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Cocos (Keeling) Islands traveller information

Air services
Virgin Australia operates an air service between Perth and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands via Christmas Island. Flights depart Perth International Airport and transit Christmas Island on Tuesday and Saturday each week.

A freighter aircraft operates from Perth to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands each fortnight on a Friday (see Services section below for freight arrangements).

Time difference
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are one and a half hours behind Western Standard Time (WST) and three and a half hours behind Eastern Standard Time (EST). For example 9.00 am in Sydney is 7.00 am in Perth and 5.30 am on Cocos. Daylight saving is not observed on Cocos so an extra hour will need to be added during this time.

Customs and immigration
Passports and visas are not required when travelling to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands from the Australian mainland. However, photographic identification, such as an Australian Driver's Licence or Proof of Age card, must be produced for each passenger (including children) for clearance through Customs and Immigration. A valid passport meets this identification requirement and is the preferred means of documentation to expedite passenger processing and provide passenger identification in the case of a flight diversion to another country.

Normal Australian Customs and Immigration procedures apply when entry is made from outside Australia. A passport is necessary and a visa may be required. Refer to your travel agent or the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for further details.

Duty free purchases may be made for travel to and from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Quarantine
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are home to some unique species of wildlife. The Islands are also free of many pests and diseases that are found in other parts of the world. The Department of Agriculture is the border agency charged with the task of protecting the environment and human health from pest or disease incursions. The department's objective is to facilitate the movement of passengers, cargo, aircraft and vessels in the way that minimises any inconvenience to the people involved while maintaining the quarantine integrity of the islands. This is achieved through various reporting, screening, inspection and treatment mechanisms. Certain products are prohibited on the islands while other items may require some form of treatment before they may be released.

Any person wishing to know more about the quarantine requirements on Christmas Island or the Cocos (Keeling) Islands should contact the Indian Ocean Territories office on telephone: 08 9164 7456, fax: 08 9164 7468, mobile: 0439 215 456 or email Christmas.Island@agriculture.gov.au.

Importation of cats and dogs
Under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Shire local law on Animal Control, the Shire has the right to refuse applications for the importation of cats and dogs. The Shire also has the discretion to approve the importation of a dog if it is an assistance animal. If a person wishes to import an assistance animal, an application can be made in writing to the Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Services
Accommodation
A range of accommodation is available from motel rooms to self contained rooms and houses. Details are available from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association. It is highly recommended that bookings be made prior to arrival on the island.

Restaurants and bars
There are two restaurants on Cocos and one coffee shop. The Tropika Restaurant and Dory's Cafe are located on West Island, whilst Bunga Melati is located on Home Island. In the case of all three restaurants, meals are reasonably priced and rarely exceed AUD$20.00 per person.

The Cocos Club is open in the evenings for bar and take away drink service. Club ‘food nights' are advertised on the blackboard and all visitors are welcome.

Contact the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association to confirm opening hours and for booking details.

Shopping
Shopping is limited on Cocos. Basic groceries, clothing, souvenirs, camping, snorkelling and diving gear, fishing equipment and a limited range of duty free goods are available. DVD hire and a book exchange operates at the Telecentre.

Many shops have irregular opening hours. It is advised that you bring a sufficient supply of certain personal goods such as prescription medicines.

Banking
Most businesses on West Island accept credit cards, a few accept Diners and Amex, and several now have EFTPOS facilities.

There are no Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) on the island, and visitors are advised to bring sufficient cash.

Postal services
Post Offices on both West and Home Islands provide postal and philatelic services. Opening hours are limited.

Postal services to Cocos are twice weekly. Envelopes and Express Post Packages will be sent by air. Other mail, including airmail packages, will be sent via sea mail which may take up to two months for delivery.

Freight
Freight to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands may be sent by air or sea. Air freighter services depart from Perth, every fortnight. Sea freight is from Fremantle, Western Australia every four to six weeks.

For further information:

Air freight bookings and enquiries refer to http://www.freightshop.com.au/
Sea freight bookings and enquiries refer to http://zentnershipping.com.au/
Car hire
Cars are available to hire for travel on West Island, bookings in advance are advised. Pickup and delivery can be arranged from the airport.

The fuel pump is located near the West Island jetty and is open on Fridays between 1.30 pm and 4.30 pm. Payment can be made by cash or cheque.

Contact the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association for further details.

Telecommunications
Four television stations are broadcast from Western Australia via satellite. These are ABC, SBS, WIN and GWN. A local radio station, 6CKI—Voice of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, is staffed by community volunteers and provides some local content. ABC Regional Radio and FM music stations are also broadcast.

As television and radio stations are broadcast through a satellite service rainfall may cause interference.

The telephone service is part of the Australian network. The local area code is 08 and international is +61 8 Mobile phones from mainland Australia will not work on Cocos. Mobile phones (already connected to the local system) are available to hire from the Telecentre. Bookings are advised as there is a limited supply. Public phones are also available and are located on both West Island and Home Island.

Electricity
Electricity on Cocos is generated by two diesel plants, one on West Island and one on Home Island.

Both power stations are currently managed and maintained by the Water Corporation of Western Australia under an SDA with the Australian Government.

Water
Water is pumped from several water lenses located beneath West and Home Island. A reverse osmosis plant is used to suppliement the water supply on Home Island. The water supply is managed and maintained by the Water Corporation under a SDA to the Australian Government.

Newspapers
Papers are generally not available for purchase. However a number of mainland magazines and newspapers are available to read at the community library at the West Island School Campus.

The Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Cocos Islands Community Resource Centre produce The Atoll, a fortnightly local newsletter.

Recreation
Recreation is centred on the Islands' natural resources and is predominantly water based. Local tour operators provide guided cultural tours on Home Island, including snorkelling, diving, island hopping and fishing. The lagoon also offers excellent conditions for windsurfing, kite boarding and sailing.

A key part of the social life of the West Island community centres on the Cocos Club and various activities. Visitors to Cocos are welcome to use the Club and join in other activities including tennis, golf and Hash House Harriers. Check the blackboard outside the Cocos Club for details. These activities are usually organised by volunteers.

Many events are held throughout the year to celebrate the varied cultural aspects of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. These events are linked to special days, such as New Year, Australia Day, Act of Self Determination Day and Hari Raya. Visitors are welcome to join in these celebrations and details are available from the Tourism Association.

A ferry operates between Home Island and West Island Monday to Saturday. Operating times can be found on the website of the Cocos Islands Co-Operative Society Limited. The Islands unique history and culture can be viewed at the museums on both West and Home Island. Tours can also be arranged by contacting the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association.

Dress
The relaxed attitude of the islands is reflected in the casual attire worn by residents and visitors. Business dress is smart casual. A hat and sunscreen is recommended when outdoors and reef shoes or sandshoes should be worn in the water to avoid injury from the coral.

When visiting Home Island, people should wear appropriate clothing to respect the community's dress standards. Women and men are asked to wear modest outfits which cover the shoulders and upper legs.

Health
Special vaccinations and medications are not required for travel to Cocos (Keeling) Islands. It is important to ensure that supplies of personal medications are brought for the duration of the intended travel, as supplies of special medication may be limited and could take up to a week to obtain. Pharmaceuticals and general supplies are available from the chemist.

Health clinics operate on both West Island and Home Island providing essential health services. People sustaining serious illness or injuries may be sent to Perth for treatment. It is important for people to check their health and travel insurance before travelling to the Islands.

Information for visiting yachts
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are located in the Indian Ocean at latitude 12°10' south and longitude 96°52' east. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands welcomes visiting yachts and provides anchorages at Direction Island.

Upon arrival all yachts must contact Customs on Channel 20 VHF. Once cleared by the Customs Officer you may leave your vessel and visit the Islands.

Direction Island offers a quiet anchorage and has a small shelter and toilet facility. Other facilities are available at Home Island and West Island.

Home Island is 1.5nms south of Direction Island. It is advisable to follow the channel markers to Home Island as there are numerous shallow areas and coral outcrops along the route.

West Island is 4.5nms west of the anchorage. It is recommended to catch the ferry from Direction Island (Saturdays only) or from Home Island, rather than to travel across the lagoon in a small tender.

Supplies of fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce are generally limited.

The Cocos Island Marine Centre can do minor repairs to vessels and equipment. It may be contacted through ‘Cocos Marine Officer' Channel 20 VHF or on 08 9162 7595 during business hours.

Fuel may be purchased through Shell West Island on Channel 20 VHF or phone 08 9162 6670.

Please keep Direction Island clean.