The (Painful) Cost of Travel in Australia (how to make it work!)

The cost of travel in Australia seems to be getting higher by the second.

It’s crazy!

Sure it’s unique and beautiful and a dream destination for many people, but it’s no secret Australia is also a premium destination that comes with a price tag of being one of the most expensive places to visit.

But you probably already know that because you tell us all the time.

Constantly we hear from you guys, other Australians and foreigners we meet traveling on the road, or friends complaining about the cost of travel in Australia.

Whether it’s the cost of accommodation, food, tours, car rental, fuel, parking fees or our shitty internet that is expensive with crap coverage, I’m sick of hearing myself complain.

I’ve understood for years why many Australian families head to the pacific islands like Fiji, or to Bali and Thailand in Asia for their annual holidays.

We had several conversations with families in Perth who THINK about visiting Broome, or the wonders of Exmouth or Coral Bay – three of our favourite places in Australia to visit – but when they price it out it’s just cheaper and easier for them to fly to Bali.

It’s a shame because Australia travel is amazing, but you can only do what you can do financially.

Even with the cost of flights in Australia, you can get better value overseas!

They say why pay $75 for a one-hour massage in Australia when you can pay $8?

Why pay $12 for a beer when you can pay $3? Why pay $120 to eat out as a family when you can pay $40? And why pay $400 per night for your resort accommodation when you can pay $150?

When you go away on holidays the last thing you want is to be counting every dollar. And you certainly don’t want to return home with a hefty credit card bill.

You’ve saved up for a year to enjoy your dream trip, you don’t want to be paying for it for another year once you return home!

As we continued our road trip around Australia, we saw on a daily basis the cost of travel in Australia and often go into a state of shock. And I grew up in this country.

If you’re coming from Southeast Asia, or even the States, then you might just faint.

What happened to our best accommodation option in Australia?

Caravan Parks used to offer the best value in town, now I’m not so sure.

We’ve been charged $60 per night to pitch our tent on a patch of grass. Part of that fee was $12 per night for our 2 year old. We were in Narooma on the NSW south coast. No offense Narooma, but you’re not the Gold Coast, or Byron Bay!

Here it is:

Norooma, NSW, Australia
Our $60 per night tent site in Narooma.

As for cabins in caravan parks, 2-bed cabins can go for $350 per night, and 3-4 bed villas up to $600 – it’s insane!

High accommodation prices in Australia are just the start

Accommodation in Australia will be one of your biggest expenses, but it doesn’t end there.

When we first went out to a pub in Melbourne, I coughed my beer straight back up into my pint glass when I realized I’d been stung $12.

The other day, I nearly fell over when I saw a paddle pop (a popsicle) for sale for $6 in the Daintree National Park. One paddle pop for 6 bucks. I don’t care if it was homemade, it’s a PADDLE POP.

I nearly choked on my food when I found out a club sandwich cost $26 at a cafe we were at in Sorrento, Victoria. I get that it was in Sorrento, but I was sitting on a plastic chair on the footpath in the main street (no water view or breeze blowing through my hair) and it’s a CLUB SANDWICH.

When I mentioned this horror on our Facebook page someone said “If you think that’s bad, what till you get to Perth”. Oh, and I’ve since heard it costs $13 for one Corona at the Cottesloe Hotel, really??!

Enough of my Ranting about the cost of travel in Australia!

Ok, I’ve got that off my chest now and this post is not intended for me to just rant.

But after promoting all the good points about Australia over the past 10 months on the road, make that the past four years since our travel blog has been up and running, I need to keep it real and bring some reality to the table and talk about one of the cons of Australia travel – the cost.

Now if you keep reading below I hope you’ll get real some value out of this post and learn something, and maybe even save a few bucks on your next trip to Australia.

The Cost of Travel in Australia content guide:

Click to jump ahead to any relevant topics for you, or just keep reading and scrolling to find out more about the cost of travel in Australia:

The Cost of Travel in Australia

So is it really that bad? Maybe you can tell me?

The rest of this post I’m going to role play a little with you. I’m going to act like your travel agent and show you how I book travel in Australia, the websites we use, and current examples of prices.

I’ve gone through almost every facet of travel and priced things out like I was planning a trip.

I hope you find this useful and it helps you to get your head around thinking on Australian terms now, and not Asian, American or Eastern European prices.

Please Note:

I did the research for all of these flight deals two years ago so prices and availability will vary, use them as a guide only.

Cost of Flights in Australia

Depending on the time of year and day of the week the cost of flights to Australia will vary greatly just as they do in any country.

The Criteria:

For my first example, I researched one of the most popular flights on the network, the Sydney –> Melbourne route.

  • 1hr 30min flight
  • Return ticket
  • Booked 5 weeks in advance
  • Depart Sat Aug 2nd, return Wed Aug 6th (3 days in Melbourne)

I ran this scenario through my favourite flight search engines. Best price I got at the time was:

How does this price compare with a 90 minute return flight in your country?

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The second example I used was another popular flight from Sydney –> Cairns, you’ve gotta visit the Great Barrier Reef right?

  • 3 hour flight
  • One way ticket
  • Booked 5 weeks in advance
  • Depart Aug 2nd

Best price I found was:

Note: I’ve never flown with Tiger Air and given their past history of maintenance and financial issues I’m not sure I ever will. Personally I would go with the Virgin Australia or Jetstar price.

How does this price compare with a 3 hour one-way flight in your country?

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When searching flights in Australia I always start with these sites:

My strategy is to check the above search engines first, then I cross-check the prices with the actual airline with who I found the best price. Sometimes the best deals can be from the airlines themselves.

The major carriers flying domestic in Australia are:

Cost of Accommodation in Australia

Your other major travel cost in Australia will be accommodation. This will also vary greatly depending on whether you need 1 or 5 stars, your date of travel, the city, and number of persons your travelling with.

Cost of Hotels in Australia

We don’t stay in hotels nearly as much as we used to pre-kids unless it’s a short city stay and we can get a great deal in a good location, with breakfast and free wifi included.

For my research on a hotel stay I used the following criteria:

  • Sydney
  • 3 night stay
  • Check in Monday Aug 4th
  • 4 guests (2 adults / 2 kids)

With so many things to do in Sydney it deserves at least 3 nights and in the City Centre would be your best bet.

I started by using one of my favourite sites for hotel deals, Hotwire. This site doesn’t tell you the name of the hotel until you book, instead, it gives you a zone to choose from based on how many stars.

For a 3-star hotel in the City Centre it quoted: 2 hotels at $257 total for 3 night stay.

For a 4-star hotel it quoted: 6 hotels at $407 total for 3 night stay.

How does that compare to your city?

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My other hotel booking site is Hotels.com. For a 3-star hotel in the City Centre prices ranged from $197 – $307.

And for a 4-star from $334 – $444.

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Cost of Apartments in Australia

As a family of four we seek out apartment stays. Most hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. We enjoy having more space, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.

Using the same criteria as for the hotel stay I used these sites:

Stayz.com.au – this is a good holiday rental site in Australia for finding short or long-term deals in apartments, peoples homes, units, cabins and more.

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Tripping.com – this is a site that compares all the other rental sites at once to get you the best deal. For the 3 night stay in Sydney I got 333 results. Here’s an example:

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AirBnB  – they have a growing list of inventory in Australia whether you need an apartment for a night, or a home for a month.

For the 3 night stay in Sydney I focused on the inner city neighbourhoods of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Woolloomooloo area and got these examples:

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And for Bondi Beach I got 33 rentals and this is a selection of those results:

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Cost of Hostels in Australia

Hostels are a great budget option with various standards and facilities from hostel to hostel around the country.

For my Sydney search on the various hostel search sites I got 71 results for those same dates in August, and in an 8-bed dorm beds starting from $20.

We had a partnership with YHA Australia as are our exclusive hostel provider as we travelled around Australia. We’ve stayed in YHA properties for many years because as a family of 4 we’re DONE with dorm rooms and YHA is a brand we like and trust and 99% of the time they are not party hostels.

For those dates in Sydney I got $35 for an 8 bed dorm to $136 for a family room.

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The Cost of Caravanning & Camping in Australia

For many people who live in Australia or travel Australia long-term, the Australia road trip involving caravanning and camping is their preferred option.

There’s a great network of facilities in most places, and they either buy or rent their equipment.

Again, depending on the time of year, location and number of persons camping prices will vary wildly.

As we are currently traveling around Australia towing a camper trailer, prices for a powered site in a caravan park have ranged from $50 – $70 per night. For an unpowered site from $25 – $40.

Before we had our camper trailer we did some camping and prices within caravan parks for us as a family of 4 ranged greatly from $30 – $60.

  • Big4 Caravan Parks is the major player. They can be the most expensive caravan parks in Australia, but typically have the best facilities, especially for our kids with things like playgrounds, pools, movie nights, kids clubs etc.
  • Top Tourist Caravan Parks is the other major player with a similar concept to Big4 but not quite as many parks in their network.
  • Free Camping in Australia is possible at designated camping sites in many locations. They just don’t have the facilities that paid parks have. Check out ExploreAustralia.net.au
  • WikiCamps is a great app we’ve just discovered which has a user-generated database of caravan parks and campsites  in Australia with user reviews on the features.

The Cost of Getting around Australia

Local transport varies from city to city but Melbourne probably has the best with an extensive network of rail, bus, tram and ferries.

A 10 minute taxi ride from the airport in any city to your hotel is will cost you about $40.

Unless you’re just flying into Sydney or Melbourne for a few days and using public transport you’ll need your own wheels to get out and see the country.

The Cost of Car Rental in Australia

RentalCars.com is where we start our rental search.

This site compares all the major car rental sites at once and displays your best options for the dates and locations you desire then sends you to the particular car company to make the booking (much like Kayak for flights).

Buying a Car in Australia

If your planning on spending a long period of time in Australia and want to buy a car you can spend as much as you want. Check out the websites below.

Hot Tip: if you buy a camper trailer like us or a campervan try and resell it in the north or west of the country as you’ll get a higher sales price.

The cost of fuel in Australia:

The cost of unleaded fuel is about $1.55 per litre on a national average. We’re currently paying $1.60 per litre for diesel here in North Queensland.

The Cost of Campervan Rental in Australia

Another option is to rent a campervan (motorhome) which becomes your wheels and your bed all in one. This is another popular option that we see a lot on the road and people staying in caravan parks.

For my example I used this criteria:

  • 3 week rental
  • Pick up Sydney, drop off Cairns
  • 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids)
  • From Nov 3rd

The best prices and the biggest inventory seemed to be from ApolloCamper.com.au which started at $2,542 ($115 per day) for a 4 birth.

Other sites to check out include:

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For the backpackers or couples, I used the following sites:

Jucy seemed to have the better daily rate starting from $60.

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The Cost of Bus Travel in Australia

Of course, there are the public bus systems within each major city and regional areas, but the two main national carriers are Greyhound and OzExperience.

They both operate around the hop-on-hop-off system and have different passes depending on length of trip and areas covered.

For this example, I used the popular Melbourne –> Cairns route.

  • Greyhound have a mini traveller pass for $555. you can travel between Melbourne and Cairns, hop on and off as many times as you want between these two destinations.
  • OzExperience has a Skippy Pass for $859 with 4 additional tour inclusions.

The Cost of Train Travel in Australia

There are a couple of famous train routes throughout the country.

One is the Ghan which travels from Adelaide via Alice Springs to Darwin (2,979 km’s) and takes 2 nights. Prices in November for one adult siting in a seat started from $499.

The other train journey is the Indian Pacific from Sydney via Adelaide to Perth (4,352km’s) and takes 3 nights. Prices in November for one adult in a single cabin started from $2,239.

These rail journeys are more scenic routes and won’t save you money, or get you to your destination in a hurry!

Check out RailAustralia.com.au

The Cost of Food and Drink in Australia

Cafes & Restaurants

Eating out too often on your travels in Australia can really take a BITE out of your budget (pardon the pun).

For us to eat out as a family of four at breakfast in a cafe would normally cost us $50+. A mug of coffee is from $4 – $4.50. Drink soy milk and they’ll sting you an extra 50 cents.

Our order typically reads:

  • Eggs benedict ($15-$18)
  • Smashed avocado on toast ($15-$18)
  • One serve kids pancakes to share ($12)
  • 2 x coffees ($4.50 each)

Lunch in a cafe in Australia would be a similar price. Meal prices on average would be:

  • Hamburger $12 – $18
  • Fish & Chips $15
  • Lasagne $18
  • Greek salad $18
  • Kids meals $8 – $12
  • Glass of wine/beer $6 – $8

A restaurant would be more!

As for dinner, I’m not even going there. Too many different types of restaurants and options. But typically dinner is the most expensive meal of the day and in a mid-range restaurant you’re looking at $25+ per main meal.

Supermarkets in Australia

The two major supermarket chains on a national level are Woolworths and Coles, with IGA the next biggest.

Prices will differ from region to region and season to season, but below are examples of some staple food costs:

  • Loaf of bread: $2.50
  • Litre of milk: $1.50
  • Dozen eggs: $5.00
  • BBQ chicken: $10
  • Box of cereal: $4.50
  • Can of Baked Beans: $1.20
  • Rump steak $8+
  • Atlantic salmon fillets $29 per kg
  • Prawns: $25+ per kilo
  • Litre bottle of water: $2.25
  • Coke bottle 2 litres: $3

The cost of Alcohol in Australia

If you think eating out is expensive, start consuming too many alcoholic drinks and you’ll wake up the next morning with a much lighter wallet than the night before.

Example prices from a bottle shop (liquor store):

  • Box of 24 domestic beers (375 ml): $45+
  • Box of 24 Corona $60
  • 6 pack of beers: $15 – $20
  • Mid range bottle of wine $15 – $20

At the pub or a bar in one of the major cities you’ll be looking at:

  • Pint: $10-$12
  • Schooner (425 ml): $6-$8
  • Glass of house wine: $6-$8

The Cost of Tours & Activities in Australia

I’m not going to go too deep into this area as there are a million variables, and not everything costs money.

We do have some awesome FREE things to do in Sydney and we’ve got over 10,000 of some of the best beaches in the world which are free (besides the parking fees).

If you are visiting multiple cities and attractions, then it may be best to purchase an Australian Multi city Flexible Attractions PAss. It can save you up to 40% off admission to Australia’s famous attractions, tours, cruises and things to do all on one easy to use card [ybox]

You can find some cool free stuff to do in any location, but here are a few examples of some of the most famous activities and the costs involved:

Get Your Guide

Should You Visit Australia?

Of course, you should if it’s your dream destination.

Australia is expensive, yes, and you might have to save up more money than for other destinations, but if it’s the destination that appeals to you the most and you find value in what it has to offer regardless of the cost, come on down.

If you want to explore Australia, and there’s certainly a lot to see and do, then find a way to make it happen. It’s an amazing country to road trip and at the end of the day it’s all about accumulating lifelong memories!

Heads Up!

Next week we’ll be sharing with you a post on How to Travel Australia on a Budget with some great tips for getting the most bang for your buck.

Need More Tips for travel in Australia?

Check out these posts on Australia:

Plan your trip to Australia

 Accommodation in Australia

Flights to Australia

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, you book directly through the airline or agent (no extra fees).

Car Rental in Australia

Is Australia on your bucket list? Would you still visit knowing the high cost of travel in Australia?

89 thoughts on “The (Painful) Cost of Travel in Australia (how to make it work!)”

  1. Yeah Australia definitely is a little more expensive. Heaps of tourists over in Cairns get blown away from the prices for simple things like a taxi. $50.00-$80.00 just to get from the airport to Palm Cove. It’s insane.

    But my tip:

    Australia is wide spread. It’s hard to see everything in a short amount of time. Everything requires traveling far and wide. My tip is to get used to a bit of camping. Camping is really good in Australia and you’ll see so may beautiful things, such as waterfalls, animals and neverending amounts of trees.

    Of course, some people don’t really like camping all that much, but I do and its really cheap.

    Since transport costs are huge, sometimes paying for a hotel which is a little more expensive can be better, financially. Just start to walk everywhere and burn those Holiday calories at the same time.

    A great post though Craig, tweeting now.

    Ken

    1. Yeah camping is one of the best options, we love camping, but obviously it’s not an option for many so was just giving a general “overview” of prices and options.

      1. Oh definitely, yeah, I know what you mean.

        I went on a bit of a splurge over in Bali recently. Was great going through all the different villa’s and hotels 🙂

  2. Australia is expensive. Is it worth it (too me), yes, absolutely. It cost a good bit for us to spend 2.5 weeks there, but it was worth every penny (except for the crappy wifi…that part was no bueno).

    If you have expectations that things are going to be priced higher, it shouldn’t be too much of a shock, especially in this day and age where you can read all kinds of blogs written by different people traveling to Australia. 🙂

    There’s still SO much I want to see in Oz, and I plan to return. It’ll be awhile before I do, but I’m looking forward to that day. Tried convincing the hubs to move there, he liked Oz, but isn’t interested in moving there. *sigh*

    1. Don’t try and run a mobile business on the road in Australia Amy unless you like being super unproductive!

      Yeah, was just trying to be clear on what people can expect at the worst case scenario, and give them a list of websites and resources for further research.

  3. Eep! I did a campervan trip in Australia in 2010 and spent more money in two months than I did in 8 months in Asia! And that was while camping, eating supermarket food and skipping most major tours b/c of price. I liked Australia a lot but I don’t think I’ll be returning any time soon- I can’t afford it.

  4. Heaps expensive hey Craig! I still think it’s worth it thought, I love travelling Oz and have been drawn back time and time again…mainly to Byron Bay!

    I put up a breakdown of backpacker costs a while back for all the key expenses on the East Coast – it’s nearly triple what I calculated for Thailand!

    http://www.backpackerbanter.com/blog/budget-for-a-month-in-australia

    I guess travellers will always go to Oz – but from people I’ve chatted with they’re certainly spending less time there than planned, or making better use of their working holiday visas.

    It’s just not a turn up and wing it kind of place anymore!

  5. Where were you paying $10-12 for a pint? I lived in Adelaide the last five years and most pubs I went to have Carlton Draught or Dry on tap for $5:50.

        1. Yep (Perth bred here) $10-$12 is pretty standard for a pint. The our naked australia article is not bad, but in WA we dont typically use that terminology. In fact schooners have only been introduced in the last 3-5 years. Usually its a midi or pint.

          The one great thing about being australian though is its hard to get shocked with prices almost where ever you travel!

    1. Louisa klimentos

      i think all the cost for everything travel blogs show are over the top.The tourist areas is where everything is expensive.i live in the suburbs in Sydney and paid in a take away shop $1-50 for small hot chips and a lebonese oregarno vegetable pizza $3 .You can’t compare Australia to Asia because they earn alot less than us in Australia do.Tree groundsman earn in Australia between $700 to $800 in the hand after tax.What do Asians earn? They earn very little income.My son fell out of a 15m tree and broke his spine in two places.eventually he will walk again but it is a long road for him.He wanted to travel to Japan but won’t be able to for a very long time.It least most of you people are able to travel and should appreciate any destination even if a country is expensive.So just enjoy life because you never know what may happen to you.

      1. We just travelled 55,000 kms around Australia for 18 months. I can assure you these prices are very real and not over the top. I think you are very fortunate to live in this area in Sydney and pay these prices for what you have mentioned. We eat out a lot and I have not come across anything that low priced anywhere.

        We’re not comparing Australia to Asia in terms of wages and living costs. What we are saying – and this is completely accurate – is that many Australians, and people from foreign countries, will travel to Asia instead of Australia because it is so expensive in this country. Why wouldn’t they? You can live in Asia on $20 a day. You couldn’t here.

        We are about providing accurate information to travellers to help them with their travels here. We’re not going to lie and tell them that it’s cheaper than it is. The costs we have shown here are not over the top. They are accurate. As I said we just travelled the entire country to gather the facts.

        We’re not dissuading people from travelling here, we’re helping them do it despite the costs. IF you look around our site a little more, and I recomend you do, you will see just how much we promote this as a destination. In fact we’ve had many many people tell us they now want to visit Australia, or even australians saying we’ve now inspired them to see their own country, rather than travel to Asia.

        1. louisa klimentos

          All i was saying that areas like liverpool Sydney ,are cheaper than the tourist areas .i have nothing against your travel blogs.People from overseas are making a big thing about how expensive Australia is .i visited the UK back in 1992 when the british pound was worth 3 times more than the Australian dollar .My money didn’t go too far ,however I was just happy to be there.i’ve read some nasty forums about Australia being too expensive and so overrated and that people should visit Asia and New Zealand .These people were backpackers from the UK.They obviously haven’t experienced what my son just did.They should be happy that they are healthy and are able to travel the world.Iam glad you have helped people by doing research on more affordable accomodatrion,etc You are doing a great job .just sick of people in general complaining thats all

        2. louisa klimentos

          Anyway i was talking about travel blogs in general not in particular yours .i have read some of your travel blogs on different places you have visited in Australia and you have shown how you can travel with a young family and have done a great job

  6. This is really timely. I have been wanting to check out FNQ for a while and have loved your recent series. My heart sunk when i checked out one of the campsites in the tablelands – with the added cost of two children it would be about 170 dollars per night to stay in a simple cabin, in a tourist park. When i add in bargain flights from Perth, car hire and a meagre food allowance ($100 per day) thats $4500 for a weeks holiday in campsite in a country town. Then there is still costs to actually do anything.

    1. Hi Liah,

      I feel your pain having to fly cross country from Perth to Queensland. Those flight prices are crazy. Don’t give up on visiting Far North Queensland, it’s one of my favourite regions in Oz. But yeah $4,500 for a weeks holiday camping in a country town is tough to justify!

  7. I’m from Australia so I found this post particularly interesting. Especially the fact that I still see these prices as “normal” is just crazy!

    I can definitely relate to the dinners being unspeakably expensive however, and this is precisely why the brunch culture really took off in Melbourne – because none of us want to fork over $80 just to catch up with friends over a main meal and couple glasses of wine!

  8. Wow $60 to camp with a tent sounds insane. We did a long camping trip recently and our best spot was a $12 camp spot that was right on the beautiful Colorado River.

    1. $60 is not the norm for a campsite but that’s an example of what we have paid, and it wasn’t in one of the well known destinations that’s for sure. I’d much prefer $12 🙂

  9. Thanks for this post! Australia is definitely in our travel plans, but after living in Thailand for the past 2 years, we need to replenish our savings before heading to Oz! Surprisingly, though, prices aren’t as high as our imaginations led us to believe. After visiting Iceland, nothing seems to compare 🙂

  10. This is very interesting. I have been in Oz and actually lived there for almost 3 years. I stayed in Adelaide. It is a small lovely city. The cost of living there was not as bad as what is described above.

    I also visited Melbourne & Sydney. My experiences weren’t that bad too. In Melbourne, I stayed in dormitory-backpacker sort of hostel in the city. If my memory is correct I paid less than $50 for a night. In Sydney, I stayed in the Traveler’s Lounge for 4 nights. I paid less $100 per night.

    Food wise for those 2 cities, it was quite expensive compared to Adelaide. I usually dine in an Asian restau and always choose their value or combo meal. I can always find one for less than $20. 🙂

    It took me some time though to find these kind of bargain places.

    All I can say is that, The cost of living in Oz is a lil bit pricey especially in big cities. However, small cities like Adelaide is not that bad and a lovely place to explore as well.

    I remember this cozy small Vietnamese or Chinese restaurant in Rundle Mall (Adelaide), where a combo meal only cost for $6.20 but if you are a student it will be $5. Oh! I can’t wait to see Oz again, very soon! 🙂

    1. Hi Jo,

      That’s great you lived in Adelaide. We plan on visiting there in the new year. And I heard it’s a little cheaper than Sydney/Melbourne/Perth. And good tips on lowering your cost of travel. We’ve done the same in the past.

      But not everyone wants to sleep in a dorm in hostel and eat in Asian restaurants (Chinatown) so prices are much different.

    2. louisa klimentos

      i agree with Jo,You can find places to stay that are cheaper than others,same with cafe’s and restaurants.Things are more dearer say in bondi than liverpool Sydney

  11. I totally agree with you. Australia is very expensive. We also paid around 2.500 AUD for 3 weeks campervan rental and it was no luxurious edition. We’ve never spent as much money as we did in Australia. But it was worth every cent. It’s an amazing destination like no other. Where else can you find such unique wildlife, so many different landscapes and so friendly people.

  12. Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker

    Yikes! I’m not at all surprised at the damage Aussie can do on your wallet, but I feel like it wouldn’t be as great of a shock for me, coming from NYC. This info will be super helpful for me if/when I start planning my return, so thank you!

  13. We just did the big lap with 3
    Young kids in a similar van to yours. Over 45 weeks it cost us $35000. That includes fuel, accommodation, food, entertainment, and car servicing. We stayed a mix of caravan parks and national parks and free camps. Get the national parks passes for each state to get included or subsidised camping. Our eldest child is 4 and we avoided paying for kids at all most of the time, saying we had an infant but that’s all. QLD were actually the dearest van parks, WA was a close second. They grey nomads over there told us all the park prices have gone up $10 a night in the past year. We watched our budget and kept track of every dollar spent and managed to have an amazing time! Australia is an amazing country that deserves exploring. There are plenty of remote regions you can explore without paying a penny for camping too! Our blog at http://gadsventure.wordress.com will give you some ideas of where to go with the kids. Have a good trip!

  14. What is even worse are the massive price hikes that occur in the school holidays. Cheap flight offers have school holiday black-out dates & accommodation can triple in cost. That is why so many families head to Asia & the Pacific.

  15. Australia is definitely not the cheapest country to travel around, but I think there are lots of great ways to reduce your costs when traveling in Australia: from taking advantage of $5 National Park Camping Permits, to finding $1 per day campervan relocation deals. I appreciate that being frugal is a lot harder when you’ve got kids, so it’s a good post for anyone traveling with little ones. I look forward to reading about your tips in the “How to Travel Australia on a Budget” post.

    1. Thansk Oksana. There are definitely ways to reduce costs and each city and town varies. This post was basically an overview of Oz and some expected costs. Hope it was helpful.

  16. This is such a great post. It made me laugh remembering how crazy the prices are in Australia! I lived there for over a year and never got used to the prices, especially for coffee, my addiction, and the internal flights and trains.
    I really wanted to visit one of my best friends in Perth, but the flights were over $500 which just seemed too crazy for my tiny budget. I kept thinking that that would get me a trip to New York from Ireland!
    There is so much information here Im sure it will come in handy for anyone planning a trip to Australia! 🙂

  17. G’day Craig and I have been following your family travels and blog posts, true!
    I think what needs to be more highlighted is not how expensive Australia is as there is always cheaper and safe options to what you and your family have done and of course with the children, your options are different for the average tourist that comes our way!
    I am New York born and bred, extensively traveled the world and think of every country like being invited to someone’s house as I welcome the hospitality and graciously accept what they have to offer, rather than comparing how much would this meal cost now that we are here…just a different perspective and view from someone who LOVES Australia and via my blog shares what is great about Adelaide and WHY people could be inspired to come visit!
    If it just comes down to Australia = an expensive country, then personally, I do not think it gives an honest view of how many places, icons and experiences that are unique to Australia; quality and uniqueness always (in my opinion) come with a unique and priceless cost!
    Cheers! Joanne

    1. Hi Joanne,

      Thanks for following along as always! Of course there are ways to reduce costs traveling in Australia, we’ve written about them in the past and we have another one coming out next week. To address every aspect of travel properly in Oz would take 20+ posts, obviously this was a big overview of options and wanted to hopefully give people options and ideas of prices based on our personal experiences and research.

      But generally, compared to other destinations, Oz is expensive, there’s no two ways about it, and that’s based on my 15+ years of travel, and I’m far from the only one who says that. But again hopefully this is useful in clearing up people’s expectations. Cheers 🙂

  18. I have been following your blogs daily and find them very interesting, but disappointed tonight that you are bagging my country. Maybe it’s time for you to head off?

    1. Bagging?? You obviously haven’t read the hundreds of posts I’ve written promoting “my” country as a great destination! I guess you won’t thank me for those!!

      Oz is expensive compared to most of the other 40+ countries I’ve visited. I know it, and so do most others. I call it as I see it. If I just write positive posts people call me out. If I write a negative post people call me out. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t 🙂

  19. This post will act as an invaluable resource for me. I’m going there May 2015 to live in Sydney for 3 months and do bar work. I’m hoping to get by on that and find some cheap accommodation or meet people on my travels who will help me out.
    It really IS expensive isn’t it. Blimey

  20. Australia is definitely expensive, but I am sure it is well worth it. This is a great resource for those planning a trip to Australia as you can choose the type of budget and plan accordingly. The $60.00 campsite reminds me of a $50.00 camping place I stayed at in Key West although there was no grass and I was crammed next to my neighbor and more than a mile away from all the attractions. Travel can be pretty high in the U.S. too.

  21. Thanks for the post, you did a good job getting all those prices. I didn’t think that prices in Australia were so high, I’ve been only once to Australia about 15 years ago and it was a trip I would never forget. Hope to travel again.

  22. Hi, ok it’s expensive but the salaries are good and you can manage to travel on a budget if you share the cost of travel with other backpackers. If you have a family, well… it’s a different story.

  23. we’re just finishing 500 days around oz (Adelaide to Cairns and back again), free-camping, house-sitting and hospitality exchange, our combined daily spend was AU$24 per day. Its not impossible to travel Oz smart. We had an amazing time, traveled slow and had unforgettable experiences.

  24. Great article. I am going to share it as I think a lot of people would be interested in reading this. As you say Australia can be expensive but you just need to shop around to get the best deals. We have just spent six months travelling around Australia in our caravan and we stayed at a lot of free camps and low cost camping grounds rather than the expensive caravan parks that pack you in like sardines. There are many ways to save yourself some money.

  25. TipsonRoadtripping

    We road trip the USA. Not as expensive as Australia but there still is a cost. I could never afford to take my 4 kids but truly is a dream to go with my husband someday. Thanks for all the tips. When we are ready I will know who’s brain I will pick. Lol safe travels my friends.

  26. Love your rant at the start haha its good to be honest… and the amount of detail you’ve gone into this post – must have taken you a while but a really good source of information for travellers. Awesome! Australia is expensive, to travel and to live but as someone was saying, try to just stay in one or two areas and really get to know these areas instead of traveling around as that can cost a lot (oh and yes, no pints of beer). It’s such an amazing country though. Still highly recommend it.

  27. I’m about to do Uluru after getting cheap flights. What’s hurting me is that one of the cheapest accomodation is $200 without a bathroom. Car hire in the Northern Territory is capped. From Uluru you only have 300km to drive before you pay .26c per km. so much for a day trip to the Alice. I’m in a bit of shock. Too expensive to get out and too expensive to stay.

  28. Traveling to Australia has been on my travel bucket list for years, and I know it’s a trip for which I’ll have to save money. That’s mostly because I live in the United States, and the cost of the international plane ticket alone is quite expensive. While a $12 pint (I hope that was a really good craft beer and not your average Foster’s) or $20+ club sandwich at a cafe is alarmingly pricey, some costs (hotel rooms and flights) mentioned in this post are on par with domestic travel in the U.S. So, I guess what I’m taking away from your post is that “expensive” is really about perspective. As a foreigner, I may be willing to pay more for a hotel in Australia, knowing that I’m taking the trip of a lifetime, whereas I would not find spending $24 on a sandwich worth its price. This post has definitely been food for thought. Thanks for all the helpful info!

  29. I’m glad you didn’t sugar coat this article Craig. It’s gotten out of control, and it’s only getting worse. And wait until you get to Perth…

  30. So I can’t comment on Australia, however I can say that I’ve had these same thoughts and feelings when I lived in Vancouver, Canada and now at the moment in New Zealand.

    I think a typical route for many tourists (from the UK at least) is UK to Aus / NZ via SEA. Obviously you spend all this time in SEA where you can live like a king on tuppence a day, then you get into Aus / NZ and it feels like you’re being ripped off.

    The thing I always remind myself of is that the prices in a country are more or less proportional to the wage there. A quick look in Google tells me that they’re about to raise the minimum wage to $16.87 per hour in Australia. If you’re making that much per hour there’s not so much of a sting when you’re paying $12 for a beer.

    Obviously that means nothing for a traveller though, so if you’re wanting to travel around more expense countries you have to take tighter control of your budget and trip. In New Zealand we’ve tried to be more thrifty by doing work exchanges (free accommodation, food and an awesome experience AND a base from which to explore an area), lots of camping in free campsites and cooking ourselves on a portable stove.

    Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet though and spend the money. It hurts at the time but in 10 years you wont be grumbling about how it cost you $100 to see the Barrier Reef, you’ll instead think back and go “Wow, remember that awesome day at Barrier Reef, I’m so glad I did that!”

    1. Guys,

      I don’t subscribe to the minimum wage argument making travel and life easier in Oz. Ask anyone earning $17 per hour if than can afford any serious travel in Oz? Yeah we have a high minimum wage, but we also have high income taxes, high insurance premiums, high rent, high food costs, high fees, and have you ever tried getting a mortgage in Oz? Trust me, that $17 per hour goes nowhere fast!! 🙂

      I know families earning $100K+ per year who still feel the high costs of travel in Australia. I don’t want to sound like I’m beating up on Oz, but it’s the facts.

      1. louisa klimentos

        Those people earning more than $100000 a year should be able to afford to travel Australia.Most people on high incomes don’t like paying for anything .Me and my husband run a tree lopping company and have found that the more wealthier people don’t really like parting with there money.They want everything for cheap.

        1. How do you think they managed to get rich? From what I’ve seen, those who find it easy to part with their cash end up poor, especially when they are old. Of course, I live in the cut-throat USA where you really are on your own for most of your life-needs.

    2. Ha! Try $500 to see the Reef. That was for our family of four, but we’ve got two small kids. That didn’t even include Craig’s dive which was another $120

  31. This was a great post and so helpful! I was an exchange student to Australia in 2000, and have been back twice but not since 2008 and I can tell some of the prices have risen. No wonder when our Aussie friends visit they are always happy to shout us dinner and take trips to WalMart- we don’t realize how cheap things are here in the US.
    We are bringing our 3 little ones Down Under with us in Jan 2016 and your blog has become my #1 go-to for planning! We are lucky we save some money by staying with my host families near the Hunter Valley for 10 days and doing side-trips from there. 🙂

  32. Gotta say, those prices all sound reasonable. $3 for 2 litres of coke? That’s bargain price, mate. Of course, the prices in my head are all Scandinavian, which are some of the highest in the world. The plane tickets also don’t sound too bad, even if I had to compare it to hopping to other European cities because, well, an inland flight in Denmark wouldn’t last an hour, much less three.
    Australia may be as expensive, but there’s a whole lot more worth going there, and paying those prices, for.

    Another option for cheap accommodations are homestays. On homestay.com I found a place in Sydney for about $50 a night, breakfast included. It’s probably best suited for singles and couples rather than families. It might well be worth an investment, if it is one, for international travellers.

  33. I want to travel to Aussie more than anything!!! After reading this it looks like I’ll be saving for a lot longer than I had planned 🙁

  34. Dr David (Sports Psychologist)

    The average beer pint in Melbourne these days goes for around $8 !!! No wonder all the pubs are closing down ! Forget the Packer run Crown Casino (or the Clown Clasino as the Chinese tourists call it) an over rated expensive dump and Jamie Packer is mean on comps and give-aways. And this moron thinks he’s going to kick-ass in Las Vegas (LOL) . Try Surfer’s Paradise instead for that thing, they even have trams back now, so you can give shitty, expensive Melbourne a miss ! Melbourne has no train/rail connection to the CBD from the Tullamarine Airport (X No 1) An expensive confusing MYKI ticket system (X No 2) The tourist spots like Fitzroy Street St Kilda and Lygon Street Carlton and Chapel Street South Yarra, are mostly now ghost towns (like Detroit USA) and full of vandalized empty shops with dork Mayors (like Cr Robert Dork Doyle) who have no idea how to rescue their fading shopping strips , except waste $1000’s of rate payer’s money on useless street beautification schemes, that will never bring any of the shoppers back (except for drugs). (X No 3- X 3 strikes and Melbourne’s OUT!) If any tourists want decent fashion, you now have to go to Chadstone shopping centre which is approx 15kms (9 miles) from the Melbourne CBD and you can get the same shopping centre experience in Surfer’s Paradise and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, without having to travel half way out of town to get there and Brisbane has rail links out of it’s International Airport- please give Melbourne a MISS ! Melbourne only has the culture of a toilet now and is full of pretentious yuppy wanna bees.

  35. I wanted to point out to my US counterparts that the USD is very strong compared to the AUD. As of today (Nov. 7, 2015) $1 USD = $1.42 AUD. So that $25 dinner would cost $17.61 USD and the $150 AUD hotel room is only $105.67 USD. Due to the strong dollar my husband and I decided now was the time to visit Australia!

  36. I’m currently planning a road trip around Australia, hopefully leaving around March! I’ve spent the last couple of days practically drooling over your blog, getting heaps of ideas and tips. I’ve been incredibly inspired by you guys, and can hardly wait to get on the road 😀
    Thankfully (in a way), as an Aussie myself, I won’t be too overwhelmed/surprised by the costs involved, as I’m used to it by now.

    Regarding flight prices, I agree that Jetstar or Virgin are the way to go. Unfortunately I have had one too many bad experiences with TigerAir, and so don’t mind paying the extra cost for my own peace of mind.

  37. Saumyendranath Ghosh

    I ( 70 ) and my wife (62 ) intend to visit Sydney,Melbourne ( and Phillip Island ) and Cairns ( GBR only ,interested only on Glass Bottomed boat and Cruise ).My son is a research fellow at UTS.Suggest the best Itinerary. We reach Sydney from Kolkata (India ) on 12/7/16 and leave Sydney on 28/7/16.We have a very tight budget.Thanks.

  38. Mohammad Farzanmehr

    Hi.
    I want say thank you so much for your nice website and share your info and experience with tourist want to visit Australia ,really it was complete with all details, it’s a week I’m reading all information you shared.
    I have a trip to Australia with my wife. we will arrived in Melbourne 13th Sep at 8:30 AM, then we would like to visit Sydney ,Cairns and if it was possible Uluru till 22-23rd Sep,then go to Perth and with my friend visit west of Australia.now I want to know 10-11 days is enough for visit the destinations or no? and how many days I stay in each city?
    for transport between cities ,the fast and cheaper way is airplane .

    Best regards
    Mohammad

  39. I just spent 3.5 weeks in Australia traveling around the Reef / Rainforest, Top End and Red Centre.

    I had a great time, and Australia’s sights are unique, people are very friendly.

    But the costs are very high – some of the numbers quoted are even higher now. I managed many discounts because I was in low season for most areas, but even that cannot mask the overall high costs.

    One of the worst categories for costs in Australia is food. While I’be had a few great meals (and would even say it was worth it at over $100 per person because it was well-prepared and unique (e.g., bush tucker ingredients like Davidson plum-, lemon-myrtle-based foods in addition to kangaroo steaks)), mediocre and outright crappy food – lasagne, hamburgers, Greek Salads at the $18 – 25 range abound – and often in too small portions for the hungry active traveler.

    If you have the time, obviously you will get to learn about cheaper places (in the cities) or you can cook yourself (I simply did not have the time given the action-packed schedule). But even supermarket food prices are easily 20% higher than average North American ones. As an example, mangoes in season grown in Queensland are $2.50 – $3.00 each at IGA

    Costs alone should not dissuade you from going, and I was prepared for this before I went, but there is no denying the cost or sticker shock.

    Budget lots of money.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your insights John. Australia sure is hard on the wallet. We’re looking forward to traveling in the US and taking advantage of the cheaper prices.

  40. Prices as of 2017 are even worse…and yet as a travel writer I’ve found the state tourism authorities to be among the most arrogant on the planet. They’re supremely confident that Australia will remain the hottest travel destination on the planet, and are incredibly unhelpful unless you’re a staff writer from Conde Nast. For a nation of drunks…it’s amazing that anybody can afford to drink at all, much less put away 6-35 beers a day…

    1. Yes, that entitlement mentality that Australia will remain the hottest travel destination just because it’s Australia bugs me too. And the Aussie mentality that it’s “just the way it is” also bugs me. There are many beautiful destinations on the planet to visit for a cheaper cost.

      1. Well Craig – you can leave and go back to where you cam from if you “don’t” Like our Aussie mentality…..
        Those tourists should feel privileged to even come to our great country and if they think some 3rd world crap hole like Thailand is better
        then, by all means, have fun with the Asians!

        If you don’t like it leave and go back to where you came from otherwise stop whining!!!!!

        1. Hey Dave, I’m from Australia and have travelled extensively in Australia and call it how I see it. The old “if you don’t like it leave and go back to where you come from” is so “typically” Australian mentality lol.

          1. Hi Craig. You have forgotten to mention that most travelers actually travel on a tight budget therefore do not stay or eat at high priced places. There are many places in our States where you can eat and stay very cheaply. If you are on a holiday you must expect the costs to be somewhat higher because you are out and about wanting to experience everything that you can. Your opinion on Australias Cost of holidaying is Way over the top. If you paid what you stated then you must be someone who is extravagant and don’t know how to compromise . Cheers and no hard feelings.

          2. No. We actually travel like most people. And not everyone wants to stay in hostels. We road tripped around the country for 18 months plus have done many years of travel in Australia. Look around more on the blog so you can see what we’ve actually done. We shared costs for how most people typically travel. Due to our expertise in the travel industry we actually know this.

  41. Nice detailed article. I lived and have traveled in Australia and think it depends largely how you want to travel.
    We travelled on a budget and spent $6,800 for 2.5 months. This included buying all our camping equipment and building a bed in the back of our car. We mostly camped in free campsites but did indulge in paid campsites and airbnb every so often. I have written about my costs, broken down on my page
    http://ajourneyintotheunknown.com/cost-travel-australia-wont-much-think/

    Thanks

  42. I visited Australia last year and had the greatest time but had fallen in whilst there. Being from America, I was terrified of how much it would cost me to go see a doctor until I had someone refer me to House Call Doctor one night as they apparently didn’t charge internationals (given if you were fitted their eligibility of course). They were an incredible help and saved me money I hadn’t budgeted for before I left. Definitely give them a call or even book online ( https://housecalldoctor.com.au/ ) if you’re in trouble in Australia

    1. I didn’t know they were free for internationals. That’s awesome! I didn’t know much about the service for my own family!! Thanks for sharing

  43. This is really timely. I have been wanting to check out FNQ for a while and have loved your recent series. My heart sunk when I checked out one of the campsites in the tablelands – with the added cost of two children it would be about 170 dollars per night to stay in a simple cabin, in a tourist park. When I add in bargain flights from Perth, car hire and a meager food allowance ($100 per day) that’s $4500 for a week’s holiday in a campsite in a country town. Then there is still costs to actually do anything.

    1. Hey Joshua, yeah we hear you on those camping and cabin costs, was frustrating for us too. It’s no wonder that people from Perth find it cheaper and easier to go to Bali or other Asia destinations. Domestic travel in Australia IS expensive.

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