Advice sought, please, for two elderly ladies spending time with family in Brisbane but also wishing to stay in Melbourne. A newspaper column recommended joining the YHA as it gave several benefits in Oz. Does it? I've checked out a YHA hostel in Melbourne and it looks very nice and half the price of a b&b in the city. Anyone comment please? We intend flying into Brisbane and then visiting Sydney and Melbourne so any advice on cheap internal flights - or perhaps a complete 'package' arranged in England via a travel agent??- would be welcome. I know Australia through past visits and have just returned from Sydney where a friend did not think a month's stay would cost the £2,500-£3,000 all in that we've allotted ourselves. Any comments on that?
The main benefit in joining YHA is that it gives you $3.50 discount per night on your accomodation, which earns itself back in ten days. You also get discounts on transport (buses, trains) and in various vaguely travel-related stores. (The same goes for competing "backpacker" cards, although I suspect you wouldn't find their affiliated hostels as much to your liking as YHA hostels.)
As for the Melbourne hostel, I can highly recommend the Melbourne Oasis YHA over the Melbourne Central YHA. It's a much more atmospheric and cozier place to stay at. It's a bit further out from the city center still, but there's a tram stop right next door which completely makes up for that, plus Royal Park is a mere block away, and makes for a great place to go for a stroll; especially in the hours before sunset, when the lorrikeets go crazy and fly all about in great swarms. (In Sydney, I'd recommend the Glebe Point YHA for similar reasons; awesome rooftop area (although the bathrooms are a bit lacking). Never stayed in the Brisbane YHA, so can't comment on that one.)
For internal flights, just check Virgin Blue, Qantas and JetStar. They all have dirt-cheap rates, so at least one should work out for the days you want to travel. (If you can, I'd avoid JetStar, as I've heard quite a few experiences where they were a bit too cattle-class for most people's tastes. Though others are fine with them. YMMV.)
Money wise, it all depends on how much you splurge, of course, but I'd say £2,500-£3,000 should very easily cover a month's stay. That's a budget of $187-$225 (AUD) per day, or $94-$113 per person per day. A single room each wouldn't cost you more than $60 per day (per person; or you could have a twin room for the same, halving the price per person), eating out daily shouldn't cost more than $30 per person (and can be done much, much cheaper; especially if you self-cater, which hostels with their kitchens are great for), and two internal flights should come to about $400 including taxes, or spread out over the month, $13/day.
So in the worst case (single rooms, no self-catering), that's $103 per person per day for accommodation, food and flights.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 7, 2008, at 8:40 AM by Sander ]
there is also a new airline called tiger airways.. but it doesnt go everywhere.. and its cheap
I would say it's worth you getting a card; I definitely made up the money on mine, and I would also recommend YHAs as places to stay. They are invariably clean with good facilities, and will be able to help with any tours/onward travel arrangements.
I flew with Jetstar and thought they were fine, nothing special but no worse than many other budget airlines that I have flown with. Virgin Blue were very good - the planes seemed brand new when I flew with them in 2004.
I wouldn't go with the package arranged in England as you will end up paying more this way, and it's very easy to arrange things when you get to Oz as it's so geared up for travellers.
I spent £1200 per month in Oz; staying in dorms and cooking in hostels so if you are looking for private rooms and want to eat out you will obviously pay more, but I reckon you will still be below £2500.
Hope you have a great time.
Thanks so much, everyone, for very useful information. I really appreciate all the trouble you went to with detailed explanations.