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South Australia Travel Information

Here you'll find essential travel information and what you need to know before visiting South Australia. Find out about Visas, Quarantine laws and health care.

Discover South Australia 

Area: 984,377 square kilometres
Adelaide population: 1,295 714 in December 2016
South Australia population: 1.717 000 in December 2016
Coastline: 4800 kilometres (with 100 islands)

Adelaide Footbridge

Adelaide footbridge of the River Torrens.

Travel information


Holiday and working Visas

Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you will need a valid Australian visa to enter the country. New Zealand passport holders can apply for a visa upon arrival in the country. All other passport holders must apply for a visa before leaving home. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas, at your nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate. 


You can also apply for certain types of visas on the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

What type of tourist visa should I apply for?
There are a variety of visas available to travellers to Australia. The type of visa you should apply for depends on the length of your stay, your passport and the purpose of your visit.

eVisitor (subclass 651)
This is a free visa for multiple visits to Australia for tourism or business purposes for up to three months at a time within a 12-month period. This visa is available to passport holders from a number of European countries and it cannot be extended.

Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601)
This visa allows you to visit Australia as many times as you want, for up to a year, and stay for three months each visit. This visa is available to passport holders from a number of countries and regions, who live outside Australia. There is no visa application charge for an ETA, however a $20 service charge applies for online applications only.

Visitor visa (subclass 600)
The Visitor visa is designed for people who are not eligible for the eVisitor or Electronic Travel Authority visa. This visa allows you to visit Australia, either for tourism or business purposes, for up to three, six or 12 months. The base application fee for this visa ranges from $135 to $340.

What visa do I need to work legally in Australia?

The Working Holiday Maker program encourages cultural exchange and closer ties between some countries by allowing young adults (18 to 30 years old) to have an extended holiday supplemented by short-term employment. There are two types of Working Holiday visas:

Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417)
For applicants with a passport from Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom.

Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462)
For applicants with a passport from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, USA and Uruguay.


For more information visit the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.


Find more information about working holiday and backpacker jobs in South Australia here.


Quarantine laws

South Australia has strict quarantine laws in addition to national laws. The laws are in place to protect our agricultural industries and unique environments against some of the world’s most serious pests and diseases. When arriving by plane, you must declare all food, plant and animal products. If you have items you don't wish to declare, you can dispose of them in quarantine bins in the airport terminal.


There are also quarantine checkpoints consisting of roadblocks and fruit disposal bins if you are arriving by road.

Kangaroo Island Sanctuary

Kangaroo Island is a Ligurian Bee Sanctuary and a Potato Protected Production Area. Carrying honey, bees and bee products onto the island is prohibited. Potatoes are also prohibited unless they have been washed or brushed free of soil and are in new packaging. Rabbits are prohibited on Kangaroo Island.  

Riverland of South Australia

Do not take fresh, unprocessed fruit and fruiting vegetables (including capsicum, chilli, tomato and eggplant) into the Riverland of South Australia without an itemised receipt from an SA retail outlet or a plant health certificate.

Phylloxera

South Australia is the only Australian state to have avoided an outbreak of phylloxera, a plant lice that destroys grapevines. If you have been driving or walking in vineyards interstate, please thoroughly clean your car and shoes before entering South Australia. This will help protect our world-class wine industry. Please obtain permission before entering a vineyard in South Australia.

Fruit Fly

South Australia is the only mainland state without a permanent population of fruit fly. Please do not bring fruit or vegetables into South Australia. Use the dumping bins around the State to prevent being penalised. Of particular importance is the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone (FFEZ) which specifies that no fruit (including peppers, tomato and aubergine) can be carried over its borders.

South Australia has quarantine checkpoints placed throughout the state consisting of roadblocks and fruit disposal bins. There are mobile quarantine roadblocks that operate on country roads in South Australia. 

For more information, visit the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website and the Interstate Quarantine website

Travel assistance

If you are elderly, disabled, recovering from illness or surgery or travelling with children, you can receive travel assistance through Medical Travel Companions.

Assistance is offered in the form of travel nannies; nurses or paramedics who will accompany passengers on their flights to ensure a stress-free journey.


Visit Medical Travel Companions website for more information.


Driving

If you are visiting from overseas, or you've moved here permanently, make sure that you are driving legally and safely.

Short term visitors

Drive on the left in Australia. If you are just visiting Australia, you can drive the same type of vehicle as your current licence allows, but you must drive according to any conditions on your overseas licence.

You will need either one of these:
  • a current licence issued in another country that is written in English
  • a current licence with an English translation if necessary or an international driver's licence.
  • You must carry your licence documents at all times when driving and produce these and your passport to police on request.
You must not be disqualified from driving in any country.

If your overseas licence expires while you are in Australia, you must get an Australian licence.

International driving permit

Your international driving permit (IDP) must be issued by the same country that issued your driver's licence. The permit verifies in several languages that you have a valid driver's licence.

You may need an IDP to rent a car.

An IDP is valid for 12 months and you must also carry your driver's licence from your home country.

Acceptable translations

Driver's licence translations will only be accepted if they meet one of these conditions:
  • an original document (photocopies, faxes and certified copies are not acceptable),
  • translated by a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) approved translator and signed by the translator,
  • from a consulate office in Australia, signed by a consulate officer, and on official consulate letterhead,
  • from the South Australian Government Interpreting and Translating Centre or interstate equivalent, or the Federal Department of Social Services’ free translating service on the appropriate template.

For more information, visit sa.gov.au.

Distances and Safety Tips

There are many dirt, gravel and unsealed roads in the outback and other regions, including Kangaroo Island.


Extra precaution should be taken when driving in these conditions and the appropriate insurance should be purchased. Check with your car hire company to make sure you can take your hire car on these roads. You should avoid driving between dusk and dawn, and in poor weather when outside city areas. Kangaroos, emus and koalas are known to wander into traffic unexpectedly, particularly in low light.

Blood Alcohol Limit

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Australia for a fully-licenced driver is under 0.05. South Australian Police operate mobile drug and breath testing units year-round. It is an offence to drive with a BAC over 0.05. For more information, visit the Motor Accident Commission website.

Car Hire

Hiring a car in South Australia is easy. You can hire a car with any valid driver’s licence as long as it is in English. For licences in other languages you will need to supply an approved English translation or International Driving Permit (IDP). Please note that some car hire companies will not allow you to hire a car unless you have had your driver’s licence for at least a year.

Car Hire Companies

You will find car hire facilities at the Adelaide Airport and throughout the city and suburbs. Some of our most popular car hire businesses are Budget, Thrifty, Avis, Europcar, Hertz and RedSpot Sixt.

Public health care

Australia's public health care system is called Medicare. Eligibility for benefits is generally restricted to residents of Australia. While Australia does have reciprocal healthcare agreements with several countries, it is best to check before you leave home and to always have appropriate travel insurance.

Vaccinations

If you are from a yellow fever infected country or zone or have visited one within six days before entering Australia, you will need to be vaccinated. On arrival, customs officials may ask for your international vaccination certificate.

Be Sun Smart

In South Australia, our summers (December - February) are hot. It often soars above 35°C. Make sure you wear a hat, sunglasses, adequate clothing and sunscreen of at least SPF 30+. Drink plenty of water and seek shade in the extreme heat of the day between 11am and 3pm.

Emergency

In an emergency, call triple zero (000) for ambulance, fire or police assistance throughout Australia. From mobile phones, call 112. For non-emergency police attendance, call 131 444.| 

Bushfire information

A bushfire danger period exists between November and April each year in South Australia. This can be extended, depending on the seasonal weather conditions.

During fire danger periods, there are fire restrictions that apply. These include total fire ban days. For up to date details about fire bans and fire safety information, visit the Country Fire Service website or telephone 1300 362 361.

Swimming Safely

For your safety, surf lifesavers patrol many beaches throughout South Australia. If you go to the beach, swim between their red and yellow Surf Life Saving flags.

  • Keep safe by following these tips:
  • Never swim alone.
  • Read and obey the signs.
  • Don't swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Always check the depth of the water.
  • Never run or dive into the water. Even if you have checked the depth, water conditions can change.
  • If you get into trouble in the water, stay calm. Signal for help, by holding up one arm and waving, float and wait for assistance.
  • Keep the beach clean, put your rubbish in a bin. Leave nothing but footprints.
  • Keep out of dunes and fenced areas. They are there to preserve the beach environment.
  • Always swim at beaches with patrolling lifesavers or lifeguards.

Be safe at patrolled beaches

The safest beaches are those patrolled by surf lifesavers or lifeguards. They are trained in beach and water safety, and have equipment handy to help you if you get in trouble.

  • Swim between the red and yellow flags - this is the area that surf lifesavers are watching and can respond to quicker than other areas.
  • If caught in a rip, or if you get in to any trouble in the water, do not panic. Float and raise one arm for help.
  • Look for the patrol shelters - this is where surf lifesavers will be set up and patrolling the beach from.

All South Australian surf lifesavers wear a distinctive red and yellow uniform, making them even easier to spot. For more information visit the Surf Life Saving SA website.

Weather

South Australia has a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Generally speaking, it is hotter to the north in the Flinders Ranges, and cooler further south, on Kangaroo Island.  

Summer: December – February. South Australian summers are dry and can get quite hot. The temperature in Adelaide is often above 35°C, however daily temperatures can get as high as 45°C. The sun can be extremely intense in Australia. To avoid skin burn, seek shade whenever possible, particularly between the hours of 11am and 3pm. When out in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears and neck. Use a maximum protection, broad based spectrum sun screen of at least SPF 30+, and drink plenty of water.


Autumn: March – May. Autumn is a great time to visit Adelaide. There’s a lot of sunshine and the weather usually stays in the low to mid 20s. Autumn colours are best seen in the Adelaide Hills. 


Winter: June – August. South Australia gets most of its rainfall during the winter months of June, July and August. Winter temperatures in South Australia hover around 15.9°C. It gets colder in the Adelaide Hills and the Outback, often dipping below 10°C. 


Spring: September – November. Spring is awash with colour. Trees are a lush green and flowers bloom in the city parks. The average daily temperature in spring is a pleasant 21.7°C.


For more information visit Bureau of Meteorology website.


Study in South Australia

South Australia welcomes thousands of international students every year into our universities.

Our three well-established universities are Flinders University, University of Adelaide and University of South Australia.

They are well regarded universities that sit high in international rankings, with a broad range of course options, and formal exchange programs.

For more information, visit the Study Adelaide website.

Tipping in Australia

Tipping is not customary and hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to your bill. Tipping is always your choice and is not required nor expected.


Visitor Information Centres

When travelling throughout South Australia, look out for blue signs displaying a yellow "i" symbol. These signs will show you the way to a Visitor Information Centre. The symbol means that they are accredited and offer professional standards of operation and service.


Staff at accredited visitor information centres can give you friendly advice on where to stay and what to do. They can also help you with booking accommodation and activities. Open seven days a week, they can provide maps, brochures and invaluable local knowledge.

Events, festivals and fun things to do in South Australia

Open your eyes, your ears and your mind to the festivals of Adelaide. Eat, drink laugh and live in the fast lane – step out and step into the fun.

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