Australia and the Australian Way of Life

Australia is a large country, in the most part very arid and dry, except on the coastlines where the major cities are located. Cities are spread over a large geographic area, with the average Australian home located on a sizable block of land.

This in turn means that some students will travel considerable distances to school, shopping centres and the Central Business District. The public transport system, including trains, trams and buses, provides an efficient service to reach most destinations.

The Australian population is made up of people from many nations with migrants having come from many European and Asian countries. For this reason Australia is often described as a multi-cultural society. Today, Melbourne is a diverse and multicultural city with a population of more than 4.8 million – 38% of which was born overseas.


Climate

Melbourne, being in the southern part of Australia and on the coast, has reasonably fluctuating temperatures.

The summer months, from December to March, can be excessively hot, sometimes reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, but it can also be changeable, turning cold for short periods of time. You will need to have very light weight clothes. Shorts and T-shirts are common for casual wear.

The winter months, from June to August, are cold, wet and windy. While we do not have snow in Melbourne, the nights are very cold and temperatures will vary in a day from a low of 1 or 2 degrees to a maximum of 10 to 15 degrees. You will need a couple of very warm, thick jumpers (pullovers or sweaters), and some sort of rain-proof jacket.

Spring (from September to November) and Autumn (from March to May) are very changeable months and can vary from warm sunshine one moment to cold, wet weather the next. It is often said by people from other States in Australia that Melbourne can have ‘four seasons in one day’!


Public Transport

Melbourne’s public transport system operates tram, train and bus services throughout the metropolitan area and generally operates between 5.00am and 1am Sunday to Thursday, with 24 hour service on Friday and Saturday nights.
Every train station in Melbourne is staffed by Protective Service Officers after 6pm each night. It is recommended you exercise normal caution when traveling alone or at night.

Public transport is reasonably priced, but you are NOT eligible for student concessions as an overseas student.
Melbourne’s ‘myki’ ticketing system uses a reusable smart card that are used to pay for your journey.
Myki money and myki pass can be instantly topped up at myki machines or online.

It is illegal to travel on public transport without a ticket. If you get caught, you will be fined on the spot. Repeated offenses will result in a visit from the police, either to your home or the School. At weekends there is a reduced service in all forms of transport.

More information about myki and public transport in Melbourne and Victoria can be found on the PTV website.


Money

Australia uses the Australian dollar (A$ or AUD) and has a decimal system with 100 cents to the dollar i.e. (100 cents = $1.00). There are six coins: $2 and $1 coins are gold; and 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c coins are silver. There are five notes: $100, $50, $20 $10 and $5. Each note has a unique design and a different colour.

Banks are generally open Monday to Thursday, 9.30am – 4.00pm and Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm. Some banks are open on Saturday mornings. If you want to open a bank account, you need to take some identification documents – your passport, credit card, drivers licence (if you have one), student ID card.

The main banks in Melbourne include ANZ, Bank of Melbourne/Westpac, Commonwealth and the National Australia Bank. Other financial institutions such as Building Societies, Credit Unions and Finance Companies can also be found. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widespread throughout Australia.


Costs of Living in Melbourne

Indicative costs of living in Melbourne can be found here.