About Practical information
Banks and currency exchange
The best exchange rates are at the banks. These are open Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 4 pm, with some extension of these hours in big cities. But just to keep you on your toes, the foreign exchange counter usually closes down at around 3. Bureaux de change are few and far between, but you can usually find somewhere at an airport to change your money or traveller’s cheques.
Australia has more miles of sandy beaches than the whole of Europe. Popular beaches such as Bondi and Manly in Sydney, and Queensland’s Gold Coast attract the crowds, but this still leaves miles and miles of unspoiled deserted beach. Surfing is a national obsession, and local radio stations give the state of the surf in their bulletins. But beware of surfing (or swimming) in deserted spots. The surf can be rough, and is likely to have a heavy undertow. If there’s no one around swimming or surfing, there’s often a good reason for this.
On the beaches in northern Queensland this reason will often be box jellyfish. These are vicious stingers that can kill you – and by the time you see them you’re already being stung by their tendrils, which stretch for metres under the surface. So be sure to ask about what you’re likely to find, before plunging into the ocean.
On a happier note, the lifeguards on Australian beaches are said to be the best-looking in the world – according to a recent international survey conducted by students at the University of California (where else?). Those whose object of desire is not a lump of muscle-bound Australian male will probably be pleased to learn that an increasing number of Australian women sunbathe topless these days. Sydney and Perth now even have designated nudist beaches, where those of both sexes can pretend they’re not looking.
Australian beer is of the lager (or pils) type – the celebrated ‘amber fluid’ that features so frequently in Aussie folklore, songs, conversation, daydreams and so on. Beer drinking is like breathing for many Aussies: they are convinced that they’d die without it. Like breathing, it has to be done regularly. And after a few days in Australia you’ll probably find that you too subscribe to this world view. Australia can be hot, and having a thirst soon becomes part of the human condition.
Aussies drink their beer ice cold. They also go to great pains to keep it that way (until they, or the beer, get drunk). No trip to the beach is properly equipped without a cooler (usually a polystyrene container) packed with ice cold tinnies or stubbies (cans or bottles).
Aussie beer is mainly around 5 per cent proof – much the same strength as German beer or strong lager in Britain, but stronger than American beer. And for those who don’t know about these things: there’s more to Aussie beer than just Fosters. Australia has regional beers the way the world has religions. Those who worship one beer would consider it blasphemous to down any other than their own. The famous f-four X (XXXX for those who can’t spell) comes from Queensland, Swan from Western Australia and Tooheys from New South Wales. Most other Aussie beers are unheard of outside the country – for the simple reason that the locals have drunk it all before it could be exported. You’ll also find draught Guinness in the Irish pubs – where this dark liquid provides a similar service to a blood transfusion.
Pubs and bars are usually open from 11 am to 11 pm. There are regional variations, and hours tend to be somewhat shorter on Sundays.
In an emergency, dial 000. This is free, and will put you in contact with the police, fire service or ambulance service.
In case of lesser difficulties, you’ll probably want to contact one of the motoring organizations.
The Australian Automobile Association is affiliated to the American AAA, and the RAC and AA of Britain, as well as several other similar large automobile associations worldwide. The Australian Automobile Association has sub-branches (with different names) in each state.
Most car hire firms have an emergency number you can ring. This will be displayed on the dashboard of your hire car, or in your folder of documents.
If you break down miles from any phone, try and flag down a passing vehicle. If you’re miles from anywhere and there are no passing vehicles, you’re still best off staying by your car. This way you have shade, and whatever water and rations you brought with you. If you get desperate, try lighting a tyre. The Australian authorities are understandably paranoid about bush fires, and the sight of smoke rising on the horizon in some deserted spot usually has someone on the scene fairly sharpish. But make sure you don’t start your own bush fire – otherwise the rescue services may find they have more important things to do than look after you.
Australians tend to dress casually, and only the smartest restaurants require a jacket and tie. It may be hot in the summer, but the weather often goes through abrupt changes, so be sure to bring at least one warm item of clothing. Even in winter, the temperature seldom dips below freezing. But it does rain: be prepared. In the outback, you boil by day and freeze at night, so pack accordingly. You’ll also need to take some strong walking shoes if you’re planning to trek. Trainers are as useful in Australia as anywhere, but not of course for long walks, or for climbing rocks, or walking over reefs. For the last, sandals are best.
The sun’s rays can be exceptionally harmful in Australia. This is said to be because of the country’s proximity to the Antarctic hole in the ozone layer. Whether or not that is true, there’s no arguing about the effect of the sun. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Even on cloudy days, the rays still get to you. Be sure to pack 15+ sunscreen, and apply it liberally. Take it easy in the sun to begin with, and always reapply your sunscreen after a swim. A broad-brimmed hat gives useful extra protection. Even with all this, you’ll probably find a pair of sunglasses useful.
Finally, don’t forget the mosquito repellent: the coasts tend to be mosquito free, but the outback is not.
Credit and debit cards
The most widely recognized cards in Australia are Visa, MasterCard and American Express. .
For years, Australian cooking suffered from the English disease. The aim of all cooks was to reduce food to a tasteless mush. Luckily, this has now largely changed. Australian food has some of the finest ingredients you could wish for. Steaks are great, and the seafood is superb. The Aussies also have a few specialities of their own – such as kangaroo, crocodile and camel. Those who claim to be truly adventurous should test out their nerve on witchetty grubs. Once a mainstay of Aboriginal diet, these small larvae have now started appearing in gourmet restaurants. More to most tastes are carpetbagger steaks – steak stuffed with oysters.
The post-war arrival of continental European immigrants brought about a revolution in the Aussie restaurant scene. Italian and Greek food, Slav dishes and Asian cuisine are now widely available in all main cities, and have begun to spread even further afield.
Eating out in Australia is fairly inexpensive, and this is helped by the many BYO restaurants. Here you Bring Your Own bottle of wine, barrel of beer or what have you.
Departure tax or Passenger Movement Charge
As you’ll often find, many hospitable Australians don’t want you to leave. Unfortunately, this friendly Aussie trait has now become bureaucratized: meaning that everyone over the age of 12 leaving the country must pay the Passenger Movement Charge of A$55. So don’t spend it all on that final farewell party.
All foreign visitors to Australia must have a valid passport. Unless you are a New Zealander, you will also require a visa. For full information, prices and online application, see www.travelaustralia.com.
Australian electricity runs at 240 volts, 50 hertz AC. This is the same as in Britain and most of Europe, but not the same as in America. Plugs are three pin, and you’ll need an adaptor – which can be bought at any main city electrical store, or sometimes at shops which cater for tourists. If in doubt, ask at your hotel desk.
Embassies and consulates
All the main embassies and high commissions are in the capital, Canberra. Many countries also have consulates in Sydney and other state capitals. As is often the way with diplomats, these all have varying opening hours, and take holidays (national and Australian) at the slightest opportunity. Except on these holidays, you can usually rely on any embassy being open at least between 10 am and noon on weekdays. Most have slightly longer hours in the morning. Some open after lunch and siesta, others don’t bother. After all, as diplomats are always explaining: they’re not here to look after the likes of us (even if it is us who pay them). They have far more important things to do (most of which are either cocktail parties or much too secret to mention).
In case of any emergency, the number to ring is 000, or 112 from mobiles.
Australia is 3,000 km from north to south and 4,000 km wide. Public transport in Australia is extensive, but only links the main areas of population and the main tourist spots. Off the beaten track (and most of Australia falls into this category) the only way to get around is by car or hitching.
The Australian national railway system started life as a monument to colonial planning. In the days when each state was a separate colony, each one applied to London for permission to build its own railway. Permission was duly granted by the Colonial Office, and each state eagerly set about entering the Railway Age. Only when the states joined together to become one nation at the turn of the 20thC was it discovered that each railway had an entirely different gauge from all the others. The Australian network has yet to recover from this feat of perversity. Indeed, until the 1970s, passengers travelling from Sydney to Melbourne still had to get up in the middle of the night and change trains at the state border. And Queensland railways north of Brisbane still run on a different gauge.
Railways (all with the same gauge) connect all the state capitals and main cities, with the exception of Hobart (which is in Tasmania) and Darwin (which is in the middle of nowhere). There’s also a fairly extensive network of local services. You can travel First Class or Economy, and the XPT expresses reach all of 160 kph. Other trains can be much less fast, in fact, there’s no denying it, Australian trains are slow. Indeed, some claim that rail travel in Australia is more a way of getting to meet people than a form of transport.
However, the trains are fairly comfortable: long-distance trains have air-conditioning, sleeping berths and (usually) restaurant cars. (If not, besieged buffet cars are the order of the day amongst those not wise enough to bring their own rations.)
But there is one thing about the Australian railway system that makes it the envy of most railways in the world: its very own Great Epic Journey. This is the famous Indian Pacific, which runs coast to coast from Sydney to Perth; and according to the railway buffs offers one of the greatest railway journeys in the world. It runs through the picturesque Blue Mountains, as well as calling at some of Australia’s famous old mining towns such as Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill. Others consider this passage through endless wilderness, with fellow passengers it’s impossible to get away from, to be one of the most physically and mentally disabling experiences on Earth. It also contains the longest stretch of continuously straight track in the world: 459 km across the numbing Nullarbor Plain. In fact, the journey is an odd mixture of the sublime and the soporific. But when you finally make it to your destination the sense of achievement (or relief) may well outweigh any other feeling you may have experienced during the past three days. (Unless, like a Sydney pal of mine, during the course of your journey you have managed to lose one wife and meet up with your next one.) Yes, it will have been three days (and 4,348 km) since you waved farewell to reality.
An almost equally epic journey is the Ghan, which runs from Adelaide to Alice Springs. This is named after the Ghan camel drivers who accompanied Burke and Wills on their early expedition into the interior almost a century and a half ago. In all, the journey is around half as long as the Indian Pacific endurance test.
If you want to submit yourself to the rigours of the Indian Pacific or the Ghan, be sure to reserve well ahead as they’re often block-booked. It’s always worth booking ahead, even if you’re only travelling on an interstate express.
Trains are slightly more expensive than buses, and often not much faster, but they are more comfortable. There are some worthwhile ticket deals for overseas visitors. An Ausrail Pass allows you to travel over an extended period for a limited cost. For this andother rail passes, see www.railaustralia.com/flexipass.php.
This is the cheapest form of public transport, and its extensive services cover much more of the ground than railways. Services are frequent and regular. There are a number of different bus companies, which cover different parts of the country, but this won’t involve you in too much complexity: almost all stopping places have just the one bus terminal, out of which all services operate.
The fastest and most frequent bus services operate up and down the east coast, linking anywhere between Melbourne and Cairns. Competition is fierce, and there are occasional price wars. At such times, tickets are sometimes sold at give-away prices.
The railways don’t have a monopoly on epic journeys. The western route between Perth and Darwin takes 60 hours and passes through some of the most remote territory in Australia. Even so, you’ll be glad of the videos. (Yes, you’ve come all this way to see Crocodile Dundee AGAIN.) Other features of long-distance Aussie bus trips include numb bum, singing drivers and old codgers suffering from verbal incontinence (who always get the seat next to you). A 500-page Patrick White novel (preferably Voss), and earplugs, can turn an endurance test into a memorable experience. (The scenery beyond the window illuminates that in the book, and your infrequent conversations with your neighbour ensure that this sublime experience has its essential added ingredient of the ridiculous.)
The bus national network, Greyhound, offers an all-Australia pass, and numerous local operators offer their own For more information, see www.statravel.co.uk/australia-bus-rail-pass.html.
The buses may have an extensive network, but they’re not the ideal way to explore remoter territory. If you want some first-hand experience of the outback other than through a bus window, you should try a minibus tour. Typical is a two-to three-day trip in a minibus with around a dozen others. This can either be a tour (where you end up at the same place you started) or a trip (which takes longer than normal between two points, with time to explore). The deal usually includes food and accommodation. Your friendly tour leader/driver is invariably a fund of fascinating anecdote, local lore and sheer rubbish. Even misanthropes and Patrick White readers will find these great fun. One driver I know even offers you a chance to ride in a balloon, and another is said to offer you a chance to learn how to navigate your way through the wilderness by smell. A popular operator is Des’s Minibus Tours – www.dessminibus.co.au.
The best way to see Australia is undoubtedly by car. This enables you to see places and people beyond the reach of public transport, and far from civilization – such as the ghost mining towns or cousin Ebenezer. The main international car hire firms – such as Hertz, Avis and Budget – all have offices in major cities and at the airports.
If you want to hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you’ll need to be over 25. Otherwise 21 is the usual age limit. There are a few ‘rent-a-wreck’ firms where you can pick up a car for a knock-down price, but these are obviously not so reliable. (A serious consideration, if there’s only cousin Ebenezer around to fix your busted gasket.) That old Aussie standby, the camper van, can also be hired. Third-party insurance and the collision damage waiver are usually included in the price, but be sure to check this before you drive off.
Your home driving licence is generally valid for driving in Australia, but conditions such as length of time vary from state to state. See www.australia.gov.au/content/driving-with-an-overseas-licence. Unleaded petrol averages around $1.50 per litre, but it varies from state to state and really remote petrol stations often charge substantially more.
The roads in Australia are not too bad between the main centres of civilization, but after that you must be prepared to expect anything. Many of the outlying roads and tracks aren’t as awful as you might imagine. On the other hand, some have to be seen to be believed. Be sure to ask before setting off into the wide blue yonder down something that looks okay on the map. If you’re setting out for some remote spot, be sure you have enough fuel, water and food for an emergency. If you’re going somewhere really remote, tell someone before leaving – so that they can contact rescue services if you don’t show up at your destination. One of the worst hazards on the track roads is corrugation – which can go on for miles. This can shake bits out of your car long before it shakes out your false teeth, so drive slowly. In fact, when on tracks, always drive slowly. Other hazards to watch out for are potholes (always invisible until the very last moment) and floods (which can turn the remote wilderness on your map into a veritable sea).
Kangaroos can also be a problem, especially at night when they often freeze in the headlights. Though something with even less road sense is that archetypal character who’s just driven into town to fill up his tank, and is now fully tanked up and on his way home to a rough ride from the missus. The Aussie authorities have introduced a fierce campaign against drink-driving, but it still accounts for a frighteningly large number of road deaths each year. The random breath test is a popular hobby for the police, and if you’ve drunk more than the equivalent of one beer you’ll make their day.
Otherwise, the rules of the road in Australia are much the same as in Europe or America – except that they drive on the left (assuming the road offers this luxury). Seat belts have to be worn by all drivers, including back-seat ones. One local feature to watch out for: drivers coming on to a road from the right often have priority. Watch out for that pick-up truck coming on to the main road from the dirt track on your right – if he’s got priority, you can be sure he’ll use it.
The speed limits are marked in kilometres. The commonest limits are 50 kph in most built-up areas and out on the open road, 100 kph. Speed traps are another popular police hobby, and they now have them down to a fine art.
If you’re in open country, you’ll find much of the traffic exceeding the low limit. If a car coming the other way flashes its lights at you, they’re warning you there’s a speed trap up ahead. (It’s not unknown for a disgruntled driver who’s fallen foul of a speed trap to set up a notice warning oncoming drivers.)
Empty taxis have a lit-up ‘vacant’ sign or a light showing on the roof. You can hail one, pick one up at a rank, or book by phone. (You may have to pay a surcharge for the latter.) There are ranks outside most airports, big city bus and railway stations, and by smart hotels. You won’t find many cabs cruising outside big city centres. Prices vary, but expect to pay arounnd A$20 for a 5-mile trip. Prices are usually higher at night and at weekends. You’ll also have to pay extra for luggage.
Aussie taxi drivers are much the same as those the world over – cussed individualists who are often a mine of fascinating local information and high-octane prejudice. And they can even be helpful, sometimes.
The only regular boat service (other than local ferries) is the car ferry which runs between Melbourne and Tasmania. This takes nine to 11 hours and is usually a rough crossing. Unless you’re taking a car, it’s not worth it – the cheapest ticket is only slightly less than the air fare.
Internal air travel in Australia is quite a bit more expensive than train or bus. But owing to its speed, and the vast distances involved, air is by far the best way to travel if you want to see a fair amount of the whole country.
Through some magic of accountancy, return fares are usually slightly cheaper than single fares. Fares vary, and if you try price comparison websites, you may get a bargain. As always, booking ahead is the name of the game if you want the greatest reductions.
There are regular flights connecting all the major Australian cities. This means that cities such as Perth or Brisbane all have at least half a dozen main routes to other cities inside Australia. There’s also an extensive route network covering out-of-the-way places, but these tend to use small planes and are relatively expensive.
Internal air flights in Australia are non-smoking throughout all seats.
The big cities have several bike rental agencies, and miles of cycling tracks. The country roads are good for cycling too, with little traffic and few hills. You can also load your bike on to most long-distance buses, trains and even internal air flights – usually for a small charge. But be sure to make enquiries about these arrangements when booking your ticket.
Bike helmets are compulsory in Australia.
There are two schools of thought about hitching. One says: don’t ever. The other firmly maintains that this is one of the best ways to get around, particularly in remote parts.
As usual, both have a point. Women should certainly never hitch alone, and women in pairs should be careful. Also, for some reason, Queensland has a rather poor record of interference with hitchers, especially off the beaten track. That said, hitching can be great in Australia. Drivers are usually friendly, genuinely interested in foreign travellers, and willing to be of assistance to anyone who tells a few yarns (and, inevitably, is willing to listen to rather more). It’s not unusual to make genuine friendships on the road in Australia, with people inviting you into their homes and passing on the addresses of mates further down the road. (A capacity for the amber fluid is usually an essential ingredient of such friendships, which are quite likely to be reactivated in a few years time by a return visit, so be prepared.)
By far the best way to arrange a lift is via a youth-hostel noticeboard. This often enables you to fix up surprisingly long lifts but you will have to share the cost of petrol.
Import and export
Anyone over 18 may bring into Australia 50 cigarettes (or 50 gms of tobacco or cigars) and 1 litre of alcohol. Otherwise it’s mainly common sense. You can’t bring in guns or weapons, and don’t even think about bringing in even the smallest amount of dope. The customs are also hot on plants which can carry agricultural pests and diseases. This may even be extended to that marvellous ethnic wicker basket which you picked up in an oriental market en route, and will certainly apply to any fruit which you intended to eat on the plane.
Local customs: what to expect, how to behave
Australians tend to be easy-going and informal. They pride themselves on their ‘matiness’. This means that it’s usually easy to strike up a conversation – and you’ll learn more about Australia from such friendly chance encounters than any guide book could ever tell you. However, a word of warning. The one thing an Aussie can’t stand is being patronised. A superior attitude – whether social, cultural or financial – is quickly sniffed out, and equally quickly put in its place. Poms (the English) are sometimes assumed to be offensive by their mere accent. Others sometimes feel pity for this deprived breed. In such situations it’s always best to stress the positive aspects of your reaction to Australia. Any hint of a whinge at once puts you in a stereotyped social category from which it’s very difficult to escape.
Australia is, in general, a very liberal and tolerant country. A rich cultural mix, homosexuality, New Age lifestyles and even suburban attitudes are all part of the contemporary Australian scene.
However, racial and sexual intolerance are not unknown. And in the outback you will sometimes encounter social attitudes from the Neolithic era. Especially if you are female, tread warily on entering a local hotel in the outback. The machismo attitude towards drink and sport sometimes extends towards women too. Like their male counterparts, Aussie women tend to be a self-reliant, independent breed – but on occasion you’ll find they have to put up with behaviour which falls a long way short of political correctness.
Medical and travel insurance
Medical costs in Australia are not expensive compared with those in Europe or America. Owing to a reciprocal agreement, essential health care is free for citizens of the UK, New Zealand and the Netherlands. But this applies only to essential care. If making an extended stay, you should register with the health service locally, for which there is a fee.
A consultation with a family doctor (GP) will cost around A$50. The reciprocal agreement does not apply to dental care. Even if you are covered by the reciprocal agreement you are strongly advised to buy medical insurance that will cover the full cost of treatment, and the related costs of being flown home.
Medical insurance can be obtained at almost all travel agents, and also at airports. Cover should include medical bills, travel tickets, loss of property, driving accidents and personal injury. Also, some banks and credit and debit cards operate travel insurance schemes. You won’t be able to claim from your insurance company unless you have irrefutable documentary evidence to support your claim. In case of accident or theft, a local polive report on the mater is usually essential.
The currency is the Australian dollar, which is abbreviated to $ or, as in this guide, to A$. There are 100 cents to A$l.
Currency comes in the form of colourful A$5, A$10, A$20, A$50 and A$100 bills. Each of these is clearly marked and has a different colour. Coins come as 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, A$l and A$2.
The wisest way to carry large amounts of cash is its equivalent, travellers’ cheques. These can be exchanged at banks and most post offices. Hotels and tourist offices also change traveller’s cheques, but they usually give you a worse rate. It’s best to have your traveller’s cheques in Australian dollars. British pound and American dollar traveller’s cheques are widely acceptable, but you’ll need to go to a bank to turn other currencies into Australian cash.
Credit and payment cards are the norm for travelers in Australia, as elsewhere, and they are essential when hiring a car not least for the security deposit. They are widely accepted in restaurants and hotels. The most widely recognized cards in Australia are Vida, MasterCard and American Express.
The wisest way to carry large amounts of ‘cash’ is travellers’ cheques. These can be exchanged at banks and most post offices. Hotels and tourist offices also change traveller’s cheques, but they usually give you a worse rate. It’s best to have your traveller’s cheques in Australian dollars. British pound and American dollar traveller’s cheques are widely acceptable, but you’ll need to go to a bank to turn other currencies into Australian cash.
Australia has many national holidays, some of which only apply in certain states. If a holiday falls on a weekend, a day’s holiday is usually added – sometimes before the weekend, sometimes after (be sure to check).
• January 1 (New Year’s Day).
• First Monday after January 26 (Australia Day).
• First or second Monday in March (Labour Day) –Victoria.
• Second Monday in March (Labour Day) – Western Australia.
• Good Friday and Easter Monday – also Tuesday after Easter in Victoria.
• April 25 (Anzac Day).
• First Monday in May (Labour Day) – Queensland.
• May 1 (May Day) – Northern Territory.
• Third Monday in May (Adelaide Cup) – South Australia.
• First Monday in June (Foundation Day) – Western Australia.
• Second Monday in June (Queen’s Birthday) – Queensland, Northern Territory, Victoria.
• First Monday in August (Bank Holiday) – New South Wales.
• First Monday in August (Picnic Day) – Northern Territory.
• First Monday in October (Queen’s Birthday) – Western Australia.
• First Monday in October (Labour Day) – New South Wales, Southern Australia, Australian Commonwealth Territory.
• First Tuesday in November (Melbourne Cup) –Victoria.
• December 25 (Christmas Day).
• December 26 (Boxing Day).
‘Strine’ derives from the way many Australians pronounce the word ‘Australian’.
insulting term for an Aborigine
Beer (also amber nectar)
Cheer on (opposite sense to normal English usage)
Someone who doesn’t pull their weight, or buy their round of drinks
A fight, or redhead
Bring your own bottle of wine or beer (to a restaurant)
Come the raw prawn
Have on, deceive
Aborigine musical instrument
Large portable insulated container for keeping beer cold
‘Good day’, archetypal Aussie greeting
Aborigine word for white person
Male worker on a sheep or cattle station
The Aborigine people of south-eastern Australia
Gaze at in a lustful way
Person of English descent
To have sex
To pay for a round of drinks
Woman (a word of doubtful political correctness)
Large beer glass
Large cattle or sheep
Small bottle of beer
Complain (as in whingeing pom)
You can make an international call from most public phones. For an international line dial 0011, followed by your country code, then the telephone number you require (minus the initial 0). Be sure to have a phonecard or a stack of coins ready.
Among telephone services on offer is one that enables you to dial an operator in your own country, and one where you can reverse the charges (pay collect), or pay by credit card. For details of these, which now operate to most major countries, see the phone book.
Before you ring, be sure to check the time back home.
Australian Eastern Standard Time is nine hours ahead of Continental European Time, ten hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UK), and 15 hours ahead of US Eastern Time.
Now comes the difficult bit. Owing to the rugged individuality of each Australian state, the Daylight Saving Times operated by the different states vary. (Eg Western Australia and Queensland don’t add on the hour at all, and others add it on at different times.) Add to this the confusion of European and UK Daylight Saving Times (which of course don’t exactly coincide) and the full can of worms becomes apparent. Remember, these little local difficulties can make a difference of up to two hours on the simple calculations in the preceding paragraph. If you wish to ring home at a precise time, consult a local mathematical genius. Otherwise, just accept the fact that you’re bound to ring in the middle of the football match.
Australia is one of those rare countries where few people expect a tip. If you’re feeling generous, and the service has been unusually attentive, round up your bill to the nearest dollar, or leave your loose change. Some smarter restaurants now expect 10 per cent, but taxi drivers will sometimes round your bill down.