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About Australia

Culture and society

shutterstock_234497830Australia is truly unique — it is the only country in the world that covers an entire continent and it is also the largest island in the world. Australia’s population currently stands at approximately 23 million people, with about a quarter of the population born overseas.

Australia’s vibrant multiculturalism stems from a combination of Indigenous cultures, early European settlement and mass immigration. Australia is proud of the diversity of its people and enjoys the variety of different cultures and foods that this provides. Australia is also a secular country, meaning that there is no official religion. Each capital city has places of worship for religions from around the world. Australians value freedom, diversity, equality and peacefulness.

History

shutterstock_126378035 (1)The earliest human population arrived on the Australian continent more than 40,000 years ago when Indigenous tribes migrated from an unknown region of Asia. Australia’s Indigenous people have the oldest living cultural history in the world. Indigenous communities keep their cultural heritage alive by passing their knowledge, arts, rituals and performances from one generation to another; speaking and teaching languages; protecting cultural materials; and looking after sacred and significant sites such as Uluru in the Northern Territory.

European exploration of Australia began in 1606 when a Spanish navigator sailed through the Torres Strait, which separates Australia from Papua New Guinea. Dutch, French and English explorers followed and began to map the continent. The European settlement of Australia began in 1788 when the British established a penal colony at Botany Bay, which is now Sydney, the largest city in Australia. The colony grew as free settlers and migrants arrived in Australia hoping to make a better life.

Climate

shutterstock_105084767Australia’s climate varies greatly across the country. About 40 per cent of the northern part of the country lies in the tropics. Monsoon winds bring moist air during summer, and the high rainfall between December and March is called ‘the wet season’. The climate in the southern part of the country is temperate, with cool winters, hot summers and four distinct seasons. Australia lies in the Southern Hemisphere, so the summer months are December, January and February, and the winter months are June, July and August. Nearly 90 per cent of the population live around Australia’s coastal edges, where ocean breezes bring the temperature down. Temperatures in the desert regions are severe and often exceed 40°C during the day in summer and fall as low as -7°C at night in winter.

Government

shutterstock_153640094Australia is a democracy, and vigorous debate is a strong part of the political process. All Australians aged over 18 are required to vote in local, state and federal elections. The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy, and the formal head of state is the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II.

The leader of the Liberal Party of Australia — and Australia’s Prime Minister — is the Hon. Tony Abbott, who was elected in September 2013. The federal government governs the whole of Australia, and the Australian Constitution defines its responsibilities. Responsibilities include matters of quarantine, defence, telecommunications, taxes and welfare. You can find more information at the Australian Government website. Each state and territory government works in cooperation with the Australian Government and is responsible for matters such as police, public schools, roads and transport.

Lifestyle & Recreation

shutterstock_248283136Australians enjoy a very relaxed way of life. Recreation is a huge part of the Australian culture. It might be a weekend drives to exploring regional Australia, a visit to the stunning Great Barrier Reef, or exploring Fraser Island, Uluru or the 12 Apostles. Wherever you go, there is always something to see and do.

You will no doubt notice that Australians are obsessed with all kinds of sport. Our world first-class venues and great climate are reasons why we host major international events. These include the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Australian Open Tennis, the 2003 Rugby World Cup, Cricket Tests, the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

There are more than 100 national sporting organisations and over 30,000 local clubs representing every kind of sport you can think of. Aussie favourites are Australian Rules Football, Cricket, Tennis, Soccer (Football), Rugby and Rugby League, Hockey, Athletics, and Netball.

Other leisure activities regularly enjoyed by Aussies include golf, swimming, rollerblading, cycling, bushwalking, and water activities including sailing and water skiing.

Australians also love their food and wine! There is a huge range of food and wine festivals held all over Australia to showcase our exciting culinary and winemaking talent. There is something for ‘foodies’ of all ages. This is a great place to start: http://www.australia.com/en/things-to-do/food-and-wine.html

Unique Flora and Fauna

Oshutterstock_124383622ur unique animals are one of the many reasons people visit our country. Australia has more than 378 mammal species, 828 bird species, 4000 fish species, 300 species of lizards, 140 snake species, two crocodile species and around 50 types of marine mammal.

More than 80 per cent of our plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia and are found no-where else. Some of our best-known animals are the kangaroo, koala, echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat.

Australia’s native animals can often be difficult to spot in the wild, but you are guaranteed to see them in our world-class zoos and wildlife parks across our major cities and regional areas. These include Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, the Rainforest Habitat in Port Douglas, Victoria’s Healesville Sanctuary, South Australia’s Cleland Wildlife Park and Queensland’s Australia Zoo, amongst others.

Approximate living costs in Australia

shutterstock_247646116The following is an approximate guide in relation to the living costs that you can expect whilst studying in Australia (all costs are in Australian dollars).

Accommodation

  • Hostels and Guesthouses- $80 to $135 per week
  • Shared Rental- $70 to $250 per week
  • On campus- $80 to $250 per week
  • Homestay- $110 to $270 per week
  • Rental- $100 to $400 per week
  • Boarding schools- $10,000 to $20,000 a year

Other living expenses

  • Groceries and eating out- $80 to $200 per week
  • Gas, electricity- $60 to $100 per week
  • Phone and Internet- $20 to $50 per week
  • Public transport- $10 to $50 per week
  • Car (after purchase)- $150 to $250 per week
  • Entertainment- $50 to $100 per week

Minimum cost of living

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa. Below is a guide on the requirements you must meet to study in Australia:

  • You- $18,610
  • Your partner- $6,515
  • Your first child- $3,720
  • Every other child- $2,790

All costs are per year in Australian dollars. To convert to your own currency, visit http://www.xe.com/