Having worked as a travel agent in Australia, teached me how things work around there.
That’s why there will be a serie of articles on this country, that will explain you how to rent a car, how to use wisely travel agencies, and even your tours like the whitsunday cruises, or to the red center!
Thats ‘it ! you decided to travel in Australia, congratulations!
The planning of this trip can be a bit painful, but here is some ideas that might help you out :
=> Start by asking yourself the good questions :
– How long do I have ?
Indeed, it seems logical. But when you talk about visiting a country that is as big as Europe, this particular question counts.
Of course, if time is on your side, you’ll be able to travel for much cheaper than if you have 3 weeks, and you’ll have very different expectations. Some of you might want to even work there. There is tons of website that are about backpacking in Australia, but this one is just all about different kind of tips that will give a general approach.
– What budget do I have?
Australia is expensive. For sure. Even with the slight change in favor of the euro, it isn’t really cheap as Thailand.
On a 3 weeks trip, you might want to fly to places, reallty time-saving but you might have to face important airfares.
=> Getting there
– Getting in Australia is much cheaper if you loose the idea of landing on the east coast. With a stop over in Asia, you can reach Darwin ( to north of Australia) or even Perth ( down in the west coast) with just a couple of hours flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. It is handy, and those flights beeing handled by low cost airlines, which is good for your budget.
– Some of the airline routes within Australia are only done by Qantas. Qantas beeing the national airline, prices can be ridiculously crazy ( when I say crazy, I literally mean 400 AUD – 350 euros to go from Cairns to Alice Spring for example). But there are some others can that be pretty cheap, so if you want to fly, check out tiger airways and jet star, and build your itinerary around it.
– If you arrive by the north, it is pretty easy to visit Darwin, Kakadu national Park and Litchfield National Park, and then go down to the red center to check out Uluru/ayers rock and kings canyon, via air, bus or even train ( the fabulous but very expensive train could be compared as our Orient express – the route is Darwin/Alice Springs/Adelaide)
– If you arrive by Perth, the West coast is a thrill for a road trip, or joining Melbourne by the south coast is a good option to explore, and many travellers skip usually this coast, a shame…!
=> Getting Around
– If you are on a long trip it is very recommended to actually buy a car. A lot of people actually buy campers, because accomodation will be extremely expensive everywhere you go. One bed in a hostel dormitory is no less than 22 dollars, you won’t find a sigle or a double room for less than 40 dollars. Be aware that you can’t put your camper everywhere in Australia. You will find free place along the east coast, but sometimes you’ll need a caravan park as well, or you will be given a huge fine…
– Short stays can be made easier with an agency, take a look at Way Outback, that have great trips to go north to south via the red center, or in Tasmania or East coast even. You might want to rent a car or a camper to explore and be free, but remember the cost of fuel and distances!
– Don’t fool yourself, long distance bus are really pricey, and the bus is quite terrible. Though online you can buy passes ( multi entry ticket) – really more economic – that can be quite good. Don’t expect the quality if buses, a bit like south america or asia, with good seats, service and almost beds…this is just a regular bus… You have also the option of an Hop off/hop on bus, but this won’t be cheap either.
– If you have time, and if you are looking for way more adventurous, search for a ride on Gumtree.au. A lot of people travel this way, sharing only petrol and meeting other people.
– Couchsurfing is very active in Australia. An article on « how to use couchsurfing » is to be written soon as well.
– Australia has a lot to offer and very different scenery : don’t stick to the cities !
– Keep in mind that sometimes tours are mandatory to visit a lot of place if you don’t have a 4 wheel drive – 4X4 (or a good friend with a boat), so use wisely the local travel agencies, play with them and compare ! see « how to travel in Australia – Travel agencies » soon on this blog.
=> Places not to be missed
There is a bunch of places that can’t be missed : Sydney, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Fraser Island, Surfer’s Paradise, the Whisundays, Magnetic Island, Tasmania,Tthe Great Barrier Reefthe Red center ( Uluru/the Olgas and Kings canyon), Kakadu & Litchfield National Park…
I have met way too many people that skip the Red Center, for a lot of various reason… this is where the soul & the real of Australia is !