Coming from a third world country, where things are dirt cheap, checking price tags in Australia can be quite shocking (not the good kind of shock you get when you look at Indonesian prices). At first the prices look cheap, but once you convert it to peso… ay caramba!
That is why they say that when you travel, you shouldn’t convert prices anymore, else you won’t buy anything. However, I do believe that it’s still important to convert — mainly to check if the same product sold in your own country is sold cheaper as compared to where you currently are.
The cost of traveling in Australia is definitely not cheap. Excluding airfare, you can expect to be shelling out around between AU$50-80 (US$40-70) a day, and that’s already being cheap (4-6 person hostel dorm room, 3 cheap meals a day, full day’s transport, maybe a little extra for beer or admission tickets). Also, if you want to visit the top tourist attractions, you would have to spend a couple more bucks for admission (AU$10 upwards). Some attractions are also situated outside the city, and not as easily accessible by public transport, leaving you with no choice but to drive there using your rented car (or bombs, as they call it) or join a *shudder* tour group.
Here are some cheap thrills I found and enjoyed in Australia:
- Their parks, gardens and beaches – Australia has lots of beautifully landscaped gardens and gorgeous beaches. The best part: they don’t charge for admission. On a lovely day, walk under a canopy of trees or work on your tan, have a picnic lunch with the food you picked up at your favorite take-away or supermarket deli.
- Supermarkets – Cole’s, Woolsworth and other supermarkets have their own deli section where you can pick up ready to eat goodies such as sausages, hams, salads, even barbeque chicken. The cheapest meal I had in Australia was a half barbeque chicken and a 1.5 liter bottle of spring water for only around AU$2.50. (I love Cole’s! They sell their own brand of spring water for only AU$0.69 for a 1.5 liter!)
- Melbourne’s Sunday Saver – Melbourne’s public transport has a special off-peak ticket for Sunday travel. For only AU$2.50 per person, per ticket, you can travel on the trains, buses and trams on all zones the whole day.
- Saver’s and other opportunity shops – I adore second hand/thrift shops. The way thrift shops work in Australia, all the things they sell are donations and all proceeds (or maybe a portion) goes to charity. You get a great bargain and help out at the same time.
- Sydney’s Travel Pass – Though I only stayed in Sydney for 3 days, I still availed of the weekly Green travel pass. For AU$54, I already get a return trip to and from the city to the airport, and unlimited travel on trains, busses and ferries (with zone restrictions). Riding the ferries through the Sydney harbor makes it all worth it. The best thing about the green travel pass is that it is valid for the Manly ferry.
- Free admission – Surprisingly, a number of touristy places in Australia don’t charge for admission, while some just charge a small amount (AU$6 – $10). The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Maritime Museum in Sydney offers free admission.
- BYO – In all the places I’ve been to, only a handful prohibits you from bringing in food. Because of this, Australian would go toting their picnic kits (Australians are so keen on picnics it’s practically an art form). So, to avoid paying for the overwhelmingly overpriced food at the in-house cafes, chomp on the sausages and devour the salad you bought from the supermarket.
Got any cheap thrills to share?