Shark attacks in Australia are very rare, however may be fatal. Shark netting on Australian beaches deter sharks, but you can further reduce your risk by always swimming between the flags on patrolled beaches and not swimming at dusk or evening. Avoid swimming alone, a long way offshore, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water.
Crocodiles live in rivers and coastal estuaries across northern Australia, often changing habitat via sea. When travelling near crocodile habitats, observe safety signs and don’t swim in rivers, estuaries, tidal rivers, deep pools or mangrove shores. Also seek expert advice about crocodiles before camping, fishing or boating.
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Marine stingers are present in tropical waters from November to April. During this time you can only swim within stinger-resistant enclosures, which are set up on the most popular beaches. You will also need to wear protective clothing when swimming, snorkeling or diving on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Always observe warning signs. When bushwalking or hiking, you can avoid snake and spider bites by wearing protective footwear and using your common sense. If bitten, seek immediate medical attention. Deaths from snake bites are extremely rare and there have been few deaths from spider bites since anti venoms were made available in 1981.
Driving through Australia’s remote and rugged areas requires thorough preparation. Before embarking on a 4WD or outback journey, ensure you have a roadworthy vehicle fitted with GPS and two spare tyres. You’ll also need good maps, extra food, water and fuel and an emergency plan. Plan your route carefully and notify a third party of your expected arrival. Check road conditions before beginning your journey, stay with your vehicle if it breaks down and avoid travelling in extreme heat conditions. If driving a conventional vehicle through remote areas, drive slowly on unsealed, dusty or narrow roads and always check road conditions before turning off major roads. Mobile phones have limited coverage in remote areas, so check your phone provider for coverage.
When planning a bushwalk or hike, check the length and difficulty of the walk and consider using a local guide for long or challenging walks. If walking without a guide, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Wear protective footwear, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent and take wet weather gear, a topographic map and plenty of water. When walking, read maps and signs, stay on the track, behind safety barriers and away from cliff edges. Don’t feed or play with native animals, as you might get scratched or bitten. Plan walking in summer months carefully and avoid challenging hikes when the sun is too intense.
All visitors to Australia, apart from New Zealanders, require advance permission to enter the country. For most countries, a full visa is required, but holders of certain passports from some OECD and some East Asian countries are able to apply for the simpler Electronic Travel Authority which enables one to apply and be granted a visa.