Travel Information - P

The Federal Parliament and most state parliaments have two 'houses'. In Canberra it is the House of Representatives and the Senate, in New South Wales the House of Representatives and the Legislative Council. Members of the houses of representatives represent electorates drawn up by independent commissions based on population. Each electorate has one 'seat' in the house.

The Senate was established to ensure the states had a say in legislation by approving, amending or rejecting laws proposed by the representatives. Senators are elected on a quota system, based on the number of votes each political party gets in a state-wide poll. Legislative Council members are elected in a similar way to act as a 'house of review'. Australia is a Constitutional Monarchy, though there are serious moves to make it a Republic.

A former British Colony settled by the English in 1788, Australia became a Federation in 1901 known as the Commonwealth of Australia with six legally independent states and two Territories administered by the Federal Government. Voting is compulsory in all Federal and state government elections for Australian citizens 18 years old and over.

Pastoral Property
Four wheel drive enthusiasts venturing off main roads are likely to find themselves driving through someone's private pastoral property. Unless you are on a public access road, you have to obtain permission to drive through. If you come to a gate that is closed, close it behind you. If it's open, leave it open. Make sure no stock gets out. Where possible, a passenger should open and close gates.

Paterson's Curse
Just a couple of trivial 'P's as things were feeling a bit dry... Paterson's Curse (aka Salvation Jane) is a herb with blue-purple flowers which can look absolutely spectacular, sometimes covering complete hills or pastures. It is fact a harmful pasture weed capable of killing horses.

The pavlova (or 'pav) is a famous Australian desert, invented by a Perth chef in honour of Anna Pavlova. It is made of a large soft-centred meringue (usually rough and circular) with an indented top filled with whipped cream and often topped with fruit like strawberries and passionfruit. Yes, it is rich but boy - is it yummy.

Shoppers attracted to pearls will not be disappointed with the quality or value found in Australia. For pearls outside a shop, Broome in Western Australia is a quaint, multi-cultural mixing pot that is the centre of the pearling industry.

The population of Australia is above 20,000,000, most of it in the major cities and towns (and on the coast). Sydney has over 4 million people, Melbourne nearly the same, Brisbane around 2 million, nearly the same for Adelaide and Perth. When you compare population with the size of the country, there's plenty of room to move around.

Public Holidays
Fixed holidays are New Years Day (January 1), Australia Day (January 26), ANZAC Day (April 25), Christmas Day (December 25) and Boxing Day (December 26).

The Queens Birthday holiday is generally the second Monday in June and the Christian Easter celebration falls in March or April and stretches over a weekend from Friday to Monday. Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are official public holidays. All businesses and most shops close on Sunday anyway. The dates are the same as all Christian countries except those which follow Orthodox religions.