|Preface Last Updated: 11/19/2003
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 http://www.dfat.gov.au. 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
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
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
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
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
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
Canberra: American Embassy Moonah Place Yarralumla ACT 2600
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Telephones. Telephone bills are the responsibility of the
occupant. They are sent monthly, and are payable by check, phone, or
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
http://csn.act.edu.au/schools.html. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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).
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
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
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.
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
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
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
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) Tel:
612–6272–3933 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
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
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
Australia uses the metric system.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/20/2003
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
Baker, Richard W. (ed.). The ANZUS States and Their Region:
Regional Policies of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
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):
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:
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
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.)