Travel to Australia: Always missing time or money?

One of the reasons why we left our comfortable office chairs and started travelling around the world was AUSTRALIA! This mysterious red continent attracts travellers from all countries! However, there are always 2 difficulties whenever you only think of going there. These problems are called TIME and MONEY! If you are a student you usually have a time to go but you don’t have money even for a plane ticket. If you start to work, you have money but no time! It’s very hard to travel to Australia with only a few weeks of holiday and so we decided to quit our jobs also for this reason. We don’t tell you to quit your job we just tell you what we did! You can start with asking your boss about taking some unpaid weeks off. :-D

Our arrival in Sydney
With a tear in the eye we left Queenstown and New Zealand and we arrived in Sydney. We were quite shocked because we haven’t been in a big city a long time. What a change after a calm life in New Zealand full of sheep! We booked a hostel in the centre and we immediately started looking for a car to start travelling around the red continent. Apart from that we of course walked a lot, ate in China Town, visited famous Sydney Opera House with nice Royal Botanic Gardens and saw the city from the Harbour Bridge that is really great during both daytime and night time! Sydney is the oldest city in Australia and a good starting point to explore Australia. Be sure you will meet a lot of tourist and other backpackers there!

How to travel in Australia
Travelling in Australia is not easy in the sense of time and money. First of all this continent is very far from Europe so you will spend a lot of money just to get there by plane. Australia is also one of the most expensive countries in the world. Only coffee will cost you about 4 AUD! The second problem is its incredible size! You should have in mind that Australia has similar size as continental USA! Travelling from Sydney to Perth is about to same as travelling from New York to Los Angeles. This means it will take your time and money because every day in the red continent is expensive. To reduce high cost of your trip you should try to avoid eating out and drinking in bars that is very expensive. It is better you cook for yourself and buy your beers in a bottle shop. You should also think about the way of transportation.

We have decided to buy a car because we were 3 or 4 people most of the time to split gas money. The gas is not expensive but we drove 22,000 km in total so imagine to pay it only by yourself. If you are alone you can look for some travel mates in hostels or simply use buses and planes to overcome huge distances. Sometimes it’s really cheaper to fly! We believe Australia is not as good as New Zealand for hitchhiking. Some of the states even see it as a traffic offence but nothing is impossible. We can’t say because since we had a car we only hitchhiked a couple of times during our stay in Australia and it was for a very short distances. If you are in a group of 3 or 4 people and thinking of going to Tasmania with your car it´s cheaper when the driver goes alone by expensive ferry and the rest of the crew fly!

Buying a car in Australia
When planning your Australian trip you should consider where to start. Australia consists of 7 states: New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria and Tasmania and each state has different rules and laws! For example the prices of car insurance varies a lot. We bought our car in Sydney and we paid very high insurance because it’s in New South Wales. On the other hand it might be easier to buy and sell the car because many backpackers start their trip there and it’s the biggest city in Australia.

Where to buy a car?

  • Use popular buy and sell website
  • Facebook groups: backpackers in Sydney, Czechs (or other nations) in Sydney, Backpacker Cars Sydney and others
  • Look for ads in some hostels (Kings Cross, Central etc.)
  • Parramatta Road with a lot of car sellers especially a part close to the Olympic Park

Our story with a car

We wanted to buy a car fast because every day in Sydney costs you a lot of money. And so we decided to check some car sellers on Parramatta Road. You have be careful because some of these car selling “cowboys” of all nationalities might try to cheat you a bit. We found a really nice car (Holden Zafira, 2005 with low km’s) and the price of 4000 AUD. We agreed to take it next day when Pakistani guy offered us a price 500 cheaper. We had to pay a deposit of course in cash. The same day he called to remind us that we have to bring the rest of the money in cash too. It’s a bit of Wild West there so we didn’t care and came back to pay the next day. After we paid the rest of the price to 3500 AUD he pointed on the small sign in his office that was saying that they charge extra 400 AUD as administration fee every time you buy or sell a car. “What a bullshit!” We of course we started arguing but he already had all our money in cash and so we had to pay also this made up fee to get our car keys! The car seller threw the keys on the table and shouted “Take it and get out of here!” We have to admit he got us with his little trick and at the end we paid the original price he wanted. The good thing was we didn’t have even one problem on the road in 4 months of driving around Australia and we drove a lot - 22,000 km! We are not saying that buying a car on Parramatta Road is completely wrong because it worked for us after all but just be careful!

Where to find kangaroos and koalas
If you are in Australia you surely want to see its unique wildlife not only in zoo or sanctuary but in the wild. It’s very easy to see kangaroos because there is a lot of them all over Australia. You will probably see them jumping by the road. The best time to see wild animals is at dusk or dawn. You should watch for big open spaces close to the forest where they come to eat grass when Australian sun is not that strong. To take a good photo you will need to approach them really slowly otherwise they will see you from far distance and jump away. We have seen a lot of big kangaroos in Mount Kaputar National Park and Boonoo Boonoo NP in NSW.

It’s a way harder to see koalas in wild but you should be lucky when you go to Gunnedah. This small town has a title “Koala Capital of the World” with one of the largest and healthiest koala populations in Australia. We discovered one in the city park during the day and another one right before the sunset in nearby bush. Apparently the bush close to the town is the best place to see them but you can also meet them in town centre close to the playgrounds, parks and other places. Ask for the map in visitor centre and watch for Eucalyptus trees. We’ve also seen koalas in Noosa Heads in Queensland or by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

You can also see other amazing animal that live on the red continent. We have seen a platypus, echidna, camel, ostrich, crocodile, all kinds of colourful parrots and fortunately only one snake! Australian wildlife is a good reason to travel around!

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef and it’s really a must once you are travelling in Queensland. The only problem is that to dive or snorkel there is expensive like everything in Australia. We paid almost 300 AUD for 2 dives from Port Douglas but we really enjoyed it. It was our first diving ever and we were so excited to try it on one of the best places in the world. Great Barrier Reef was really great and even though it’s pricy we still recommend you to do it!

Video from our first DIVING EXPERIENCE

Aboriginal Culture

The history of Aboriginal people in Australia is very sad and similar to other colonisation stories in the world. You can read a lot about it or go to visit remaining aboriginal people by yourself. You will find the largest proportion of Aboriginal people in Northern Territory. We applied for a permit to enter and remain on Aboriginal land and we finally got in in from Northern Land Council office situated in Katherine. Thus we turned from the main road and drove more than one hour to the desert to visit Aboriginal communities living in villages Barunga and Beswick. The life there is not easy because it’s really hot most time of the year. We went to local community centre where we met a nice Aboriginal lady. She was very wise and she gives presentations about Aboriginal culture all over the country and even abroad. It was a great experience to get to know more about the current situation and principles of Aboriginal culture. Unfortunately, nowadays you will see a lot of Aboriginal people having a drinking problem across the country. It’s easy to judge but who started to sell alcohol to them? White people.  A graffiti on the side streets of Melbourne makes you think when it says: “Always was, Always will be, Aboriginal land”

Uluru and the red centre
Is it worth driving thousands of kilometres just to see “a stone”? We think yes! That place has its special spirit and when you see 348 m high orange rock standing in the middle of nowhere you will understand. Moreover watching Uluru during the sunrise or sunset is just beautiful! There is a controversial question if to climb Uluru or not. Aboriginal people don’t want you to climb it because they feel sorry for all the people that have been hurt and people that have died there. It’s also Aboriginal sacred place so you should respect it. However, it’s your final decision to make because at the moment there is no law against climbing Uluru. We didn’t have to decide because when we were there the path was closed because of the heat.

If you can try to plan your trip to the red centre on winter months because it can get incredibly hot there! We visited Uluru in October and the temperature was around 40 °C after midday!! You also have to count with a lot of flies that won’t leave you alone! At least it gets cold at night so it’s quite nice for camping. Once you are there you can’t miss Kata Tjuta which is a group of large rock formations situated only 50 km from better known Uluru. We did a beautiful track there called Valley of the Winds that takes you about 3 hours. Make sure you start early before it starts to be hot. It’s also nice to visit Kings Canyon that is about 3-hour drive from Uluru.

Team Crisis
When we crossed Australia from the North to the South we were quite tired. It was already one year when we left home. We decided to have a break from each other because it’s reallz hard to connect lives of 4 people for such a long time. Thus David bought a flight back home, Kata decided to stay a bit longer in Queenstown, Edita went to work to Thailand and Karel went to travel to Borneo and Southeast Asia. After a couple of months Karel met Kata in Melbourne and they both met Edita in Buenos Aires when we started to hitchhike across South America. We are still waiting for David to come. He already had a flight to South America when he got mumps. We hope he will get better soon to be able to join us!

Australian Open in Melbourne
We arrived in Melbourne during its main event which is Australian Open. We met our Czech friend and we wanted to see Tomas Berdych playing quarterfinal with Federer. Unfortunately we hesitated to long and at the end the tickets to the stadium were sold out. Anyway we watched the game on a big screen in city centre and the atmosphere was just great! We don’t like big cities much but Melbourne seemed to be quite nice with its river, ocean and a lot of street art around. This city was voted the world's most liveable city for the fifth year in a row so there must be something good about it even if it’s big!

Tasmania – a forgotten beauty
Many people that travel to Australia don’t find a time to visit its smallest state which is Tasmania. It’s a pity for them because this island was one of the best places we have seen on the red continent. However, there are still a plenty of tourists especially in high summer season. Tassie is very different from the rest of Australia and people often say it’s 40 years behind the continental land. We found it quieter and more similar to New Zealand. There are really nice old villages and a perfect combination of mountains and excellent white beaches. Our favourite part was the South and East Coast. You can’t miss a track to Mount Amos in Freycinet National Park from where you wil have an incredible view of Wineglass Bay. Another great hike was to Cape Hauy in Tasman National Park. Another amazing place is the Bay of Fires with its white beaches.

In Tasmania you will probably meet a lot of wildlife such as walabi, echidna, platypus, wombat and if you are lucky even a Tasman devil! To see a Tasman devil is nowadays hard though because they are endangered. 90 % of them have already died because of facial cancer. There are some sanctuaries on the island that are doing really great job to save these animals for the future. You can visit Boborong Wildlife Sanctuary to see some devils, wombats and koalas. Moreover you can feed and play with many kangaroos there. With your ticket purchase you help to save Tasmania devil – the symbol of Tasmania!

Video from TASMANIA

We didn't have a dream,
We had a plan to see the RED CONTINENT.

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