Australia is a civilised place and does not pose many problems when considering how to carry your cash. Travellers' cheques would seem unnecessary but offer the security of being refundable if lost. You can also access your overseas accounts (credit or otherwise) with your standard issue plastic, very easily.
The good news for incoming travellers is that the Aussie dollar is undervalued against most other currencies - so you should be pleasantly surprised with how far your money goes.
If you are here for any amount of time it is probably worth getting a local bank account but make sure you familiarise yourself with the fees and charges; typically you can only make a limited number of transactions per month, without incurring extra costs.
Australia uses a rather nifty payment system called EFTPOS where you can use your 'hole-in-the-wall' card and PIN to pay for things. The money is deducted immediately from your nominated account but on the plus side you don't have to carry much cash.
For those 'send/ receive cash emergencies' try Western Union. They have a comprehensive world-wide distribution network and can get cash to needy souls quickly. They don't supply the cash you understand, you'll have to find your own good Samaritan.
The unit of currency is the Australian dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. When paying cash, prices are rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents.Coins: $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c
Notes: $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
Traveller's Cheques are accepted in banks, larger hotels and duty free stores. They generally enjoy a better exchange rate than foreign cash. Fees for changing foreign-currency traveller's cheques vary widely from bank to bank.
Buying Australian-dollar traveller's cheques is worth considering. These can be exchanged immediately at the cashier's window without being converted from foreign currency and subject to commissions, fees or exchange-rate fluctuations.
Tipping is becoming more common but it isn't yet an entrenched practice. A tip of around 10% is average but feel free to vary the amount depending on your level of satisfaction with the service. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but 'rounding up' to the nearest dollar is common.
Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express are widely accepted. Cash advances from credit cards are available over the counter and from many ATMs. For lost cards contact:American Express: +61 (0) 2 9271 8666
Diners Club: 1300 360 060
MasterCard: 1800 120 113
Visa: 1800 805 341
Student/Youth Cards - Most tourist attractions recognise ISIC cardholders. However, international students aren't valid for concession fares on local transport.
Senior Citizens - Some places may agree to give you a discount if you show your seniors card from home though most seniors' discounts are restricted to Australians.
The Goods and Services Tax, is a 10% tax automatically added to almost anything you buy, which was introduced on 1 July 2000.
The Australian dollar fluctuates quite markedly against the US dollar, currently it sits around US$0.85 (Feb 2010) - Check with the banks or licenced moneychangers for the daily rate.