Tips for people new to Australia

This was part of the note I took in 2016 after I stared in Macquarie University. These notes are not Macquarie-specific.

Emergency phone numbers in Australia

  • For emergency, call 000 (triple-zero) in Australia. On a mobile phone, call 000 or 112. If you’re not confident enough to use English under emergency, you can ask for an interpreter.
  • Police Assistance Line 131-444 for non-emergency

Airport custom – save your time with Automated Border Control

If you have an e-passport (a passport with a chip inside), use the machine to get the ticket for automated border control, which may save you time at airport custom. The automated photo match / facial recognition does not always work well but it worth trying.

Tax File Number (TFN)

It’s an online application but it takes time to wait for the physical letter so do it early. This is a 9-digit number for tax purpose and you’ll need it for a job and banking.

Local ID to enter the bar – NSW photo card

You may consider applying NSW photo card or driver’s license. NSW photo card is easier to get as it does not require the driver knowledge test.

  • Pros: This card is a local ID so you don’t need to bring your passport to enter a bar.
  • Cons: NSW photo card cost 51 AUD, valid for 5-year
  • You may need: Passport, campus card, a credit/debit card, proof of address
  • Where to apply: Service NSW

Reclaim Opal card balance after you lost it – register your Opal card

  • Register it online so you have a chance to reclaim the balance once you lost the card. Don’t forget to report lost/stolen after you lost it.
  • Setup auto top up to avoid the queue in the train station.
  • Always remember to tap-off to avoid default fare.
  • Opal card system is not as mature/reliable as EasyCard in Taiwan. The Opal reader may stop working on the bus or train station. If you cannot tap-off and being charged with default fare, login Opal website, send a default fare complaint and they will return the money. If you cannot tap-on, then enjoy the free trip.
  • Enjoy travelling on Sunday with the Opal card which cost no more than 2.70 AUD for the whole day. (except airport access fee, google “Opal Sunday cap” for detail)

Sunday cap covers train, bus, ferry and tram (light rail). I did go to

  • North: Newcastle, East Maitland and Shoal Bay
  • West: Katoomba and Lithgow
  • South: Wollongong, Kiama, and Bomaderry (Nowra)
    at very low cost.

Some power plug adaptors (travel adaptors) are not reliable

The blades on type I (Australia and New Zealand) power plug are thicker than type B (North America, Japan and Taiwan), but the most travel adaptor manufacturers cut the corner by making type I plug with type B blades, result in an unreliable connection.
If you encounter such issue, consider an IEC power cable with native Australian plug (type I). The most common IEC connector among laptop adaptor is C5 and C7. Check the following URL for IEC connector types.

You can choose what language you want to speak, or not to speak

Mandarin and Taiwanese are my first languages because I came from Taiwan. However, I don’t use it here, unless I was volunteering/interpreting for someone. Many of my classmates know that I refuse to speak Mandarin in Australia.

I did this intentionally, to force myself to master English. I hope that I can speak like a native speaker – I set a high standard and I expect myself to make it one day in the future. It’s not easy but it will pay off. Furthermore, I can see the progress and notice that I can think in English. Some native speakers told me that I speak very well considered as the length of my stay. Speaking English as fluent as I speak my first language is one of my goals.

I also recommend who want to master English to change the user interface of their electronic device. I started to use English user interface on my computer and phone since 2008.

Mastering English enables me to engage in more local events, and fully express myself in some areas, and I hope the language will give me the mobility I need in my career, in this globalised society.

Other posts you might be interested in

You might be interested in my post for baking in Australia and things to aware when visiting national parks.

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