Skip Navigation

FAQs (well, mine anyway)

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific FAQs (well, mine anyway)

1. Posted by jax_07 (Full Member 76 posts) 11y

jax_07 has indicated that this thread is about Australia

Hey Everyone

My friend and I are going to Australia in January 2006 and I'm trying to get as much information together as possible to start marking out some sort of route/ plan type thing and I've gotta just a couple of questions for you wonderful people out there:

1. Hostel chains - I gather there are discount cards of some kind you can purchase over the net that save you money on certain accommodation and tours and stuff!?! Which is the best? Is it worth (if we can) getting more than one?

2. Work - we've both got Working Holiday visas and I'm just wondering how easy it is (if at all) to actually get work? By the time we go we'll both (hopefully) have bar/ restaurant experience and I've worked in admin for about three years, will this help?

3. Travel - not sure we'll have enough dosh to fly within Oz so how much (ball park type figure if possible) is it to travel by bus/ train? Would it be cheaper overall to hire a car? We want to travel from Perth right across to Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, etc?

4. Money - I'm hoping to have near £3000 in my bank when I fly, the big question is, will this be enough?

5. To plan or not to plan? - I've spoken to friends, and friends of friends, who've travelled and some say it's best to plan your route, accommodation and activities ahead of time, whereas others say just have a rough idea of what you want to see/ do then go for it? What do you think? Yes, you!!!

6. New Zealand - in your opinion (yes I'm still talking to you) how feasible is it to go and see New Zealand from Oz. In terms of time and money (we probably wouldn't work over there)???

You'll be pleased to know that's it for now! I know there's a lot there but ANY help and/ or advice would be greatly appreciated! We're only going to get to do this once and we want to do it right!!!

Many Thanks

Jax

2. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 611 posts) 11y

Wow, great questions Jax. I love getting my teeth into things like this.
Truth is, there aren't really right answers - just what's right for you. Trick is to filter through the advice and work out your own plan.
My twopenneth:-
1. Don't know much about hostel chains and cards. Others will know more, but I always wonder if this ties you too much to one company and prevents you using a variety of accom.
2. It should be fairly easy to find work providing you have all the documents. There's plenty of jobs, but you may have to search and not be too fussy. Bar work and admin are good backgrounds. One of the cybercafes I used in Sydney was run by an English girl on a working holiday.
3. Travel. You don't say how long you're going for. This is obviously a factor. If you want to see everywhere quickly, then flying is best, but not exactly cheap. Melbourne-Sydney was about £80rtn when I was there 2 years ago, so I got an overnight coach for about £20. You can get Oz Experience tickets, but only if you want rowdy coach travel. You'll meet a lot of people though.
Hiring a car is reasonable - much cheaper than UK. We did this for 7 weeks and I would say it is the best thing to do if you want to see places outside the cities, and particularly if you are sharing the cost.
Places like http://www.travellers-autobarn.com/index.shtml do rental of older cars, plus you can buy a car on a "buy-back" deal. There is a threshold where it becomes worth buying rather than renting. This is usually about 3 months or so.
A campervan might be another option - transport and accommodation in one. Less sociable than hostels though I guess.
NOTE: Australia is HUGE! I know you've seen it and heard it before, but when you get there you'll understand. Sydney to Cairns is a week's drive. Sydney to Melbourne three days along the coast road.
Perth to Sydney will probably be a month's worth of driving, not counting stops. Take into account the time you'll spend in a vehicle.
4. £3000 should be good for several months (4-6?) but depends heavily on what you get up to and your drinking habits!
5. Personally, I wouldn't plan a thing, except the basics of documents and a place to stay when you arrive. I say this for several reasons.
Australia is geared up to travellers just turning up in places, far more so than the UK.
I quickly found that if you book ahead without seeing what you're letting yourself in for, you can't choose or change your mind when you get there.
It is worth finding out when major events are taking place though, such as Sydney's Mardi Gras and the Grand Final of the Rugby League season. We had to leave Sydney that weekend, as every single hotel was pre-booked! Oz is a very sporting nation, so there are sporting event happening everywhere. The TI in Airlie Beach greeted us with "Oh, the World Skipping Championships are on this weekend." !
If you're going for less than a month though, it would be worth planning some sort of schedule.
6. New Zealand. Again, down to how long you've got. You really need a minimum of 2 weeks just to skim around the highlights of the south island. We were in NZ for 7 weeks and it wasn't enough.
Flights from Sydney are about 3-4 hours and are reasonable. Try to include it as part of a RTW ticket so you can go on your way home and not have to double back.
Camping or motorhoming is the most efficient way to see NZ in a short time, as you have to move on every couple of days.

Please feel free to ask anything more specific. Talking about it takes me back there!

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 11y

Quoting jax_07

1. Hostel chains - I gather there are discount cards of some kind you can purchase over the net that save you money on certain accommodation and tours and stuff!?! Which is the best? Is it worth (if we can) getting more than one?

Which is the "best" depends on your preferences. The big "chains" are YHA / VIP / Nomad (?). You can almost completely rely on each having at least one hostel in any of the major places you'd want to go to, so if you know which one you prefer, you can stick with only getting their card.
Personally I prefer YHA, for always providing sheets/blankets (sleeping bags aren't even allowed) and the quieter atmosphere, but many Nomad hostels have way better atmosphere (though this always depends on individual hostels, and often on the other guests), while VIP hostels are great for meeting people and partying. (That's all generalising a lot.)
YHA/VIP have pretty much the same, or at least equivalent, discounts. YHA membership gives you $3.5 off per night, so is totally worth getting if you stay only 10 nights in YHA hostels, VIP has an average of $2 off (I think, but this one varries depending on hostel, as the organization isn't as strict), so will need a few more nights to be worth it.

2. Work - we've both got Working Holiday visas and I'm just wondering how easy it is (if at all) to actually get work? By the time we go we'll both (hopefully) have bar/ restaurant experience and I've worked in admin for about three years, will this help?

I've never tried to get it, but bar/restaurant work is often heavily advertised, and should be available nearly everywhere, especially in peak season. Also lots of agencies looking for admin work, but I've never actually gotten a job through an agency.
Generally speaking, work is easy to get early in the year, and hard late in the year, although this fluctuates quite a bit depending on sector.

4. Money - I'm hoping to have near £3000 in my bank when I fly, the big question is, will this be enough?

Count on spending AUD 400-500 a week, depending on how much you're on the road (transport is expensive) and how many activities you do. Not certain of the current conversion to pounds, but I'm sure you are. :)

5. To plan or not to plan?

Plan. Then be prepared and completely willing to ditch all plans and just drift with the wind if you discover to like that better. In the past six months here in Oz, I think I've revised my rough itinerary at least a dozen times. The country is huge. Like unbelievably mindbogglingly huge. You will not be able to see everything.
If you're like me, you'll prefer to see a few places thoroughly and to save up everything else for the return trip.

6. New Zealand - in your opinion (yes I'm still talking to you) how feasible is it to go and see New Zealand from Oz. In terms of time and money (we probably wouldn't work over there)???

Serious advice, which you won't follow, but which after the fact you'll wish to have listened to anyway: forget about Australia. Go to New Zealand instead. (You can get a working holiday visa there as well.) Then fly over to Australia for two months to do the major tourist attractions there.
New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. Nothing can compare to it. Drive an hour in any direction from anywhere, and you'll see totally new and totally stunning landscapes, yet more beautiful than the previous ones.

But okay, since you won't follow that advice - plan in as much time as possible for New Zealand. Five weeks would be a good minimal time to get a rough impression, divided in two weeks North Island, three weeks South Island. Flights over there from Oz are dirt-cheap, and since distances in New Zealand are relatively small, transport also shouldn't cost too much. Avoid the backpacker tourbuses (unless you like partying), and either rent a car, or travel by Intercity/Newmans coaches instead. Escaping to New Zealand is also a good way to escape the worst of the heat in Australia, although the summer is survivable in places like Melbourne/Tasmania as well.