In some countries it's a minefield of etiquette, but here things are simpler.
Tipping in some countries can be a fearsome etiquette minefield. Travellers in the US, for example, seem forever obliged to shell out $1 notes to anyone who happens to cross their eyeline.
In Australia, mercifully, things tend to be much simpler - to a degree. It can be confusing for visitors because, unlike the US where you're expected to tip just about everywhere, there are no hard and fast rules to tipping in Australia. Here, some people get tend to get tipped, some don't.
But the short answer is this: In Australia you don't have to tip – ever. But you can if you want to.
Anna Musson, etiquette expert from goodmanners.com.au and author of Etiquette Secrets, says this is partly due to Australia's minimum wage laws. Unlike in the US, where service industry staff are paid a pitiful amount and rely on tips to boost it up to a wage they can live on, Australians get a reasonably high wage mandated by law.
"The minimum wage in Australia is $17.29 per hour, so the obligation to tip is less than in countries such as the US," says Musson. "This has impacted Australian attitudes towards giving and expecting tips. There are no circumstances where a tip is obligatory, but in service industries it is always appreciated."
The general attitude in Oz is that what staff are paid is a matter to be decided between staff and employer, not staff and customer.
In the US, you may come across people saying: "If you can't afford the tip, you can't afford to eat here," or "tipping is not optional". If you hear that sort of thing in Australia, then it is almost certainly coming from someone with a vested interest in introducing an American-style tipping culture that has never existed in Australia.
You can also pretty much take it as read that the inevitable comments below this article stating that the tip figures mentioned are too stingy come from said people with vested interests. Strangely, people in the service industry like to pretend tipping is more common and more generous than it really is when asked what's appropriate.
Also important to bear in mind is that, like in the UK and most other European countries, stated prices in Australia have to include tax and service by law. If something says it costs $20 on a menu, then it costs $20 – there's no need to pull out the rudimentary mathematics to add a percentage for the taxman or the server.
For taxis, the golden rule applies: Tips are not expected, but always appreciated. Etiquette guru Anna Musson says: "With taxis, you might tip $2 or 10 per cent of journey if taxi is clean and driver has showered. Taxi drivers may legally add the value of the toll to return to where they began the journey, so a tip on top of this additional charge can be excessive – especially when you know they will likely pick up a fare on their way back."
Many Australians will just round up a fare to the nearest five dollars – often due to not wanting to faff with change rather than being overcome by a spirit of great generosity.
Much the same applies to valet parking – which is much rarer in Australia than it is in the US. Musson suggests $2 to $5 is appropriate if you want to tip, but it is very much optional.
For tour guides, again, service has to be included in the price of the tour. But if the guide has been excellent, you may want to slip them a token amount – say $10 per couple. This is very much a "thank you" rather than something relied upon, however.
As per the rule of thumb, there is no service you'll receive in hotels where tipping is standard or expected. Anna Musson says there are a few instances where you may choose to give a few dollar – such as maybe $2 to a doorman who helps you get a taxi in the rain or $2 to $5 for the bellhop carrying bags up to your rooms.
As for the maid who cleans the room, Musson suggests: "A few dollars with a note is a nice gesture on departure if you have stayed a week or more."
And concierges? No tipping is required.
Dining and drinking
In bars, tipping is very rare, although some people hold to the old British tradition of giving a couple of dollars under the guise of "and get one for yourself" when getting a large round in.
For restaurants and cafes, a slow tip creep has crept in – and Australians certainly seem to tip more than they used to. But again, you should never feel it's obligatory, and the original spirit of the tipping concept should be adhered to. It's something you willingly give for good service, rather than something you feel you have to give for standard service. Anna Musson suggests adding 10 per cent if the service has been very good.
If paying by card, ask the server if they get the tip or the restaurant pockets it. If the latter, leave the tip in cash.
Some restaurants and cafes will add 10 per cent to prices on weekends and bank holidays. This dubious practice is supposedly to cover a slightly higher minimum wage for working these days. Another piece of eyebrow-raising shonkery is charging an extra 2-3 per cent for card payments. If partaking in any of these practices, these extra charges must be clearly stated (usually on the menu). But it worth weighing up whether adding a tip on top will encourage such surcharges to spread.
Same rules apply – with hairdressers et al. If you want to tip, feel free to give a bit extra. But don't feel obliged to.