Most travelers get to Australia via plane, arriving in Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport or Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport. As Australia’s most populated cities (there are 4 million Sydney-siders and 3.3 million Melbournians), they have the largest airports with the most number of flights and cheapest tickets. Some flights to Melbourne stop in Sydney first to unload passengers. If this occurs, you must disembark to clear customs in Sydney and re-board the plane.
Direct flights from the United States generally leave from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Europeans will get the best deals out of London and those in Asia are best of going to Bangkok for a cheap flight. There are numerous flights from Japan and New Zealand every day. The two most popular carriers are Australian-based Qantas (part of the One-World alliance) and New Zealand-based Air New Zealand (part of the Star Alliance). Check flights and prices to Australia.
Around-the-world travelers generally visit Australia after SE Asia and before New Zealand, Fiji or North America. Book your around-the-world ticket.
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It is also possible to enter Australia via boat from New Zealand, New Caledonia, the Torres Straight Islands, or Indonesia. This is a more expensive option, however, and requires extensive research and planning to find a passenger ship or yacht.
Non-Australian citizens must obtain a visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before visiting Australia. New Zealand citizens are issued a visa on arrival (VOA). ETAs are valid for continuous stays up to three months, and valid for one year. For example, you can go to Australia for three months, fly to Thailand for a month, return to Australia for another three months, visit Indonesia for a month, and return to Australia again. ETAs can be applied for and issued online. You must have a passport from one of these countries to apply for an ETA. If you do not have a passport from one of the participating countries, refer to the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website. Some travel agents will apply for an ETA for you. Make sure you know if your ticket has included the necessary visa. Please note that you CANNOT WORK if you hold an ETA visa.
Many backpackers wish to work in Australia. If this is the case, you must apply for the proper visa, such as the Working Holiday Makers Visa. Unfortunately, only backpackers from a handful of countries can apply for this visa, and you must be between the ages of 18 and 30. United States citizens cannot receive the Working Holiday Makers Visa.