Australia

In preparation for our trip I have been researching topics such as potential accommodations, activities, landmarks, and transportation methods for each destination. I figure this will give us a better idea of the daily cost, and therefore help determine how long we will want to stay in each country. It will be interesting to see the difference between the ideas I have researched and what we actually do when we are on the road!

Click the small arrow button on the top left of the map header (left of where it says “Potential Destination”) to expand out additional details about many of the locations and activities described below.

U.S. Visa/Travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/australia.html
Currency: http://www.xe.com/currency/aud-australian-dollar
Tourism Site: http://www.australia.com/en-us

How to Prioritize?!

I have to say, due to its size and the amazing amount of things to do, Australia has been very challenging to research. Basically, Australia is one big national park the size of the United States! Right now we are planning to spend 6 weeks total in Australia, so hopefully that will give us enough time to see the major things on our list, while still having time to relax and breathe in the fresh air. As a comparison, here is an image showing the size of Australia as compared to the United States.

Australia and United States size comparison map.

Accommodations

As was the case in New Zealand, friends are going to play a big role in our ability to spend more time in Australia, despite the high costs. What I love about this is they are going to be, and already have been, great resources for information on “must sees”, “don’t bother” and “here is how you save money on…”. Plus, they are just awesome people who we are going to have a blast just hanging out with.

We definitely know we are going to spend a week or two with our friends in Currimundi, which is just outside Brisbane in southern Queensland (Sunshine Coast region). Our tentative plan is to fly into Brisbane when we leave Vanuatu; that way we can start in Australia staying with people we know. As we continue our journey in Australia we have potential to stay at a friend’s family member’s place in Bulli, which is a coastal town just south of Sydney. We were originally thinking of skipping Sydney to allow more time in other places, but if we are able to stay in Bulli that will definitely change things. Both of these locations will be great home bases for exploring Queensland and New South Wales.

When not staying with friends, we plan to stay in at least one hostel, probably in Adelaide, which is in South Australia. One site I see used often for finding discount accommodations is https://www.booking.com. We also plan to do the camper van rental vehicle return/relocation again (mentioned in our New Zealand post), but this time try to get a Mini Camper which is basically a car that has a tent on the roof. How cool is that!

Rooftop tent camper.

Australia is known for having countless campsites, some being free and others not. One way to find these sites is by purchasing an app through http://www.campsaustraliawide.com/shop/camps-app, which requires us to have WiFi to access the active features, but you can pre-download maps of the areas you plan to visit so you don’t get stuck if WiFi isn’t available while you are on the road (which it sounds is often the case in Australia).

DID SOMEONE SAY BARBIE?

Something I have a feeling we are going to use a lot, not just when camping it, are all the free BBQs around Australia. According to our friend in Currimundi, they are everywhere. Our current apartment does not have an outdoor space for a grill, so I am BBQ deprived and can’t wait to get my fill! Hopefully this will help keep food cost lower by limiting eating out.

Another cool accommodation type we want to try in Australia is house/pet sitting through https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us. One backpacker couple that we have been following used this for most of their time in Australia and they say they saved over $20,000 by house/pet sitting versus staying in hotels. If this works well, I have a feeling we will be using this a lot during our RTW trip. Sure to save money, but just as important, to spend time with sweet furry animals, which we miss greatly since we are not allowed to have any in our current apartment.

Transportation

Due to the size of Australia, at times it will be more convenient and time saving to fly versus drive. For example, if we do decide to skip over Sydney, the plan is to fly from Brisbane to Melbourne to get to the start of the Great Ocean Road, then again from Adelaide to Exmouth to get to the Ningaloo Reef. To book these flights the following websites will come in handy: https://book.jetstar.com, https://tigerair.com.au, along with the typical ones like Expedia, Cheap Flights, Kayak, etc.

$$ MONEY SAVING – CAR RENTAL

There may be times when we are staying with friends or pet/house sitting that we will need to rent a car if public transport isn’t available. A recent post I watched had some great information about getting the best car rental rate.Tips mentioned included look at multiple websites, use small local rental companies, book as close as possible to the time needed for last minute deals, and keep the rental period 7 days or under even if you are going to need it for longer and have to return the car then immediately re-rent.

Landmarks/Activities

Here’s where I needed to look at things from the 30,000 foot view perspective. There are just way too many places to go, activities to do, and things to see to know exactly what will be on our agenda. I want to do it all! But, of course, that can’t happen. For example, I don’t think we are going to go to Northern Territory to the Red Centre to see Uluru, http://www.australia.com/en/places/red-centre.html, because of the added flight costs and time constraints. In order to get some idea of our timeline and expenses, I did have to determine what some of our must sees and do’s are, and figure out where in Australia we were going to start and end.

Of course, the Great Barrier Reef, http://www.australia.com/en/places/great-barrier-reef.html, was one of the first things we thought of. The trick is how to experience the reef on a budget and not have to travel far to get to it. Instead of flying to Cairns, which is the typical place to go see the reef from, we may drive from Currimundi (our first stop in Australia) to the town of 1770 (yes, this is the actual name of the town) which is about a 5 hour drive, and take a day snorkeling trip to the reef off the island of Lady Musgrave. There are numerous excursion/snorkeling/diving companies to use such as http://www.lmcruises.com.au.

I am actually more excited to go see the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, http://www.australia.com/en/places/ningaloo.html. I have found countless posts about Ningaloo Reef and how it is just as good as, if not better than, the Great Barrier Reef. Plus you can swim right to the reef from the beach! No boat required! Unfortunately we won’t be there when the whale sharks are around, but it still should be fantastic snorkeling.

There are several famous drives along Australia’s beautiful coastline, one of which is a must see for us – the Great Ocean Road. Starting in Torquay, Victoria (near Melbourne) and ending in Allansford, Victoria (near Warmambool), this drive is approximately 151 miles and often completed over 4-5 days. Travelers spend time stopping along the way to take in sites such as the 12 Apostles, Bells Beach, various Aboriginal heritage sites, Cape Otway Lighthouse, various hikes, and more – http://www.australia.com/en/places/great-ocean-road.html. This is when we hope to try out the Mini-Camper.

Wine

A trip to Australia wouldn’t be complete without some wine sampling of course! After completing the Great Ocean Road, our plan is to continue driving to Adelaide to spend several days exploring this area, including the nearby Barossa Valley wine region. I was psyched to come across a company that does wine cellar bike tours – http://www.barossabikehire.com/group-tours. The other wine region we are interested in is the Hunter Valley  region, http://www.australia.com/en/places/nsw/hunter-valley.html, which is located just outside of Sydney. Whether we go here will depend on if we end up skipping over Sydney or not.

So, in a nutshell, Australia is going to be full of adventure, involve multiple modes of transportation, and most likely leave us wishing for more time to explore. It will be interesting to see if we stick to this agenda or will something different catch our eye and completely veer us off course.

Any thoughts about our ideas above, or suggestions of “must see” activities/landmarks? Please include those below!

6 Comments

David Gould · September 24, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Hi Rachel
Just looking at your Australia travel plan which will be amazing – When travelling after Great Ocean Road to Adelaide try and stop at Naracotte Caves and Mt Gambier(blue lake). just a couple of hours at both points. Extract from my diary “Mt. Gambier which is South Australia’s second largest city. We have chosen to take our time and explore the local sites. Our first stop was Engelbrecht Cave which is located in the heart of the city. The cave which extends under the main highway is a popular spot for cave divers. It is also a training site where cave divers can develop the penetration skills for this demanding and at times dangerous sport.
Umpherston Sinkhole has a beautiful garden where possums come to be fed at night. A visit to Mt. Gambier is not complete without a stop at the Blue Lake. The water colour on the day of our visit was the bluest of blues. The lake is approximately 70 metres deep and supplies all the water needs of the region.”
When you finish the Great Ocean Road this would be a beautiful place to free camp “Just prior to Nelson we made a side trip to Picanninie Ponds. This is another freshwater sinkhole that supports a wide variety of aquatic life. A permit is required to snorkel in this crystal clear water. A surf beach accessible by 4WD is nearby. A few basic camp sites are also available”
Also recommend the Clare Valley wine region just north of the Barossa. Excellent Caravan park and a great wine region especially for Reisling.
Another tip for Great Ocean Road is to arrive at the National Park camping grounds in the late afternoon and check out straight after breakfast – this way you will avoid the National Park fees. Can recommend Johanna Beach which is between Cape Ottaway and 12 Apostles.
Finally if you finish in Exmouth I would return to Perth and get either Air Asia X or Scoot to Hanoi. Flights will be under $300pp + luggage + pick a seat + cheap meal. No direct flights so you will have a few hours layover in either KL or Singapore.
If you hate sitting around in Airports I would recommend splurging on a priority pass lounge card which gives you access to good lounges some will serve free alcohol, wi-fi and showers
https://www.prioritypass.com/en/airport-lounges

Rachel · September 24, 2017 at 9:30 pm

David – This is invaluable information you just don’t find on the internet! You have been an amazing resource for us and we can’t thank you enough!

Ally · March 10, 2018 at 10:29 pm

Looks like you’ve done a lot of research for your time in Australia! We went to Bulli Beach with a local, and it’s beautiful. I can’t recall how far away it is from Bulli, but if you have a car, also look at visiting the Figure 8 pools. There are plenty of beaches in NSW you can see and these are some more recommendations: https://borderlinebackpackers.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/7-beaches-in-new-south-wales/

If you’re interested in hostels, I highly recommend YHA (http://yha.com.au/). They are located all over the country, and each one we’ve stayed in has been clean, secure, friendly and the staff were wonderful! You can choose to stay in a dorm or have a private room. These were our favourite YHA hostels up the coast: https://borderlinebackpackers.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/top-5-yha/

Be careful booking flights with JetStar and/or TigerAir. Both will charge you extra for baggage, and the seats are cramped together. TigerAir is also known for having long delays for internal flights – something to take into consideration if you’re on a tight schedule!

We also stayed in 1770. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? We found a local company who offered a tour of the town, where you ride your own motorcycle and follow along. It was only a day trip, and we were given training at their location before going on the road. You also get to dress up in flamed motorcycle gear. It was a great way to see the town, as there wasn’t much else going on in the area. https://borderlinebackpackers.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/scooteroo-the-ride-of-your-life/

I also HIGHLY recommend Fraser Island. It contains most of the worlds perched lakes which you can swim in and drink from! You can choose to go for the day or stay overnight, but it was my favourite part of the east coast. Also, have you thought about Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsundays? Whitehaven was voted the most beautiful beach in the world and look different every day – no one else will ever get to see it the same way you do! We spent two nights on a boat with OzSail, but you can go for the day and return to Airlie Beach.

Hope this helps a bit! I’m really excited about your trip, it’s going to be incredible. We have yet to go out west (looking for work to buy a van and drive the rest of Australia) so you’ll have to share your recommendations with us afterwards!

    Peter & Rachel · March 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Wow! What a tremendous post! Thanks for all of the links to your blog. We will most definitely spend time reading about your experiences. If you’re still in Australia when we are there, and happen to be in the same area, perhaps we could all get together and talk about our RTW adventures!

Todd · March 16, 2018 at 5:49 pm

I hope you enjoy ‘straya as we seem to call it here. for cheap last minute hotel deals also check out wotif.com. A good app to grab on your phones is Wikicamps. You will have to pay a small one off fee for it but it is totally worth it. It lists all the hostels, hotels, caravan parks and free camp sites with user reviews, locations etc. Its a really good app. While you are downloading Wikicamps also grab iOverlander. Same sort of app but really useful for when you get over to the Americas. I know your route isn’t taking you through Darwin, but if it does, and we aren’t back to travelling ourselves, then you have a place to stay and a free car to get out exploring with.

    Peter · March 16, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Todd – you are awesome! What great tips! If we end up in the Northern Territory we will definitely reach out!

    For other travelers, check out Todd & Chantelle’s travel blog at https://www.overyondaadventures.com/ They’re on a similar RTW adventure as we are!

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