Issue Number 11, 13 April 2000
Editors: Eric Lindsay and Jean Weber
In this issue...
The Kimberley region of Western Australia
Access to Aboriginal Lands in Western Australia
Road condition reports
Meet the Easter Bilby
Changing a tourist visa to permanent residence
GST (Goods and Services Tax) on travel in Australia
Radio controlled clocks
The Kimberley region is located in the northern part of Western Australia, extending from Broome in the west to Kununurra and Lake Argyle in the east, from the sea to a bit south of the main Great Northern Highway (Route 1). It covers about 421,000 square kilometres -- slightly larger than Japan and much larger than United Kingdom, New Zealand, or the Australian state of Victoria.
It is bordered on the west by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Timor Sea, on the south by the Great Sandy Desert, and on the east by the Northern Territory. It is a remote and beautiful part of Australia.
We've put together an introductory page of information about the Kimberley: http://www.avalook.com.au/wa/kimberly.htm
Moved to our page on Aboriginal Austalians.
This information is now on our Land Transport page.
Meet the Easter Bilby
As part of a campaign to eradicate wild rabbits from Australia, in 1991 the Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation of Australia (now the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia) developed a campaign for the Easter Bilby, to highlight the damage done to Australian wildlife by rabbits, and to raise money for research and wildlife conservation.
The Foundation licensed the production of many 'Easter Bilby' products, including books, CDs, T-shirts and the first chocolate 'Easter Bilbies' in 1993 as alternatives to 'Easter Bunnies.' They were a success, and it's now quite common to find chocolate bilbies in the supermarkets in the weeks before Easter.
The Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is a member of the bandicoot family. Bilbies are also known as Rabbit-Eared Bandicoots. The Greater Bilby is on the endangered list; the Lesser Bilby is believed to be extinct.
The Greater Bilby, usually referred to as 'the' Bilby, is the largest of the bandicoots, measuring up to 55cm in length (body only) with a tail up to 29cm long. Adult males weigh up to 2.5 kg.
Greater Bilbies used to live in more than 70% of mainland Australia. They are now found only in the Tanami Desert (NT), the Great Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert (WA) and in south-western Queensland. The Greater Bilby's habitat has been destroyed by cattle and rabbits, and they are prey for cats, dingoes and foxes. (You'll note that the problems have come mainly from animals introduced by white settlers.)
For more about Bilbies (and some photos), see:
Australian Bilby Appreciation Society
Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland
Burra Nimu - The Easter Bilby, Jenny Bright's children's story and also some excellent Bilby information
Queensland Museum page on the Greater Bilby
A reader asked whether you can change a tourist visa while you're in Australia or if you have to leave Australia first.
This information is copied from the Australian Department of Immigration's page on Remaining in Australia (Permanent Residence), http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/perm-res.htm
"In some situations, people who come to Australia for a temporary stay may apply to stay permanently. The information below will help visitors already in Australia decide if they can apply to stay permanently."
The page include links to a collection of files (mainly in PDF format) that discuss different categories of people and what the requirements are for them.
If you go to the main page of the site, you'll find links to lots of useful stuff, including the range of "temporary stay" visas, which include more than a tourist visa, and the categories for immigration. The rules change often, so be sure to get the latest info off the site.
Another reader asked, "My wife and I are visiting Oz in July and have booked direct on two campimg trips - one through the Kimberleys out of Broome and the other out of Alice Springs. I have paid deposits and will paying the balances in June i.e. before the new tax comes into force. Can you tell me, or give me a website or email address to find out if I am liable for the new taxes although I have to pay up in June but go on the trips in July?"
In general, all goods and services supplied after 1 July 2000 are subject to the GST (unless they're exempt, which your tour isn't), regardless of when you pay for them. However, that doesn't mean you'll pay any more than you've been quoted for the tour. The tax is supposed to be built in to the price (unlike the US system where sales taxes, for example, are a separate item added to the bill).
Some related information is taken from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website on the GST. http://taxreform.ato.gov.au/busihome/index.htm
"There is no refund for GST included in the price of goods and services consumed in Australia. For example meals, hotel accommodation and rail or coach travel.
"Under Div 168 of the GST Act - the Tourist refund scheme - tourists may be entitled to a refund of all or some of the GST included in the price of goods they purchased in Australia and take home with them as accompanied baggage."
Other stuff, from ATO pub NAT2992, Travel and Tourism and the New Tax System:
"Travel by air within Australia by non-residents is GST-free if the ticket for that travel is purchased while the traveller was outside Australia. If the ticket was purchased by a non-resident in Australia for air travel in Australia then GST would be included in the price."
"Rail, bus or car transport within Australia is subject to GST for both residents and non-residents, regardless of whether it is purchased in Australia or overseas. For example, a three monthly bus pass that is bought as part of a package holiday will be subject to GST."
Someone from Switzerland asked us about radio controlled clocks, the sort that get their time by picking up a radio signal from a time signal transmitter. The one she uses receives a signal at 77.5 kHz; the range is said to be around 1500 km. She wanted to know if this clock would work in Australia.
For what we found out (from a reader in Australia), check our updated Gadgets page: http://www.avalook.com.au/gadgets.htm#clock
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