Hi me and my boyfriend are planning our first travelling trip to australia and dont really know how to go about it. We have looked at loads of websites and they all seem to be tours we are wanting to do our own thing. Can anyone suggest where to start and advice would be a great help thanks. We are also trying to work out a budget
The first thing I'd do is get a big map and look at the distances, it's a big place and there's plenty to do. Maybe pick up some form of guide book or use the tours you've found online as a reference and highlight where you want to go and what you want to see on your map, then figure out how long you have to spend here and draw the best route between places and see if it fits your time frame. You can have a look at my trip map for ideas if you'd like.
Depending if you're buying/hiring a camper or travelling by air/bus you'll need to figure out travel costs, for me fuel was the most expensive part of the trip due to driving a thirsty 4x4 and towing a trailer. It was well worth it though, I didn't have to worry about itinerarys or whether I was taking it offroad/in sand/in water which might void my hire insurance.
If you hire a vehicle, please read the fine print about insurance, break downs and where you're allowed to take it. If you buy a vehicle, please inspect it first and if you're not mechanically inclined it might be worth taking someone who is along with you. You'll need to check all the ins and outs of ownership, registration and insurance which might be more painful than simply hiring or catching the bus.
i bought the most recent lonely planet guide for australia (regardless what you think of them as a guidebook) there is a very informative section on buying a car in oz.
seems much more complicated over there with registrations and various states demanding different documents on the roadworthyness of your car / service history etc.
this has kinda put a spanner in my particular works, as i was planning on buying an 'old banger' van to travel around in. the 'getting rid of it at the end' is something i'd thought about and the LP book seems to suggest it can be pretty tricky, unless you sign a deal with the place you buy from that they'll buy it back at a reduced cost.
I think tours are crazy expensive, but sometimes they work out cheaper.
If you have a car and are planning a big scale trip...definately way to go. You can buy car anywhere, and drive it anywhere, b ut is easier to sell car in the state where you purchased it. You will save considerable money if you can get a van thereby sleeping in it etc. Also check out the hire companies....I have always had a 4x4, but I have seen heaps of campers. There are cheaper ones around catering for backpackers "Wicked Campers" I think. Might by worth a look, otherwise a 4x4 will cost $5000-10000 at least and is not completely necesary. Also for places like Ayers Rock tours will cost $100's plus you still have to pay park fees. If you have your own transport, park fees only. Same goes for most places, however if staying in places like Sydney, parking can be a .......
I like to budget $100/ day, but $50 is more than reasonable. I have made it from Sydney to Perth and fuel aside, food and accom I spent less than $200.
Good luck, and I think those LP and Lets Go books are worth a read too.
everything these guys have said is good info..
just thought Id add my two cents
1. If buying a second hand car, you can get it checked out by the Royal Automobile Club (each state has its own, victoria's is called RACV, queenslands is called RACQ etc etc...)
These guys are independant in that they dont have any interest in making business for mechanincs (ie. they wont make you pay for thigns that dont really need to be fixed) and although you have to pay for the inspection, they will tell you everything that needs to be done for the vehicle to obtain a "roadworthy" certificate.
I believe the UK has its own equivalent and contacting them may prove useful in finding more info on their Australian cousins.. (sorry, you guys ARE from the UK aren't you? Ive forgotten.... its past my bed time )
2. You might want to plan your itinerary based on the time of year, to make the most of the weather .. eg. if you are arriving between November-May your best off starting in the southern, temperate regions avoiding the tropical wet season/monsoons or vise versa, if your arriving between may-november you should start in the northern, sub tropics and tropical region to avoid the southern winter and to get the most of the good weather in the tropics (ie. more sunny days and less heat).
3. Google WWOOFing, its a way you can work for meals and accommodation on farms all around Australia.. its a fantastic way to see the country and meet people - and its free! (you just have to pay for your travel) You can buy a book which lists all the participating properties... its updated every year, so make sure you get a recent edition.
4. The east coast is much more well known to tourists than the west coast, so this has both pros and cons... the east coast has a much higher population and therefore many more facilities and tourist type activities and locations.
The west coast is a bit more remote, but equally as beautiful and much less crowded. So I guess if you've got the time and money, do both! If not, maybe decide what kind of trip you'd like to have and decide on one or the other.
5. I would say, avoid the tours and save your money for specific activities.. for instance, if you want to see the great barrier reef, make your way to a seaside town on your own steam and then look for dive trips or snorkelling or fishing trips operated by locals.. you'll have a much better time and I dare say it will end up being much cheaper.
Having said that though, tours can be great if your not really sure that you want to stay in the area and just want to get a "taste" of things before planning your next move.
Not sure what else to write Like Aus_tim said, Australia is huge, get a big map and have a good look!
Australia is (generally) a really friendly easy goign place and I think you'll find that people are more than willing to help out, so I wouldnt stress about what's going to happen once your here, "you'll be right mate!"
Take care, feel free to ask about stuff!