Travel Information - D

Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest in Tropical North Queensland should always be included in an itinerary for visitors to the Great Barrier Reef. World Heritage listed, it is a spectacular natural area to explore on your own or on a tour and there is eco-friendly, quality accommodation within the rainforest.

Darwin is a modern, laid-back, tropical city and capital of the Northern Territory. Closer to South East Asia than it is to much of the rest of Australia, it is a very mixed community with a distinct Asian flavour. It is a very young city with lots of young people who enjoy a good time. There is plenty of nightlife and an amazing range of restaurants.

The Australian desert is vast, unforgiving and is to be respected. If you wish to explore without taking an organised tour, (and it is worth exploring!) be sure to take a 4WD vehicle with plenty of fuel and water (see 'Water') and let others know your planned route and your estimated time of arrival at your destinations. If you do get into trouble, stay with your vehicle rather than attempting to walk for help.

Dingoes are Australian wild dogs (Canis familaris), introduced by the Aboriginal people, with a tawny-yellow coat, straight ears and a bushy tail. Their call resembles a howl rather than a bark. They can be found in parts of New South Wales, Queensland (Fraser Island) and particularly the Northern Territory. In colloquial language a 'dingo' is a coward and 'to dingo' on someone is to betray them. They sometimes enter campsites to look for scraps of food and a recent fatal attack on Fraser Island (May 2001) and subsequent other incidents show that these animals in their natural habitat must be treated with extreme caution as they are EXTREMELY dangerous wild animals. They are NOT "cute" domesticated dogs for tourist to pat, and they are NEVER to be fed as this encourages them to lose their fear of humans as well as carrying a A$1000 fine.

Disabled Facilities
Most accommodation and major attractions have disabled facilities. For one of the best information sources on the Web for disabled facilities in Australia go to: or contact Travel Online.

Scuba divers will be rewarded in many areas of Australia, not just the Great Barrier Reef. There are also excellent dive spots around Sydney, off the NSW & Queensland coast, SA and Tasmania (even inland at the Canberra Aquarium). Wherever there is good diving there will be professional dive shops with instructors for all levels and gear hire.

The minimum legal 'drinking' age for alcohol is 18. Young people going to bars and discos should carry identification to prove they are at least 18 years old. They will not be let in otherwise. No one may buy liquor from a bar or liquor store (bottle shop) unless they are at least 18. Buying liquor for a 'minor' is illegal. The owner of a bar or restaurant who breaks the rule faces big fines, so do not be angry of they refuse to serve alcohol to your teenage son or daughter.

Australians drive on the left, which can be disconcerting for visitors used to driving on the right side of the road. Roads are generally good and major routes well signposted.

Speed limits and distances are expressed in kilometres (see kilometres for conversion) and vary substantially from 50 kph in residential and heavy traffic areas to 110 kph on freeways. Police use laser guns, radar and automatic cameras and speeding fines are substantial. Lower limits apply in school zones at certain times (signposted) and roads near beaches. Cameras are also used to catch drivers going through red lights at some intersections. Fines for offences caught by speed and red-light cameras are sent to the owner of the car. Rental car companies may pay and charge your credit card, or supply the police with your contact details by statutory declaration. If you incur a speeding or parking fine while in Australia, you should settle it before you leave, or it will be sent to your home address.

Drink driving is a serious offence and heavily policed. Drivers can be stopped anywhere at random and subjected to a breath analysis test. Offenders are arrested and fingerprinted, so it can be a bad end to a fine evening or a long lunch. The legal limit (in most places) of .05% is quite low - roughly equivalent to two small glasses of wine in the first hour and one an hour thereafter for men, less for women. Importantly, insurance companies will not cover vehicle damage if the driver is 'over the limit'. Police routinely breath-test all drivers involved in an accident.

Seatbelts must be worn by drivers and all passengers. Infants must be in `baby capsules' and small children in child seats - available for hire from car rental companies.

General road rules and traffic signs vary little from other countries.

The importation, possession and use of drugs such as marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin LSD, amphetamines and all their derivatives is illegal and carries heavy penalties. While Australia does not have the death penalty for drug possession and trafficking, most of its Asian neighbours do. Visitors travelling via Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, for instance, face death or a very long jail sentence if caught. Australian Customs authorities employ sniffer dogs and other devices and police have wide powers to search without warrant. Like all western countries, parts of Australia have drug problems. If you see a used syringe, say on a beach, it is best not to touch it as used syringes can carry HIV which leads to AIDS. Call a lifesaver (lifeguard) or a police officer if there is one close by. Beaches are cleaned regularly by local council and inspected by surf club staff, but be aware.

Dugongs are rare, wonderful and friendly sea cows that can be found in the warmer waters off the Queensland and Western Australian coasts.

Duty Free
Duty Free shopping in Australia is among the cheapest and best in the world (especially for travellers from the US and UK/Europe due to the current exchange rate). Duty Free shops are open 'airside' for arriving passengers to purchase alcohol, cigarettes or perfume. All have an extensive range of international brands. Electrical goods, computer games and the like are only available on departure at airports or from city based duty free outlets.