How to get around Australia!?

Old Sep 17th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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How to get around Australia!?

My boyfriend and I are goign to Australia in 5 weeks. We will be there for 3 months. We are trying to budget but would like to spend money on one large tour, possibly from Darwin to Perth. Does anyone know any good tour companies that are for budget travellers?Also if anyone knows good flight companies or any other cheaper way to get around that isn't going to take too long. We land in Syndey and I think we are going to head up the coast and go fromt here if anyone has any suggestions on places to stay/go along the route of Sydney to Carins I would apprecaiate it!!
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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First tell us more about yourself and your interests.
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 03:05 PM
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While you'll no doubt get some helpful suggestions here, the Lonely Planet site is likely to be more use to you when it comes to budget tours for young people (I'm assuming you're "young people"). I would also strongly recommend investing in a guidebook, and again, Lonely Planet or maybe Rough Guide is probably better targeted to your situation. (Fodors publishes excellent guides but they're more oriented to the middle income-middle aged market.)

Why do you want to travel Darwin-Perth in particular?

As for airlines, the main domestic carriers are Qantas, Jetstar (Qantas' budget subsidiary) and Virgin Blue. All have frequent sales, often with very attractive deals, Jetstar in particular. If you go to their websites you can sign up for email alerts of upcoming deals. Tiger Airways also operates but on a limited number of routes.
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 03:06 PM
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PS, it's Cairns, not Carins.
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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With 3 months, I'd be tempted to buy a cheap campervan - here's just one site I googled: http://www.travellers-autobarn.com.au/

Alternatively, fly some of the long legs and rent vehicles locally, or do a one way rental to another destination.
Have a look at www.standbycars.com

NeilOz's advice about the guidebook and Lonely Planet is good, most of the visitors to this site have much shorter time constraints and therefore possibly a little more flexibility with budget.

The coastal & inland roads between Sydney & Cairns have plentiful accommodation in all ranges. Often the best value will be found in a local pub (hotel) or on-site cabins or vans in caravan parks. Pubs often have very reasonably priced meals too.

Obviously an easy way to save costs is to limit your meals out, and Australia is blessed with wonderful fresh fruit & vegetables and easy availability of groceries. Good tip is to buy a styrofoam esky (cooler box) (Woolworths, Coles & hardware shops), stock up with the basics, cutlery & crockery etc. Give it all to a charity shop on your way out. Eskys are light and cheap. Ice is readily available from liquor shops and many service stations (Petrol stations).
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 06:17 PM
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Darwin to Perth is a very long trip, with some attractions - but the attractions are a long way apart.

The distance is about 4200 kilometres, and that's a long haul.

Buying a cheap campervan, or a car with some camping equipment would make good sense.
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 04:16 PM
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Have I got a car for you!

Actually I don't but that would be the way I'd do it.

Tell us more about your interests and we can say if the Darwin - Perth trip is a good idea. My wife and I loved it and took five months to do it but then we are really into the outdoors, walking and wildlife. We followed the flowering as it moved south.
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Old Sep 20th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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Darwin-Perth is such a great trip, we drove 6500kms. You have to go to Exmouth and spend a couple of nights in the Ningaloo National park, that is a great place for snorkelling, we loved it. We hired a camper for a bit more than 3 weeks...a lot of driving! But if you want a car for longer, 3 months, you should think about buying one. Have a look on google and see if you find a company to buy a car from. If you buy a car of backpacker you never know what you are buying and you have no guarantee with it. It is a lot of driving.
Have a look on the link of Bokhara2, we saw a couple of these cars driving around.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old Oct 1st, 2009, 05:59 AM
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My suggestion is that you skip Queensland in summer as it is just too damn hot and you won't even be able to swim as the beaches off the mainland are full of deadly "stingers" at that time of year. Why not start off by spending 2 weeks in Sydney and stay in backpacker accommodation (where you will meet a lot of like-minded young tourists). This will give you time time to see most of the sights in this gorgeous city.

After that, hire a car and go further afield to visit the amazing environs of Sydney (that a lot of tourists don't get to see). For example: stay for 3 days in the spectacular Blue Mountains (where there is some great backpacker accommodation) and hike through the rainforest and along some of the most scenic walking tracks in the country; go (and stay) in the lovely Hunter Valley and do some wine tasting.

It would then be a much better option to travel SOUTH from Sydney down the magnificent southern and emerald coasts. I suggest you stay at Huskisson (Jervis Bay) which is a magnificent Marine Park with pristine, white-sanded beaches (but you may need to book ahead if you are heading that way during the school Christmas holidays). From Jervis Bay, you can detour west (for a week) to the capital, Canberra and during that time explore the Snowy Mountains (there won't be snow at that time of year, of course, but it is still a beautiful area at any time of year). You can then either head back to the east coast and continue down to Eden and the gorgeous north eastern coast of Victoria to Melbourne (or go to Melbourne by continuing over the Snowy Mountains Pass through beautiful forests and national parks). Spend some time in Melbourne (which is a magnificent city full of world class restaurants and great theatre).

From Melbourne, I strongly suggest you visit Tasmania (there is a vehicular ferry from Melbourne but, I regret, that it is not cheap). It may be better to initially hire the car from Sydney-Melbourne, visit Tasmania, then re-hire another car from Melbourne to Adelaide (and/or Perth). Tasmania is unique, pristine and the summer time is the perfect time of year to visit (ensure you go hiking at the world heritage Cradle Mountain). You will need at least 2 weeks in Tasmania to do it justice. When you return to Melbourne, continue westwards along one of the greatest ocean drives in the world, ie The Great Ocean Road. It is busy during the summer periods so you may need to book accommodation en route. Continue on to Adelaide which is a lovely, compact little city (easy to get around). From Adelaide, I suggest you detour northwards to The Barossa Valley (a very famous wine growing district of Australia) and, if you can, take a 3 day trip along the mighty Murray River (on "The Murray Princess"). The area along the River is rich in bird life and extremely peaceful and scenic with huge red gums along its banks and, further along, magnificent towering red cliffs. From Adelaide, you can either get The Indian Pacific (train) across the isolated Nullarboor or drive it (but it will be extremely hot during summer). You will need at least 2-3 days to drive the Nullaboor in comfort (ensure you stop at Esperance en route). The next destination is the spectacular Margaret Valley region of Western Australia which is an essential detour (of 3 days or more) enroute to Perth.

Spend 3 days in Perth visiting The Pinnacles, Wave Rock and other nearby sights. I suggest you return any hire car at Perth. The north west coast of Western Australia up to the Northern Territory has a lot to see but I must advise you that the summer heat will be sizzling at that time of year (the mercury often going up around 40-50 degrees Celsius). Personally, I think that the north western WA, Northern Territory and Queensland are best viewed in an Australian winter (June, July, August). However, if you have your heart set on travelling to Darwin from Perth, it would be better if you could get a bus tour from Perth to Darwin but at that time of year, I am not sure if tourist companies actually run buses in this area because of the heat. The roads within the remote area from Broome to Darwin along The Gibb River Road are pretty awful with bulldust and corrugation and should only be tackled in a 4WD. If you can locate a guided tour northwards, ensure it includes Geraldton, Monkey Mia (where you can hand feed wild dolphins) and the magnificent Nindaloo Reef which is one of the few places in the world you can swim with Whale Sharks.

Australians are used to travelling vast distances but such distances may be intimidating to Americans and Europeans. For example, from Perth to Monkey Mia is nearly 900 kms, from Melbourne to Perth is 3438 kms. From Nindaloo Reef, it is not too far to Broome. If you can get to visit Purnulu NP and The Bungle Bungles it is an amazing place and really worth seeing. There are a miriad of tourist operators that go through this area. I suggest you google and research a variety of them before you arrive in Australia to get the best deals. Your trip could end in Darwin where its a short flight to Bali, if you wish.

If you hire a car in Australia, make sure it is a small, economical one as petrol can be expensive in the outback areas. Also, if you are travelling on outback roads, you will need to be sure that you have plenty of water, great maps, good tools and a good spare tyre. The main intercity roads between major cities and on the coast are sealed and in excellent condition but it is advisable to plan your holiday so that you are not travelling more than 500 kms a day in the summer heat.

I haven't outlined every single spot to see along the coast and within the cities as there are just too many to list. It may be a good option to actually start your Australian adventure from Darwin and do the trip (as suggested) in reverse. This means that you would end up in Sydney. If you plan it right, you could end up in Sydney on 31st December which is the premier place to celebrate NYE with a buzzing party atmosphere and the most spectacular fireworks display on earth. Once your trip has finished in Sydney, if you have the time (and funds), New Zealand would be the next logical place to travel to and there are some good cheap flights to NZ from Sydney. NZ is an exquisite country and really worth a trip - you will need at least 2 weeks each in the North and South Islands of NZ to do it justice.

Have a nice trip!
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Old Oct 1st, 2009, 06:39 PM
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If you hire a car, make sure it has a proper, full sized, spare wheel, not one of those wheels that have a small tyre. They are only good for low speeds and short distances.
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Old Oct 1st, 2009, 07:53 PM
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Yvonne05,
If you are out there come back and say hello!

Salstar has some great advice based on a false premise.

see http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/ and you notice that every capital city in Australia gets hotter and colder than Cairns with the exception of Darwin. Most years it does not get colder than Cairns is for that same year.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2009, 10:28 PM
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Hi there,
Check these campervans out! We live in country WA and see them on the road all the time - not on the side of the road! They are cheap and reliable. To Drive from Darwin to Perth would be an amazing experience.
Good luck.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2009, 10:29 PM
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Sorry, forgot to attach see below!

www.wickedcampers.com.au
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Old Oct 3rd, 2009, 12:49 AM
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"Australians are used to travelling vast distances but such distances may be intimidating to Americans and Europeans."

Europeans certainly, not so much Americans, certainly those living in the western states. The difference is that you can cover long distances very quickly and safely on the excellent US interstate highway system - boring perhaps, but fast.

Admittedly the awesome emptiness of most of Australia and the sparseness of settlements isn't matched anywhere. 22 million people, most of them crammed into a handful of large cities, in a continent of 7,000,000 square kilometres, is unique. Two of our capital cities, Perth and Darwin, are several hours' flight from any other sizeable city.

In fairness it should be said that SOME Australians are used to driving long distances. Most seldom drive more than a few hundred kilometres from home, many never that far. We're a nation of townies and always have been.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2009, 06:03 PM
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I agree with Neil_Oz that we are a very urban society, but many Australians (of all ages) love a "road trip" - it seems to be a "right of passage". Certainly, as you drive through this huge country of ours you see more and more "Grey Nomads" enjoying their retirement in their caravans and young backpackers travelling around in cheap little cars that defy gravity! I am one that absolutely loves driving in Australia - it is a country that is so perfect for the long distance road adventure. Australia is a place where you can really hop into a car and get away from it all! There's great, quirky little country towns with friendly and, sometimes interesting and eccentric, locals to meet; magnificent coastal scenery with beautiful and sometimes isolated beaches at which to stop and refresh oneself and remote, awesome and unique National Parks throughout the country which are so exciting and interesting to explore. In particular, I love outback road trips and, a few years ago, took my little Magna sedan down The Darling River Run (from Bourke to Menindee Lakes) through gorgeous little towns such as Louth and Tilpa where you can stop at the famous outback Pubs and stay at some fabulous sheep stations along the banks of the Darling River. In hindsight, it is probably better to take a 4WD down The Darling River Run as it is Chanel country and any bit of rain turns the bulldust into a thick, gooey mud that builds up on tyres and can leave one stranded for days! It happened to me but gave me the opportunity to "hold up" at a fantastic sheep station outside Louth for a couple of days which turned out to be a bonus. Another outback road trip really worth doing is up through Camerons Corner to Tibboburra and on to Birdsville in time to see one of the most quintessential Australian "festivities" of all time, ie The Birdsville Races. What a fantastic and memorable place Birdsville is during that time! Friends of mine have been on real outback adventures, eg The Canning Stock Route and down The Gunbarrel Highway but, of course, these are serious 4WD undertakings that require a lot of experience and planning as you have to take all your water, petrol and car maintenance items with you (there are absolutely no facilities along these routes at all). However, nothing is impossible and I have heard that passengers who are interested in these incredibly isolated areas of our outback, are now welcome to join 4WD "Caravans" (for a fee, of course) down The Canning Stock Route.
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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Yvonne, I would fly Cairns and then head back down. You could maybe get a flight part way as is very long drive. The stinger season starts November 1st but I find the beaches the least interesting aspect of the tropics. Many though think a beach is be all and end all so you can answer that for yourself. Still plenty of beach time in southern Queensland and other states but they have no reef and no tropics and it is a unique experience people travel half way around the world to see. People here head to hills and takes swims in the many waterfall/streams where the rainforest cools and the water freezes you. Very nice! November is a good time to visit the reef as well there is no wind at all.

So does really help to know your interest. I would prefer the tropics (well I live here, born in the UK) over Sydney because Sydney only has the harbour then really nothing much for me. Museums and such, not my thing. Others will disagree I am sure.

Flying is cheapest way but need to get twitter feeds from virginblue. Yesterday one twitter they had $50 fares between Townsvilel and Rockhampton for example so hoppig down that way maybe cheap if you can time it right.
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