December is the start of the summer season in the southern hemisphere, making Australia and Melbourne ideal to visit in order to escape the cold winters on the northern half of the globe. The weather in Melbourne is comfortable; while it is still chilly in the early morning hours, the afternoon temperatures are beginning to feel like summer.
However, Melbourne is famous for its extremes of weather, with one day cold and the next very hot. It is suggested you check the forecast closer to your departure date, at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Average Temperatures: December: 20C maximum (66F), 14C minimum (56F).
Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) UTC+10hours.
Banking hours are usually 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and until 5.00pm on Friday. Some branches can be found open on Saturday mornings. Australia’s four largest banks are: National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia New Zealand Bank (ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation.
The easiest way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) with an international network such as Cirrus (Mastercard) or PLUS (Visa). Australian ATMs use a four-digit code, so check with your bank and make sure you change yours before you leave home.
Business hours are most commonly 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with a small variation either side. If trying to contact a business in another part of Australia, remember time differences apply.
Government offices often close at 5pm, or even 4.30pm.
Shops may stay open later, particularly on Thursday and Friday evenings, and most will be open on Saturdays and Sundays as full weekend trading hours apply in Melbourne.
Typical hours are:
9am-5pm, Monday to Saturday
8am-11pm, Monday to Friday
Goods and services tax (GST) is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services and other items sold or consumed in Australia.
Generally, businesses and other organisations registered for GST will:
- Include GST in the price of sales to their customers.
- Claim credits for the GST included in the price of their business purchases. A 10% surcharge including government tax is applicable in most hotels and restaurants.
The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) lets you claim a refund of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) that you pay on certain goods you buy in Australia and then take out of Australia with you or in your checked luggage or carry-on bags. See http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4263.asp for more information.
Tipping is not customary in Australia but is at your discretion.
Australia’s national currency is the Australian dollar (AUD) which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations.
Credit cards such as American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and JCB are accepted in Australia. VISA or MasterCard are accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted. American Express and Diners Club are accepted at major supermarket and department store chains and many tourist destinations. JCB is only accepted at very limited tourist destinations. Discover is not usually accepted.
It is best to carry more than one type of card as not all cards are accepted by all merchants. Always carry a little cash if possible. Merchants may impose credit card surcharges in some places.
Smoking is actively discouraged and governments collect huge taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products.
Smoking is prohibited on all international and domestic airline flights, inside all Australian airports, on all forms of public transport and on tourist coaches. It is not allowed in any cinema, theatre, gallery, government or private office building, except in restaurants or cafes which have a smoking section (outdoors).
Smoking is now completely banned inside in all buildings including restaurants and clubs/bars, down the Bourke Street Mall and RMIT footpaths. Smoking is not allowed in department stores and shops. Many rental car companies take the ashtrays out of their vehicles to discourage smoking, which is also prohibited in taxis.
There are heavy on the spot fines for smoking in prohibited areas.