Showing posts with label Australia Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia Tips. Show all posts

Purnululu bungle bungle rock formation 2

The northern half of Australia was one of the highlights of my year long road trip around Oz. And a place that holds a particularly special place in my heart is the World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park, part of the Bungle Bungle Range in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. It even made it into my Unmissable Western Australia post.

So today I thought we’d take a bit more of an explore into this park via some photos of my time there. After the photos, I’ve got information on where this park is, how to get there, when to visit and where to stay. Enjoy!

Visiting Purnululu National Park in Australia (the Bungle Bungles)

Purnululu bungle bungle rock formation 2

The northern half of Australia was one of the highlights of my year long road trip around Oz. And a place that holds a particularly special place in my heart is the World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park, part of the Bungle Bungle Range in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. It even made it into my Unmissable Western Australia post.

So today I thought we’d take a bit more of an explore into this park via some photos of my time there. After the photos, I’ve got information on where this park is, how to get there, when to visit and where to stay. Enjoy!

Read More

Australia six week itinerary Uluru at sunset

In this post, the second on travelling to Australia for around six weeks, I propose an itinerary for travellers starting their adventure in Sydney.

This is partly to answer a question posed to me recently by some friends who are doing this very thing, and secondly because I think it’s a fairly common trip to take.

If you missed the first post, that one covers things to consider like transport options and the climate. This one focuses on the nitty gritty of the actual trip, in weekly itinerary form, for a six week trip, highlighting some of the most amazing parts that this country has to offer. Enjoy!

A Six Weeks Australia Itinerary From Sydney

Australia six week itinerary Uluru at sunset

In this post, the second on travelling to Australia for around six weeks, I propose an itinerary for travellers starting their adventure in Sydney.

This is partly to answer a question posed to me recently by some friends who are doing this very thing, and secondly because I think it’s a fairly common trip to take.

If you missed the first post, that one covers things to consider like transport options and the climate. This one focuses on the nitty gritty of the actual trip, in weekly itinerary form, for a six week trip, highlighting some of the most amazing parts that this country has to offer. Enjoy!

Read More

Hellfire Bay - Western Australia - Australia

I’ve had the privilege to have two quite amazing Australian holidays in my life – the first being a two week road trip around the state of Victoria, the second being a year long adventure that took in 60,000kms of this magnificent country.

But what if I had less than the luxury of a year, and more than just two weeks? What, if like some friends of mine soon will, I had about six weeks, and I happened to be flying into Sydney? Then what would I do?

Planning a trip to Australia - things to consider

Hellfire Bay - Western Australia - Australia

I’ve had the privilege to have two quite amazing Australian holidays in my life – the first being a two week road trip around the state of Victoria, the second being a year long adventure that took in 60,000kms of this magnificent country.

But what if I had less than the luxury of a year, and more than just two weeks? What, if like some friends of mine soon will, I had about six weeks, and I happened to be flying into Sydney? Then what would I do?

Read More

Wilsons Prom Victoria Norman Beach.png

Australia has no shortage of wonderful scenery and the state of Victoria is particularly chock full of the stuff.

From the sweeping road trip that is the Great Ocean Road to the towering Snowy Alps, from outback desert to lush rainforest - this really is a state that offers something for everyone.

Four Essential Activities in Wilsons Prom, Victoria

Wilsons Prom Victoria Norman Beach.png

Australia has no shortage of wonderful scenery and the state of Victoria is particularly chock full of the stuff.

From the sweeping road trip that is the Great Ocean Road to the towering Snowy Alps, from outback desert to lush rainforest - this really is a state that offers something for everyone.

Read More

Waterfall - Twin Falls in Kakadu National Park

If there is one place you must visit when in Australia’s Northern Territory, it is the Kakadu National Park.

Here you will find stunning outback scenery, gigantic waterfalls, 5,000 year old aboriginal rock art and all manner of wildlife, in a park spanning an area the size of Slovenia.

Given that Kakadu is so big, and not everyone has huge amounts of time on their hands, here I have highlighted some of my favourite parts of this incredible, world heritage listed, park.

5 Highlights of Kakadu

Waterfall - Twin Falls in Kakadu National Park

If there is one place you must visit when in Australia’s Northern Territory, it is the Kakadu National Park.

Here you will find stunning outback scenery, gigantic waterfalls, 5,000 year old aboriginal rock art and all manner of wildlife, in a park spanning an area the size of Slovenia.

Given that Kakadu is so big, and not everyone has huge amounts of time on their hands, here I have highlighted some of my favourite parts of this incredible, world heritage listed, park.

Read More

Australias Red Centre  The Olgas as seen from Uluru

A drive across Australia’s red centre is an absolutely classic road trip. Spanning around 3000km along the Stuart Highway, from Adelaide to Darwin, it is a trip where driving times are measured in days rather than hours.

If you’ve got some time to spare, and really want to get to grips with a feel for quite how vast and wild this country really is, then a trip through the red centre is something you really can’t miss out on.

Here are some of my highlights from the drive, ordered from Adelaide to Darwin.

A Journey Through Australia's Red Centre

Australias Red Centre  The Olgas as seen from Uluru

A drive across Australia’s red centre is an absolutely classic road trip. Spanning around 3000km along the Stuart Highway, from Adelaide to Darwin, it is a trip where driving times are measured in days rather than hours.

If you’ve got some time to spare, and really want to get to grips with a feel for quite how vast and wild this country really is, then a trip through the red centre is something you really can’t miss out on.

Here are some of my highlights from the drive, ordered from Adelaide to Darwin.

Read More

Australian Flag Grafitti - New South Wales - Australia I have waxed somewhat extensively on this blog about the 60,000km year long road trip I took around Australia last year. But what I have failed to mention, thus far at least, is what this sort of trip is likely to cost you, should you decide, as I did, to down tools and head out into the wide blue yonder.

So now I will rectify that. The bottom line, is that a year in Australia, with all of that travel, with food, with insurance, with flight tickets, with a vehicle, with all those kilometres, cost me just about £12,000, or £32 a day.

And here, in case you were wondering, or thinking about doing something similar, is how that broke down, and where money can be saved. Note that this is written largely from the perspective of coming over from the UK under the working holiday visa scheme, but there is certainly plenty that would apply to most travellers here!

Insurance

Uluru at sunset If you’re travelling for any period of time, travel insurance is an absolute must, in large part for the medical cover that it provides you should something unfortunate happen to you on your trip. If you’re coming from the UK, you will be covered under a reciprocal agreement under the Medicare scheme, but this won’t cover you for things like repatriation.

Insurance from a reputable company is therefore a must. Luckily Australia isn’t considered too high of a risk, so insurance for a full year is reasonably priced. Many insurers will do “backpacker” or “gap year” insurance policies which are usually fairly cheap and will cover most of the basics. Clearly, the more cover you want, the more it will cost. Expect to pay in the region of £150 - £300 for a year of cover, more if you have big ticket items to insure like laptops or digital cameras. Remember to always read the policy wording carefully to see what you are signing up for and what the terms and conditions are.

Insurance -  £150 - £300

Flights

Lets face it, Australia isn’t exactly close to a lot of the world, so flights here aren’t ever going to be particularly cheap. A return flight from the UK / Europe is likely to cost you at least £1000. Check out all the usual deal sites and flight search engines, but don’t expect to get to the other side of the world for a song.

Flights - £1000+

Transport

Part of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park - Western Australia. Inaccessible without a 4WD or a plane.. This, for me at least, was the biggest cost. I wanted to see all of Australia in a year, and it is a somewhat large place. Plus I wanted to get to a lot of places that are inaccessible to normal vehicles, which meant either getting my own transport, or signing on to a lot of tours. As I wanted to go at my own pace, my own transport seemed like the way forward. And for a year, the most cost effective way of doing that was to purchase my own vehicle.

The second hand vehicle market for travellers is pretty active in Australia, with key buying spots being Cairns, Perth and Sydney. Prices fluctuate based on demand and availability, with prices being lower in the quieter seasons (think Winter in Sydney) and higher in the busier seasons. Of course, if you are travelling for a year, this largely cancels itself out, as any saving you make on purchase will be lost when you come to sell.

We bought, therefore, a second (or possibly fourth) hand Toyota Landcruiser, 1991  model, for £4000. Of course, if you aren’t into four wheel driving, or you want something more like a camper van, then there are a myriad options. A popular option is to get a station wagon, which you can sleep in the back of. Prices range from about £1000 upwards, and naturally, you can spend as much as you can afford. Once you have chosen your vehicle, don’t forget to budget for additional equipment you may need, like camping gear, tents, etc.. some travellers vans will come fully equipped, other won’t.

Vehicle cost - £1000 and upwards, in our case £4000, plus around £1000 in gear

Outback travel - South Australia Once you have your vehicle, you then need to factor in the cost of ongoing maintenance, repairs and of course, fuel. It will also need to be taxed and insured. Expect to pay in the region of £300 for the latter, and then however much the gods choose to charge you for mechanical damage as you go. In our case we had to get a new radiator, multiple new tyres, new rear differential, new battery and snorkel as well as oil and filter changes every 10,000km or so.

Vehicle maintenance – approximately £3500

Fuel is of course the other main cost - in fact on a trip like this, fuel accounts for a serious majority of what you are likely to be paying. We averaged around 15 litres of fuel per 100km, although that is higher than most cars as we had a big heavy vehicle. Over 60,000 kilometres, we consumed in the region of 9,000 litres of diesel. The price of this diesel varied enormously, from around a dollar twenty in the densely populated areas, right up to two dollars twenty in the deep outback.

Taking an average of a dollar seventy per litre, our total fuel costs for the trip were in the region of £8000. When travelling, keep an eye out for fuel deals, often a purchase of groceries over a certain amount will entitle you to a discount at the pump, and these discounts will add up over time to significant amounts.

Fuel – approximately £8000

Food / Drink

Beer and an outback sunset Food and drink are obviously something you can’t do without, but are an area where you can save serious cash if you shop carefully. Buy in bulk where you can, stocking up on items that are on offer. If you stick to the value ranges, and aren’t extravagant with your purchases, then you can get by on a fairly tight budget.

Of course, if you go the other way and spend all your time in restaurants and takeaways, then you may find yourself over budget fairly quickly. In terms of drink, well, one can’t possibly expect to travel without a beer or two of an evening, again, look out for deals and do your best to keep costs down. Buying a case of beer will always be cheaper than hitting the pubs, but don’t forget of course that you are travelling and having fun, so you can’t expect to skimp on everything!

Overall I would estimate that our food and drink budget per person worked out to around £40 per person per week, and then spiked from time to time when we hit a pub in earnest.

Food and Drink - £3000

Accommodation

The dream of course, once you have your vehicle, is to head out into the wilderness and camp for free under the stars for the rest of your trip. Unfortunately, the reality is a little bit different. When you start your trip you are likely to spend a fair bit of time in a hostel as you look for your vehicle and get it ready to hit the road, and whilst this is fun, it isn’t necessarily that cheap in a country like Australia. Expect to pay £10 a night for a dorm bed, and £25-40 for a private room (per person).

Outback campfire with moon rise - Northern Territory - Australia

When you actually hit the road, things will become a better. Australia is a very large country, and there are a lot of places where you are legally allowed to camp for free. Often these camps will be very basic rest stops just off the highway, sometimes with a pit toilet, sometimes not. Don’t expect water to be available. But still, for free, what can you expect.

If rest stops aren’t your thing, some national parks are also free, although many operate an honesty system of payment. Another option of course are the commercial camp grounds and holiday parks, and here you can pay anything from three or four pounds per person per night right up to ten or twenty depending on location and amenities. On our trip I would say that we managed to camp for free for just over half of the nights, and ended up in paid sites for the rest of the time.

An absolutely invaluable asset if you are planning this kind of trip is the Camps Australia Wide series of books, available either at Amazon UK at the previous link, or direct from Camps Australia Wide. Issued on a fairly regularly basis, and up to edition five when we did the trip, (issue 7 due in February 2013) these list every free and budget minded camp site around Australia, handily located on a full road map of the whole country. This book, whilst a little pricey to purchase, is absolutely a no brainer on a trip like this. It will save you its cost multiple times over.

Total Accommodation cost, including hostel at start and end: £1500

Extras and incidentals

The Painted Desert - South Australian outback Extras, of course, are where the price of the trip can sky rocket. There are many many choices of things to do in Australia that are both amazing and often seriously expensive. From sky diving, to bungee jumping, to learning to surf, to heading out to the great barrier reef, to countless tours and adventures, it can all really add up. My advice would be to absolutely do the things you want to do as often these can be once in a lifetime experiences, and money can always be earnt again, but keep an eye on the budget, and if something is likely to wipe six months off your trip due to cost, just weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

On my trip one of the major costs was a trip to Tasmania, which involved taking our large four wheel drive on the ferry. This was not a cheap option, totalling nearly £1000 for the return trip for three of us and a vehicle, but the month we had in Tasmania more than made up for that. Other things we did that cost us more than we would usually spend included a boat ride over to Fraser Island, which was another amazing adventure.

In our case our extras probably added up to around £2500 all in, which was a result of being fairly conservative and doing our best to do things ourselves where we could. This includes things you can’t avoid doing, like laundry, and things like festival tickets and what not as we went.

Extras - £2500

How to save?

The endless roadBy now you have probably started to tot up the various numbers I have been floating around, and realised that my maths is probably fairly dire, as I am way over the £12,000 mark that I put forward initially.

The reason for this, and the number one way that you can save money on a trip like this, is by not doing it alone. As soon as you have a travelling companion, your main costs, which will be largely transport based, will be cut in half. Instead of spending £4000 on a vehicle and £11,000 on fuel and maintenance, I was spending a third of that, as for most of the trip we travelled as a trio. Food costs also come down when you are cooking as a group, and sometimes accommodation works out more effectively too. Even if you don’t know anyone who shares your dream of this sort of trip, you will find plenty of people on the way who will be willing to share costs, at least for a part of your adventure. Seriously consider this, as it is the number one way that you will be able to bring your costs down.

The other way you can recoup your costs is by successfully selling your vehicle at the end of the trip for as close to what you paid for it as possible. Due to the vagaries of the exchange rate, which had conspired against us throughout the trip at every possible opportunity, we ended up losing only around £400 on our vehicle. So one landcruiser, for a whole year and 60,000km, only cost us £400 in actual vehicle cost. Plus a few thousand in fuel and maintenance, certainly, but that was to be expected. So set aside some time at the end of your trip for the sale of your vehicle, and try your best to get a fair price for it.

That was a summary of how I got around Australia for £32 a day. I hope you find it useful. If you are considering a trip to Australia and have any questions, feel free to pop them into the comments or head over to the site’s Facebook page and see what the community has to say. Also, you may want to check out the excellent community over at the Working Holiday Tips Australia Facebook page, where you can find out all sorts of things about this most marvellous of schemes.

Sydney opera house at night - New South Wales - Ausralia

Plan your Accommodation now!

Finding the best deal on your accommodation is an important part of trip planning – helping you to get the most from your budget, as well as find the property that is right for you.

  • Our current favorite way to find the best deals on accommodation is with HotelsCombined. These guys let you search over 100 booking sites at once, including booking.com, Agoda and TravelPony, and nearly always get the best price. Try them and see!
  • Alternatively, if you prefer an apartment or more of a hosted stay, then I recommend AirBnB. I've tried all the others, and AirBnB consistently has the most options for locations around the world. Plus, if you've never used them before, you'll get a $25 discount on your first booking with this link!

Between these options, you should find the best prices and places to stay for your trip, as well as a good selection of reviews and feedback to help you make an informed decision.

Note – all the prices in this article were converted to pounds at the exchange rate of 1 pound to two dollars. As this in reality fluctuated throughout the trip, prices changed as we went. It’s not something you have any control over, but it can seriously impact how much your trip costs you. Note that some of the links in this article generate me revenue.

A year in Australia – the costs

Australian Flag Grafitti - New South Wales - Australia I have waxed somewhat extensively on this blog about the 60,000km year long road trip I took around Australia last year. But what I have failed to mention, thus far at least, is what this sort of trip is likely to cost you, should you decide, as I did, to down tools and head out into the wide blue yonder.

So now I will rectify that. The bottom line, is that a year in Australia, with all of that travel, with food, with insurance, with flight tickets, with a vehicle, with all those kilometres, cost me just about £12,000, or £32 a day.

And here, in case you were wondering, or thinking about doing something similar, is how that broke down, and where money can be saved. Note that this is written largely from the perspective of coming over from the UK under the working holiday visa scheme, but there is certainly plenty that would apply to most travellers here!

Insurance

Uluru at sunset If you’re travelling for any period of time, travel insurance is an absolute must, in large part for the medical cover that it provides you should something unfortunate happen to you on your trip. If you’re coming from the UK, you will be covered under a reciprocal agreement under the Medicare scheme, but this won’t cover you for things like repatriation.

Insurance from a reputable company is therefore a must. Luckily Australia isn’t considered too high of a risk, so insurance for a full year is reasonably priced. Many insurers will do “backpacker” or “gap year” insurance policies which are usually fairly cheap and will cover most of the basics. Clearly, the more cover you want, the more it will cost. Expect to pay in the region of £150 - £300 for a year of cover, more if you have big ticket items to insure like laptops or digital cameras. Remember to always read the policy wording carefully to see what you are signing up for and what the terms and conditions are.

Insurance -  £150 - £300

Flights

Lets face it, Australia isn’t exactly close to a lot of the world, so flights here aren’t ever going to be particularly cheap. A return flight from the UK / Europe is likely to cost you at least £1000. Check out all the usual deal sites and flight search engines, but don’t expect to get to the other side of the world for a song.

Flights - £1000+

Transport

Part of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park - Western Australia. Inaccessible without a 4WD or a plane.. This, for me at least, was the biggest cost. I wanted to see all of Australia in a year, and it is a somewhat large place. Plus I wanted to get to a lot of places that are inaccessible to normal vehicles, which meant either getting my own transport, or signing on to a lot of tours. As I wanted to go at my own pace, my own transport seemed like the way forward. And for a year, the most cost effective way of doing that was to purchase my own vehicle.

The second hand vehicle market for travellers is pretty active in Australia, with key buying spots being Cairns, Perth and Sydney. Prices fluctuate based on demand and availability, with prices being lower in the quieter seasons (think Winter in Sydney) and higher in the busier seasons. Of course, if you are travelling for a year, this largely cancels itself out, as any saving you make on purchase will be lost when you come to sell.

We bought, therefore, a second (or possibly fourth) hand Toyota Landcruiser, 1991  model, for £4000. Of course, if you aren’t into four wheel driving, or you want something more like a camper van, then there are a myriad options. A popular option is to get a station wagon, which you can sleep in the back of. Prices range from about £1000 upwards, and naturally, you can spend as much as you can afford. Once you have chosen your vehicle, don’t forget to budget for additional equipment you may need, like camping gear, tents, etc.. some travellers vans will come fully equipped, other won’t.

Vehicle cost - £1000 and upwards, in our case £4000, plus around £1000 in gear

Outback travel - South Australia Once you have your vehicle, you then need to factor in the cost of ongoing maintenance, repairs and of course, fuel. It will also need to be taxed and insured. Expect to pay in the region of £300 for the latter, and then however much the gods choose to charge you for mechanical damage as you go. In our case we had to get a new radiator, multiple new tyres, new rear differential, new battery and snorkel as well as oil and filter changes every 10,000km or so.

Vehicle maintenance – approximately £3500

Fuel is of course the other main cost - in fact on a trip like this, fuel accounts for a serious majority of what you are likely to be paying. We averaged around 15 litres of fuel per 100km, although that is higher than most cars as we had a big heavy vehicle. Over 60,000 kilometres, we consumed in the region of 9,000 litres of diesel. The price of this diesel varied enormously, from around a dollar twenty in the densely populated areas, right up to two dollars twenty in the deep outback.

Taking an average of a dollar seventy per litre, our total fuel costs for the trip were in the region of £8000. When travelling, keep an eye out for fuel deals, often a purchase of groceries over a certain amount will entitle you to a discount at the pump, and these discounts will add up over time to significant amounts.

Fuel – approximately £8000

Food / Drink

Beer and an outback sunset Food and drink are obviously something you can’t do without, but are an area where you can save serious cash if you shop carefully. Buy in bulk where you can, stocking up on items that are on offer. If you stick to the value ranges, and aren’t extravagant with your purchases, then you can get by on a fairly tight budget.

Of course, if you go the other way and spend all your time in restaurants and takeaways, then you may find yourself over budget fairly quickly. In terms of drink, well, one can’t possibly expect to travel without a beer or two of an evening, again, look out for deals and do your best to keep costs down. Buying a case of beer will always be cheaper than hitting the pubs, but don’t forget of course that you are travelling and having fun, so you can’t expect to skimp on everything!

Overall I would estimate that our food and drink budget per person worked out to around £40 per person per week, and then spiked from time to time when we hit a pub in earnest.

Food and Drink - £3000

Accommodation

The dream of course, once you have your vehicle, is to head out into the wilderness and camp for free under the stars for the rest of your trip. Unfortunately, the reality is a little bit different. When you start your trip you are likely to spend a fair bit of time in a hostel as you look for your vehicle and get it ready to hit the road, and whilst this is fun, it isn’t necessarily that cheap in a country like Australia. Expect to pay £10 a night for a dorm bed, and £25-40 for a private room (per person).

Outback campfire with moon rise - Northern Territory - Australia

When you actually hit the road, things will become a better. Australia is a very large country, and there are a lot of places where you are legally allowed to camp for free. Often these camps will be very basic rest stops just off the highway, sometimes with a pit toilet, sometimes not. Don’t expect water to be available. But still, for free, what can you expect.

If rest stops aren’t your thing, some national parks are also free, although many operate an honesty system of payment. Another option of course are the commercial camp grounds and holiday parks, and here you can pay anything from three or four pounds per person per night right up to ten or twenty depending on location and amenities. On our trip I would say that we managed to camp for free for just over half of the nights, and ended up in paid sites for the rest of the time.

An absolutely invaluable asset if you are planning this kind of trip is the Camps Australia Wide series of books, available either at Amazon UK at the previous link, or direct from Camps Australia Wide. Issued on a fairly regularly basis, and up to edition five when we did the trip, (issue 7 due in February 2013) these list every free and budget minded camp site around Australia, handily located on a full road map of the whole country. This book, whilst a little pricey to purchase, is absolutely a no brainer on a trip like this. It will save you its cost multiple times over.

Total Accommodation cost, including hostel at start and end: £1500

Extras and incidentals

The Painted Desert - South Australian outback Extras, of course, are where the price of the trip can sky rocket. There are many many choices of things to do in Australia that are both amazing and often seriously expensive. From sky diving, to bungee jumping, to learning to surf, to heading out to the great barrier reef, to countless tours and adventures, it can all really add up. My advice would be to absolutely do the things you want to do as often these can be once in a lifetime experiences, and money can always be earnt again, but keep an eye on the budget, and if something is likely to wipe six months off your trip due to cost, just weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

On my trip one of the major costs was a trip to Tasmania, which involved taking our large four wheel drive on the ferry. This was not a cheap option, totalling nearly £1000 for the return trip for three of us and a vehicle, but the month we had in Tasmania more than made up for that. Other things we did that cost us more than we would usually spend included a boat ride over to Fraser Island, which was another amazing adventure.

In our case our extras probably added up to around £2500 all in, which was a result of being fairly conservative and doing our best to do things ourselves where we could. This includes things you can’t avoid doing, like laundry, and things like festival tickets and what not as we went.

Extras - £2500

How to save?

The endless roadBy now you have probably started to tot up the various numbers I have been floating around, and realised that my maths is probably fairly dire, as I am way over the £12,000 mark that I put forward initially.

The reason for this, and the number one way that you can save money on a trip like this, is by not doing it alone. As soon as you have a travelling companion, your main costs, which will be largely transport based, will be cut in half. Instead of spending £4000 on a vehicle and £11,000 on fuel and maintenance, I was spending a third of that, as for most of the trip we travelled as a trio. Food costs also come down when you are cooking as a group, and sometimes accommodation works out more effectively too. Even if you don’t know anyone who shares your dream of this sort of trip, you will find plenty of people on the way who will be willing to share costs, at least for a part of your adventure. Seriously consider this, as it is the number one way that you will be able to bring your costs down.

The other way you can recoup your costs is by successfully selling your vehicle at the end of the trip for as close to what you paid for it as possible. Due to the vagaries of the exchange rate, which had conspired against us throughout the trip at every possible opportunity, we ended up losing only around £400 on our vehicle. So one landcruiser, for a whole year and 60,000km, only cost us £400 in actual vehicle cost. Plus a few thousand in fuel and maintenance, certainly, but that was to be expected. So set aside some time at the end of your trip for the sale of your vehicle, and try your best to get a fair price for it.

That was a summary of how I got around Australia for £32 a day. I hope you find it useful. If you are considering a trip to Australia and have any questions, feel free to pop them into the comments or head over to the site’s Facebook page and see what the community has to say. Also, you may want to check out the excellent community over at the Working Holiday Tips Australia Facebook page, where you can find out all sorts of things about this most marvellous of schemes.

Sydney opera house at night - New South Wales - Ausralia

Plan your Accommodation now!

Finding the best deal on your accommodation is an important part of trip planning – helping you to get the most from your budget, as well as find the property that is right for you.

  • Our current favorite way to find the best deals on accommodation is with HotelsCombined. These guys let you search over 100 booking sites at once, including booking.com, Agoda and TravelPony, and nearly always get the best price. Try them and see!
  • Alternatively, if you prefer an apartment or more of a hosted stay, then I recommend AirBnB. I've tried all the others, and AirBnB consistently has the most options for locations around the world. Plus, if you've never used them before, you'll get a $25 discount on your first booking with this link!

Between these options, you should find the best prices and places to stay for your trip, as well as a good selection of reviews and feedback to help you make an informed decision.

Note – all the prices in this article were converted to pounds at the exchange rate of 1 pound to two dollars. As this in reality fluctuated throughout the trip, prices changed as we went. It’s not something you have any control over, but it can seriously impact how much your trip costs you. Note that some of the links in this article generate me revenue.

Read More

Landcruiser 80 series on Gibb River Road Australia outback

I thought it was about time to revisit a series I started a while ago looking at some of the great offroad adventures you can have in Australia. Today I’ll be talking about the Gibb River Road, perhaps one of Australia’s most famous outback four wheel drive routes.

First things first. Whilst iconic - and certainly four wheel drive only - apart from a few sections this isn’t a particularly challenging four wheel drive route. So if you were hoping for hill climbs, boulders, or seriously way off the map isolation, you may be better off looking at something like Gregory National Park or the Canning Stock Route to give yourself a serious 4WD challenge.

If on the other hand you were thinking more about scenic gorges, endless croc free (mostly!) rockpools to bathe in and just enough of a four wheel drive adventure to make your trip that bit more exciting, then the Gibb River Road is for you.

Offroad in Oz: The Gibb River Road

Landcruiser 80 series on Gibb River Road Australia outback

I thought it was about time to revisit a series I started a while ago looking at some of the great offroad adventures you can have in Australia. Today I’ll be talking about the Gibb River Road, perhaps one of Australia’s most famous outback four wheel drive routes.

First things first. Whilst iconic - and certainly four wheel drive only - apart from a few sections this isn’t a particularly challenging four wheel drive route. So if you were hoping for hill climbs, boulders, or seriously way off the map isolation, you may be better off looking at something like Gregory National Park or the Canning Stock Route to give yourself a serious 4WD challenge.

If on the other hand you were thinking more about scenic gorges, endless croc free (mostly!) rockpools to bathe in and just enough of a four wheel drive adventure to make your trip that bit more exciting, then the Gibb River Road is for you.

Read More

Wave crashing at sunset - Western Australia - Australia

I did a post recently on my highlights of Western Australia, where I covered my four favourite spots in Western Australia.

Unfortunately, after much thinking, I have concluded that it’s just too much of an amazing place to be happy with only highlighting four spots.

Here, therefore, are four more spots that you should try and take the time to visit if you are lucky enough to have time to spare in this amazing state.

From desert to water, and mountains to sealife – you won’t run out of things to do in WA!

4 More Highlights of Western Australia - Blowholes and pinnacles

Wave crashing at sunset - Western Australia - Australia

I did a post recently on my highlights of Western Australia, where I covered my four favourite spots in Western Australia.

Unfortunately, after much thinking, I have concluded that it’s just too much of an amazing place to be happy with only highlighting four spots.

Here, therefore, are four more spots that you should try and take the time to visit if you are lucky enough to have time to spare in this amazing state.

From desert to water, and mountains to sealife – you won’t run out of things to do in WA!

Read More

Western Australia highlights bungle bungles Western Australia. A state so big and varied that you could easily mistake it for a country in its own right. From the giant trees of the south, to the harsh desert of the centre, to the rugged coastline and wilderness of the north, and finally to the cosmopolitan delights of Perth, there is something here for everyone.

Highlights of Western Australia

Western Australia highlights bungle bungles Western Australia. A state so big and varied that you could easily mistake it for a country in its own right. From the giant trees of the south, to the harsh desert of the centre, to the rugged coastline and wilderness of the north, and finally to the cosmopolitan delights of Perth, there is something here for everyone.

Read More

The lake was nice. Fraser Island.

Given that previous entries in this series have focused on entire states, it may seem a bit odd to dedicate an entire article to one small island off the Queensland coast where we only spent three days. But Fraser is a very special island, and I believe you will agree, entirely worthy of it’s own piece.

Tips and Advice for Visiting Fraser Island

The lake was nice. Fraser Island.

Given that previous entries in this series have focused on entire states, it may seem a bit odd to dedicate an entire article to one small island off the Queensland coast where we only spent three days. But Fraser is a very special island, and I believe you will agree, entirely worthy of it’s own piece.

Read More

Fluffy - our Toyota Landcruiser 80 series.

When I set off on my trip around Australia in 2009, I knew very little about off road driving. After completing the 60,000km road trip around Australia in an off-road vehicle, covering surfaces from smooth tarmac to unsealed gravel to, well, no clearly definable surface at all, I thought I would share some of the things I learnt.

These might help out if you are a first timer considering spending some time off the beaten track, or even if you have been off-roading for a while.

Going offroad – things to know

Fluffy - our Toyota Landcruiser 80 series.

When I set off on my trip around Australia in 2009, I knew very little about off road driving. After completing the 60,000km road trip around Australia in an off-road vehicle, covering surfaces from smooth tarmac to unsealed gravel to, well, no clearly definable surface at all, I thought I would share some of the things I learnt.

These might help out if you are a first timer considering spending some time off the beaten track, or even if you have been off-roading for a while.

Read More

In case Australia didn’t already have enough to offer you, what with the endlessly beautiful outback, the stunning and often empty beaches, the mountains to climb, the surf to ride, and so on, here are some reasons that might give the film buffs out there some extra excuses to visit on top of everything else.

Below are four films that you may recognise which were predominantly filmed in Australia. In my opinion these showcase some of the best scenery and locations that outback Australia has to offer. I was lucky enough to visit all of these locations on my recent trip down under.

Four amazing outback Australia film sets

In case Australia didn’t already have enough to offer you, what with the endlessly beautiful outback, the stunning and often empty beaches, the mountains to climb, the surf to ride, and so on, here are some reasons that might give the film buffs out there some extra excuses to visit on top of everything else.

Below are four films that you may recognise which were predominantly filmed in Australia. In my opinion these showcase some of the best scenery and locations that outback Australia has to offer. I was lucky enough to visit all of these locations on my recent trip down under.

Read More

Parked at the lost city

To continue the offroad section of posts on the site, which I started with my piece on Gregory National Park, here are some thoughts on another less well known and somewhat out of the way park in Australia’s Northern Territory – Limmen National Park.

Where and what is Limmen National Park?

Limmen is a 10,000 square kilometre National Park in the east of the Australia’s Northern Territory. It is managed by the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, and has it’s own ranger station, as well as a number of basic campgrounds, which are either free or very inexpensive to stay at.

Offroad in Oz: The Lost Cities of Limmen

Parked at the lost city

To continue the offroad section of posts on the site, which I started with my piece on Gregory National Park, here are some thoughts on another less well known and somewhat out of the way park in Australia’s Northern Territory – Limmen National Park.

Where and what is Limmen National Park?

Limmen is a 10,000 square kilometre National Park in the east of the Australia’s Northern Territory. It is managed by the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, and has it’s own ranger station, as well as a number of basic campgrounds, which are either free or very inexpensive to stay at.

Read More
Landcruiser offroad Australia Gregory National ParkGregory National Park is not on most visitors to-do lists when visiting Australia’s Northern Territory. It doesn’t have the dramatic natural wonders of Kakadu or the myriad water holes and easy accessibility of Litchfield. It doesn’t have the gorges of Katherine National Park, or the incredibly well known majesty of Uluru.

What it does have, on the other hand, are miles and miles of out of the way superb off road track. Which was why, when travelling through the Northern Territory, we decided to spend nine days exploring it.

Offroad in Oz: Gregory National Park

Landcruiser offroad Australia Gregory National ParkGregory National Park is not on most visitors to-do lists when visiting Australia’s Northern Territory. It doesn’t have the dramatic natural wonders of Kakadu or the myriad water holes and easy accessibility of Litchfield. It doesn’t have the gorges of Katherine National Park, or the incredibly well known majesty of Uluru.

What it does have, on the other hand, are miles and miles of out of the way superb off road track. Which was why, when travelling through the Northern Territory, we decided to spend nine days exploring it.

Read More

Tasmanian wheat fieldFor a relaxing peaceful place, it’s hard to imagine somewhere nicer than Tasmania, or Tassie as it is affectionately known down under.

First off, a brief piece of geography. Tasmania is an island state, about half the size of England (not, I hasten to add, the UK) located 240km off the south coast of Australia. It was a part of Australia until as recently as 10,000 years ago, when the last ice age ended.

That was brief enough I think. Hopefully you have the image of Australia in your mind with the triangle shaped bit of Tasmania floating around at the bottom, separated by the bit of sea called the Bass Strait. And that bit of sea makes quite a lot of difference, because Tasmania feels almost entirely unlike Australia.

When we arrived in Tassie, via a rather exciting vehicle ferry experience, it was summer,  which I am reliably informed is about the best time to go because the weather for much of the rest of the time is not really suitable for a life under canvas. And it felt, having come from the Australia mainland, like we had floated back fifty years somehow. Gone were the highways and hustle and bustle of Melbourne, replaced by a land that seemed worryingly similar to Hobbiton. And we weren’t even in New Zealand. Rolling hills, roads barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other. Quaint villages dotted the rolling valleys, hand drawn signs on the roads advertised local produce. Corn literally swayed in the wind. If someone had drawn a picture postcard of an idyllic location, then we had somehow stepped into it.

Painted store front

Ok, this probably all seems a little bit over the top. And yes, our first actual encounter with life in Tasmania involved sitting in the McDonalds just next to the ferry port at 6am waiting for the nearest K-Mart to open so we could buy some jumper leads as our magnificent steed’s battery had given up the ghost entirely. But even that experience was pretty cool. The tourist information opened at 7am, and we were given careful advice as to which parts of the country sold the best cheese. The elderflower cheese, we were advised, was not worth trying. Then the K-Mart man took pity on our battery needs, and for no reason at all, gave us twenty dollars off the price of a new battery and then fitted it for free. This friendliness is perhaps not an entirely Tasmanian exclusive fact, Australians all over the place were wonderfully welcoming and friendly, but it certainly started our Tasmanian trip off well.

So what is there to do in this land you wonder? Well, there are two major cities in Tasmania, the northerly Launceston, home of the Boags brewery, and Hobart, home of the Cascade brewery. More on Australian beer here.  These are both very pleasant cities, and as Tasmania was one of the first places to be settled (admittedly largely as a penal colony), many of the buildings are genuinely old. Which is quite a rare sight for much of Oz.

Rocks at the Bay of Fires

But the main draw of Tasmania is not in it’s cities, it’s in its outdoors, and over a third of  Tasmania is made of up parks, reserves and world heritage sites. The western and southern parts of the island are almost inaccessible, unless you are into long distance hiking or happen to have a helicopter to hand. Tasmania is the place where you can walk up that most iconic of Australian mountains, Cradle Mountain. The place where you can trek for six days on one of the worlds most celebrated walking tracks, the Overland Track. The place where the rocks are mysteriously red, in the incredibly picturesque Bay of Fires. The place where you can find the second tallest tree in the world (and seriously, a nearly 100 metre high tree is a sight to behold). The place where, unlike the rest of Australia, a 100km drive can take far more than an hour because the roads are designed in a manner that forces you to take your time and take in the views.

Sunset over Lagoon Beach

There is more. Tasmania just has some absolutely mesmerising scenery. Endless waterfalls. Beaches of white sand and sparkling blue sea and, unfortunately, water that is as cold as if it had come from the Antarctic. Which it most likely did.. Like the incredibly picturesque Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park. It has mountains galore to climb up, and giant cliffs like those at Cape Raoul to peer off. It has it’s own mythical creature, the Tasmanian tiger, sadly hunted to extinction (although rumours of the beast still existing continue to percolate) and it’s own rather scary carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian Devil. Star of it’s own TV show, no less. There are local arts and crafts galore. Homemade stuff practically oozes out of the seams of life here.

I will stop there before I explode with hyperbole or turn this blog into some kind of Tasmanian tourist board brochure. In summary though, Tasmania really is a fabulous place, with something to offer pretty much everyone, and it is therefore one of my absolute highlights of Australia. I would in fact go so far as to say that no trip to Australia is entirely complete without a stop over in Tassie. Just try to go in Summer if you can.

Highlights of Tasmania

Tasmanian wheat fieldFor a relaxing peaceful place, it’s hard to imagine somewhere nicer than Tasmania, or Tassie as it is affectionately known down under.

First off, a brief piece of geography. Tasmania is an island state, about half the size of England (not, I hasten to add, the UK) located 240km off the south coast of Australia. It was a part of Australia until as recently as 10,000 years ago, when the last ice age ended.

That was brief enough I think. Hopefully you have the image of Australia in your mind with the triangle shaped bit of Tasmania floating around at the bottom, separated by the bit of sea called the Bass Strait. And that bit of sea makes quite a lot of difference, because Tasmania feels almost entirely unlike Australia.

When we arrived in Tassie, via a rather exciting vehicle ferry experience, it was summer,  which I am reliably informed is about the best time to go because the weather for much of the rest of the time is not really suitable for a life under canvas. And it felt, having come from the Australia mainland, like we had floated back fifty years somehow. Gone were the highways and hustle and bustle of Melbourne, replaced by a land that seemed worryingly similar to Hobbiton. And we weren’t even in New Zealand. Rolling hills, roads barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other. Quaint villages dotted the rolling valleys, hand drawn signs on the roads advertised local produce. Corn literally swayed in the wind. If someone had drawn a picture postcard of an idyllic location, then we had somehow stepped into it.

Painted store front

Ok, this probably all seems a little bit over the top. And yes, our first actual encounter with life in Tasmania involved sitting in the McDonalds just next to the ferry port at 6am waiting for the nearest K-Mart to open so we could buy some jumper leads as our magnificent steed’s battery had given up the ghost entirely. But even that experience was pretty cool. The tourist information opened at 7am, and we were given careful advice as to which parts of the country sold the best cheese. The elderflower cheese, we were advised, was not worth trying. Then the K-Mart man took pity on our battery needs, and for no reason at all, gave us twenty dollars off the price of a new battery and then fitted it for free. This friendliness is perhaps not an entirely Tasmanian exclusive fact, Australians all over the place were wonderfully welcoming and friendly, but it certainly started our Tasmanian trip off well.

So what is there to do in this land you wonder? Well, there are two major cities in Tasmania, the northerly Launceston, home of the Boags brewery, and Hobart, home of the Cascade brewery. More on Australian beer here.  These are both very pleasant cities, and as Tasmania was one of the first places to be settled (admittedly largely as a penal colony), many of the buildings are genuinely old. Which is quite a rare sight for much of Oz.

Rocks at the Bay of Fires

But the main draw of Tasmania is not in it’s cities, it’s in its outdoors, and over a third of  Tasmania is made of up parks, reserves and world heritage sites. The western and southern parts of the island are almost inaccessible, unless you are into long distance hiking or happen to have a helicopter to hand. Tasmania is the place where you can walk up that most iconic of Australian mountains, Cradle Mountain. The place where you can trek for six days on one of the worlds most celebrated walking tracks, the Overland Track. The place where the rocks are mysteriously red, in the incredibly picturesque Bay of Fires. The place where you can find the second tallest tree in the world (and seriously, a nearly 100 metre high tree is a sight to behold). The place where, unlike the rest of Australia, a 100km drive can take far more than an hour because the roads are designed in a manner that forces you to take your time and take in the views.

Sunset over Lagoon Beach

There is more. Tasmania just has some absolutely mesmerising scenery. Endless waterfalls. Beaches of white sand and sparkling blue sea and, unfortunately, water that is as cold as if it had come from the Antarctic. Which it most likely did.. Like the incredibly picturesque Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park. It has mountains galore to climb up, and giant cliffs like those at Cape Raoul to peer off. It has it’s own mythical creature, the Tasmanian tiger, sadly hunted to extinction (although rumours of the beast still existing continue to percolate) and it’s own rather scary carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian Devil. Star of it’s own TV show, no less. There are local arts and crafts galore. Homemade stuff practically oozes out of the seams of life here.

I will stop there before I explode with hyperbole or turn this blog into some kind of Tasmanian tourist board brochure. In summary though, Tasmania really is a fabulous place, with something to offer pretty much everyone, and it is therefore one of my absolute highlights of Australia. I would in fact go so far as to say that no trip to Australia is entirely complete without a stop over in Tassie. Just try to go in Summer if you can.

Read More

Australian Day Hike Clouds on Mount Bogong

Europe is continuing to astound with its ongoing comedic definition of summer, which whilst being bad news for me and my desires to explore more mountains, may be good news for you in that I can continue on from yesterdays post on the Northern Territory, and talk further about parts of my trip around Australia. Today, some mountains, and walking on them.

Three Must-Do Australian Day Hikes

Australian Day Hike Clouds on Mount Bogong

Europe is continuing to astound with its ongoing comedic definition of summer, which whilst being bad news for me and my desires to explore more mountains, may be good news for you in that I can continue on from yesterdays post on the Northern Territory, and talk further about parts of my trip around Australia. Today, some mountains, and walking on them.

Read More

NT Tree Well, the dreams of a glorious summer in Europe have slightly faded this week, and been replaced by a rather wet and grey summer in Europe. I’m sure this will pick up, but since it is raining, there isn’t a whole lot of exploring to be done, so I will instead wax lyrically about some of the parts of Australia I visited on my trip. .

I am often asked which parts of my trip were my favourite, and this is a tricky one to answer. A 60,000km road trip lasting a year is going to have a lot of highlights. But invariably I find my mind being cast back to the few months spent in the Northern Territory.

Some quick facts for you. At around 1.3million square kilometres, the Northern Territory is over five times the size of the UK. But it only has two hundred and twenty seven thousand inhabitants. In other words, there is a lot of space. Admittedly a lot of this space is taken up by vast swathes of empty nothing, the classic scorched earth outback that you would imagine or remember from films like Crocodile Dundee. And key scenes from that film were indeed filmed in the Northern Territory, mostly in the Kakadu National Park. A further bit of scale for you, Kakadu National Park, one of seventeen major parks in the Northern Territory, is the same size as Slovenia. The idea here being that Australia is a big old place.

IMG_7323

So why was this giant bit of largely nothing counted amongst my highlights?  Well, this was the part of the trip that really showcased the sort of Australia that I had always imagined existed. The red earth accompanied by the scrubland of the bush extending forever. Giant eagles soaring in an endlessly vast and otherwise seemingly empty sky. The roads that you could drive on for six hundred kilometres, passing only a road train and some rather squished looking roos. The way that, in the dry season at least, clouds became mythical creatures, beings that you rarely saw. The fact that if you didn’t plan your food shopping correctly, you would end up on a 1000km round trip just to do a bit of re-stocking.

It is rare to find so much vaguely accessible wilderness in the world today. All you need is a fairly decent four wheel drive, a good set of provisions and a slightly gung ho attitude, and you can go and get seriously far away from everything and everyone. Apart from the flies it should be mentioned. Those follow you everywhere. Bring a fly net.

IMG_6540

The other major highlight of the Northern Territory were the quite frankly awesome waterholes. As most of the rivers are filled up with five metre long man eating crocodiles, swimming is not generally seen as a viable option, which is often a pity as it is a rather fine way to relieve oneself of the grime and sweat accumulated from the outback lifestyle. Luckily, crocodiles aren’t so  good at climbing up waterfalls, so there are spots all over the place where you can get a refreshing dip in a beautiful rock pool without fear of being eaten alive. Kakadu National Park has more than it’s fair share of these, from the rockpool under the mighty 200m high Jim Jim falls, to the more serene Maguk falls, to the large pool at Gunlom, which incidentally, was the scene of the fish catching incident of Dundee fame. And nearly all of the other National Parks are as beautiful, and slightly less crowded (if that word can be used), than Kakadu.

IMG_6430

If four wheel driving is more your thing, then the northern territory has that in spades. This was where we cut our teeth on river crossings, boulder descents, mud driving, sand driving, winch rescue… well, all the good stuff really. It was also, I should point out, where we wrecked our rear differential, imploded our radiator and became experts at tyre changing. We also streamlined the vehicle somewhat, all that stuff that sticks off the side of a truck being mostly just fodder for the trees to rip apart (wing mirrors anyone?). Learning, it turns out, can be an expensive process.

So, those are my memories of the Northern Territory. There was a lot of driving, a lot of swimming, a fair bit of time spent in that oh so wonderful of Australian establishments, the roadhouse (think service station cum pub full of rough and ready outback characters), a lot of camping under the stars and generally enjoying life. And I've not even mentioned Uluru, Alice Springs… I could go on and on. But I will save all that, and talk of my other favourite parts, including Tasmania and Western Australia, for another post and another rainy European day.

Memories of Oz: The NT

NT Tree Well, the dreams of a glorious summer in Europe have slightly faded this week, and been replaced by a rather wet and grey summer in Europe. I’m sure this will pick up, but since it is raining, there isn’t a whole lot of exploring to be done, so I will instead wax lyrically about some of the parts of Australia I visited on my trip. .

I am often asked which parts of my trip were my favourite, and this is a tricky one to answer. A 60,000km road trip lasting a year is going to have a lot of highlights. But invariably I find my mind being cast back to the few months spent in the Northern Territory.

Some quick facts for you. At around 1.3million square kilometres, the Northern Territory is over five times the size of the UK. But it only has two hundred and twenty seven thousand inhabitants. In other words, there is a lot of space. Admittedly a lot of this space is taken up by vast swathes of empty nothing, the classic scorched earth outback that you would imagine or remember from films like Crocodile Dundee. And key scenes from that film were indeed filmed in the Northern Territory, mostly in the Kakadu National Park. A further bit of scale for you, Kakadu National Park, one of seventeen major parks in the Northern Territory, is the same size as Slovenia. The idea here being that Australia is a big old place.

IMG_7323

So why was this giant bit of largely nothing counted amongst my highlights?  Well, this was the part of the trip that really showcased the sort of Australia that I had always imagined existed. The red earth accompanied by the scrubland of the bush extending forever. Giant eagles soaring in an endlessly vast and otherwise seemingly empty sky. The roads that you could drive on for six hundred kilometres, passing only a road train and some rather squished looking roos. The way that, in the dry season at least, clouds became mythical creatures, beings that you rarely saw. The fact that if you didn’t plan your food shopping correctly, you would end up on a 1000km round trip just to do a bit of re-stocking.

It is rare to find so much vaguely accessible wilderness in the world today. All you need is a fairly decent four wheel drive, a good set of provisions and a slightly gung ho attitude, and you can go and get seriously far away from everything and everyone. Apart from the flies it should be mentioned. Those follow you everywhere. Bring a fly net.

IMG_6540

The other major highlight of the Northern Territory were the quite frankly awesome waterholes. As most of the rivers are filled up with five metre long man eating crocodiles, swimming is not generally seen as a viable option, which is often a pity as it is a rather fine way to relieve oneself of the grime and sweat accumulated from the outback lifestyle. Luckily, crocodiles aren’t so  good at climbing up waterfalls, so there are spots all over the place where you can get a refreshing dip in a beautiful rock pool without fear of being eaten alive. Kakadu National Park has more than it’s fair share of these, from the rockpool under the mighty 200m high Jim Jim falls, to the more serene Maguk falls, to the large pool at Gunlom, which incidentally, was the scene of the fish catching incident of Dundee fame. And nearly all of the other National Parks are as beautiful, and slightly less crowded (if that word can be used), than Kakadu.

IMG_6430

If four wheel driving is more your thing, then the northern territory has that in spades. This was where we cut our teeth on river crossings, boulder descents, mud driving, sand driving, winch rescue… well, all the good stuff really. It was also, I should point out, where we wrecked our rear differential, imploded our radiator and became experts at tyre changing. We also streamlined the vehicle somewhat, all that stuff that sticks off the side of a truck being mostly just fodder for the trees to rip apart (wing mirrors anyone?). Learning, it turns out, can be an expensive process.

So, those are my memories of the Northern Territory. There was a lot of driving, a lot of swimming, a fair bit of time spent in that oh so wonderful of Australian establishments, the roadhouse (think service station cum pub full of rough and ready outback characters), a lot of camping under the stars and generally enjoying life. And I've not even mentioned Uluru, Alice Springs… I could go on and on. But I will save all that, and talk of my other favourite parts, including Tasmania and Western Australia, for another post and another rainy European day.

Read More

VB Even though I’ve now been in Germany for nearly a month, I do not believe that sufficient research has been undertaken yet to warrant an entry on the fine beer based beverages of this country. I know that kolsch is the local beer from Cologne, and that beer is exceptionally cheap, but perhaps the fact of the latter has restricted serious scientific research into the substance itself. So instead I will witter at you about something I did learn about on my trip around Australia, that being Australian beer.

In the UK, if you talk about Australian beer, probably only two beers will come to mind. First, Fosters, and second, Castlemaine XXXX.

The four X is a well known beer over in Oz, particularly in Queensland, although it is mostly drunk in the XXXX Gold variety, which is a mid strength lower carb beer. Fosters, on the other hand, as it is sold in the UK, is nigh on impossible to find. The company, Fosters, are responsible for brewing a large number of Australian beers, but the actual Fosters Lager as enjoyed (well, drunk at least) worldwide isn’t a common drink in it’s native land.

Some Australian beer trivia for you before the actual beer itself. Beer, when sold by the 24 pack of cans, or small glass bottles known as stubbies, is referred to as a slab. When enjoying your beverage, most people would employ a stubby holder, a sort of neoprene wetsuit for your beer that stops your hand from warming your beer unnecessarily, and your beer from cooling your hand in a vexing manner. Low carb beer is increasingly popular in Australia, with all the major beers available in a low carb option.

Enough with the beer trivia already. What beer does one actually drink in Australia? Naturally, this depends on the state you are in. The most popular (and depending on where you are, looked down upon) beer is Victoria Bitter. This is brewed by Fosters, and there are some definite similarities in the logo. It is estimated that a slab a second of this product is sold in Australia. Some people swear by it, to others it is the equivalent of Carling (an upstanding British lager to some… to others.. you get the point).

The various states therefore have their own foibles. In Western Australia a brand of beer known as Emu is popular. We couldn’t find Emu anywhere else in Australia, and to be fair, most Western Australian inhabitants looked at us a bit strangely when we cracked open the tins of Emu Export. Still, it was drinkable. If it’s not Emu then it is Swan. Both are brewed at the same brewery.

Queenslanders are big fans of the aforementioned XXXX Gold, which is usually just referred to as Gold. New South Wales is the home of Tooheys, who make the antlered beer known as Tooheys New (first brewed in 1930, but renamed to New in the eighties.) Victoria is obviously the home of that fine beverage, Victoria Bitter, one of the only beers to achieve wide spread Australian penetration. Victorians also enjoy a tipple or two of Carlton Draught.

South Australia is the home of my favourite Australian brewery, Coopers, maker of a variety of fine bottle matured beers, and the only family owned brewery left in Australia, the rest now being owned by either Fosters or Lion Nathan. The most intriguing, and almost guaranteed to give you a hangover, of the Coopers bottled beer, is the CoopersCoopers_Sparkling_Ale Sparkling Ale, which has to be one of my all time favourite beers. Coming with a spangly red top and red label, and an exciting sediment due to the bottle maturing process, this fine beer weighs in at a brain melting 5.8%. Not to be taken lightly.

The Northern Territory doesn’t appear to have too much of a preference for one beer over another, often VB is the beer of choice. Instead they are famous for the Northern Territory stubby, a beer bottle that hold two litres of beer. After all, who cares about the beer in the bottle when the bottle has two litres of beer in it. Right? I thought so.

Finally, in terms of beer drunk where, perhaps the most interesting beer divide occurs on the island of Tasmania. In the North of the state one drinks Boags, brewed in the town of Launceston at the North of the island. In the South, you drink Cascade, brewed in Hobart, at the South end of the island. Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia, although the company is now owned by, you guessed it, Fosters. There is a line at which point one stops drinking the beer from the other end of the island. Across this line you shall not tread.

That was a brief tour of what beer you could expect to find where in Australia. But the story doesn’t end there. Now you need to be able to order the beer, and it’s not as simple as just meandering into a pub and asking for a pint (well, ok, it is. But there is more to it.)

Most beer in Australia is not drunk by the pint. When you’re in the outback at a roadhouse (think service station filled with cowboys) you’re more likely than not to be presented with either a stubby or a can. You would be wise to take along your own stubby holder. In pubs, and depending on where you are, beer comes in either half pint, two third pint, or pint glasses. Naturally, these are not referred to as halves and two thirds, that would be much too easy. In the majority of Australia, a half pint is called either a middy or a pot. Except in South Australia, where it’s called a schooner. And two thirds of a pint is referred to mostly everywhere as a schooner, except in South Australia, where confusingly it’s called a pint. Luckily, a pint is pretty much a pint everywhere, although you could try and confuse South Australian bar tenders by ordering an imperial pint. At your own risk, I hasten to add.

The schooner is actually a pretty clever idea for a beer glass. You don’t end up with that annoying last few mouthfuls of warm beer from the pint sitting around (unless you drink quickly that is). And you can drink more of them, making larger rounds a more feasible idea. Cheers all round.

So, Australian beer, a brief study, a years worth of adventure wrapped up in a nice cold refreshing blog entry. Oh, one last thing. Nearly every bottled beer in Australia comes with a twist cap. No more fiddling around trying to find a bottle opener or trying to work out how to open a beer with a lighter. Excellent work my Antipodean friends, any innovation that gets me to my beer faster is a winner..

Australian beer

VB Even though I’ve now been in Germany for nearly a month, I do not believe that sufficient research has been undertaken yet to warrant an entry on the fine beer based beverages of this country. I know that kolsch is the local beer from Cologne, and that beer is exceptionally cheap, but perhaps the fact of the latter has restricted serious scientific research into the substance itself. So instead I will witter at you about something I did learn about on my trip around Australia, that being Australian beer.

In the UK, if you talk about Australian beer, probably only two beers will come to mind. First, Fosters, and second, Castlemaine XXXX.

The four X is a well known beer over in Oz, particularly in Queensland, although it is mostly drunk in the XXXX Gold variety, which is a mid strength lower carb beer. Fosters, on the other hand, as it is sold in the UK, is nigh on impossible to find. The company, Fosters, are responsible for brewing a large number of Australian beers, but the actual Fosters Lager as enjoyed (well, drunk at least) worldwide isn’t a common drink in it’s native land.

Some Australian beer trivia for you before the actual beer itself. Beer, when sold by the 24 pack of cans, or small glass bottles known as stubbies, is referred to as a slab. When enjoying your beverage, most people would employ a stubby holder, a sort of neoprene wetsuit for your beer that stops your hand from warming your beer unnecessarily, and your beer from cooling your hand in a vexing manner. Low carb beer is increasingly popular in Australia, with all the major beers available in a low carb option.

Enough with the beer trivia already. What beer does one actually drink in Australia? Naturally, this depends on the state you are in. The most popular (and depending on where you are, looked down upon) beer is Victoria Bitter. This is brewed by Fosters, and there are some definite similarities in the logo. It is estimated that a slab a second of this product is sold in Australia. Some people swear by it, to others it is the equivalent of Carling (an upstanding British lager to some… to others.. you get the point).

The various states therefore have their own foibles. In Western Australia a brand of beer known as Emu is popular. We couldn’t find Emu anywhere else in Australia, and to be fair, most Western Australian inhabitants looked at us a bit strangely when we cracked open the tins of Emu Export. Still, it was drinkable. If it’s not Emu then it is Swan. Both are brewed at the same brewery.

Queenslanders are big fans of the aforementioned XXXX Gold, which is usually just referred to as Gold. New South Wales is the home of Tooheys, who make the antlered beer known as Tooheys New (first brewed in 1930, but renamed to New in the eighties.) Victoria is obviously the home of that fine beverage, Victoria Bitter, one of the only beers to achieve wide spread Australian penetration. Victorians also enjoy a tipple or two of Carlton Draught.

South Australia is the home of my favourite Australian brewery, Coopers, maker of a variety of fine bottle matured beers, and the only family owned brewery left in Australia, the rest now being owned by either Fosters or Lion Nathan. The most intriguing, and almost guaranteed to give you a hangover, of the Coopers bottled beer, is the CoopersCoopers_Sparkling_Ale Sparkling Ale, which has to be one of my all time favourite beers. Coming with a spangly red top and red label, and an exciting sediment due to the bottle maturing process, this fine beer weighs in at a brain melting 5.8%. Not to be taken lightly.

The Northern Territory doesn’t appear to have too much of a preference for one beer over another, often VB is the beer of choice. Instead they are famous for the Northern Territory stubby, a beer bottle that hold two litres of beer. After all, who cares about the beer in the bottle when the bottle has two litres of beer in it. Right? I thought so.

Finally, in terms of beer drunk where, perhaps the most interesting beer divide occurs on the island of Tasmania. In the North of the state one drinks Boags, brewed in the town of Launceston at the North of the island. In the South, you drink Cascade, brewed in Hobart, at the South end of the island. Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia, although the company is now owned by, you guessed it, Fosters. There is a line at which point one stops drinking the beer from the other end of the island. Across this line you shall not tread.

That was a brief tour of what beer you could expect to find where in Australia. But the story doesn’t end there. Now you need to be able to order the beer, and it’s not as simple as just meandering into a pub and asking for a pint (well, ok, it is. But there is more to it.)

Most beer in Australia is not drunk by the pint. When you’re in the outback at a roadhouse (think service station filled with cowboys) you’re more likely than not to be presented with either a stubby or a can. You would be wise to take along your own stubby holder. In pubs, and depending on where you are, beer comes in either half pint, two third pint, or pint glasses. Naturally, these are not referred to as halves and two thirds, that would be much too easy. In the majority of Australia, a half pint is called either a middy or a pot. Except in South Australia, where it’s called a schooner. And two thirds of a pint is referred to mostly everywhere as a schooner, except in South Australia, where confusingly it’s called a pint. Luckily, a pint is pretty much a pint everywhere, although you could try and confuse South Australian bar tenders by ordering an imperial pint. At your own risk, I hasten to add.

The schooner is actually a pretty clever idea for a beer glass. You don’t end up with that annoying last few mouthfuls of warm beer from the pint sitting around (unless you drink quickly that is). And you can drink more of them, making larger rounds a more feasible idea. Cheers all round.

So, Australian beer, a brief study, a years worth of adventure wrapped up in a nice cold refreshing blog entry. Oh, one last thing. Nearly every bottled beer in Australia comes with a twist cap. No more fiddling around trying to find a bottle opener or trying to work out how to open a beer with a lighter. Excellent work my Antipodean friends, any innovation that gets me to my beer faster is a winner..

Read More

IMG_7365 After a year of travelling around Australia, I thought I’d share some of the things that I learnt over there that may be of interest.

Firstly, Australia is pretty big. Ok, this shouldn’t really have come as a huge surprise, but the scale is a little bit more mind boggling than I had anticipated. You could happily fit England into Australia fifty eight times. If you wanted to that is. In a year, we drove 60,000km, which is about 1.5 times around the world. So yes, pretty big.

A lot of Australians are on the road a lot of the time. I mean, the country is so big, why not? Instead of retiring gracefully, heading into a retirement home and leaving everything to the kids, as parents are supposed to do, a whole bunch of Australians get to a certain age, sell everything they own, buy some form of camping vehicle and hit the road, doing laps of the country. Often multiple laps. There are up to 100,000 of these folks on the road somewhere in Australia at any one time, so many in fact that they even have their own name, the Grey Nomad.

Australians have their own slang. Again, not a huge surprise, but it’s handy to know what people are talking about. Ice boxes are eskies. Beer is held in stubby holders, an ingenious device made out of neoprene that holds your can or “stubby” bottle, keeping it insulated and stopping the heat from your hand warming it up.

The Australian version of Crocodile Dundee actually differs from the international Red sand and sea - Francois Perron National Park - Western Australia - Australia version as it includes Australian slang. Not that many people actually say fair dinkum in real life, sadly.

Prawns are not as regular a feature on barbeques as you may hope. Steak is. McDonalds is the most ubiquitous fast food chain, Burger King is known as Hungry Jacks. Pizza Hut doesn’t get so much of a look in, KFC is fairly popular. Small businesses are all over the place, with the exception of some large brands, and Australian brands and home made products are really popular.

People are friendly, and not afraid of speaking their mind, or, “taking the piss”. Usually it’s good humoured. So if someone thinks I look like a clown from a travelling circus because I have dreadlocks, they’ll happily tell me. This did happen. I wasn’t sure how to respond. There is a national joke involving drop bears.

Fuel is cheap compared to Europe. It it wasn’t, no-one could afford to travel the distances involved in going anywhere. Tobacco is expensive. Food is roughly the same, portions, particularly in road houses where truckers stop to refuel, are insanely large. Internal flights are remarkably cheap and regular.

Wolfe Creek is a very very long way from anywhere, and is not as scary as the film would make it out to be. Any would be axe murderer would have to be fairly committed to travelling a long long way to get you.

Australian currency is the dollar and cent. Sensibly, they abolished the one and two cent coin, so the smallest denomination you get is the five cent coin. When paying cash, everything is therefore rounded to the nearest five cents. Sometimes this saves you a couple of cents, sometimes it costs more. It’s not the end of the world, compared to pockets full of shrapnel.

It isn’t sunny all the time, which confused the Brit in me, who thought Australia was the land of endless blue skies. Admittedly we arrived at the end of a seven year drought in the middle of Winter (some basic weather research could have helped here) and it rained a lot more than anyone had expected, but still. In Winter, which happens confusingly in June for those of us from the Northern Hemisphere, the southern states get positively chilly. We’re talking hats, gloves and fleeces, although not necessarily thermals, unless you’re camping in the mountains in the snow.

Tree in the outback - Northern Territory - AustraliaVauxhall is called Holden. You either like Holden’s or Ford’s. I’m not sure why this is, but the rivalry is pretty intense. If you read a magazine interview with a celebrity, this always seems to come up.

Life is relaxed. If you’re under 30, and from an eligible country, you can visit for a year on a working holiday visa. If you do three months of eligible work (mostly pretty hard manual agricultural labour), you can extend this visa by another year.

The country is divided into states, and slightly confusingly, territories. There are six states and two territories. Each has different laws, which is a bit strange, particularly when it comes to speed limits. In the Northern Territory, road speed limits were only introduced relatively recently. I imagine it used to be fun being overtaken by 57 metre long road trains in excess of 130km/h, which is the current speed limit.

Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world. Road kill featuring camels is fairly surreal.

There is more, of course. It will follow.

Thoughts on travelling in Australia

IMG_7365 After a year of travelling around Australia, I thought I’d share some of the things that I learnt over there that may be of interest.

Firstly, Australia is pretty big. Ok, this shouldn’t really have come as a huge surprise, but the scale is a little bit more mind boggling than I had anticipated. You could happily fit England into Australia fifty eight times. If you wanted to that is. In a year, we drove 60,000km, which is about 1.5 times around the world. So yes, pretty big.

A lot of Australians are on the road a lot of the time. I mean, the country is so big, why not? Instead of retiring gracefully, heading into a retirement home and leaving everything to the kids, as parents are supposed to do, a whole bunch of Australians get to a certain age, sell everything they own, buy some form of camping vehicle and hit the road, doing laps of the country. Often multiple laps. There are up to 100,000 of these folks on the road somewhere in Australia at any one time, so many in fact that they even have their own name, the Grey Nomad.

Australians have their own slang. Again, not a huge surprise, but it’s handy to know what people are talking about. Ice boxes are eskies. Beer is held in stubby holders, an ingenious device made out of neoprene that holds your can or “stubby” bottle, keeping it insulated and stopping the heat from your hand warming it up.

The Australian version of Crocodile Dundee actually differs from the international Red sand and sea - Francois Perron National Park - Western Australia - Australia version as it includes Australian slang. Not that many people actually say fair dinkum in real life, sadly.

Prawns are not as regular a feature on barbeques as you may hope. Steak is. McDonalds is the most ubiquitous fast food chain, Burger King is known as Hungry Jacks. Pizza Hut doesn’t get so much of a look in, KFC is fairly popular. Small businesses are all over the place, with the exception of some large brands, and Australian brands and home made products are really popular.

People are friendly, and not afraid of speaking their mind, or, “taking the piss”. Usually it’s good humoured. So if someone thinks I look like a clown from a travelling circus because I have dreadlocks, they’ll happily tell me. This did happen. I wasn’t sure how to respond. There is a national joke involving drop bears.

Fuel is cheap compared to Europe. It it wasn’t, no-one could afford to travel the distances involved in going anywhere. Tobacco is expensive. Food is roughly the same, portions, particularly in road houses where truckers stop to refuel, are insanely large. Internal flights are remarkably cheap and regular.

Wolfe Creek is a very very long way from anywhere, and is not as scary as the film would make it out to be. Any would be axe murderer would have to be fairly committed to travelling a long long way to get you.

Australian currency is the dollar and cent. Sensibly, they abolished the one and two cent coin, so the smallest denomination you get is the five cent coin. When paying cash, everything is therefore rounded to the nearest five cents. Sometimes this saves you a couple of cents, sometimes it costs more. It’s not the end of the world, compared to pockets full of shrapnel.

It isn’t sunny all the time, which confused the Brit in me, who thought Australia was the land of endless blue skies. Admittedly we arrived at the end of a seven year drought in the middle of Winter (some basic weather research could have helped here) and it rained a lot more than anyone had expected, but still. In Winter, which happens confusingly in June for those of us from the Northern Hemisphere, the southern states get positively chilly. We’re talking hats, gloves and fleeces, although not necessarily thermals, unless you’re camping in the mountains in the snow.

Tree in the outback - Northern Territory - AustraliaVauxhall is called Holden. You either like Holden’s or Ford’s. I’m not sure why this is, but the rivalry is pretty intense. If you read a magazine interview with a celebrity, this always seems to come up.

Life is relaxed. If you’re under 30, and from an eligible country, you can visit for a year on a working holiday visa. If you do three months of eligible work (mostly pretty hard manual agricultural labour), you can extend this visa by another year.

The country is divided into states, and slightly confusingly, territories. There are six states and two territories. Each has different laws, which is a bit strange, particularly when it comes to speed limits. In the Northern Territory, road speed limits were only introduced relatively recently. I imagine it used to be fun being overtaken by 57 metre long road trains in excess of 130km/h, which is the current speed limit.

Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world. Road kill featuring camels is fairly surreal.

There is more, of course. It will follow.

Read More