Australia drops pre-departure test requirement

Bungle Bungle range

Travellers to Australia no longer need to test negative before departing - regardless of vaccination. However, they must complete a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) within 72 hours of travel, providing vaccination status and other health information. Further details can be found on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website. This follows the opening of Western Australia's borders to fully vaccinated international tourists - meaning the whole country is now back on the travel map after its long COVID nightmare. Tour operators had reacted ahead of the relaxation. Contiki launched its first Western Australia tours with an 8-day Perth and Margaret River trip and a 5 day trip focussing on the beaches of Perth, the bohemian appeal and craft breweries of Fremantle and Rottnest Island. Major adventure company Intrepid, for example, had announced it was expanding its programme of tours and "deepened its commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with more than half of trips featuring meaningful First Nations experiences". It will also operate more active and wellness itineraries and trips focussing on food and wine. Among them is a 9 day tour of the north western Kimberley region, waking in a walk through Windjana Gorge where you may spot freshwater crocodiles, and the uniquely spectacular landscapes of the Bungle Bungle range with its red and black striped beehive rock formations. Other trips include a 5 day trek on the Larapinta Trail learning about the significance of place to the indigenous peoples, a Margaret River and Albany tour of similar length featuring a short bushwalk identifying traditional medicines in plants a "mesmerising" didgeridoo performance inside a cave", and a Red Centre Explorer visiting the great red rock Uluru - of huge Aboriginal importance. Trailfinders (see business class fare deals headlines) was also quick to trumpet its range of holidays Down Under, including a trip billed as "perfect for first timers" that takes in Sydney, Uluru - with with indigenous rock art and a climb to the rim of King's Canyon - and Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation and Daintree rainforest. Full details of the changes in travel regulations, which take effect on 21 February, have yet to emerge. It remains possible that different states might apply their own restrictions. Queensland, for example, has already opened up. though visitors have needed to take a test within 24 hours of arriving. Travellers who are unvaccinated on medical grounds will still need to apply for an exemption to visit the country and, if succesful, quarantine in a hotel. Australia has so far reported more than 2.7 million cases of coronavirus and 4,248 Covid-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Nearly 80% of the population is fully vaccinated.