6 questions you might not think to ask

25 April, 2016

1. Can I drink the tap water?

Yes. There are a few rare exceptions in times of drought and/or in rural areas, but you will be told or warned in these cases.

2. How do I pay for transport?

Depending on the city you are visiting or living in, you may need to have a card or pass credited with cash before you can travel – this true for all transport in Melbourne and many buses in Sydney, where the drivers are cashless. Sydney trains, however, still permit you to buy a paper ticket. This is, however, being phased out 

Brisbane also has a cashless pass system, but you can still buy as you travel. Perth and Adelaide are pay as you go.

All cities have free shuttle services with varying degrees of usefulness within the central business area.

3. What's cheque/savings/credit?

This baffled me for the first few days of living here – and when I asked what it meant people didn’t realise that it was anything different so didn’t give me an answer that I understood.

When you pay with a debit card, you can state what account the funds will come from. You may have a different card for your current (‘savings’ account as it’s called here) account and your credit card, so when you hand it over you need to stipulate which it is, or some vendors will allow you to select it yourself.

If you don’t know, or only have one account linked to the card, then choose ‘savings’.

When in doubt, you can always ask in your bank branch at any time, or they should tell you when setting up the account.

4. Do I need to take a driving test if I have an international driving licence?

If you are considered a visitor (ie not a permanent resident) in Australia, then you are not required to take a test as you can drive using your international licence.

When you move permanently as a resident, for most states you have a 3 month grace period in which you must get an Australian driving licence. The rules vary by state as to whether you need to take a test, but most Western nations are exempt and you simply hand over your international licence to get ‘voided’ and you are issued with an Australian one. The rules are governed by each state and are subject to change, so check here based on the state you’re looking to move to: http://www.australia.gov.au/content/driving-with-an-overseas-licence

5. How do I make an international phonecall, and how do I give out my phone number?

The country code for Australia is 61, usually depicted as ‘+61’. The ‘+’ means that you have to insert some digits depending on the country you are in.

When dialling FROM Australia, you need to dial 0011 and then the country code. So, the UK code is +44, so you would dial 001144, drop the first ‘0’ and then the rest of the number.

This is similar when telling your family and friends to call you here. You drop the ‘0’ in your phone number and insert the +61 in front, e.g. +61 4xxxxxxx


6. How are addresses written?

Australian street addresses comprises of a unit (apartment/condo) number, street number, suburb/area, state and postcode.

Even though an area (or suburb as they are called here) is in a city, Melbourne, for example, ‘Melbourne’ will not be mentioned unless the address is in the central business area. That is the only area that is strictly considered ‘Melbourne’. The suburb is then followed by the state, abbreviated as below.

For example, Bondi is a suburb within Sydney. Sydney is not mentioned in the address, but the address would be written like so for a house (or unit #1 in the building):

Joe Blogs

1 The Street (or 1/1 The Street)


NSW 2026

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