I may not earn many brownie points here, but I have to say Australia doesn't rank high on my list of countries. It's something to do with the fact it doesn't quite fit in. It's not America, and it's not the UK, but it sits somewhere inbetween. It has a very capable economy, but it is essentially a desert country, with a fringe of life on it's shores and rainforest in the north east. It has an amazing mix of wildlife, but most of them could potentially kill you given a motive. Or in the case of the massive salt water crocodile, no motive at all.
Something that ticks me off a bit about some Australians (and I live in an area of London full of them), is the constant moaning. Moaning about the UK climate and lack of sunshine. Surely they knew this when they flew around the world to get here. It seemed ironic somewhat, that most of my time in Australia was ducking out of the rain, like here in Brisbane. Having said that, Australians are very friendly, particularly outside Cities. Like the other great nations of travellers (France, Germany and the UK), Australians love to travel, and most young educated people will have seen different parts of the world and lived abroad.
Language: English (just!)
Currency: Australian Dollar (A$)
Visa: Most Western Countries will need to register for an evistor visa before entry, it's free and entitles the holder to 3 months stay.
Plug: Two 45degree angle flat prongs, with a vertical prong at the top of a triangle shape.
GMT: GMT +8 - 10
GDP Ranking (IMF): #16 £24, 650 (Similar to Canada & Germany)
Communications: Country code is +61
Health: No vaccinations are necessary for Australia, it has a modern health system. Be aware of the fact Australia's wildlife is mostly very dangerous, including spiders, snakes, sharks, jellyfish and crocodiles (aka Salties) who can all kill. North Queensland has had cases of dengue fever, so take precautions during the day. Be aware of the sun at all times, and protect yourself as necessary.
When to Visit: Australia is a huge country with different climates. It's seasons are based on the Southern Hemisphere, so it's at it's hottest (over 40c) in January. The north of the country is hot and humid most of the year.
Personal Safety: The usual big city awareness rules apply, however Australia is generally considered safe. The environment and wildlife are more dangerous. F&CO advice is here.
Getting Around: Due to it's size, internal flights are going to be beneficial to those looking for a short visit. Train and bus routes exist between most destinations.
What to see/do: Being the same size as Europe, Australia has more than can be achieved in one or even ten trips. The famous sites include The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kings Canyon and Watarrka National Park, Sydney Harbour and the Gold Coast for Beach fiends. Other places include the emptiness of the Great Ocean Road, Trekking in the Blue Mountains and wine region, waterfalls of North East Tasmania, the most isolated city on earth, Perth and Fraser Island for wilderness with beach camping.
Food & Drink: Australia is well known for it's diverse wildlife, so why not eat some?! Kangaroo, Emu, Crocodile and bush tucker (whatever can be scavenged while living rough in the outback, namely insects, grubs, berries and nuts). Australia was built on immigration, and as such has lots of dishes based on immigrant groups, mainly European and SE asian. Vegemite is something of a mainstay in Australia, spread on bread or a roll.
Australia is famous for it's wines, and as such, one should indulge. Especially because Australia's beers are rather bland, like America. Castlemaine XXXX, Tooheys, Victoria Bitter (VBs) and Fosters lead the pack. However one should look for micro breweries or pubs/shops that sell better brews, including Murrays WIld Thing Imperial Stout. Little Creatures Pale Ale and for those looking for something different, Thorogoods Billy Bs Golden Malted Apple beer get's good reviews, and a kick at 12% abv.