Australia is the world’s sixth largest country, measuring 4000 kilometers (2500 miles) from east to west and 3200 kilometers (2000 miles) from north to south. It has a population of more than 20 million people who have settled mainly around the coastal strip.
The climate varies depending on location. Victoria (Melbourne), in the south, experiences warm to hot summers, mild autumns, cool to cold winters and cool springs. In northern Australia, the weather is tropical, generally hot and humid for most of the year.
Australia is divided into six states (Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) and two territories (the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The country has three levels of government. The Federal government (the Commonwealth) looks after matters concerning the whole of Australia (eg immigration, foreign affairs, taxation). The eight state and territory governments look after the affairs of each state or territory (eg health, industry regulations and development). Numerous local councils (local government) look after the day-to-day running of smaller local areas within the states.
More than 140 ethnic groups are represented in Australia, making Australia one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Australia’s dynamic multiculturalism can be attributed to its unique combination of Indigenous cultures, early European settlement and immigration from all parts of the world.
Australians value the wealth of cultural diversity and social sophistication that international students bring to our campuses and our communities. We take great care in looking after international students and helping them to adjust to the Australian way of life. International students also gain great benefits from their education in Australia and make lifelong friendships.
Melbourne is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +10). Daylight saving is followed in Victoria, which commences in October and finishes in April. Clocks are advanced by one hour in October and turned back one hour in April. Please visit the website www.worldtimezone.com for information on time zones.
In Australia, electricity is 220-240 Volts AC. Electrical sockets require three-pin plugs. Most large hotels feature universal outlets for 240V or 100V shavers, but for any other electrical device you will probably need to use an adapter. You can buy an adaptor from many department stores and luggage shops.
Although English is the official language, a host of other languages are spoken in Australia. As one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, many Australians are naturally fluent in other languages. More than 2.4 million Australians speak a language other than English at home. Within the education and training system, about 15 per cent of those of working age studying for an educational qualification have English as a second language.
More than 800,000 Australians speak a European Union language, apart from English, in the home and more than 800,000 Australians speak an Asian language in the home.
Australia, not only is there the opportunity to improve your English through specialist study in an English-speaking environment, but all sectors of Australian education and training provide tuition in many other languages as well. English, as it is spoken in Australia, is very easily understood by nearly all people from other English-speaking nations. While there are some minor differences in accent between the cities and country areas, the difference is much less than you will find in America, Britain and Canada where French is also spoken. As you improve your English in Australia you will learn some of our slang, and have much fun explaining the meanings to your friends and relatives at home.
Australia is predominantly a Christian country however all religions are represented in our multicultural society. Australians respect the freedom of people to practice their choice of religion. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are located in most major cities. Some universities have their own spiritual groups on campus.
Melbourne is the capital of the State of Victoria, with a population of approximately 4 million, and set around the shores of Port Phillip Bay with its beautiful beaches and water sports facilities. The city itself, laid out in a large rectangle and boasting a lively and cosmopolitan pulse, sits on the northern banks of the Yarra River, about 5 kilometres from the bay.
Melbourne is a world-renowned cultural, artistic, financial and communications centre and is considered as the fashion and sporting capital of Australia. Melbourne, once voted the world’s ‘most liveable city’, enjoys clean fresh air and beautiful parks and gardens.
Multiculturalism is a highlight of Melbourne. There are now people from more than 140 nations living harmoniously together. This broad ethnic mix has brought many benefits to the city, including a wide range of cuisines and over 2,300 elegant restaurants, bistros and cafes. Bustling Chinatown, in the heart of the city, serves up the finest of Asian cuisine and culture. Several other Melbourne streets are dedicated to Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian and Greek food – cuisine to suit every palate and many to suit a student’s budget.
Melbourne has an excellent public transport system with trams, trains and buses providing an extensive network throughout the city and suburbs.
Melbourne enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons in the year – spring, summer, winter and autumn. Below is a guide to the average daily temperatures:
- Spring: September to November: Warm and sunny 12 – 22 degrees Celsius
- Summer: December to February: Can be hot and dry, 28 – 32 degrees Celsius
- Autumn: March to May: Sunny days, cool nights 12 – 20 degrees Celsius
- Winter: June to August: Rain and fairly cool, no snow, 10 – 15 degrees Celsius.
Melbourne does not have a specific wet season – it can rain at any time of the year. Sports and other outdoor activities are possible at all times of the year.
Major festivals in Melbourne include:
- International Comedy Festival
- International Festival of the Arts
- Chinese New Year Parade
- Moomba Festival
- International Sporting Events
Major international sporting events held in Melbourne include:
- Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup)
- Australian Open (Grand Slam tennis)
- Grand Prix Motor Racing
- World Series and Test cricket
- Bells Beach Surf Classic
- For further information please visit: www.visitvictoria.com