WHAT WE DID:
- Traveled for 64 days around the eastern and southern parts of Australia
- Stayed primarily in rooms (either a guest bedroom or self-contained unit) booked through AirBnB, with the exception of a 6-night villa on Lord Howe Island, and 2 nights spent on the overnight ferry to Tasmania
- Our basic itinerary:
- Air travel from Sydney to Cairns
- Car rental in Cairns (12 days)
- Air travel to Lord Howe Island (via Sydney), 6 days on LHI
- Air travel from LHI to Melbourne
- One-way car rental from Melbourne to Adelaide (21 days total, including taking the rental on the ferry to Tasmania (6 days), and on the ferry to Kangaroo Island (6 days))
- Air travel from Adelaide to Sydney
- Car rental (SYD) for Blue Mountains (5 days)
- Public transit (Opal Card) in Sydney (7 days)
- Car rental (SYD) for coastal drive (to Brisbane & Canberra), 10 days
WHAT WE LIKED:
- We easily booked many AirBnB stays only 1–3 days in advance, which allowed us to move around flexibly. The exception to this rule was Tasmania. We had a really hard time finding accommodations anywhere other than Hobart. Plan well ahead if visiting “Tassie.”
- AirBnB also allowed us to meet some absolutely wonderful people! Many of our hosts would invite us for an evening glass of wine and a chat, and were genuinely interested in getting to know us. We often felt like we were with family, from Cairns all the way down to Adelaide.
- Having the regular use of a kitchen at AirBnB stays was an enormous money saver! Not only were the AirBnB accommodations about 1/3 the price of a decent hotel, but we consequently ate out only 10-12 times (for a special treat lunch) the entire trip. PB&Js for lunch, also a huge help to the budget. We averaged about $120 USD/week on food (the cost of two dinners out at a nice restaurant), including our occasional café splurge and a few microbrew flights.
WHAT WE’D CHANGE:
- Much like NZ, we’d stay longer. We have a whole list of places we’d like to see on the western coast, and we’d like to go into the outback. We’re thinking two more months would be perfect (not that you can even begin to see a country that big in a lifetime). If we had unlimited funds, we’d have stayed for the additional two months… but it’s a pretty expensive place (especially with all the fun activities that are offered). We’ll just have to make a second visit in the hopefully not too distant future.
- Tasmania. 6 days was not enough if you want to explore the more remote areas. Also, we could have skipped Freycinet NP (Wineglass Bay), perhaps the one place that was consistently recommended that probably wasn’t worth the drive for us.
- We’d spend more time in Cairns to do more diving. We seriously considered going back at the end of the trip, but again, it would have been too big a hit to the budget given all the other places we’d like to see on this trip. But, there will be a return trip some day!
WHAT WE LEARNED:
- Tipping in Australia is also not expected
- Aussies are very concerned with driver fatigue (frequent road signs warn ‘Stay Alert, Stay Alive,’ ‘Stop, Revive, Survive,’ and ‘Drowsy Drivers Die’). And rightfully so; the long stretches with nothing to see often made us both pretty tired.
- Although it typically worked out, booking last minute on AirBnB wasn’t always hassle-free. The host has 24 hrs to accept/reject a request (if not an immediate booking), which was occasionally stressful and time-consuming if we were frantically searching for a same-day or next-day reservation.
- When in doubt on AirBnB, book a farmhouse!
- Tasmania cost way more than we anticipated (wicked budget buster) – be ready for it
- Don’t rent a car in Sydney… unless you are a complete masochist
- Beetroot is like the tomato of Australia – it comes on everything… burgers, sandwiches, salads. I am totally on board with beetroot on all of my food – so tasty!
- Playgrounds across Australia are super friendly for kids with disabilities. Almost every playground we saw had a really cool wheelchair-accessible swing. Way to go, Australia!
WEIGHTS & MEASURES:
AVERAGE PETROL COST: $1.15/L AUD (range ~$0.97 – $1.34 AUD, cheapest in Adelaide & Melbourne, most expensive on Kangaroo Island & Tasmania)
AVERAGE EXCHANGE RATE: $1.00 AUD to $0.74 USD