent wildlife sanctuary at Healesville about 40 miles northeast of Melbourne in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. There one can see the shy lyrebird, emus, wombats, and possums, walk among tame kangaroos and wallabies, see koalas at close range, and watch the duck-billed platypus in a specially constructed tank.

Taking the back road to Healesville, one can enjoy a splendid overall panorama of Melbourne from Kangaroo Ground War Memorial Tower, just 10 miles north of the City. (For kangaroo viewing go on to Sir Colin Mackenzie Sanctuary at Healesville referred to above.)

Phillip Island, about 85 miles southeast of Melbourne, is a popular summer resort where seals, fairy penguins, koalas, and other wildlife can be seen in their natural habitat. Many people make at least one overnight trip to watch the fairy penguins march in from the sea at dusk.

The Dandenong Mountains, about 20 miles east of Melbourne, are attractive to explore on short day trips. Gippsland, an area of wooded hills and rolling dairy country beginning just southeast of Melbourne, is relatively little-known as a tourist attraction, but drives through this nearby area provide many opportunities to see flora and fauna of Victoria in its natural state.

About 150 miles further to the southeast is Wilson’s Promontory, the southern extremity of the Australian mainland. It comprises 116,000 acres of National Park that makes an ideal spot for walkers and swimmers. Flats and lodges of varying bed capacities are also available for hire at Tidal River within the Promontory. Arrangements for the rental of these accommodations are made through Tourism Victoria. There are also several small towns nearby where one can find adequate motel accommodations.

Facilities for campers with tent or trailer are good in all populated areas of Australia. Most campsites have toilet and shower blocks with hot water and laundry facilities. Trailers can be rented on the spot as well. Skin divers will find ample opportunity to pursue their hobby. To recapture the flavor of the gold rush era, day trips are possible to Ballarat and Bendigo, two old Victorian mining towns an hour’s drive west and northwest of Melbourne, respectively.

The beaches inside Port Phillip Bay run over 50 miles from Melbourne down the Mornington Peninsula; the nearest ocean surf beaches are just outside the Bay about 1½ hours’ drive. The drive along the Peninsula, inside or out, is quite lovely with varied views. Sharks do appear along some of these beaches, but are less of a problem here than elsewhere in Australia. Many of the more popular public beaches have “shark watch” personnel as well as lifeguards on duty.

An interesting day or weekend trip is by car to Lake Eildon, about 90 miles northeast of Melbourne. Victoria’s biggest manmade lake was built to irrigate a vast area of northern Victoria, reaching as far as the Murray River. Set in the Upper Goulburn River Valley, Lake Eildon has an area of 50 square miles and picturesque 320-mile shoreline. It is ideal for water sports. Houseboats can be rented for a weekend or longer for great family vacations. In this area there is also a chance to see native wildlife.

Auto trips to the Australian Alps to see the Snowy Mountain hydroelectric power project take about 6 hours and good overnight accommodations are available.

The Great Ocean Road along the southern coast of Victoria to the west is a delightful way to get to South Australia. Special scenic attractions are the “Twelve Apostles” and Loch Ard Gorge, stark rock formations set in the midst of surging tides. Inland from the cliffs and beaches are the rain forests of the Otway Range with their tall, stringy-bark eucalyptus trees and tree ferns. Over the South Australian state border are volcanic lakes, limestone caves with recent exciting finds of extinct marsupial lions and giant kangaroos. The inland marshes are full of black swans, egrets, and ducks. Further to the north, Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is a beautiful city set in an amphitheater of wooded hills. The new music and art center is the focus for the Adelaide Festival which attracts talents from all over the world.

Whether returning from Adelaide, or a special trip on its own, a stop in the Grampians (low ranges of rocky mountains in Western Victoria) is especially worthwhile during springtime when there is a vast array of wildflowers carpeting the area. A number of vineyards have also been established in this area.

Trips to Tasmania by air take about an hour. This historic island is a combination of Scotland, England, and the coast of Maine; it is a fisherman’s paradise, a bushwalker’s dream, and a tourist’s ideal with its many mountains, rivers, and lakes and never-too-distant coastline. Tasmania is also accessible by overnight car ferry.

Trips to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory are made judiciously in the winter months as the dry center of Australia can be very hot. Here are the famous Ayers Rock, a 2-mile red monolith, and the nearby Olgas, a huge group of domes of lavender conglomerate rock. Overnight or weekly dude ranch trips out of Alice Springs are similar to those in the Western U.S. Camels are widely available for excursions.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:02 PM

Melbourne has many theaters whose productions include many musicals and plays from Broadway and London, sometimes with imported casts or stars, but more often with excellent local talent. There are also several repertory companies which present regular seasons with runs up to 5 or 6 weeks for each play. The Victorian Arts Centre has lavish facilities for concerts, theater, opera, and dance on a par with the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers.

Melbourne has an excellent symphony orchestra with a regular season. There are also several music societies which regularly present good opera, ballet, and symphony concerts. The Melbourne Arts Festival, modeled after Italy’s Spoleto Festival, takes place in September. In addition, many times during the year there are visiting orchestras, chamber music groups, and soloists. A series of outdoor “Music for the People” concerts is given by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in the summer months at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Top jazz, rock, and country and western bands from the U.S. and Europe perform regularly.

Several film societies present old and new films on a monthly basis. Some have special film festivals for a week or so. Also, special programs featuring returns of old favorites are very popular. This is, of course, in addition to the usual run of contemporary films presented on a public basis throughout all of Greater Melbourne. There is a Melbourne Film Festival in May with films from all over the world.

In Melbourne there are five TV stations; many AM and several FM radio stations. Classical music and news programs are available throughout the day and evening as well as the usual “top ten” tunes.

The Melbourne Cup horse race in November is considered to be Australia’s outstanding race meeting of the year and is a major holiday and social event. The Davis Cup playoffs or finals often are held in Melbourne in December. The Australian Tennis Open is held in January. The Royal Agricultural Show is held in September. The Australian Grand Prix motorcycle races are held in October at the famous Phillip Island course. The annual Moomba carnival celebrated each year in March is sponsored by the City of Melbourne, with many varied exhibitions during a week-long program. Memorial events include observance of the battle of the Coral Sea in May and ANZAC Day in April.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:02 PM Social activities vary according to responsibilities, desires, and opportunities within a personal or family pattern. Listed below are some associations many of the Americans at post join and to which newcomers are most cordially invited.

The Australian-American Association (AAA). Its aim is to promote close ties between Australians and Americans. Coral Sea Week (now known as Australia-America Week) has been celebrated together for many years, either at balls, dinners, luncheons, or all-day picnics. Other occasions follow a similar pattern.

The American Club of Victoria. Its principal purpose is to mark the main American holidays. It organizes for its members a Memorial Day Service at a church followed by a reception at the Consul General’s residence. For Americans and their Australian guests the Club arranges a Thanksgiving Dinner at a local hotel.

The American Women’s Auxiliary to the Royal Children’s Hospital. Its main objective is the raising of funds to support a ward, and to help pay for materials and equipment in the Hospital. Members may also do volunteer work in the hospital canteen or with the children themselves. The Club also serves as a welcoming group for Americans coming into the community, particularly American businessmen’s wives. The Auxiliary is open to women of the Consulate General.

The main social activities of this group are monthly luncheons with speakers, a rummage sale once a year, and a Fourth of July Ball (usually held on the 5th).

There are both men’s and women’s clubs in and around Melbourne; some offer honorary memberships. There are the usual service clubs for men and women as well. Payment of any club or association dues, even if a professional club or organization, is the responsibility of the employee.

Consular Corps Wives. Eligible newcomers are invited to join the counterpart of the professional group. The wives hold monthly meetings, organize some tours, and organize a luncheon or dinner (Around the World Affair) for the benefit of the Lord Mayor’s Fund, as well as assist at other charitable affairs when so requested by the Lady Mayoress.

Some Americans have joined the American Branch of the Australian Red Cross and some participate in the activities of the English Speaking Union. Melbourne also has Rotary, Lions, Toastmaster, Kiwanis, and Apex Club.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:03 PM

Official and semi-official functions mainly involve the principal officer and, to a lesser extent, the chief of the Consular Section. These include periodic receptions at Government House, opening of Victorian Parliament, annual Lord Mayor’s Dinner, Australia Day, ANZAC Day and Coral Sea receptions, and many parades, ceremonies, and memorial services. Participation in these events is by invitation.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:04 PM

Calls and formalities required of a new principal officer generally follow the lines customary in the Foreign Service. As soon as possible after arrival, he or she is expected to call on the Governor, the Premier, the Chief Justice of Victoria, and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. In his or her first visits to South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the principal officer should call on the corresponding officials in Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin. For the calls on the Governors, the principal officer wears a dark business suit or equivalent. The principal officer should also call on the dean of the consular corps and the heads of the various Commonwealth Departments in Melbourne.

FCS’ Principal Commercial Officer signs the book at Government House, at the Premier’s office, and at the Lord Mayor’s office. Other officers are expected to call as soon as possible on the heads of those Commonwealth and Victorian Government Departments with whom their duties are likely to bring them in contact.

The custom of social calls other than the above has largely dropped into disuse in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Hobart. Therefore, approximately 100 cards would suffice for all but the principal officer. These should be used as a means of identification in making government or business contacts. The principal officer will need several hundred more for various uses. Printing can be done locally. Married couples should bring a reasonable number of informals (“Mr. and Mrs.” folded cards) to be used as RSVPs, informal invitations, and thank you notes. The custom of sending a note of appreciation for a lunch or dinner is more usual than a telephone call. (Some Australians are polite to the point of writing a note after a cocktail party.) It is always appreciated if a reply is given to invitations as soon as possible after they are received. In fact, proper planning is impossible without replies.

Many Melbourne social events are black tie. The principal officer will need formal wear at least several times a year. Other officers may have an occasional need for formal attire.

Write to the post prior to arrival regarding any questions or special problems. There are a few customs and courtesies that newly-arrived personnel should keep in mind. In the Welcome Kit you will find a pamphlet entitled Social Usage which will serve as a guide for official and semi-official functions and official correspondence.

Formalities. There are very few formalities applicable to all newly arrived persons. (By the time of arrival, specific instructions will have been given to the principal officer as to his immediate protocol obligations.) As noted above, other officers are expected to sign the book at Government House and the Lord Mayor’s book. It is also expected that they will call as soon as possible on the heads of those Commonwealth Departments and Victorian Government Departments with whom their duties are likely to bring them in contact.

Special Information Last Updated: 11/19/2003 2:05 PM

Health and Medicine — Melbourne

A list of doctors and dentists, as well as specialists in various fields, has been compiled by the Consulate General. These are based on information and experience.

Ask your local “chemist” (pharmacist) for the closest Night Chemist so that you will have the number on file for an emergency.

One such chemist is Day and Night Chemists, open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 7 days a week, at the corner of Williams Road and High Street in Prahran (Tel. (03) 9510–3977, or (03) 9510–6130).

Volunteer Work

Due to Melbourne’s cultural composition, volunteer work is available in teaching English as a foreign language to “New Australians.” There is also a need for volunteers in the local schools and hospitals. (See also the Melbourne Report of Employment Opportunities in the Overseas Briefing Center, FSI, SA-42, Department of State.)

Consulate General - Perth

Post City Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:03 AM

Perth is the capital of Western Australia, the largest Australian state. Western Australia encompasses an area of over 2.5 million square kilometers (976,000 square miles, roughly half the size of the lower 48 U.S. states), with some 12,500 km of coastline. Perth has been called the most remote capital city in the world. Distances from Perth are great, both to other Australian capital cities and foreign capitals. Perth is approximately 3,300 km from Canberra and 3,400 km from Sydney, while the air distance from Perth to Jakarta is over 2,500 km, and from Perth to Singapore is 2,800 km.

Western Australia (W.A.) is a region of several climate zones, ranging from the tropical north, through the arid northern and central parts of the state, to the more moderate and temperate zones of the south. Within this vast area, roughly one-third of the Australian land mass, live less than 10 percent of Australia’s people. The total population of Western Australia is 1.8 million people, of whom some 1.3 million reside in Perth.

Perth entered the stage of modern development during the economic expansion of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Road, rail, ship, and air services now provide a constant link to the outside world. (Perth Airport is the most efficient in Australia, according to a recent European study.) The Western Australia economy, primarily driven by its resources sector, continues to perform strongly with growth exceeding most other Australian states. W.A. is a world leader in the production of industrial-grade diamonds, aluminum, iron ore, and mineral sands; it now produces a significant proportion of the world’s gold, nickel, and liquefied natural gas. The manufacturing sector, the services sector, and the construction industry continue to exhibit strong growth. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing remain important to the economy. Unemployment in W.A. is well below the national average.

Perth is an attractive, modern city undergoing rapid expansion. Large areas of natural bush have been bulldozed to meet the demands of growth. Freeways connect the towering office buildings of the central business district (most of which were built post-1985) and the adjacent suburbs. Attractive residential areas, such as Dalkeith and Peppermint Grove, front the Swan River, while from the suburbs of Cottesloe and City Beach residents access the white, sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean. U.S. Navy ships often call on the port city of Fremantle, just 12 km from downtown Perth.

All the consumer goods and modern comforts of life are available in Perth, but be prepared for “first-world” prices. Many goods are manufactured in the eastern Australian states and reflect the high cross-country transportation costs. Restaurants, hotels, salons, shops, and services are similar to those found anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Malls, supermarkets, and department stores may have different brand names, but the ambiance is familiar to most Americans. Neighborhood butchers, delis, and small markets are common and offer more personalized service, often at more affordable prices than the larger chain stores. There are few convenience stores or grocers open 24 hours; most establishments close by 5:30 p.m.

Perth has one of the best climates in Australia. It is the sunniest of the State capitals, receiving an average of about 8 hours of sunshine per day. In summer, a few days of over 100°F temperatures are to be expected, but low humidity and evening sea breezes make most summer nights comfortable. February tends to be the hottest month of the year, with a mean daily maximum temperature of 34.6°C (about 94°F). July and August are the coldest months, when daily highs average about 18°C (65°F) and the nighttime lows average about 10°C (50°F). In 1996, Perth averaged 888 mm (35 inches) of rainfall, which was slightly above normal. Since most of the rainfall comes in the winter months of June, July, and August, and many houses lack central heating, winter can feel chilly.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:03 AM

The U.S. Consulate General occupies the top floor of a 13-story building in the middle of Perth’s central business district, with panoramic views of the Swan River and neighboring hills. Perth has two U.S. State officers (the Consul General and a consular-administrative officer) and seven foreign national (FN) employees, which includes one Foreign Commercial Service FN. A U.S. Navy Commander serves as the Seventh Fleet Representative for Western Australia and shares office space at the Consulate General. Work hours at the Consulate General are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Office telephone number (for all sections) is (08) 9231–9400; the fax number is (08) 9231–9444.

Housing Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:04 AM

The U.S. Consulate General occupies the top floor of a 13-story building in the middle of Perth’s central business district, with panoramic views of the Swan River and neighboring hills. Perth has two U.S. State officers (the Consul General and a consular-administrative officer) and seven foreign national (FN) employees, which includes one Foreign Commercial Service FN. A U.S. Navy Commander serves as the Seventh Fleet Representative for Western Australia and shares office space at the Consulate General. Work hours at the Consulate General are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Office telephone number (for all sections) is (08) 9231–9400; the fax number is (08) 9231–9444.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:04 AM

Government-owned housing is only provided for the principal officer (Consul General). The principal officer’s home, only a 10-minute drive from the Consulate General office building, is located on one of the most beautiful areas of Perth. It is adjacent to King’s Park and commands a spectacular view of the city and the Swan River. The multilevel house has four large bedrooms, three full baths, two half-baths, and a two-car garage plus breezeway. The living and dining rooms, even though somewhat compact, are suitable for representational functions, while the partially-covered lower brick patio works well for less formal events. The principal officer’s home is tastefully furnished, including dining capacity for 16 persons (although 10–12 persons is more comfortable) and contains all the standard major appliances, including TV/VCR, a microwave oven, and a standalone freezer.

The other State officer lives in short term-leased quarters that conform to A–171 space standards for rank and family size. Leased quarters contain a standard issue of furniture and major appliances.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:05 AM

Western Australia uses the VHS PAL system of color TV transmission. Availability of cable television is spotty. Both the Consulate General and the Consul General’s Residence have satellite TV service. Color TV sets of the PAL type, operating on 240v, 50 cycles, manufactured outside Australia, may undergo inspection by the State Energy Commission and, if deemed necessary, be fitted with an isolating transformer. Locally manufactured sets are available but expensive. Some communications equipment, specifically modems, fax machines, answering machines, and telephones must be certified and manufactured according to Australian specifications.

Central heating is not provided in some older Western Australia homes; space heaters might be required during the winter months. Many newer apartments and houses do have central reverse cycle heating and air conditioning. Most public buildings are air-conditioned.

Food Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:05 AM

Perth supermarkets are similar to their U.S. counterparts and are stocked with most varieties of foodstuffs required by the American consumer. Meat, particularly beef and lamb, is very reasonable. High quality (but expensive!) chicken, fresh fish, and seafood are readily available, as is a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Perth’s restaurants run the gamut from coffee shops and fast-food chains to elegant dining and ethnic cuisine. Paper products and cleaning supplies tend to be more costly than in the U.S.

Clothing Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:06 AM

Clothing worn in Perth is similar to that of southern California. Sundresses, slacks, jeans, T-shirts, and shorts are all standard casual attire seen on a daily basis. However, for work and social affairs, smart luncheon dresses, tailored suits, and sometimes hats are worn. Evening attire is similarly varied, ranging from long gowns to short cocktail dresses. Businessmen still wear coat and tie to work, even in hot weather. Generally, smart casual is the norm for informal events.

Perth has a budding fashion industry. Clothing of all types, including many international brands, is available in Perth stores; however, the cost is greater and the selection smaller than in the U.S. The same is true for underwear and children’s clothing.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:07 AM

Several large department stores in the downtown business district offer most goods found in U.S. department stores. Also, spacious suburban centers offer convenient shopping in air-conditioned malls. These shopping centers and downtown stores close at 5:30 p.m. on weeknights (except Thursdays, which has “late night shopping” until 8:30 p.m. in the suburbs, and Fridays, which has late night shopping in the Central Business District.) Sunday trading is still a contentious issue in W.A.—there is currently half-day shopping on Sundays in the Central Business District. Many small stores and services close at noon on Saturdays. Convenience stores stay open longer, but charge higher prices.

Stores are well-stocked. With the influx of people from the eastern States and overseas, the same goods that were previously imported are now being produced in W.A. Consumer prices in Perth are slightly higher than for the eastern U.S., and significantly higher than the U.S. average. Gratuities (tipping) are neither required nor expected, although some Americans find it hard to break the habit of leaving something on the table after dinner.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:07 AM

See Melbourne and Canberra.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:07 AM

See Melbourne and Canberra.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:08 AM

Although religion in Perth is predominantly Christian, the awareness and practice of other religious systems is increasing. Recent immigration from Indochina, the Middle East, and the United States has broadened religious philosophies. There are now several Buddhist temples and Muslim mosques, as well as churches of Seventh Day Adventists and the Latter Day Saints. Still, roughly two-thirds of the W.A. population is Christian, with the largest denominations being Anglican (24%) and Catholic (25%). Approximately 22% of those counted in Western Australia (excluding overseas visitors) indicated they had no religion in the 1996 census. Non-Christian religions accounted for less than 3% of all people in W.A.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:08 AM

Educational opportunities, both formal and informal, are available to suit practically all interests. Four major universities in Perth provide tertiary and post-graduate degrees to an increasing number of W.A. students, as well as students from several countries in Southeast Asia. Technical, vocational, and adult learning centers are plentiful. Most Consulate children attend private schools, almost all of which have some church affiliation and are either boys schools or girls schools (not coed). Junior schools range between grades 1 and 7; senior schools encompass grades 8–12.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:09 AM

Facilities in Perth are excellent for tennis, golf, sailing, and all water sports. Many sporting associations and public facilities are available for golf, tennis, lawn bowling, surfing, boogie boarding, boating, and surf rescue. Memberships are obtainable and affordable. Health clubs and weightlifting groups are prevalent. Spectator sports, such as horse racing, trotting, and dog racing are popular year round. Motor sports, Aussie rules football, and cricket have enthusiastic followings. A well-developed system of pedestrian/bike trails provides opportunities for morning power walks, cycling, and roller blading. Indoor rinks also make it possible to pursue ice skating and ice hockey. Baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, and rugby are available at private clubs and associations for both children and adults.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:09 AM

The Western Australian coastline and outback is a outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Hiking trails are well marked and graded for difficulty. An excellent highway system provides motorists with opportunities to tour most areas and see firsthand the rugged scenery of this vast State. The C.A.L.M. (Conservation and Land Management) Bureau manages the numerous National Parks and nature reserves which dot the landscape. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can be hired for extended trips into the outback with organized groups.

Primary tourist destinations south of Perth include the Margaret River area (famous for its fine wines), the picturesque beauty of Albany, and the magnificent beaches near Esperance. To the north one can shop for cultured pearls in Broome, dive in the waters of the Ningaloo Reef (near Exmouth), or swim with the dolphins at Monkey Mia.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:10 AM

Entertainment facilities in Perth are much like those one would encounter in a U.S. city of similar size. The library system consists of a well-stocked central library with numerous suburban branches. The State library provides an information service, while the Tourism Bureau of Western Australia has its own web site.

The Western Australia Museum, Perth’s principal museum, is primarily devoted to natural history. It also contains interesting artifacts from the early mining and pioneering days in W.A., and runs a children’s center during the school holidays. The W.A. Art Gallery features local artists; the city also has several private galleries. The port city of Fremantle has an excellent maritime museum, and has grown in popularity as a weekend destination for shopping, sightseeing, enjoying live music and good food in a relaxed (almost Bohemian) atmosphere.

Perth’s Concert Hall and Entertainment Center attract artists of international renown. Excellent theaters on the U.W.A. grounds, as well as the refurbished His Majesty’s Theater, offer all forms of dramatic entertainment, from classical to popular. The Festival of Perth, held annually in February, attracts artists, theater troupes, and multicultural exhibits.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:10 AM Western Australians are known for their friendliness. Sporting clubs and organizations such as the Rotary and Lions offer excellent points of contact. Churches and schools tend to be focal points of many communities. The Australian-American Association, the American Women’s Club, and the Yeeha U.S.A! group provide opportunities for social involvement. The backyard barbecue is an institution in Perth because of the great weather. Be prepared to “throw a few prawns on the barbie” and down a Swan Lager or a Matilda Bay Bitter with your new mates!

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:11 AM

As the ranking U.S. representative in Perth, the Consul General receives the bulk of the official invitations. Invitations to official events, such as wreath-layings, civic receptions, banquets, opening ceremonies, and ship visits, are also usually extended to the consular officer. Large organized social affairs tend to be more formal than in the U.S.; long dresses or formal cocktail attire is worn.

If calling cards are desired, they can be procured locally, although printing costs are exorbitant. Business cards are more useful—purchase them prior to arrival, both to save money and for immediate use during the introductory round of calls on local officials.

Consulate General - Sydney

Post City Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:11 AM

In many ways Sydney is like San Francisco, with old homes perched alongside modern apartment buildings on hills overlooking picturesque bays and coves. It has an international seaport with a scenic harbor, dominated by a famous bridge, and the world-famous Opera House. In other ways the city resembles Los Angeles, with its pleasant climate and informal outdoor life. The mean temperature in Sydney ranges from 56°F in winter to 74°F in summer.

Sydney is the capital of the State of New South Wales that, with the State of Queensland and Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, comprises the consular district.

Sydney, Australia’s largest city (about 3.5 million people), is situated on the magnificent harbor of Port Jackson. It was the first European settlement in Australia, settled in 1788 as a penal colony. Sydney was named for Thomas Townsend, the first Viscount Sydney, Secretary of the Home Department, responsible for colonial affairs when New South Wales was founded.

The city grew rapidly with the arrival of free settlers, establishment of wool and wheat industries in New South Wales, gold rushes; building of road and rail networks focusing on Sydney Harbor, and the development of commerce, industry, and banking. The growth was largely unplanned, and the winding narrow streets and jumbled buildings add to Sydney’s charm while aggravating traffic problems.

The city is built on undulating low land south and west of Port Jackson and some steeply scarped sandstone plateaus north of the harbor and along the coast. The higher areas are 487 to 682 feet above sea level. The harbor has many bays, inlets, and coves with about 180 miles of shoreline. Most of the shoreline has been developed, but some areas have been set aside for parks, recreation areas, and reserves. Sydney Harbor Bridge, a single span steel arch known informally as “the coat hanger,” and an underwater tunnel connect the north and south shores.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:12 AM

The Consulate General has offices on the 58th and 59th floors of the MLC Center at 19-29 Martin Place in the heart of the central business district. FCS, FAA and APO are co-located with the Consulate General. The Consulate General switchboard telephone number is (02) 9373–9200. The Administration fax number is (02) 9373–9125. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday–Friday, with lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Air travelers arrive at Kingsford Smith airport in the suburb of Mascot, about 8 miles from the center of Sydney. Taxi service from the airport is frequent and reasonably priced.

Inform the post of your travel plans, since this information is necessary both to notify the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and to make arrangements to meet you. Under normal circumstances, you will be met at the airport. If you arrive at a time other than the expected time, call the administrative officer at the Consulate General. On holidays or after hours the answering service will refer you to the duty officer.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:12 AM

Post makes every effort to place employees directly into their permanent housing. When permanent housing is not yet ready, employees are placed in temporary, apartment-style hotels.

Sydney has many good hotels which are used by travelers, including:

Hotel Intercontinental, 117 Macquarie Street Renaissance Hotel, 30 Pitt Street Mariott Hotel, 36 College Street Holiday Inn Apartments, 16 Oxford Street Medina Apartments, 400 Glenmore

Room rates, with the Consular discount, range from A$160 to A$300, plus a 10% tax. Meals are not normally included in the room rate. Hotel meal costs are comparable to those in the U.S.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:13 AM

The principal officer’s home is a large, colonial-style home with five bedrooms, constructed in the 1920s. Attached to the main residence is an annex/housekeeper’s quarters. The grounds contain a small swimming pool and tennis court. A two-car garage is in a separate building.

The principal officer’s house is completely government furnished. Limited blankets, bed linen, and bedspreads are provided, as well as adequate silverware, glassware, and china for representational purposes. Some table linen is provided. Bring china and glassware for everyday use. The laundry has an automatic washer and dryer.

Refrigerator and freezer space is adequate. The Department has a complete inventory of appliances and utensils. Reverse-cycle air-conditioning provides cooling and heating for the second floor bedroom areas. In entertainment areas, rely on frequent sea breezes and a good sweater to stay comfortable. No pictures or other ornamental pieces are supplied. Bring personal items both to complete the decoration and to reflect your individual tastes.

All other U.S. Government employees are assigned short-term-leased housing. The Consulate pays reasonable utility bills, except for telephone bills, which are the responsibility of the employee. Few houses or apartments have central heating or air-conditioning, and most housing is small by U.S. standards. Most rental properties include a stove, draperies, ceiling fixtures, and carpeting. Routine maintenance and upkeep of residences are the responsibility of the employee (in consultation with the landlord, if appropriate). Occupants of houses are required to maintain garden and lawn areas in accordance with NSW tenancy laws and customs. Abundant public transportation facilitates living either in the city or nearby suburbs.


Furnishings Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:15 AM

Government furnishings are available to all personnel assigned to Sydney. Each agency provides its own selection of furniture. A limited shipment only is authorized as space is at a premium in most apartments and houses. Closet space and storage in housing is limited (and sometimes nonexistent), and the post does not pay to store excess personal effects.

Government-supplied furnishings are standard GSA-contract furniture. The main bedroom is supplied with a queen-sized bed; twin beds are standard for additional bedroom(s). Wardrobes are provided for housing without closets. Bookcases are provided, but stereo/TV stands or wall units are not.

Lawnmowers are provided for houses with lawns. No baby furniture is provided, so include needed items in shipment. Appliances include locally purchased dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and dryer, microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, fire extinguishers, fan and space heaters as needed and as available.

Appliances are usually smaller than U.S. counterparts. Two transformers are supplied. Bring suitable small electrical appliances if they are in good condition and can be used with transformers. (See Utilities and Equipment in the Canberra section for comments on appliances and voltages.)

Australian TV uses the PAL system. U.S.-format VCR tapes and machines are not compatible with the PAL system. Color TVs are more expensive than in the U.S. If you have a multisystem TV or one that utilizes the PAL system, consider bringing it. You will need a multisystem TV and VCR or U.S.-format ones to play U.S.-format VCR tapes. Small multisystem TVs can be ordered from the AAFES catalog.

Automobiles. (See Transportation for Australian Federal law requirements.) The State of New South Wales imposes additional requirements. A vehicle with left-hand-drive (U.S. standard) may not be operated by members of the Mission. Imported right-hand-drive personally owned vehicles cannot be registered without an approved Australian Federal Government vehicle import authorization, which must be obtained in advance of vehicle purchase/export to Australia, and the vehicle must also pass strenuous and extensive Australian safety standards (ADRs) and local State Government requirements. In addition, any imported or Australian vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1986, must be equipped to run on lead-free gasoline.

We recommend that you purchase your vehicle at Post. If you are considering the import of a vehicle to Australia, you must contact GSO before proceeding with purchase and/or export. New or used vehicles, both imported and Australian, are readily available, imported vehicles can be purchased duty-free with diplomatic discounts, and tax rebates are granted on Australian-made vehicles. Experience shows that Australian-purchased vehicles have the best resale value. Delivery of a special order duty free vehicle takes anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Further inquiries about motor vehicles must be directed to the GSO.

Drivers Licenses. The New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) recommends that all drivers in New South Wales hold NSW drivers licenses. However, Para. 4.16.2 of the RTA Current Policies for Visiting Driver Privileges does state: “Members of the Diplomatic Service and Consular Officers and their families who are posted to NSW for a specific period are not required to obtain NSW drivers licenses. They can drive as visiting drivers provided they hold current drivers licenses or international drivers permits issued in their home countries.” Officers and their dependents who do not plan to obtain NSW drivers licenses should make sure that their U.S. state drivers licenses will be valid for the entire period of their assignment.

Food Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:15 AM

As in Canberra, most foods are readily available. Supermarkets, as well as specialty shops, are found in the city and suburbs. Some “American” food staples, such as Crisco, Bisquick, corn meal, and Mexican specialties can occasionally be found in more expensive international food sections of stores.

Clothing Last Updated: 3/31/2002 6:00 PM

Sydney has a milder climate than its sister cities to the south. However, personnel often travel to the other areas of Australia. We suggest bringing some clothing suitable for tropical climates to the north and for the southern winters. For Sydney, clothing suitable for San Francisco is appropriate most of the year, though summers tend to be hotter and more humid.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:16 AM

See Canberra section for information.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:16 AM

See Canberra section for information.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:17 AM All public or government schools in Sydney are controlled by the New South Wales Department of Education. Non-government schools are usually church sponsored, but they must follow courses and conform to the examinations of the State government system. Most American Consulate General children in Sydney attend private schools; the post education allowance is sufficient to cover tuition and textbook costs. Most schools require uniforms.

The school year begins in late January and is divided into four terms; a break of approximately 2–3 weeks occurs between each term (April, July, September), with the long vacation (summer holidays) occurring in December/January. Both public and private schools follow this yearly pattern with only minor variations.

Grade placement is usually determined by the student’s age, previous experience, and overall academic ability.

Free passes for use on public transport on buses and trains are provided for all children traveling more than 1 mile if they are attending the nearest appropriate school. This service is also provided to children attending private schools with no restriction on distance but the restrictions as to the outer limits on the transport system.

The Consulate General’s Human Resources/Administrative Office has further information regarding schools/ requirements and education in Sydney. Welcome Kits that post issues to new arrivals also contain further information.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:18 AM

Sydney’s outdoor sports facilities are equaled by few cities of its size in the world, and were showcased to the world through the 2000 Olympic Games, held at Homebush Bay in the western suburbs. Beaches on the ocean north and south of the harbor entrance offer swimming, surfing, and beach sports from October through March. The harbors and rivers in the area are favorites for sailing and water skiing. The shark menace has been widely publicized, but no one has been killed in the harbor for over 10 years, and beaches and offshore waters are patrolled.

Sydney is a sailor’s paradise. The harbor is filled with small boats every weekend. Sailboats and power boats can be purchased locally, but are more expensive than in the U.S.

Skiing is growing in popularity, though the season is limited to June–August and sometimes September. Ski resorts are 6 hours or more from Sydney by car. You can rent equipment.

The city is full of magnificent golf courses, both public and private, and tennis courts are numerous. Squash is a popular local pastime and squash courts are available at many clubs and at several large commercial facilities. The leading spectator sports are cricket, rugby, and Australian Rules football. Baseball also has been popular for many years, and a regular amateur league has teams throughout Australia. Basketball is growing rapidly in popularity. Indoor rinks also make it possible to pursue ice skating and ice hockey. Soccer is also popular.

Saltwater fishing is good, and several streams and lakes offer freshwater fishing. Importation of any firearms requires the advance approval of the Regional Security Officer and the Ambassador. If permission in granted, provide Sydney with the serial numbers and type of firearm you wish to import. Importation of handguns and/or military type weapons will not be approved. Post will notify employee of approval/disapproval. When firearms arrive in HHE shipments, they are delivered for temporary storage to the Australian Protective Service in Sydney until written formal approval is granted by the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (Note: Crossbows are considered firearms by NSW authorities, and their importation is strictly forbidden.)

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:18 AM

A number of pleasant picnic spots exist both within and near the city. One of the favorites is the Royal National Park, about 30 miles south. Sydney has an excellent park system. Most suburbs have park and playground areas that are owned and controlled by local councils for children. You can reach the Sydney Zoological Gardens at the Taronga Park by car, bus, or ferry. The zoo, in a beautiful setting overlooking the harbor, is world famous for its collection of Australian fauna. A world-class aquarium is located at Darling Harbor, and another one in the North Shore suburb of Manly.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Australian Museum offer interesting and educational exhibits and are close to the city center. The magnificent Blue Mountains are less than a 2-hour drive to the west, and beaches on the south coast are popular vacation or weekend trips.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:19 AM

Sydney has many movie theaters, including large downtown and neighborhood first-run cinemas. Most films are English or American, but foreign-language films also are shown. Most films are seen here soon after release. Neighborhood theaters sometimes run double-feature programs.

Stage theater retains its hold on the affection of Sydney-siders, and at least five or six stage productions usually are going on simultaneously. Productions include reviews and musicals as well as drama and experimental plays. Some small, independent theaters in the suburbs have had successful productions and have become well known locally.

Australian ballet and opera companies have regular seasons in Sydney. Sydney’s world-famous Opera House at Bennelong Point was opened by Queen Elizabeth on October 20, 1973. It contains concert halls, restaurants, and theaters as well as the opera theater. It is the focal point for cultural entertainment in Sydney. Both the ballet and opera maintain international standards and have successfully toured abroad. Public support is widespread and booking should be made in advance. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has a 6-month season and often has foreign guest soloists or conductors. World-class touring orchestras, chamber music groups, and soloists appear frequently.

Outdoor fairs include the Royal Easter Show and the Autumn Sheep Show. Other important events are the City of Sydney Festival in January, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in February, ANZAC Day parade and commemoration ceremony in April, and the Australian-American Friendship Week in May. No unusual guidelines, etiquette requirements, or photographic restrictions apply to these activities.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:19 AM Social contacts of Americans range from informal home visits to more formal meetings and an occasional full-dress ball. Except for small gatherings, however, few functions consist exclusively of Americans. Several Australian-American organizations are active in Sydney. The most prominent organization for promoting bilateral relations is the Australian- American Association (AAA), which sponsors an annual Friendship Week Ball, Fourth of July activities and other social functions during the year. All members of the Consulate General staff are invited to join.

The American Society and its affiliate, the American Women’s Club, also have large and active memberships and welcome new arrivals to their ranks. The Society holds an Independence Day Ball, an annual picnic, and other social events keyed to traditional American holidays, or to benefit worthy causes.

An American Legion chapter is active in Sydney. Another successful local organization is the American Club, a downtown eating club, a majority of whose members are now Australians. Honorary membership is extended to the principal officer and all other American personnel are welcome to join.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:20 AM Sydney is a cosmopolitan city, and contacts with third-country nationals are frequent in the course of normal official or social activities.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:20 AM

Representation is a major duty of the principal officer: Ceremonial occasions, official or semiofficial luncheons, receptions, and dinners are usual occurrences. Social functions range from black-tie affairs (frequent) to casual barbecues. Other American officers also represent the Consulate General at certain functions.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:26 AM

Calls by a newly arriving principal officer follow customary protocol. Within a few days after arrival, calls should be made upon the Governor, the Premier, the Chief Justice of the State of New South Wales, and the Lord Mayor of Sydney. Subsequent calls should be made upon the Mayor of Woollahra (the principal officer’s home is in the Municipality of Woollahra), chiefs of the army, navy and the air force in the Sydney consular district, commissioner of the New South Wales police, president of the Maritime Services board, the regional director in Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, dean of the consular corps, and career consular officers in charge. Calls upon honorary consular officers in charge are optional.

For other American officers, each Section will arrange calls and introductions to officials and private persons with whom you will have contact in the course of your duties. About 300 cards are sufficient for most officers on a 3-year tour. The principal officer, political officer, and commercial officers need about 1,000 cards.

Social usage is similar to that in the U.S. Acknowledge invitations promptly either by phone or in writing. A “thank you” call to the hosts on the day after an informal function, excluding cocktail parties, is customary. More formal occasions require a “thank you” note.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:27 AM

Sydney is the usual port of entry for all those assigned to Canberra. Melbourne also has direct air service from the U.S. Australia is served by a number of airlines including United, which flies daily nonstop from the U.S. west coast. Travelers must use the airline that holds the appropriate city-pair contract fare. Flying time for the roughly 7,000-mile nonstop trip from the West Coast is about 14 hours.

Advise the Embassy and your post of assignment of your travel plans as far in advance as possible. Include names of those accompanying you, showing ages of children, actual date and time of arrival, and international flight number.

Unaccompanied airfreight often takes a month or more to reach Sydney from the U.S. Those assigned to posts other than Sydney should have their unaccompanied baggage addressed directly to their post. For those who go directly to government-owned or government-leased accommodations, arrival kits are available. They contain sheets, pillows, towels, pillowcases, blankets, cookware, glasses, dishes, and cutlery.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:27 AM

Diplomatic List personnel and officers at constituent posts on the consular and trade list are accorded unlimited free entry privileges for the duration of their assignment. They also may buy liquor, tobacco, and gasoline duty-free. There are no import restrictions on computers brought into Australia for personal use. There are almost no electrical fluctuation, dust or mold problems. Computers must be compatible or convertible to 240v/50HZ.

Administrative and technical personnel (A&T); i.e., secretaries, communications personnel, and members of the Mission staff not on the Diplomatic List, have initial free-entry privileges including household effects (HHE) and an automobile, for 6 months before and 6 months after their arrival only.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:28 AM

All personnel, including those holding diplomatic passports, must have a valid diplomatic (not business or other category) visa for entry to Australia. Visas can be obtained from all Australian embassies and consulates; airport visas are not available. An electronic travel authority (ETA) will not allow permanent personnel to enter Australia.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:29 AM

As a rabies-free continent, Australia has very strict guidelines about the importation of pets. All animals, if allowed entry, will be required to have some stay in a quarantine station, unless they are coming from an area that is also designated as rabies free. (Note: Of all the United States, only Hawaii has this designation.) Since regulations can change without notice, all pet owners that are interested in bringing their animals with them are urged to contact the:

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) Tel: 612–6272–3933 e-mail: or,or anpolicy/dogcat.htm

for complete information. By beginning the required laboratory and paperwork requirements as soon as practicable, it is possible that the mandated quarantine stay may be reduced.

It must be noted that it is very difficult to obtain lodgings that accept pets, so if personnel are bringing their pets directly into Australia from a rabies-free area, the pet will have to be boarded if employees are placed in temporary lodgings in a hotel or apartment. Kennels and catteries are plentiful and well-maintained. It will be necessary to notify the sponsoring command or section immediately if plans are being made to bring pets as this will affect housing assignments.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:29 AM

The GOA Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade grants permission for diplomats to have a firearm under the following conditions:

The applicant must be a member of a recognized pistol, gun or rifle club, or analogous organization. The weapon is to be used only in formal sporting activities held under the auspices of the organization to which the applicant belongs. Importation of any firearms requires the advance approval of the Regional Security Officer and the Ambassador. Firearms cannot be stored at the Embassy or Consulates.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:30 AM

Australian and American dollars may be freely exchanged. Under the Australian banking (foreign exchange) regulations, a person arriving or departing from Australia may bring up to the equivalent of A$10,000. Amounts in excess of this must be declared.

Upon arrival at Post the Embassy cashier will provide accommodation exchange services during the first 60 days. Mission personnel may easily set up local bank accounts (make deposits by conversion of dollar check) to take care of personal financial transactions after the initial settling-in period. Some personnel choose not to open a local account, and rely on ATMs (which accept Cirrus cards) and credit cards to obtain local currency and make payments. The rate of exchange fluctuates slightly from day to day.

All U.S. personnel are to have stateside accounts in order to process U.S. dollar payments via Electronic Funds Transfer.

The Embassy cashier will provide accommodation exchange services during the final 30 days of tour or just prior to final departure, after local bank accounts have been closed. Also U.S. dollar checks may be requested through the Embassy cashier (serviced via USDO Bangkok) upon presentation of a certified bank check, and documentation approved by the Administrative Counselor for sale of personal vehicle/goods.

Australia uses the metric system.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:30 AM


Goods which are imported or purchased duty or sales tax free must be retained for 2 years. Failure to comply may result in Customs duties or taxes being applied. Motor vehicles imported or purchased duty or sales tax free must be retained for 3 years. If they are not, duty will be apportioned on a pro rata basis.


American Mission employees are not subject to Australian income taxes, except on interest earned on Australian bank accounts. However, eligible dependents working under the bilateral work agreement on the local economy waive immunity for civil prosecution and must pay income tax. Many consumer articles on the Australian market include goods and services tax (GST). Refunds of GST may be requested quarterly for GST paid on consumer articles with an invoice value of A$200 or more. No GST on services, including hotels, restaurants, and insurance, is refunded. GST refunds on automobiles may be requested at the time of purchase, without waiting for the next quarterly reporting cycle. Diplomatic and consular list personnel are reimbursed for gasoline excise taxes paid at the pump; A&T personnel are not.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 11/20/2003 9:31 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Baker, Richard W. (ed.). The ANZUS States and Their Region: Regional Policies of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Praeger: 1994.

Blaney, Geoffrey. The Tyranny of Distance.

Clark, Manning. A Short History of Australia. Macmillan: 1982.

Clune, Frank. Wild Colonial Boys.

Conway, Jill Ker. The Road from Coorain. Vintage (Random House): 1990.

Crowley, Frank (ed.). A New History of Australia. William Heinemann (Melbourne): 1974.

Cue, Kerry. Australia Unbuttoned: Australia’s Culture Exposed. Penguin Books (Australia): 1996.

Dale, David. The 100 Things Everyone Needs to Know about Australia. Pan Macmillan Australia: 1996.

Evans, Gareth and Bruce Grant. Australia’s Foreign Relations in the World of the 1990s. Melbourne University Press: 1991.

Horne, Donald. The Lucky Country.

Hughes, Robert. The Fatal Shore. Alfred A. Knopf: 1986.

Jaensch, Dean. Power Politics: Australia’s Party System. Allen & Unwin: 1994 (3rd edition).

Kelly, Paul. The End of Certainty. Allen & Unwin: 1992.

Lucy, Richard. The Australian Form of Government. Macmillan: 1985.

Mackay, Hugh. Reinventing Australia: The Mind and Mood of Australia in the 90s. Angus & Robertson: 1993.

Reid, Alan. The Power Struggle. Soccer: 1982.

Turnbull, Clive. A Concise History of Australia.

Ward, Russel. The Australian Legend.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/20/2003 10:03 AM

In addition to U.S. Government holidays, the following local national holidays are observed by all posts in Australia:

Australia Day January 26 Good Friday Varies Easter Saturday Varies Easter Monday Varies ANZAC Day April 25 Queen’s Birthday Second Monday in June for all posts except Perth, where it is held on the first Monday in October

Boxing Day December 26

Canberra and Sydney: Labor Day First Monday in October

Canberra: Canberra Day Third Monday in March

Melbourne: Labor Day Second Monday in March Melbourne Cup Day First Tuesday in November

Perth: Labor Day First Monday in March Foundation Day First Monday in June Queen’s Birthday (only) First Monday in October

Stores and offices are closed on the above holidays. Make hotel accommodations well in advance of school holidays. School holidays normally are:

First term Early February to mid-April Second term End April to end June Third term Mid-July to third week September Fourth term Early October to third week December

(Dates may vary slightly from state to state.)

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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