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[travel|help] Australia questions, for them as knows the answers - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-08-14 14:29
Subject: [travel|help] Australia questions, for them as knows the answers
Security: Public
Tags:australia, calendula, help, travel
So calendula_witch and I are now focusing on upcoming trip logistics, since we're actually coming. Two questions have come up.

1) Is it possible to get cheap cell phones on short term plans when we get to Melbourne? We'd like to be able to call or text each other, and have numbers to make available to others. I did this when I went to China last year. Not sure about Australia's telecomm environment.

2) I've heard Australian customs is pretty aggressive about confiscating laptops with questionable material on them. As I have no idea what Australia defines as "questionable material", and given some of what I write a simple keyword search on my hard drive would turn up all sorts of stuff potentially requiring explanation to a suspicious mind, is it safe to bring my computer? I'm considering wiping it to default state as one option.

Thoughts and experiences welcome.

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seventorches
User: seventorches
Date: 2010-08-14 21:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you're going to wipe your hard drive, wouldn't it be easier to just buy a new one when you get there?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-08-14 21:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not the internal hard drive...I'd have to buy a whole new computer.
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catsparx
User: catsparx
Date: 2010-08-14 21:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hi Jay,

1. my own mobile phone is a $50 cheapie that runs on pre-paid credit. No plans required, I just buy more when I need it either online or at a post office.

2. Hmmm... by questionable material I suspect they are generally referring to kiddieporn and 'how to build an exploding jihadi alarm clock' blueprints. If you want to be super safe, I'd leave off anything that might be classed as porn of any kind. No one I know has ever had their laptop searched -- they just go through the xray machine.
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Dave Gallaher
User: dave_gallaher
Date: 2010-08-14 21:44 (UTC)
Subject: [travel|help] Australia questions, for them as knows the answers
http://www.telestial.com/view_product.php?ID=LSIM-AU02 for Australian sim cards bought before you travel; they also rent cell phones.
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David D. Levine
User: davidlevine
Date: 2010-08-15 00:20 (UTC)
Subject: Re: [travel|help] Australia questions, for them as knows the answers
I believe that to use a US AT&T iPhone with an Australian SIM you have to unlock it -- not difficult, but permanent, and I have heard that it will reduce your battery life and expose you to possible unexpected roaming charges when you return home.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2010-08-14 22:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What you may have missed is food.

Don't bring food or plant material into Australia -- even dry mud in the soles of your hiking books -- and Cthulhu save you if Customs catch you trying to smuggle bananas in. Penalties are roughly in line with what you'd expect for importing personal-use quantities of narcotics into the United States.
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David D. Levine
User: davidlevine
Date: 2010-08-15 00:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I plan to use my iPhone with the World Traveler and Data Global Add-On packages (http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/roaming/affordable-world-packages.jsp) to reduce the exorbitant amounts AT&T charges for overseas calling and data use. These packages are spendy but much less than what AT&T would charge "a la carte" for using your phone overseas, and better than a local phone because it's my familiar iPhone with all the apps and data intact.
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jonathanstrahan
User: jonathanstrahan
Date: 2010-08-15 01:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You can usually buy cheap pretty much disposable phones with available credit for about $A50 - $A70. They often sell them at airports, but also freely most places (post offices for example). On "questionable material" - I've never heard that. I've been in and out of the country an average of maybe twice a year and other than running the laptop through a standard security scanner, nothing. I've never had the laptop turned on and searched. Charlie is right about food stuffs. Anything unprocessed will attract serious attention.
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amandapillar
User: amandapillar
Date: 2010-08-15 02:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Here's a link for our customs page http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4224.asp . If you search that, it will tell you what is and isn't allowed. Most computers are just x-rayed, but take Cat's advice with regards to the porn and how-to-build-a-bomb stuff.

Not too sure about getting Australian sim cards - the airport should have some information though.
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shui_long
User: shui_long
Date: 2010-08-15 02:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1) I've done the same in China, but have no experience of this in Australia.
There appear to be companies selling Australian sim cards to use in your cellphone, provided this is an unlocked GSM 900/1800 phone.

2) Laptop computers are put through the usual scanner, but I've never been asked about the contents of mine, nor heard of this happening to anyone else.
Import of "Pornography and other objectionable material" is prohibited. The (late) Labour government was proposing to install mandatory internet filtering, supposedly to protect children: whilst intended only to block images of child sex abuse, the filter being tested seems to have much wider scope. Apparently there is already some significant censorship, with some films and all adult video games being refused a licence.

3) As others have noted, do not try to take any food, plant material or animal products into Australia. The AQIS entry form requires you to declare any such items - which includes all food, as well as rawhide, furs and feathers (but processed leather is OK). There are sniffer dogs in the baggage hall, and all baggage is scanned.
See What can't I take into Australia

4) If you're taking medicine with you, other than normal over-the-counter medicine, make sure you have a copy of the doctor's prescription. Up to three months' supply for your personal use is allowed, but some items are prohibited or require a special import permit.
See Guidance for travellers bringing medicine
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Peter Hollo
User: frogworth
Date: 2010-08-15 02:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I too have never had my laptop turned on in Australia - I think once when I was entering the US it was turned on to prove it was a laptop and not a case for a bomb (I guess)...
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austspecfic
User: austspecfic
Date: 2010-08-15 02:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hi I've left some comments on your blog about the phone.

I have not heard of confiscating laptops. Main thing to look out for is child pornography or bringing in excess counterfeit products etc.
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austspecfic
User: austspecfic
Date: 2010-08-15 02:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I mean at www.jaylake.com and I've also posted information about shop at the airport to your twitter and the the Aussiecon4 facebook acount and the A4_travel blog with links to specific companies and pricing.
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Tyellas
User: tyellas
Date: 2010-08-15 05:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you are arriving in Australia on a flight from New Zealand, even as a US national, you can expect to be treated lightly by customs. I've never had a laptop turned on in NZ or AU, and I have been transporting some...unusual...printed literature back and forth. Which they didn't look twice at.

I would put some care into making sure all your medications were documented.

The "dear god NO FRUIT" also applies to New Zealand. The beagles will get you.
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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2010-08-15 12:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not just fruit in NZ, either. No wood or bamboo. No soil on anything. Also (this often takes people by surprise) definitely no honey.
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mikandra
User: mikandra
Date: 2010-08-15 06:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
and no soil (on hiking boots) or plant material. That seems to include wood. We were held up in customs coming back when our daughters turned out to have some souvenirs made from wood.

And if you do have something that's on the list, and you realise that only when faced with the customs form on the plane, then for crying out loud *declare it*. The alternative is customs stumbling upon it when checking your bags. Guess what is worse.
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Ben Peek
User: benpeek
Date: 2010-08-16 01:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
i've never heard a thing about the laptops being searched so much, but i must admit i usually leave mine when i travel.

phone wise, yeah, easy as. you can pick up a one month thirty buck prepaid credit deal easy as. phones for fifty.
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willyumtx
User: willyumtx
Date: 2010-08-16 05:42 (UTC)
Subject: You may have to declare your words as well.
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2527
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2010-08-16 18:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Making a pitch for a local(Michigan)company:

Recelluartoo.com sells used phones, some of which are unlocked. They are one of the world's largest recyclers of cell phones and they put the phones through extensive testing. I just bought an unlocked sony ericsson, no problems to speak of.
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