Supernova 2014 - Local Information

The workshop will be held over 11-15 August 2014 (with a reception the evening of 10 August 2014) in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia.  The conference venue will be the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort, Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour, in Australia, is a coastal city located on the north coast of New South Wales about 540 km (340 mi) north of Sydney, and 390 km (240 mi) south of Brisbane.  Coffs Harbour sits in a unique position where the Great Dividing Range escarpment meets the Australian East Coast.  The subtropical city lies between the forested hills and sparkling blue waters.

Surrounded by National Parks and facing the Solitary Island Marine Park, the natural environment and uncrowded beaches are complemented by exciting activities and attractions, excellent shopping, great accommodation and cafes and restaurants.  Specific recreational activities will be organized for the afternoons of 12th and 13th August.  In addition, there will be a number of morning activities prior to the conference starting each day (details to be announced).  Further information on Coffs Harbour and New South Wales at the following links - Coffs Coast website and Destination NSW

Climate
Coffs Harbour has a humid subtropical climate. The average temperatures in August range from 8C to 20C (46F to 67F), so please dress appropriately.  The Australian sun is very strong.  Always wear a shirt, hat, sunglasses and SPF 30+ sunscreen lotion, even on cloudy days.  If spending the day outdoors, reapply sunscreen regularly.  Stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when the sun is strongest.

Power Supply
Our electrical current is 220-240 Volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet is different from almost other countries, so make sure to bring an adaptor. 

Driving
Cars in Australia drive on the left.  Please take care when crossing streets (and driving!) if you are not used to this. Speed limits in New South Wales are 50 km/h in local/suburban areas and 100 km/h on highways, unless otherwise posted. Penalties for speeding, for failing to wear a seatbelt, or for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are all extremely severe (for example, breaking the speed limit by 20 km/h incurs a fine of AUD$531).

Time Zone
In August, Coffs Harbour will be on Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), which is 10 hours ahead of GMT.

Currency
The only currency accepted in Australia is Australian Dollars (AUD); at the time of writing, 1 AUD was equivalent to USD 0.93, EUR 0.69, GBP 0.59 and JPY 93. Currency exchange is available at banks, hotels, international airports and in tourist areas. You can also directly withdraw AUD from automated teller machines (ATMs) throughout Australia using most foreign bank cards; your bank may impose a fee for such withdrawals. Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards are both widely accepted at shops, hotels and restaurants (although some smaller vendors might not accept American Express or will apply a surcharge on its use). Banking hours are typically 9.30am-4.00pm on Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu, 9.30pm-5.00pm on Fri, and closed on weekends.

Visa Information
All travellers other than Australian and New Zealand citizens need a valid visa or authority to enter Australia (including electronic visas).  More information here or Department of Immigration Fact Sheet for Travellers. Please contact the organisers if you need a letter of invitation for your visa application. For some nationalites, processing and issuance of visas can take several weeks/months, so apply well before your planned travel.

Smoking
Australia has strong anti-smoking legislation. Cigarettes are heavily taxed (typically costing more than $20 per pack), must be kept from view by vendors, and are sold in plain green packaging containing graphic health warnings. In New South Wales, it is illegal to smoke within 4 metres of the entrance to any public building, at bus/train stops, in most public places and restaurants, or in a car containing children. There are also heavy fines for improper disposal of cigarette butts. Note that all accommodation rooms at the conference venue/hotel are non-smoking.