Health and safety
Do you need vaccinations for Australia?
In general you do not need any vaccinations when you come to Australia. If you have been overnight or longer in a declared yellow fever infected country in 6 days before your arrival in Australia, you will be asked for an international vaccination certificate.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) does recommend travellers that you have been fully vaccinated against measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and poliomyelitis before starting their travel anywhere in the world.
What is the weather like in Australia?
Australia is a large island continent with a diverse range of climate zones. From up north where you have the tropical areas to the cooler temperatures in the south of the country. Temperatures fluctuate and range per season and per state as from below 0 degrees Celsius to above 50 degrees Celcius.
The rain season is between November and February. This doesn't mean it will rain all day, it can even only rain a few hours per day. The biggest problem with the rain season is that many places (where you would need a 4 wheel drive to get to) might not be accessible. Also parts of Australia can experience bushfires, cyclones, heat waves and storms.
You can check all weather updates on the Bureau of Meteorology: http://www.bom.gov.au/
The sun in Australia is very strong. We recommend you always wear a hat, a shirt and sunglasses. Also use sunscreen lotion (SPF 30+) all day. Even when it is cloudy, the sun can still burn your skin, so also when you think you don't need to apply it due to many clouds, still use it.
As the sun is always strongest at the middle of the day, try to stay away out of the sun during these hours. And needless to say, always drink lots of water to keep you hydrated.
When you are going on a bushwalk always check how long the walk would approximately take you, and try not to walk in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest.
In Australia they have the saying SLIP, SLOP, SLAP, which means: SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on the 30+ sunscreen, SLAP on a hat.
Not so long ago they added a few more; SEEK and SLIDE - SEEK shade or shelter, SLIDE on some sunnies.
AT THE BEACH and in the water
You might have seen the tv program 'Bondi rescue' and you are aware of the dangers of the sea. Not only does Australia have strong currents, but they also have sharks, crocodiles and jellyfish swimming around as well.
When you are at the beach, always swim between the flags and listen to what the lifeguards tell you to do.
The flags you will recognise by the colors of red and yellow. The lifeguards place these on the beach to point out where it is safest to go and swim in the ocean. Lifeguards are present at most beaches in Summertime (in the warmer months between October and April) and the most popular beaches (such as Bondi Beach in Sydney) is patrolled all year. In many swimming pools/lagoons (for example in Cairns and Brisbane) they also have lifeguards present.
Never swim alone at night, and moreover do not swim while under the influence of alcohol.
When you think of Australia you think of dangerous animals, of which the shark is in the top 3. However, shark attacks do not occur that often in Australia. Many Australian beaches have shark nets to make sure the sharks cannot swim close to the shore near the swimmers. When sharks are spotted, lifeguards will put up signs to not go into the water until sure the shark(s) have left the area. Do not swim at dusk or evening.
Also crocodiles are present in Australia (and mainly accross Northern Australia in creeks and rivers). Always check out the warning signs and do not get in the water in crocodile waters. When you want to go fishing or boating or when you think of camping in areas where crocodiles might be present, always seek advise and ask for information from the locals.
Besides sharks and crocodiles, more common are jellyfish. In tropical waters in the months between October and March you would be advised to wear a stinger-suit. Populare beaches will have swimming areas with stinger-resistant enclosures.
There are many different jellyfish. If you get stung by a jellyfish you might experience some pain, red marks, itching and numbness, but these might not be an emergency. The box jellyfish however are dangerous and might cause death.
When you go for a hike or bushwalking always wear protective good shoes. While hiking you might come accross spiders, snakes, leeches or even ants.
Always use common sense when you see any wild animal. Do not approach them, try to pet or play with them, not even to get a cool selfie.
The top 10 of most dangerous animals in Australia (source: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au)
1. Box jellyfish
2. Honey bee
3. Irukandji jellyfish
4. Bull shark
5. Eastern brown snake
6. Saltwater or estuarine crocodile
7. Sydney funnel web spider
8. Blue-ringed octopus
9. Coastal taipan
10. Common death adder
Bushfires, cyclones, tropical storms
It is common for Australia to have bushfires (especially in the Spring and Summer period) and when travelling around always keep informed by the news through internet, TV, radio and newspapers. Always follow the signs that warn you about fire bans and comply with road warnings.
If you are going on a camping trip or travelling in remote areas have yourself informed by the local information centre to be updated on what is happening in the area.