Tag Archives: Australia

The Australia Roundup

9 Apr

map_of_australia

The Statistics

Number of days spent in country – 48

Cities/towns visited – Bussleton, Margaret River, Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, Yulara, Cairns, Port Douglas, Sydney, Manly, Melbourne, Hobart, Sorell, Port Aurthur, Coles Bay, St Helens, Pyengana, Scottsdale, Launceston, Westbury, Deloraine, Meander, Chudleigh, Mole Creek, Gowrie Park, Strahan, Queenstown

Number of different lodgings – 20

Flights – 6

Bus journeys – 14

Boat rides – 6

Combi/collective/taxi  journeys – 3

Car rentals – 5

The Budget

Australia roundup

Australia was a challenge on our budget, partly because it’s really expensive, and partly because we were travelling with family for most of the trip.  We took a lot of cross-country flights, which bumped up our budget in a major way (you can see from the chart the travel costs were HALF our budget).  Our accommodation costs were also significantly higher than if we had been on our own, though we did share rooms or get family rooms most of the time and we had two weeks of basically free nights from time share exchanges and hotel points from my mom.

Total US dollar amount spent – $10, 121

Average cost per day, per person – $105.43.  We spent around $121 when we were travelling with our family, $70.53 when we were on our own.

Average lodging cost per night, per person – $39.10  We only had to pay for lodging for 25 of the 47 nights we were in Australia, thanks to some timeshare exchanges, loads of free-camping in Tasmania, some couchsurfing, and the generosity of a few friends of friends.  We stayed in motels with my parents, and spent a week in an airbnb apartment in Melbourne.  Australia had the most expensive lodging, even when looking at the cost of staying in hostel dorm rooms, that we encountered on our entire trip.

Most expensive lodging, per person – $76.50 at the Ayers Rock Resort.  Yikes.

Least expensive lodging, per person – $3.20 for a campsite outside of Strahan, Tasmania.

Average food/drink cost per day, per person – $19.20 With a few exceptions we self-catered. We did have quite a few fish and chips lunches, and a few very nice dinners out.

The Best

travacalmTravacalm – You may know that I have a bit of a problem with motion sickness.  And by a bit, I mean a huge problem.  This is particularly true when the motion involves water, and it is a rare occasion that I escape a boat ride without throwing up at least once.  So, you can imagine my delight when I was introduced to Travacalm, which appears to be the only motion sickness medicine that ACTUALLY WORKS!  I discovered it on our snorkel trip to the Great Barrier Reef (more about that below).  I spent the whole crazy choppy trip out to the reef literally willing myself not to puke as at least 5 people all around me were getting sick.  I could only hold out so long though, and ended up being pretty sick just prior to getting into the water.  Fortunately, being in the water really helps, so I was feeling much better by the time we were ready to head back to shore.  One of the crew members was handing out Travacalm  to those of us with seasickness and for the first time in my life I survived a really rocky ride of nearly an hour and a half back to shore without feeling so much as a twinge of dizziness.  You can’t buy this stuff in the USA, so I promptly went to the pharmacy and bought 10 boxes.  For real.

Wavelength Great Barrier Reef Snorkel trip – If you get all the way to Cairns or Port Douglas, you’d be remiss to not make it out to the Great Barrier Reef.  There are quite a few companies ready to take your money, so you need to really look around for what you want. For us, it was important to have a trip just for snorkeling, and we didn’t want to be on a boat with hundreds of other people who would then be crowding around us in the water and scaring all the fish away.  That’s why we went with Wavelength.  They take only about 30 passengers, are totally snorkel dedicated, and ended up being a great choice for us.  They give you a full-coverage stinger suit (to protect from jellyfish stings) and pool noodles to help you float lazily along.

SmithsSmiths Salt and Vinegar chips – We have a real weakness for salt and vinegar chips, and these were the best flavor we found in all of Australia.

$2 sushi rolls in Melbourne – Another way to ease your budget blues!  You can get cheap and tasty sushi rolls all over the city.  I only needed two to fill me up for a lunch!

Fish n’ Chips – As a former colony of England, Australia really has nailed the art of fish n’ chips.  We sampled this classic favorite all over the continent, and it rarely disappointed us.  It was also pretty easy on our budget, especially compared to the high cost of restaurant meals.

Bondi to Coogee Beach walk outside of Sydney – We spent the better part of a day strolling along this famous coastal walk, and it was totally worth it.  Especially when you end at a rooftop bar overlooking the ocean.  Bliss!

Getting out into the wilderness – Australia has some serious nature.  From the Outback to the Gold Coast, to the rugged mountains of Tasmania, to the wine valleys, to the rain forests north of Cairns… this continent has it all.  I highly recommend reading Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country
to get a real sense of just how wild Australia really is.

Wine Tasting – Australia is famous for a lot of things, one of them is fantastic wine.  You can visit a variety of different wine regions, but we spent most of our time in the Margaret River Valley, which is south of Perth.  It was awesome, and most of the tastings were FREE!  Just make sure you have a designated ‘skipper’.

Tasmania – If you like nature and hiking and camping and beautiful scenic vistas, then you should go.  Really, just go.  Make sure you have at LEAST 10 days to really do it justice.  We had 16 and we could have easily spent twice as long.

The Worst

Australia was great, and the only part we really disliked is that the US dollar is not so strong at the moment…which made it a very expensive trip.  Still, that’s not Australia’s fault, but just be prepared to drop more cash than you might have originally planned for.

Advertisements

Photo Friday – Bay of Fires Rocks, Tasmania, Australia

15 Mar

Have I mentioned we LOVED Tasmania?  I think I might have.  We spent some time camping up near the Bay of Fires on the east coast, and found these huge rocks all along one stretch of shore.  The lichen (I’m assuming that’s what it is) makes an awesome red color, that really stood out against the blue sky.

Photo Friday – Uluru at Sunset

8 Mar

A few months ago I posted one of our Uluru sunrise photos.  Today we have a more traditional view, the sunset and a clear blue sky.  I really expected the rock to turn a very bright red, as per all the postcards…but clearly those have been super photoshopped.  Still, it was really lovely.

Photo Friday – Tessellated Pavement, Friendly Beaches, Tasmania, Australia

4 Jan

We found huge sections of the beach with these rock patterns

We went for a lot of beach walks on the east coast of Tasmania, and we came across this phenomenon more than once.  It’s rock, but it looks like paving stones on a street.

These are not separate stones! It is one big rock!

The ocean and the wind does creates a nearly perfect grid system that makes the rock look man-made…but it’s all Mother Nature. It’s called tessellated pavement.

The grid lines are almost perfectly straight

Photo Friday – The Great Ocean Road, Australia

28 Dec

The Great Ocean Road winds its way along a massive stretch of lower Australia and while we would have loved to make a road trip of the entire thing, we had just a day to get as far out on it as we could before heading back to Melbourne.  It’s a stunning drive and a place that’s on our ‘must return’ list.

Photo Friday – Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia

21 Dec

If you’re reading this post, then the world hasn’t ended.  This is obviously great for many reasons, one of which is that you still have time to head down to Tasmania and check out Cradle Mountain!  Cradle Mountain is one of the most visited spots in Tasmania, and for good reason.  The landscape is dramatic, stunning, and feels very wild.  The hiking is some of the most beautiful we’ve done, and felt a lot like parts of Patagonia.

In The Wild In Tasmania

4 Dec

It’s a good thing I have a regular Photo Friday, or this blog might have totally fallen by the wayside.  We’ve been in Australia since the end of October, and we’ve hardly posted a thing in that time.

Here’s where I offer some excuses…Last month, my mom and step-dad, and Justin’s sister came out to travel with us for a while, which means that in the evenings when I might normally be thinking about sorting photos or trying to write a post, we are spending time hanging out and catching up on the year’s happenings.  Another thing is the absurd lack of wi-fi access.  Honestly I don’t really get it because, hello, even in tiny Indonesian villages we were able to get free wi-fi at most guesthouses or restaurants.  Those things aside, well, we’ve been really enjoying our time, and I just haven’t felt much like being in front of the computer.

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8202/8242582499_20b73dc53e_n.jpgLast week we said goodbye to our loved ones and made our way to Tasmania.  It’s part of Australia…you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that.  I’m a little ashamed to admit that when a friend of mine came here years ago, I had to look up where exactly it is on the map.   In any case, we’re currently living out of a campervan (which is amazing by the way, totally do this for a while if you ever get the chance) and have been spending most of our time gallivanting around Tasmania’s national park system.

We didn’t know much about Tasmania because almost nobody we know has ever been here, so we didn’t really have any expectations other than that we’d heard it was a good place to be hiking and doing other nature-y things.

Well let me tell you, our minds have been totally blown by how STUNNINGLY beautiful it is.  The landscape combines two of the things we love the most – lush mountains and perfectly blue-green ocean waters on white-sand beaches.

Our photos don’t even begin to do it justice, but we’ll leave you with this very tiny slide show for just a small taste.  As always, it’s much better if you actually click-through to Flickr and check it out on the full screen setting.

*For whatever reason, I can’t make the slide show actually show up here, so just click the link and it’ll open in a new window*

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theparallellife/sets/72157632167603166/show/

Photo Friday – Total Solar Eclipse in Port Douglas, Australia

30 Nov

Before we even bought our first flight for this trip, we had promised my mom we’d meet her in Port Douglas, Australia for the total solar eclipse on November 14, 2012.  Honestly, I would never even have known it was happening, but the timing worked out well since we wanted to be in Australia and New Zealand for this summer.

I remember seeing one partial eclipse as a kid, but this was before the days of disposable eclipse viewing glasses so all I really remember is constructing those little cardboard viewing boxes and seeing the shadow they created.

This time around we were armed with multiple pairs of glasses, including the extra sets we used to cover our camera lenses with.  Interestingly, the only time that you don’t need the glasses is during the ‘totality’ when you can look at the ring of light directly.

It had been cloudy and raining the two days prior to the event, and we were very worried that we wouldn’t get to see it all happen.  Fortunately the morning was only partly cloudy and even though our view was obstructed sometimes, we did get to see many phases of the eclipse, and we even got a shot of the totality before the clouds took over.  The most amazing thing was the eerie silver appearance everything took on just before the drop into darkness that comes with the totality.

It was easily one of the more spectacular things we’ve seen and we’re excited that there will be one crossing over North America on August 21, 2017.  Total eclipses occur nearly every year, but are only visible within a narrow corridor, and not on every continent.  For more information check out NASA’s eclipse webpage.

The professionals get much better shots with their giant lenses and official eclipse lens covers (as opposed to say…taping a pair of cardboard eclipse glasses over the lens of your camera…not like I know anyone who did that…) but you get the idea with these.

The very beginning

Totality. This looks like it was taken in black and white, but it wasn’t.

Photo Friday – Australian Ants

23 Nov

Ants are crazy.  Maybe it sounds strange, but we’ve noticed that ants here in Australia are much more fascinating than the ones we see at home generally.  I won’t wax poetic about these tiny creatures, but I will say that the amazing thing about what’s happening here is that the two leaves the ants are bridging are from separate trees.  Justin spotted them when they had a huge swarming bridge formed, but just as I got there to check it out a gust of wind came and ripped them apart.  We stood watching these guys climb on top of each other by the dozen until they just barely connected again.  I grabbed this shot just as a small breeze came along and stretched this little guy to his limit.

Photo Friday – Uluru Sunrise, Australia

16 Nov

We spent last week trying not to dehydrate in the Outback of Australia.  Much of our time was taken up with hanging around Kata Tjuta and Uluru (commonly known as Ayers Rock).  The most famous photos of Uluru are taken at sunrise or sunset when the light makes the sandstone into a beautiful glowing spectacle.  After 6 months with no real rain to speak of, we arrived in the area just in time for some serious thunderstorms.  Fortunately the rain poured overnight and left a lovely scattered cloud palate for one of our sunrise views.

%d bloggers like this: