In the past 10 years, air fares to Australasia have fallen by about half. For the lowest prices to Australia in the next four weeks, call Austravel (0171-734 7755) and Airtours (01706 260000) and ask about late-availability fares on their charters. Return fares as low as pounds 424 (including tax) are available on a few departures to a variety of points in Australia.
Among scheduled carriers, fares on quality airlines are hovering around the pounds 700-pounds 900 band for departures before or after the mid-December to early January peak. (Over Christmas, a few seats are being released by airlines and agents, but you can expect to pay well over pounds 1,000 for the privilege.)
The real price battles begin in March and last until the end of June - Australia's autumn and early winter, but not at all a bad time to visit Queensland or Western Australia. It should not be too difficult to find a return ticket for around pounds 600 including tax, or pounds 100 more if you get a couple of internal flights thrown in too.
How to get in
British passport holders need a visitor visa for Australia. You can get one from several travel agents that specialise in the destination, but you pay a fee of around pounds 15. Visas issued by the Australian High Commission in London, or the Consulate in Manchester, are free. Call 0891 600333 for more information.
How to get around
Ansett and Qantas, the two leading domestic airlines in Australia, both operate airpass schemes. The basic idea is about the same for both: providing you take a minimum of two flights within the country, you pay pounds 80 for each sector (with an extra pounds 25 for particularly long flights to the Northern Territory and Western Australia).
A range of bus passes is available on Greyhound Pioneer, culminating in a year of unlimited travel around Australia for A$1,350. Rail passes, both regional and national, can be obtained from Long Haul Leisurail, PO Box 113, Peterborough PE3 8HY (01733 335599).
How to get out
The Australian departure tax of A$25 (about pounds 13) is now included in the price of your air ticket, as is UK Air Passenger Duty of pounds 10. Other local taxes, such as Sydney's noise tax (pounds 2) and the airport levy in Cairns (pounds 3.50), are also included.
Australian Tourist Commission, Gemini House, 10-18 Putney Hill, London SW15 (0181-780 2227).
Go Australia is a free guide booklet with a reasonable ratio of editorial to advertising. Send a large self-addressed envelope with two first-class stamps to Go Publishing, 64 Chiswick High Road, London W4 1SY.Reuse content