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Traveling to AUS fron US

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Hello All-
I have never traveled out of the US, so I have no idea what to expect on my upcoming trip to Australia. Any advice/help/tips etc. will be greatly appreciated. I will be traveling from Chicago O'Hare to Perth Australia on Quantas Airlines and American Airlines in the US. All of my connecting flights are within the US and Australia. To give you guys an idea of my travels, my itinerary is as follows:

Departing:
Chicago IL (O'Hare) to Dallas(TX) Fort Worth to Sydney then on to Perth
Returning:
Perth to Sydney to San Francisco (CA) to Chicago (IL) O'Hare

Customs- At what points of my travels will I need to pass though? Which airports? Also, what all will it entail?

Baggage- If I were to check my baggage, will it make it to Perth on its own? Will I have to get it and re-check it? If so, will that have to happen at each connecting airport-- I'm debating on whether I should carry-on verse checking my bag. I'll be in Australia for 2 weeks so I'd rather check the bag, but it appears that all of my layovers range from 1 hour to 2. I just worry about missing a connecting flight ...

Thanks in advance to whomever responds--I'm sure I'll thing of though question/concerns.

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