Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent as well as the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. It is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people. Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders, comprising a cosmopolitan and international population.
Sydney's urban area is in a coastal basin, which is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Royal National Park to the south.
Sydney, which is in the state of New South Wales, is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). New South Wales, along with Victoria, Queensland, The Australian Capital Terriotory and Tasmania run along the eastern coast of Australia and are on Eastern Standard Time. Central Australia, including the Northern Territory and South Australia are 9.5 hours ahead of GMT on Central Standard Time.
Sydney has a temperate climate with few extremes in the weather patterns. It never snows. Summers can be very humid and wet. Note that Sydney is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons are reversed to those in Europe, the USA, and most of Asia. Sydney is a comfortable place to visit no matter when you come.
On average, the warmest month is February and the coolest month is July. The average temperature between November and March can rise above 26°C with average day time temperatures usually somewhere between 16°C and 25°C. From April to October, the temperature is somewhere between 12°C and 23°C with a coolest temperature under 8°C. You can find up to date information on the weather in Sydney at
Sydney offers world class shopping centres, designer boutiques, department stores and speciality shops. Places to shop in the Central Business District CBD are located within easy walking distance to each other, but there are other major shopper paradise centres in the outer suburbs such as MacArthur, Chatswood, Parramatta and Penrith. The beachside suburbs also have their own collections of speciality shops as well as everything else, more suited to Sydney’s relaxed beach culture, much in contrast to its more serious business side.
As a general rule of thumb, business hours in Australia are Mondays to Fridays, 9am - 5pm.
Banks are open Monday - Thursday 9:30am - 4pm and on Friday from 9:30am - 5pm.
On Saturdays shops are open from 8:30am to between noon and 4pm. Many stores are also open on Sundays from 9am to 4pm.
VAT / Tax-Free Shopping
As of July 1st 2000, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) taxation system has come into effect in Australia. All previous Federal and State taxes have been abolished and a standard tax of 10% has been applied to all goods and services.
In most cases, prices on goods are normally marked inclusive of GST, so there are no surprises at the cash counter! Sometimes though, they could be marked as 'plus GST', in which case 10% of the marked price has to be added to the price of the item.
However, visitors from overseas are exempt from certain excise taxes and can get discounts at some department stores and duty free stores. By presenting your passport and plane ticket, you can get up to a third off the marked price of goods.
Tipping is not required at restaurants or hotels. However, a 10% tip is widely accepted as a standard for good restaurant service. For other services such as room service, housemaids, taxis and theatre ushers, tips are not expected but are greatly appreciated.
The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar (AUD$).
Banks and Exchange Offices
You can exchange foreign currency for Australian currency at banks and Foreign Exchange branches scattered throughout the Central Business District of Sydney. Note that Foreign Exchange outlets' exchange rates are worse than banks. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are available throughout the city round the clock.
The Conference Organising Committee or its agents will not be responsible for any medical expenses, loss or accidents incurred during the congress. Delegates are strongly advised to arrange their own personal insurance to cover medical and other expenses including accident or loss. Where a delegate has to cancel for medical reasons, the normal cancellation policy will apply.
Health standards in Australia are very high. It is okay to drink tap water, as great care is taken to maintain health regulations. Australia does have a high incidence of skin cancer, however, so apply sunscreen liberally to your face and body before you spend any time in the sun. We recommend that you have health insurance before coming to Australia, as medical bills can be quite expensive for the uninsured.
Since 2 July 2007 all enclosed areas of licensed premises that are open to the public are now required to be non-smoking, according to NSW legislation. All enclosed areas of Star City Casino with the exception of private gaming rooms must also be non-smoking.
Electricity in Australia is 220-240 volts AC. Please make sure, that your appliances are configured for the three pin Australian plug. If you cannot get one of these abroad you may be wise to wait until you get to Australia.
If you have a laptop computer you will probably find that the transformer that comes with it automatically adjusts to 110 or 240 volts. Check though. If it is able to cope with both currents you will still need an adapter for the Australian three-pin system.