Australia: A Few Things Oprah Probably Won’t Tell You

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Me in Australia

This post is going to sound negative – like I’m trying to convince you that visiting Australia is a bad idea. So let’s just clear the air now before we get too far into it: I love Australia and think it is one of the most stunning places in the world. This place – not only a country but a continent – is almost unimaginably vast. From the rugged coastal towns that line the Great Ocean Road, the very European flavor of Melbourne, the big city excitement of Sydney, the turquoise waters and white sands of the endless beaches to the stunning red earth of the interior; if you can’t find a landscape that wows you here then you probably can’t find it anywhere.

If given the opportunity, I think everyone should experience this magical country. Oprah Winfrey is slated to visit and broadcast her day time talk show from Oz and I have no doubt that once Americans are exposed to some of the stunning landscapes, there will be an increased interest in visiting. I think that’s a great thing, even if Australians have mixed feelings on the multi-million dollar price tag the government is spending out of their tourism budget to get her there.

Australia - Water and Storm

Recently, I spent a month and a half in Sydney, Melbourne and some of the country-side of Victoria (the region where Melbourne is located). This was another stop on my year long around-the-world trip following: six weeks in the USA, six weeks in Mexico and six weeks in Canada. Part of what makes this ongoing travel possible is that my partner and I run our own web consultancy and it just so happened that our time in Australia coincided with a great deal of deadline driven work we absolutely needed to focus on. Some of my points below are probably colored by this reality and the fact that we couldn’t just kick back and relax. Most people don’t need to be tied to a laptop or Internet connection while they are on vacation.

With that disclaimer in place, for better or for worse, here are a few things I wish I’d known before visiting Australia:

Australia is incredibly expensive.

I wasn’t expecting Australia to be cheap, but I thought it would be in line with average living costs in Canada and certainly a bit less expensive than London (UK). Out of everywhere I’ve visited this year, including my London home and Tokyo (where I am now), Australia was by far the most expensive place to find accommodations, to eat, to drink and for miscellaneous expenses.

We rented a fairly large private room in a family home in the bustling St. Kilda area of Melbourne for a month at the cost of $350 (Australian Dollars) per week. Although this certainly falls within the realm of what we would expect to pay in cities like London, Vancouver and Tokyo, in those other locations we’ve been able to find a complete (albeit small) self-contained apartment for around the same price. In Melbourne we regularly passed a dingy looking hostel where a private room ran visitors $80 a night. Unless you were willing to stay in a dorm room with strangers, the cost was on par with what one generally expects to pay for a budget hotel.

Although there were some genuinely good deals to be had on food (more on that later), overall we found the price of eating or drinking out to be much higher than in other countries. One Sunday morning we decided to go in search of brunch. We did our research and went to a St. Kilda cafe called Las Chicas – we’d heard that the food was good and affordably priced. After we were seated and presented with the menu we were fairly stunned. A muffin was over $4 and a poached egg on toast was around $10. We eventually settled on two breakfast burritos that included scrambled eggs, bacon, salsa, guacamole and cheese inside a flour tortilla. It was delicious but at $18 each with no sides or beverages included, it was no bargain. As we wandered around the neighborhood, these kinds of prices seemed fairly standard and what’s more, no one seemed to mind much because most places were packed. I have so many examples of being floored by restaurant and food prices such as: Daneli’s Kosher Deli where a plain hamburger with no sides costs $15, and Argy Bargy, a pub where two pints of domestic beer cost us $18. We quickly created a rule of not eating or drinking anywhere that didn’t have a menu with prices posted out front.

My friend Marnie, who lives in Melbourne, pointed out that there are ways of eating and drinking more affordably in Australia but you need some insider knowledge. Some of the top things that saved us some money:

  • Taking advantage of the beautiful, abundant food at the local markets – produce and meat are considerably cheaper there than in grocery stores.
  • If you’re looking for a substantial, delicious meals on the cheap – go ethnic. North Richmond in Melbourne has an almost endless array of really wonderful Vietnamese restaurants all at reasonable prices. Similarly China Town and Tattersalls Lane in particular in Melbourne has some great dumpling restaurants where you can have a giant and tasty meal for about $6 per person.
  • Cleanskin is a wine shop chain that offers really good quality wines at very affordable prices. You can get a reasonably tasty bottle for as low as $3 and if you buy in bulk, it gets even cheaper. And it doesn’t taste like piss.
  • Many restaurants have special nights where they’ll have some kind of a deal on offer. Keep an eye out for these. Banff is a local pub on Fitzroy street in Melbourne; they serve cheap beer (particularly between the hours of 3 and 6 pm, where you can get a pitcher for about $8) and make really lovely little pizzas which are on offer all day on Mondays for $5 each.

Tourist attractions like museums and zoos are also very pricey. To take the ferry to the Sydney Zoo and spend an afternoon there, it cost us $100. And that doesn’t include the soggy, sub-par fish and chips we ate there for $12 each.

Prices Vary Wildly – You Must Shop Around

One of the most surprising things for us was the very wide discrepancy in prices from store to store. You could visit one news agent to find that they wanted $3 for a can of coke only to go to the guy just across the street and find that he only charged $1.50. During our time in Australia, I think the most expensive price I saw for a can of coke was about $3.50 and the cheapest was $1. The median price was probably somewhere around $1.75. Chocolate was similarly pricey and depending on the shop, you could easily end up spending as much as an extra $2 for a simple Dairy Milk. Water was possibly the most overpriced and a small bottle could rarely be acquired for less than $2 and could be priced as high as $4 for the same brand depending on location. Street vendors were usually the cheapest option for anything snack or beverage related.

When planning a road trip outside of one of the larger cities, be aware that prices in rural areas tend to be much higher and get increasingly more expensive the further out you go. The same can be said for gas – so don’t wait to fill up the tank thinking you’ll find something cheaper on the road. You won’t. During our trip down the stunning Great Ocean Road we stopped at one station that was charging over $1.30 per liter, $3.50 for a standard chocolate bar and $2.50 for a can of pop. In Melbourne gas had been as low as $1.16 in some stations. The same is generally true for food in restaurants – we spent the night in Port Campbell and were hard pressed to find anything for dinner for under $25 per person, even in a working man’s club with no table service.

Great Ocean Road

Make Time to Get Out of the Cities

Melbourne and Sydney are the obvious stops for most tourists and they are well worth seeing; but although they are beautiful and full of culture and excitement, they aren’t the real reason to visit Australia. The landscapes of the country, the ‘red earth’ of the interior, the lush tropics further north and the harsh cliffs of the Great Ocean Road are honestly unlike anywhere else in the world. You will find yourself standing on the edge of a hill overlooking a sight like the Twelve Apostles (pictured above) and you will honestly shake your head and blink your eyes, as it slowly sinks in that a place so beautiful actually exists and that you can visit it.

Parrot

The wild life of Australia is strange and stunning – many of their species do not exist anywhere else in the world. But you have to get out of the cities to view most of them. In our travels we were lucky enough to see penguins, wallabies, wombats, kangaroos and koalas – all up close and without the artificial enclosures or screaming school children that are often so distracting in a zoo. Although they are less prominent in the cities, there are some creatures you may be lucky enough to run into like parrots, cockatiels, possums, bats and flying foxes.

Although we weren’t terribly lucky with clear skies when we were outside of the bright lights of Sydney and Melbourne, another reason to spend time in the country is star gazing. In the southern hemisphere, the sky looks completely different than it does for those of us from north of the Equator. It’s something to take note of and take in.

The Internet is Unreliable

We had almost endless difficulties with accessing the Internet while we were in Oz, which really surprised us given how cosmopolitan both Sydney and Melbourne feel. Thinking back, I still shake my head and wonder how people maintain web-based careers given our experiences there.

The first thing and probably the most crucial for us was that we found the web much slower in Australia then anywhere else we’d experienced except for possibly Mexico. Our home network was alright, but the speed in public places like libraries or Internet cafes made working nearly impossible. It was slow, like 1995 slow.

There also seems to be a bit of a lack of finesse about dealing with Internet-based problems. Banff pub (the place with the lovely pizzas and cheap beers) also advertise themselves as being one of the few places with free and reliable Internet in Melbourne. Despite the fact that their free wireless even has its own tab on their website and that they promote it fairly enthusiastically, when we went to use it we were told that they no longer offer the service because some guy in an apartment nearby was using their connection constantly to download porn. When I asked them if they thought about password protecting it to ensure only patrons could use it they shrugged. When I suggested they might amend the information on their website, they shrugged. The info is still on their website where it continues to say: “Technical issues may cause connectivity problems – this may result in a disruption to the service. However, you can be assured these will be corrected ASAP should they occur, and hey, it’s free!”

We experienced a similarly frustrating response at the State Library in central Melbourne. We’d spent the better part of a week working there when all of a sudden it became obvious to us that for some reason their system had locked us out of being able to search the web beyond the State Library’s own website. We tried talking to the librarian who told us that they offer no technical support for the free web service (because, hey, it’s free) and that we would need to email their technical department. After waiting over a week for an answer we received a canned response that told us to contact our computer’s manufacturer. It just seemed like either no one cared about web access or that even the people in charge didn’t really understand how to make things work properly.

We spent an entire day wandering around Sydney’s city centre trying to find a reliable Internet connection. We probably tried five or six advertised hot spots only to give up because either the connection was down or it took many long minutes to load a single page.

Hotel Basics

Unlike hotels in the rest of the world, check out time from most hotels in Australia is almost always at 10 am. Yes, that’s right, not eleven, not noon and certainly not 1 pm. 10 am. And if you want to sleep in, you often have to pay a late fee for it, which can range anywhere from $20 an hour to much, much higher. Some hotels will even charge you an hourly fee if you want to store your baggage if, for example, you have an entire day to kill before heading to the airport for a flight.

The Internet is also very rarely complimentary in hotels and is often quite expensive. The cheapest rate we paid for Internet in Sydney was $12 for 24 hours and it was an almost uselessly slow connection. The most we paid was $24 for a 24 hour period. It’s also worth noting that this fee is only good for one device, so unless you are adept at sharing Internet between computers or to your mobile device – it will only work on one machine.

It’s not a bad idea to look into these kind of incidental costs before booking your room. You may think you’ve found a good deal, but it could possibly end up costing you more once you add up the hidden fees.

Public Transportation is Good But Know Where You’re Going

In the list of things that matter to me about big cities – solid, affordable public transportation is very high on my list. As a non-driver, a great network of trains and busses makes me feel free, like I’m in charge of my destiny and I don’t need to rely on anyone to drive me around.

Both Sydney and Melbourne have great public transportation systems. Sydney is connected by a wonderful range of trains, buses and even ferries and it’s all relatively affordable. Melbourne is really advanced in this area as well – the trams in particular make getting around and seeing something of the city easy.

My advice regarding public transport in Australia is use it because it’s great *but* make sure you look things up before heading out. We found that there was a surprising lack of real-world user information: bus and tram stops rarely had maps, they often don’t announce stops (so you have to guess where you are and when to request a stop) and even on the underground, if you don’t already know the name of your train’s final orienting destination, it was very much a matter of guess work to try and work out where to go. This is all made more confusing by the fact that certain trams and trains only run on some days of the week or at certain times. Somehow, you are mostly expected to just know this.

After a week in Melbourne, we caught on very quickly and began to take for granted that there really was very little user information for the public transportation. Once you know how the system works, it’s wonderful. While you’re getting familiar with things, however, it’s good to do your research before heading out (that is, if the Internet is working..)

Added: Dan suggested I also mention a great app called Tram Tracker that allows you to enter the details of your Melbourne tram to as a way of situating it in real-time.

It Gets Cold

I admit to being an ignorant tourist and believing that Australia (the entire continent) is always hot. While I’m sure this holds more true for the tropical regions of the country, it is definitely not true of Sydney and particularly the Melbourne area, which can have quite a European climate outside of their summer season. We were in Melbourne from early September until early October and it was freezing. Not middle of Canada in February cold, but it was certainly as cold as January or February in London can be: wet, windy and bone chilling.

Australia Beach

During spring and fall, the weather in the coastal areas can change very abruptly. In Melbourne they often joke about having four seasons in a day – and we experienced that first hand. It was very common to wake up to beautiful sunshine, then half an hour later it was windy and pouring rain, then ten minutes later the sun would be out again but the wind would be strong off the ocean causing the temperature to drop, and then by dinner it was 20 plus degrees … Unless you are visiting in summertime, make sure to pack a very diverse wardrobe and plan for the wet and the cold.

Added: Great suggestion in the comments by Jackie. People from the northern hemisphere will want to note that Australia is one a different schedule of seasons from the one you’re used to. Roughly speaking – November to February is summer, March t0 May is autumn, June to September is winter, September and October are spring. Make sure you research the weather before making travel plans.

In Closing

Even if I’d known about all of these things before visiting Australia, I still would have wanted to go. None of these are reasons to not visit the country, but they are things that, if you know about them in advance, hopefully you can prepare for. Knowing what I do now, I think I would have done a better job of planning my work accordingly and budgeting more appropriately for my time there.

Anything to add? Please leave a note in the comments.

 

49 Responses

  1. Jackie

    November 1, 2010 11:45 am

    Hi Amy – not sure if you mentioned it here, but summer in Australia begins on 1st December and ends sometime in late February, which is completely backwards to us northerners. I suppose there is no accounting for spring temperatures, but I hear it can get scorching hot in those months, so planning your summer holiday in Australia during (our) wintertime makes perfect sense.
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  2. Caz Makepeace

    November 1, 2010 12:11 pm

    I hear ya! As an Aussie who has just returned home I am horrified a) by the ridiculously high cost of living and b) the ridiculously slow ice age internet connections. And finally c) the pathetic small cups of coffee that cost me a lot of money.

    A beautiful country/continent she is but there is much that will irritate you. Our service and standards are really quite behind many other nations. Sad but true.

    Reply
  3. A Tramp Abroad

    November 1, 2010 12:18 pm

    @Robert – Thanks! That means a lot!

    @Jackie – Very good point! I suspect a lot of people don’t realize that the seasons are all different in Australia to what we have in Europe and N. America. I think I’ll add an update. :)

    Reply
  4. A Tramp Abroad

    November 1, 2010 12:31 pm

    @Caz – Thanks for the comment! The varying prices really surprised me. In London a news agent would be laughed out of business for trying to sell you a can of coke for $3.50 at least outside of a major touristy area. But the only thing that seemed consistent about pricing in Oz was its inconsistency. Still had a wonderful time though! I hope the Internet gods smile down on you :)

    Reply
  5. krivan

    November 1, 2010 2:45 pm

    I think this article gives a wrong idea of what to expect.
    I’m originally from Paris, I’ve lived in London, New York and parts of Germany for a while. And I’ve lived in Sydney for most of the last 2 years (travelled a lot around Aus).
    There is absolutely no way Australia is more expensive than France, the US or the UK overall, or you have to be pretty dumb buying all the most expensive things. Accomodation in Sydney and Melbourne is on par with the prices of big cities in the world for some parts, but it certainly is much much MUCH cheaper when you get just a little bit further. The price of buying a house relative to the surface is ridiculously cheap outisde of Sydney eastern suburbs and city and Melbourne city and St Kilda.
    You can pay a much better price than $350 for a large private room in Melb if you don’t wish to stay in a suburb like St Kilda.

    Also: it gets cold, get out of the cities and you must shop around. That’s the simple basics for anywhere in the world and you have got to be very ignorant to think cities like Adelaide or Melbourne that are so close to the south pole are going to have the same weather as Alice Springs in the middle of the desert…

    It is true that public transports are a joke and the internet subpar.
    You just need to do some research before going and you won’t be disappointed by the weather, the prices, and you will avoid paying overpriced food or accomodation.

    Reply
  6. A Tramp Abroad

    November 1, 2010 2:57 pm

    @Krivan – at the risk of egging you on … the point of this article *is* to give people this information so they won’t be as ‘ignorant’ as I was when I went. Of course cities close to the South Pole will be cold in the winter and early Spring but many, many people associate Australia with hot weather – that’s how it’s marketed to tourists so unless you do some extra research (which you should definitely do), it’s easy to have misconceptions about what to expect from the weather. It probably also didn’t help that I was there during the coldest spring on record in decades.

    As for the cost issue – I have to respectfully disagree. I live in London (UK) in a fairly expensive neighborhood (Islington – probably a pretty good equivalent of St. Kilda) that is only a 20 minute tube ride to the centre of the city and I found Australia *much* more expensive then London. I also found it much more expensive then Vancouver and New York – cities I’ve also spent a great deal of time in. I’m sure there are cheaper suburbs outside of Sydney and Melbourne, just like in any city – but this website is not about finding the cheapest place to settle in a location – it’s about being a visitor and generally people staying somewhere on a short term basis are looking to stay relatively central where they can explore what the city has to offer.

    Um, and for the record – I didn’t think the public transport was subpar. I just thought a few more directions would be helpful. But thanks all the same. :)

    Reply
  7. Chris Paulsen

    November 1, 2010 3:28 pm

    Amy,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Australia is a place I want to visit one day and certainly want to get out of the city. It would be about the Outback and beaches for me. Your post is very helpful.

    Chris
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    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:42 am

      Thanks Chris! I would definitely go back without hesitation – just with more realistic expectations. :)

      Reply
  8. Zablon Mukuba

    November 1, 2010 4:15 pm

    i have always known Australia is expensive but i didnt think it was that expensive, you paid $ 350 for a week that is pricey. personally i dont like eating produce coz i can get that at home i prefer to eat the delicacies. but when i go there it seems i will go for produce

    Reply
    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:43 am

      I think the ticket is to have a kitchen you can make your own meals in, or eat ethnic foods which were really good, abundant and really inexpensive. But their produce is amazing in Australia – really fresh and lovely.

      Reply
    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:44 am

      I’m totally with you – I’d go back in a heartbeat. But maybe I’d make sure it was at a time where I didn’t have client work and required web access. :)

      Reply
  9. Catherine Lockey

    November 1, 2010 5:24 pm

    Well Amy, you lead the most adventurous life I’ve ever seen – you inspire me! Thanks for posting those gorgeous pictures too. I imagine the worst part was being under deadline and having little to no internet access – that would drive me crazy too. Sounds like Australia needs to work on keeping the new tourists they attract.

    Reply
    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:45 am

      Hi Catherine – that was definitely the worst part. It’s horrible to commit to a deadline only to be foiled by technology. Thanks for your kind note about the photos – but it really is hard to take a bad photo of some of those locations. Australia is drop dead gorgeous. :)

      Reply
  10. No Vacation Required

    November 1, 2010 5:52 pm

    What in the hell is the deal with the Internet in Australia?! As LIPs (thanks agin for the mildly offensive sounding acronym!) we have to find reliable Internet. It is just a non-negotiable. We don’t mind paying* if we have to, but it needs to be fast and reliable.

    *Note to upscale hotels – this excludes you! If hostels and the Residence Inn can provide free Internet, than so can you!

    Last year we spent some time in Sydney prior to boarding a cruise ship bound for L.A. We ended up having an unusual rush of clients and ended up working more than we would have preferred (we are not complaining though). The Internet was ungodly expensive and shockingly slow. I thought we were going to have aneurisms!

    That rant aside, we LOVE Australia and hope to return. It really is stunning.

    Reply
    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:46 am

      I hear you! Our last day in Oz was the most frustration. We’d planned to do about six hours of work and had even worked out where we would work, what it would cost, etc. And we still ended up wandering around from cafe to cafe trying desperately to find anything usable. We ended up packing it in and going to work at the airport, where the web was about $12 per hour. Craziness!!

      Reply
  11. Cathy Sweeney

    November 1, 2010 5:58 pm

    Thanks for your very informative and practical post. I’ve never been to Australia, and had made some assumptions that are apparently not correct. I’m not sure, however, if prices seem more expensive that what I’ve found in places like New York City. I guess I’m more surprised that prices get higher outside of the city. I usually find that it’s the reverse in places I’ve been, but Australia is a very unique destination.

    Your photos are awesome, by the way!

    Reply
    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:50 am

      Thanks for the comment! I think my friend Marnie who lives in Melbourne would agree with you – if you lived in Australia I think you would find ways of saving some money and probably cheaper accommodations. But as visitors who wanted to spend between a month and two months we found it really hard to find many residences apart from dorm style hostels we could afford. We ended up using Air BnB to find the place we ended up staying in. Live and learn I guess – it’s all a big lesson. :)

      Reply
  12. John in France

    November 1, 2010 8:27 pm

    I’m a Kiwi, but don’t agree with everything about what you say. Your prices seem like normal Paris prices to me. When you mention accommodation at $350 per week, I thought you meant per day. My apartment in Paris rents for $350 per night. The living costs are certainly higher than NZ prices but the Australian wage rates are significantly higher than here in NZ. As for the internet at least your Labor government is taking steps to bring the country into the 21st century!! Even still I too love Australia (I’ll be tried for heresy for that comment here in NZ!!!) and I love any NZ sports team beating an Australian one – don’t mention the Commonwealth Games!
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    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:53 am

      Hi John – thanks for the comment. Wow! $350 per night in Paris! I will agree with you though that prior to my Oz experience, I would have ranked Paris as probably the most expensive place I’d been – it’s also the place I am most in love with though so that goes to show that cost doesn’t do much to put me off a place. I think the biggest thing was that I was woefully misinformed before going to Australia! But I agree with you – it is a pretty great country. I’d also love to go to NZ some day.

      Reply
  13. Kelly

    November 1, 2010 11:04 pm

    You are so right!! Australia is expensive.. and, for the record, so is New Zealand (although not quite as bad). But I think most travelers have learned to expect that, and if they haven’t, they surely will after reading this!

    When I was in Australia I was so broke that I was eating nothing but store-bought cans of tuna fish and going only to the beach. It was bad. I couldn’t afford to drink at night.. but that really wasn’t that hard for me!

    Anyway, great post!
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    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:55 am

      Thanks Kelly! I did really feel like we were bleeding money there. We were trying to be budget conscious but we’d take out $500 and all of a sudden it would be gone. At least the beaches are free and they are stunning!

      Reply
  14. Russell V J Ward

    November 1, 2010 11:26 pm

    Really like this post. Extremely insightful – as an expat from the UK, who also passed through Canada, I have to agree with all of your comments about the other side, however negative it is, to Australian living (primarily in the cities and suburbs). This place is all about the beauty and adventure, not cheap living and decent infrastructure. I certainly found Canadian living was more ‘balanced’ on paper.

    Have a read of my blog at insearchofalifelessordinary.blogspot.com if you have time. You might find my own comparisons of life in Canada then Australia of interest?
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    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:56 am

      Hi Russell – thanks for your comment and observations. I’ll definitely check out your blog – thanks for sharing the link.

      Reply
  15. adventureswithben

    November 1, 2010 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the great post. I’m going to Australia next February and will take advantage of some of your money saving tips. I had to push back my trip from 2010 to 2011 due to costs. It’ll cost me an arm and a leg, but I’m sure it will be money well spent.

    Reply
    • A Tramp Abroad

      November 2, 2010 1:57 am

      It really is money well spent – if I were to do it over again I would, but with more realistic expectations and better planning about cost. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  16. Erica

    November 2, 2010 5:51 am

    With all the comments about subpar internet, I really wonder how so many Aussies play World of Warcraft with no issue.

    We are still considering doing the work/holiday visa but thank you for the heads up nonetheless.
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  17. Swah

    November 3, 2010 10:55 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more! As a Sydney sider who has lived in London and travels overseas frequently, the cost of living in Australia has definitely skyrocketed over the past few years.
    Rent is ridiculously expensive (in Sydney at least, Melbourne is cheaper) and if my boyfriend and I want to splurge and go out for breakfast we always pay at least $40. I’ve had several friends who have had to return to the USA because they simply couldn’t afford to continue living in Sydney and their quality of life was suffering.
    Regardless, I still love Sydney :)
    (And Melbourne! I try and get there several times a year. Amazing city)
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  18. Devin the Travel Writer

    November 4, 2010 11:56 pm

    Thanks Amy,

    I am still interested in visiting Australia even though I have heard much of what you have written elsewhere and it does sound difficult. Still I know there are always ways to be frugal — I definitely know about being cheap while traveling. I remember eating nothing but sardines, yogurt and water (until I found an incredible, cheap smorgasbord on the outskirts of Reykjavik) during a six-week stay in Iceland.
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  19. Christine

    November 5, 2010 11:56 pm

    Hi Amy,

    As an Australian I was suprised at some of your comments. I have travelled a little myself and I think its common that travellers find it difficult to access local knowledge when looking for cheaper cafe’s and accomodation. Having said that there are many websites in Aus which offer just that sort of information.

    Staying in Sydney or Melbourne can be problematic. Melbourne in winter is just crazy, not many Aussies would visit Melbourne at that time of year!. Queensland is an awesome option and there are many fantastic beaches and villages where the accomodation is great and you don’t get the sensation of being drowned in a hoard of toursits!

    Do some research, find out about the seasons, Queensalnd in February is way too hot! Melbourne in August is way to cold.

    Stay away from the big cities as much as you can, hire a car. Aus has many Tourist Information Centres which are very helpful and will help you according to your budget.

    I live in Newcastle NSW, this is about 1 hour 45 mins North of Sydney. We live on the caost near the world famnmous Hunter Vally (wine producing region) We are 5 mimutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We are also about 7 minutes from the magnificent Lake Macquarie. This is the most beautiful place in the world, the people are friendly and the sights are amazing. It doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan and do some research.

    Oh and we (Newcastle) have just be named in Lonely Planet’s 10 most beautiful places to visit in the world.

    http://www.google.com.au/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1221&bih=679&q=lake+macquarie&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

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  20. Jim

    November 6, 2010 3:25 am

    You need to consider that the Aussie dollar has recently skyrocketed against the Euro, Pound and US dollar making it more expensive for visitors. Similarly NZ will also be more ‘expensive’ for inbound visitors as we get to coattail on our neighbours good fortune, luckily.
    So yes we can expect more travellers living on tuna, and the odd bread scrap scavenged from skip bins behind the supermarkets if they don’t heed the advice as given in this article.
    Of course the upside is that we ANZAC travellers to UK/USA etc can upscale and actually afford to stay in YHA, and backpackers now, instead of a hedgerow in France etc.
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  21. amband

    December 1, 2010 7:59 am

    Actually, Sydney has a lot of national park withing it’s boundaries and you are more likely to see Kangaroos and other wildlife more closely there. There is a greater abundance of birdlife in the cities than the country

    Why are things so expensive? Well, the idiots that run us want 35 million people here by 2050, that means it has to be paid for and there are taxes everywhere. State enforced multiculturalism has ruined the place. Property is out of the reach of the real Aussies as foreigners compete for housing

    Honestly, I don’t know why people come here. There is nothing here.

    Keep out of restaurants in trendy areas. It’s a rip off. Bushwalking around Sydney is great, and that is where you’ll see a lot of wildlife.

    Reply
  22. Nancie

    December 2, 2010 10:39 pm

    I spent a month in Australia many many years ago. I loved the country and have often thought about going back, but with prices like these……………I’d have to think long and hard.

    Reply
  23. Alene Berntsen

    December 8, 2010 6:35 am

    alright so I spent the last 15 minutes searching for the same theme you’re using and cannot find it. Didn’t want to have to ask but really would like to use it for my site, could you let me know? I’ll check back here soon for any replies. Thanks

    Reply
  24. Dan Collins

    December 14, 2010 6:13 am

    I’m living in Australia at the moment… you got this 100% spot on! The internet is the worst I’ve ever experienced. I’m pretty sure my dial-up was faster than this when I first got it back in 1999!
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  25. eat-laugh-love-anon

    January 6, 2011 1:43 am

    I left Australia in 2007 and every time I go back I’m gobsmacked by the prices. It seems like food prices double every year!
    I think the key to a fantastic Australian holiday is to do your research before you go.
    I use http://www.takeabreak.com.au and try to find a house or a self-catering option. The prices here are still crazy, but sometimes you can find a bargain. Some places can sleep up to 32, so you could get a group together. And you can add “internet” into the keyword search so you could do your work at home.
    These days couchsurfing may be a better option too. You could repay your hosts for the free accomodation by cooking for them.
    For cheap food in Melbourne, I would recommend Footscray. Lovely and cheap Vietnamese, African and Chinese food. It’s near Yarraville, which is a groovy place to hang out for an expensive coffee and it’s only a couple of train stops from the city. Oh, and there’s two big markets, mostly catering to the city’s Asian population. But if you want to try fresh Aussie seafood without blowing your budget, go to the market and stock up on fresh mud crabs, prawns and fish. Then it’s just a matter of throwing another prawn on the barbie, just like Paul Hogan used to recommend in a 1980s tourism ad.
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  26. Sean

    January 8, 2011 9:46 am

    I have read all the comments above and I find a few things interesting. Firstly, I lived in London for ten years back in the 1990′s and early 2000′s. I now live In Brisbane, Australia. I visit London frequently still but I still find London more expensive than Australia for a whole host of items so my experience does not match the writer’s at all. Secondly, if you’re from outside Australia bare this in mind; the wages in australia (median salaries) are a very significantly higher than many countries so when you live and work here $3.00 for a coke seems play money. My salary here is THREE times that in London. Glad I made the move! Actually I think it quite funny in some ways; for years aussies were ripped off in othe countries as the exchange rate was not in our favour 10 or 20 years ago. Now the tables have turned. It’s about time people from overseas started paying fare prices for things here. But you still pay 15 pounds per kilo for chicken in London, and only $10 per kilo here, much cheaper.

    Reply
  27. Azza

    January 17, 2011 11:28 am

    I agree with Sean. As an American living in Sydney for 4 years now it does seem like prices are higher. When I told my mum my weekly rent she choked. However, you do have to factor in that our minimum wage is so much higher then most countries. Working the night shift in the US I was making $9/hour. Working as an entry level paralegal in a very small boutique firm means I earn minimum wage for that particular position and I’m earning the same amount on an hourly basis that my mum, who’s been an accountant for 30 years, makes.

    Also, to people who are surprised that it is more expensive the further out you go need to realise that we have an extremely urbanised population. We don’t have the infrastructure that most countries do to getting stuff out to the country cheaply. We are far larger then European countries and a lot more people live in rural areas in the US to justify having better transport infrastructure for those areas. I suppose you could compare it to transporting things up to remote villages in the Andes. There’s so few people there that there is no point in building the infrastructure, making it more expensive.

    Also, if you rent a car, petrol is generally significantly more expensive Friday-Monday cuz that’s when people drive everywhere. I always wait to fill up on Wednesdays because petrol can be up to 15 cents/litre cheaper.
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  28. angela808

    October 3, 2011 10:33 am

    wow, just like what my friend told us when she visited Australia last year. she’s not really kidding when she told us it’s very expensive there, although the place is amazing! and there’s a lot of things to do. which is why we are looking forward to visit the place soon.
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