Passage 2 | Visiting Australia
A. Quarantine Arrangement
Australia is a beautiful country free from many pests and diseases found elsewhere in the world. Quarantine helps keep it that way. When entering Australia, it’s vital that you declare on your Incoming Passenger Card any food, live plants and animals and any items made from wood, plants or animals. Quarantine officers use detector dog teams, X-ray machines and random baggage checks to detect undeclared quarantine items. If you conceal items of quarantine concern, you may receive an on-the-spot fine or you could be prosecuted.
B. Health in Australia
Australia has a very high standard of hygiene and very safe food and drinking water. As a result, special precautions are unnecessary. No vaccinations are required unless some time has been spent in an infected country in the previous two weeks, although immunisation is always a good idea if your international itinerary is broad.
C. Health Services
Australia offers free service at public hospitals to its own citizens and permanent residents and has universal health care under the Medicare system. This covers most or all of the cost of visiting a doctor. However, these services only extend to citizens of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. All visitors will have to pay in full and up-front for dental treatment, ambulance charges and medicines. The cost of an unsubsidised, standard visit to a doctor is currently around A$35, but serious illness can be much more expensive. Traveler’s insurance covering medical care and medicines is therefore highly recommended. A personal basic medical kit could also be a good idea.
D. Fire Bans
Respect fire bans (broadcast on the radio) and be careful with cigarette butts and broken glass which can ignite bush fires in hot, dry weather. if caught in a fire, head for a clearing (avoid dense tree growths). If in a car get off the road, stay in the vehicle, get under the dashboard and cover yourself, preferably with a woolen blanket.
If bushwalking or camping, be sure to leave an itinerary with friends and go carefully prepared for the contingency of getting lost. Remember that nights can be freezing despite the daytime temperature.
F. Bite and Fright
When walking in the bush and rainforest, be sure to wear boots, thick long socks and long trousers and be careful about putting your hand into holes. Ticks* and leeches* are common so check your body thoroughly after bushwalking. Ticks can be dangerous if not removed. They can be removed with kerosene or methylated spirits (don’t break the head off inside your body) and leeches can be removed with salt or heat.
The chances of being attacked, stung or bitten by poisonous wildlife are extremely remote but, if a poisonous snake or spider should bite, try to stay calm, wrap the area in a tight bandage, keep very still and send for medical help.
A similar procedure applies to poisonous marine life. Sea wasps are a deadly type of jellyfish which sting with their tentacles, causing tell-tale welt marks. Wash the wound with vinegar and don’t remove the stingers. Do not swim in unprotected waters. Areas of danger – particularly those involving sharks, crocodiles and stingers – have clearly marked signs. Even if your English is less than perfect, the signs have clear illustrations of the potential dangers of an area.
I. Australian Roads
There is a very clear division between inland and coastal roads. The built-up coastal area from South Australia to Queensland (and the south western corner of Western Australia) is served by modern freeways and good quality sealed roads. The further inland the traveller goes, the worse the roads become. In the far west of Queensland, for example, the roads can be unsealed and around the Gulf it is common for a road to only have a single width of tarmac. This means that if you come across a road train (they can be over 20 metres long) carrying cattle you have to head off the road. This is not a humorous suggestion. Road trains need all the road and expect on-coming traffic to head for the hills. They have trouble deviating and will destroy a car rather than endanger their entire load.
Quiz | Passage 1 | Visiting Australia