advertisement

Telephones

To call Australia from abroad: First dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand. Next dial Australia's country code, 61. Then dial the city code (drop the 0 from any area code given in this guide) and then the number.

To make international calls from Australia: First dial 0011 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada: 1; U.K.: 44; Ireland: 353; New Zealand: 64). Next you dial the area code and number. You may want to invest in an international online telephone card such as ekit (www.ekit.com), which will allow you to call overseas at much cheaper rates. Cards are rechargeable online.

For directory assistance: Dial tel. 12455 if you're looking for a number inside Australia, and dial tel. 1225 for numbers to all other countries.

For operator assistance: If you need operator assistance in making a call, dial tel. 12550 if you're trying to make an international call and tel. 1234 if you want to call a number in Australia.

Calling within Australia: Each Australian state has a different area code: 02 for New South Wales and the ACT; 07 for Queensland; 03 for Victoria and Tasmania; 08 for South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia. You must dial the appropriate code if calling outside the state you are in; however, you also need to use the code if you are calling outside the city you are in. For example if you are in Sydney, where the code is 02, and you want to call another New South Wales town, you still dial 02 before the number.

Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 1800 within Australia are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the United States from Australia is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Other numbers: Numbers starting with 13 or 1300 in Australia are charged at the local fee anywhere in Australia. Numbers beginning with 1900 (or 1901 or 1902 and so on) are pay-for-service lines, and you will be charged as much as A$5 a minute.

Pay phones: The primary telecommunications network in Australia is Telstra (www.telstra.com.au). Telstra pay phones are found in most city streets, shopping centers, transport terminals, post offices, and along highways -- even in some of the most remote areas of Australia. To find the nearest one to you, call tel. 1800/011 433 or look online at www.telstra.com.au/payphoneservices/index.htm. A local call from a pay phone can be paid by either in coins or by using a phone card. Some phones only take prepaid phone cards, which can be purchased from newsstands and other retailers in denominations of A$5, A$10, and A$20 and are good for local, national, and international calls. There are no access numbers -- you just insert the card and dial. Credit phones take most major credit cards. Some phones also allow you to send SMS messages. Pay phones can be found in the usual booths, but you may also find some inside convenience stores and the like, called "blue phones" or "gold phones."

Mobile Phones

The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout Europe and dozens of other countries worldwide. In the U.S., T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Microcell and some Rogers customers are GSM; and all Europeans and most Australians use GSM. GSM phones function with a removable plastic SIM card, encoded with your phone number and account information. If your cellphone is on a GSM system, and you have a world-capable multiband phone such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models, you can make and receive calls across civilized areas around much of the globe. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account.

For many, renting a phone is a good idea. While you can rent a phone from any number of overseas sites, including kiosks at airports and at car-rental agencies, we suggest renting the phone before you leave home. North Americans can rent one before leaving home from InTouch U.S.A. (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchglobal.com) or RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1616 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work overseas; simply call tel. 703/222-7161 during business hours (EST) or go to http://intouchglobal.com/travel.htm.

In Australia, mobile phone company Vodafone (tel. 1300/300 404 in Australia; www.vodafone.com.au) has outlets at Brisbane international airport and at both international and domestic terminals in Sydney and Perth. Optus (tel. 1300/768 453 in Australia; www.optus.com.au) has a store at Melbourne airport. Charges vary depending on the kind of phone and coverage you want, but some of the benefits include one low call rate throughout Australia, free incoming calls, international direct-dialing access, text messaging and voicemail. Alternatively, you are able to rent a mobile phone or sim card for your existing mobile phone to stay in touch while you're travelling.

In Australia -- reputed to have one of the world's highest per-capita rates of ownership of "mobile" telephones, as they are known here -- the cell network is digital, not analog. Calls to or from a mobile telephone are generally more expensive than calls to or from a fixed telephone. The price varies depending on the telephone company, the time of day, the distance between caller and recipient, and the telephone's pricing plan.

Buying a prepaid phone can be economically attractive. Once you arrive in Australia, stop by a local cellphone shop and get the cheapest package; you'll have a phone and a starter calling card with a significant amount of free credit.

Internet & Wi-Fi

For dial-up access, most business-class hotels throughout Australia offer dataports for laptop modems, and some of them offer free high-speed Internet access. It's becomingly increasingly more important to know in advance whether to bring your laptop, so check the list of hotel and in room amenities in each hotel listing to see what kind of Internet service your hotels offer (if any).

Aside from cybercafes, most youth hostels and public libraries have Internet access. Avoid hotel business centers unless you're willing to pay exorbitant rates. Cybercafes (called Internet cafes in Australia) can be found almost everywhere. In major tourist cities, such as Cairns and Darwin, there are entire streets full of them. Most major airports have Internet kiosks that provide basic Web access for a per-minute fee that's usually higher than cybercafe prices. To find cybercafes in your destination, check www.cybercaptive.com and www.cybercafe.com.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.