The simplest communication device is the mobile or cellular phone.
Most major Australian mobile phone networks are reasonably well serviced throughout the main towns in the South West; but depending on your carrier a standard mobile phone may not be effective, or existent, outside the towns or once you are off the main roads.
The major phone companies in Australia maintain their own websites and provide information to travellers. Please refer to the coverage information published by your choosen carrier; Telstra, Optus, Virgin, Vodafone.
If your supplier is not covered in the list above, look into hiring a phone on a prepaid service, so you do not have to sign up on a long-term contract, with one of the above operators.
They are the ultimate in communications technology because you can use them anywhere. However, they are expensive in comparison to other communication tools.
Some 4WD clubs have phones for hire. You can buy a good quality satellite phone for about $1000. Monthly fees and call charges are reducing over time. They are not cheap, but you can’t put a price on safety.
There is quite a range of phone cards available and they can be purchased at local newsagencies, post offices, and phone shops for fixed denominations.
Local, Mobile and International phone calls
Local calls from most pay phones cost around 50 cents; while most local calls from private phones cost about 25 cents.
Whether you are calling from a public or private service, you can talk for an unlimited time within the local area. However, if your call crosses a ‘zone’, you may have timed calls – which cost considerably more! Please check the local telephone directory to find comprehensive information about charges.
Please remember that in the outback, the term 'local call' might be largely irrelevant, due to the vast distances between areas. What you might consider a local call, may in fact be a long distance or timed call.
Mobile (or Cell) Phones
Calls to mobile (cellular) phones are timed and attract far higher rates than calls to fixed residential or commercial phones. Numbers with the prefix 04xx or 04xxx are mobile or car phones. Calls to and from mobile numbers are charged at special STD rates, and can be expensive. Getting prepaid cell phones for international use can be a lot cheaper.
Blue and Gold Phones.
You will find these in some hotel lobbies and outback shops. The owner of the premises will generally get a commission from these phone calls; so they can cost more than a local call. Check how much the call will cost before you commence.
International Phone Calls
From most STD phones, you can also make ISD (International Subscriber Dialling) calls. To make an ISD call follow the steps below:
- Dial 0011 to be connected outside of Australia
- Then dial the country code (E.g. 44 for Britain, 1 for the USA or Canada, and 64 for New Zealand etc)
- The city/area code (E.g. 171 or 181 for London, 212 for New York)
- Finally dial the subscriber (phone) number.
You will need to have a phone card, credit card, or plenty of coins handy.
International calls from Australia can be expensive, depending upon when you make them. There are sometimes specials that make the rates cheaper and there are often off peak times; which may save you a lot of money depending on the destination of the call.
Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a Phone Away card before leaving the city (they may be available from newsagencies and post offices in the outback).
Toll-Free Calls and Long Distance Calls at Cheaper Prices.
Many businesses, and some government departments, operate a toll-free service (prefix 1800) or a Long Distance Call at Local Call charges (prefix 1300 or 13). That means it's a free call no matter where you are calling from around Australia. These numbers may not be accessible from certain areas, or from mobile phones; as they are designed to allow you to make enquiries and reservations but not to speak to guests in the hotel/motel.
Most hotels will not allow you to use these numbers for that purpose. Some prefer to use 13 or 1300 numbers, which are cheaper than long distance calls and are generally charged at the local call rate, but are not free.
To Make a Reverse Charge Call
If you are wanting to make a reverse charge call:
- To a phone in Australia from any private or pay phone, dial l800 801 800.
- To an International number, dial 12 550.
Other odd numbers you may come across are those starting with 190. These are usually recorded information services, often provided by private companies.
They can be expensive! So be careful, and check the cost before you call, as the call may cost anything from $0.35 to $5 or more per minute (higher from mobile and pay phones).
A pager may also be a great communication alternative. If you have to receive messages immediately, pagers can allow for this where ever you may be.
Motorola 9501 Pager
Motorola's lightweight, belt worn Satellite Series (TM) 9501 Pager, combined with the 9505 or the 9500 Portable Phone offers one of the world's most extensive global wireless personal communication networks, as well as flexible, cost-effective accounting options for unlimited mobility.
When you can't be out of reach, the Satellite Series (TM) 9501 Pager by Motorola receives all your messages, wherever your travels take you.