The Australian Science Communicators are hosting the conference in collaboration with the World Federation of Science Journalists.
Melbourne A - Z
Almost all international visitors coming to the conference will require
a short business visit visa. For most countries this may take four to
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a valid visa to enter
Australia. We can provide documentation to assist you, but it is your
For some more information on applying for a visa, click here
Further information can be found at www.immi.gov.au
Prior to landing on Australian soil, you will be handed an incoming passenger card to complete, as well as Customs and Agriculture Declaration forms. Australia has particularly strict quarantine laws – you must declare all goods of animal or plant origin, and you’re not allowed to bring into the country fresh fruit or vegetables. If you’re concerned about bringing any items into Australia, declare them. And if you’ve been snacking on the flight, place any leftovers in the amnesty quarantine bins available in the arrival area or on the way to the luggage collection bay.
Australian customs regulations allow anyone over 18 to import the following goods duty free: AUD$400 worth of goods, not including alcohol or tobacco; 2.25 litres of alcohol; 250 cigarettes, or 250 grams of cigars or tobacco products (other than cigarettes).
Melbourne Tullamarine Airport is approximately 25 minutes drive from the Central Business District (CBD). Skybus operates a shuttle every 10-15 minutes daily, information can be found at www.skybus.com.au. Expect to pay $45 - $50AUD for a taxi to the CBD.
Voted the world's most liveable city, here's some information on what to find when you get here:
The main Visitor Information Centre is located at Federation Square on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Street. It is open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Sunday and from 10am to 6pm on Public holidays. The centre provides tours and accommodation bookings and has a wide variety of brochues on Melbourne and Victorian places of interest. There is also an Information booth located in the Bourke Street Mall. Free City maps are available from the Visitor Information centre and Booth.
(www.mcvb.com.au/melbourne-fast-facts.aspx) A set of quick facts about Melbourne from the body which is helping us to bring you all out here. The rest of their website is full of good information too - a great place to start.
Further information about Melbourne and Victoria can be found at:
www.thatsmelbourne.com.au - This site offers information about everything going on in Melbourne - from major events, bars and clubs, shopping, parks and gardens, eating out, exhibitions. It also has a section especially for visitors.
From locally-designed originals to the best of international brands you'll be spoilt for choice in Melbourne's shopping precincts. Explore department stores and shopping centres and meander through the city's myriad of arcades and laneways. City shops generally open from 9am to 5pm but some have hours of 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. On Friday, most shops in the CBD and suburban shopping centres remain open until 9pm. On Saturday, the hours in the CBD and shopping centres are generally 9am to 5pm. Major Melbourne department stores and suburban shopping centres open on Sundays from 10am.
Post offices are open from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday. The main post office in the Melbourne CBD is situated at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets.
50 cent local calls (Melbourne metropolitan area). Many pay phones will now only accept prepaid cards and phone credit cards, not coins.
Victoria operates on Australia Eastern Standard time for most of the year which is based on Greenwich meantime plus 10 hours. Daylight saving applies from the last Sunday in October until the last Sunday in March. Clocks are advanced one hour during this period.
Australia uses the metric system.
Australia runs on 240V, 50hz current.
Casual is the usual dress style in Australia, although more formal attire may be required at five star restaurants and theatres. Light clothing for summer is recommended, although a sweater may be needed for cooler nights. Warm clothing including thick sweaters or jumpers and coats and jackets should be packed for winter in Victoria.
January: 1, New Year's Day; 26, Australia Day April: 25, ANZAC Day June: First Monday after June 8, Queen's Birthday December: 25, Christmas Day; 26, Boxing Day Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter; Day after Easter, Easter Monday
The minimum legal 'drinking' age is 18. Young people going to bars and discos should carry identification to prove they are at least 18 years old. They will not be let in otherwise. No one may buy liquor from a bar or liquor store (bottle shop) unless they are at least 18. Buying liquor for a 'minor' is illegal.
Tipping is not a general custom in Australia, and is at your discretion.
Australia has a decimal system with 100 cents to the dollar (AUD$). Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and AUD$1 and AUD$2; notes have values of AUD$5, AUD$10, AUD$20, AUD$50 and AUD$100.
Departing travellers may be able to claim a refund for GST and WET (Wine Equalisation Tax) paid on goods purchased in Australia. The refund is applicable to goods, totalling at least $A300 (GST inclusive) that are being taken out of Australia and that have been purchased no earlier than 30 days before leaving Australia. TRS facilities are located at international airports and cruise-liner terminals. To claim, make sure you have your passport, international boarding pass, retailer’s tax invoice and the goods. Other conditions may apply.
Brands like American Express and Travelex are widely accepted in Victoria, and can be cashed at banks, foreign exchange brokers, larger hotels and restaurants, and for car rental. Passport ID is required when you cash travellers cheques. Fees for changing travellers cheques vary from bank to bank.
Major credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club and their affiliates – are widely accepted throughout Victoria. Some retailers in larger centres will also accept JCB cards. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with around-the-clock access are available in convenient locations like banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 per cent on most goods and services such as accommodation, day tours, guides, translators, food, transport (including coach, rail and cruise) and other tourism services within Australia. International airfares do not attract GST. For international visitors, all prices quoted for a Victorian holiday will include the 10 per cent GST, payable at the time of ticketing.
Banks are usually open 9.30am - 4.00pm Monday - Thursday and 9.30am - 5.00pm Fridays but some banks offer extended hours and are open on Saturday mornings. Most are closed weekends.
All banks have automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible 24-hours a day, generally outside the branch or in the foyer. Check with your card issuer that your charge or account-linked credit card can be used in this way, and at which bank as none accept every brand of card.
Most banks will engage in foreign currency exchange. Some banking facilities are also now available at supermarkets, while EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer point of sale) facilties at stores allow you to withdraw cash using common credit cards such as VISA and Mastercard.
Australian health care professionals are highly trained and medical services are among the best in the world. Visitors from the UK, New Zealand and Finland are entitled to free or heavily subsidised medical and hospital care under reciprocal national health care agreements with the taxpayer funded Medicare organisation. All other visitors should take out travel insurance when visiting Australia. Several Australian-based travel insurers have special cover for visitors which are very much less expensive than travel cover sold in the US, for instance. Major hotels have doctor's on-call.
1223 (Melbourne area), 0175 (Australia), 0103 (International).
The emergency phone number for police, ambulance and fire is 000.
Getting around Melbourne is easy thanks to an excellent train and tram system, a good taxi service and an easy-to-navigate gridlike city map Most visitors base themselves in the city centre, the buzzing commercial heart of Melbourne that's also home to museums, theatres, restaurants, bars and shops. The city's layout makes Melbourne an easy city to navigate, and almost everything is within walking distance – if it's not, you can simply hop aboard a train or tram. For comprehensive public transport and timetable information, contact Metlink on 131 638 or visit www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au.
Victoria has a fast, efficient and user-friendly train system, with coverage to most destinations and frequent services. Flinders Street Station, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, is the hub of Melbourne’s train system, and all trains begin or end their journey there. Melbourne also enjoys an underground train system, known as the City Loop, with five stations servicing the CBD: Southern Cross Station, Flagstaff, Melbourne Central, Parliament and Flinders Street (these stations feature accessible toilets and lifts. Note Flagstaff does not operate on weekends). As well, there are 16 different train lines servicing the outer suburbs – these lines are all linked to bus and tram services and stations are between one and two kilometres apart.
In Melbourne, services run from 5am until midnight. You can pick up train route maps at any City Loop station. Video monitors display arrival and departure times in CBD stations (you’ll also be notified of departures via a public address announcement), while similar information is available at suburban stations from train announcement systems.
Bikes and boards
Bicycles can be carried free on board trains, except during peak periods (Monday to Friday 7–9.30am and 4–6pm), when you’ll need to buy an extra adult concession fare. You’ll also have to purchase a concession fare if you carry a surfboard on a train.
Tickets, called Metcards, can be pre-purchased from premium train stations and stores displaying a Metcard sign, via the Metcard Helpline (1800 652 313)or from the online MetShop and are interchangeable for use on all metropolitan public transport. Fares are based on duration and distance, with metropolitan Melbourne divided into three zones. When travelling on all public transport, make sure you have a valid ticket as roving ticket inspectors will fine passengers caught not carrying a valid ticket.
While all trains are accessible, there may be a vertical and/or horizontal gap to negotiate so caution should be exercised. The safest way to travel on the train system is to seek assistance from the driver to board the first carriage. A well developed system is in place to facilitate boarding. The most forward and mid-way points on the platform are marked with a white or yellow line. During peak periods position yourself at the forward mark and during off peak times position yourself at the mid-way point. This signals to the driver that assistance with a portable ramp is required. The ramp is carried in the drivers compartment. One tip is to provide a written note/sticky label identifying the station you would like to disembark. Stickers are available from Metlink or take your own posted notes. This will help train drivers to remember when they need to assist you.
Melbourne’s trams and light rail service give the city a distinctive character and provide a scenic way to explore the city and inner suburbs like Richmond, St Kilda and South Yarra. Travelling along most of Melbourne’s major thoroughfares, trams run down the centre of the road, stopping at every CBD intersection and then every two or three blocks once in the suburbs.
Services run regularly from 5am until midnight Monday to Saturday and from 8am to 11pm Sundays. On weekends and public holidays, services are reduced. Many tram services link up to bus and train routes so you can negotiate your way to most places in Melbourne within a short walk from a train, tram or bus. Passengers can board trams at signposted stops on the side of the road and from central islands in the CBD. These spots often have a map with route numbers and times – the route number is displayed at the front of the tram. To catch a tram, signal to the driver with a raised hand and climb on board, either through the front, middle or rear doors. Although motorists are prohibited from passing trams that are stationary at stops, always look left to see if there are any vehicles approaching.
Tickets, called Metcards, can be pre-purchased from train stations and stores displaying a Metcard sign and are interchangeable for use on all metropolitan public transport. As well, a limited selection of Metcards can be purchased from onboard coin-only ticket machines. Acquiring Met tickets under the automated system can provide some difficulties for people with disabilities. Tickets can also be purchased over the counter from booking offices at premium train stations or via the Metcard Helpline (1800 652 313).
Fares are based on duration and distance, with metropolitan Melbourne divided into three zones. When travelling on all public transport, make sure you have a valid ticket as roving ticket inspectors can fine you AUD$100.
The distinctive burgundy and gold City Circle tram provides a free and convenient way to move around the city and passes a number of sights and attractions including NewQuay dining and entertainment precinct. Running along Flinders Street, Harbour Esplanade, La Trobe Street and Spring Street, the journey takes nearly 50 minutes, although it can be used as a hop on, hop off service. Trams run in both directions every 12 minutes from 10am-6pm seven days a week (except Christmas Day and Good Friday). During daylight saving hours are extended on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to 9pm. Note: The City Circle Tram is not accessible for wheelchair users.
Melbourne taxis are numerous and easy to spot – they are all uniformly yellow. As well, drivers must always wear a neat uniform and have an identity card on show at all times. Cabs often wait in designated ranks that are clearly signposted at central locations like major hotels in the CBD, or busy spots such as Flinders Street Station. You can also hail a taxi in the street – if the rooftop light is illuminated, it means the taxi is available for hire – or book a taxi by telephone. Outside Melbourne, taxis widely operate in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, with additional cabs at country towns throughout the rest of the state. In general, taxi meters are clearly visible so you can keep check of your fare. Melbourne cabs also attract additional charges like a late night surcharge from midnight to 5am, a fee for phone bookings, a fee for using the Citylink freeway and even a fee for taxis waiting at the airport rank. Melbourne’s major taxi companies include: 13 CABS (13 2227 – within Australia only) Arrow (ph 13 2211 – within Australia only) Embassy Taxis (ph 13 1755 – within Australia only) Silver Top Taxis (ph 13 1008 – within Australia only).
Rental cars and Motorhomes and Campervans are freely available from Melbourne Airport and Melbourne City locations.
Australians drive on the left, which can be initially disconcerting for some visitors used to driving on the right side of the road. However, it does take only a small amount of time to adjust - just remember, passenger on the kerb side! Roads are generally good and major routes are well signposted. Drivers and all passengers are required to wear seatbelts. Infants must be in 'baby capsules' and small children in child seats, which can be hired from car rental companies. Speed limits are clearly marked (generally 60 km/h in built up areas and 100 km/h on open roads). Speed cameras and radar are widely used.
Melbourne enjoys a temperate climate with a cool winter. Average minimum temperatures in the winter months of June through to August are 6-7 degrees Celcius . The summer season is from December through to February. April is Autumn in Melbourne which means the weather can vary a great deal from day to day. The average temperature is 20°C with clear days and cooler nights, however we recommend that you bring clothing to allow for warmer, wet and cooler weather. Melbourne is renowned for “four seasons in one day” and it is best to be prepared!
(www.bom.gov.au/weather/vic/) Information about the climate in Melbourne and the state of Victoria.