Travel Information - X

No, this is not an excuse to fill the obvious gap in the alphabet! Xmas in Australia differs to most of the world because of the hemisphere. While in the north it may be cold and snowing, in Australia it is the height of summer but traditions die hard. Many Australians, no matter how sweltering the heat, still persist with hot turkey and pork followed by hot plum pudding - even in the middle of the day - and snow decorates many of the shops.

Younger (and arguably more sensible) people now opt for a meal of cold meats, seafood and salad. Australians are warm and welcoming and visitors may find themselves invited to share Christmas lunch/dinner/drinks with a family. Accept it! Don't be shy - enjoy the experience.

Take along a bottle of chilled wine, a sense of humour and perhaps a small gift if there are children in the family (liquor outlets are closed on Xmas Day). Carols by Candlelight are held in the lead up to Christmas and Boxing Day is a total holiday - for recovering, family outings or sport (a cricket test or the start of the Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race). For the more adventurous, brave the stores for the post-Xmas sales!

Okay, this may be a bit of an excuse, but just a bit on censorship/pornography laws. Australia is a very liberal society but on the whole is still conservative. Television programs and movies (mostly uncut) are preceded by warnings if they contain sex, violence or language - as are videos, with ratings like G (General Exhibition), PG (Parental Guidance Recommended), 15+ and R (Restricted to over 18). Soft porn magazines can be purchased from newsagents (usually in sealed plastic wrappers with appropriate warnings), some hotels offer adult movies and, in the nightclub districts of the major cities, there are sex shops, X-rated movies and live sex shows. 'Escort' services are readily available in cities. Street prostitution and soliciting is pretty much illegal but as a country Australia operates, within reason, with a supply equals demand attitude, respecting the rights of the individual, consenting adults while restricting such access to minors.