Dollar dazzlers “a change is as good as a holiday”
With a firm grip on her travel budget, Melanie Ball, a travel writer and photographer, explores Australia for dollar-friendly holiday options.
– a modern cliché which is as inaccurate as it is irritating. But alas, escaping the everyday usually costs money and the recent global economic crisis has eaten into this year’s travel budget.
So how lucky are we to live in a country flush with inexpensive holiday options!
Although petrol costing under $1 a litre has almost certainly joined the ranks of the extinct, the great road trip (or at least a shortened version thereof), lives on with campervan relocations. Rental companies frequently need vehicles moved between major cities, and a relocation deal from Alice Springs to Darwin might allow a week for the trip at a charge to you of just $5 a day. These trips generally involve you paying for the petrol en route, but you’ll often receive a refund up to an agreed amount when you deliver the vehicle to its destination. Further, the time and kilometres allowed for you to complete the journey generally include a provision for side trips.
The Alice to Darwin relocation I investigated allowed for 150km more than the direct road route. This allowance is ample for sizing up the Devils Marbles, downing a beer at Daly Waters pub and paddling the Katherine Gorge on your way north. Hefty excess kilometre charges aside, campervan relocation is cheaper than every form of outback transport, except camels! Prefer salty air and sea spray? Savour them on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, a patchwork of farms, parks and towns bounded by the Great Australian Bight, Spencer Gulf and vast salt lakes. A west coast drive takes you from Ceduna, and the Nullarbor Plain, to Point Labatt to see (take binoculars) and smell (no additional equipment necessary) Australia’s largest breeding sea-lion colony. Dolphins surf the waves which roll through Venus Bay’s narrow entrance, and closer wildlife encounters await in Baird Bay, where snorkellers go mask-to-whiskered-nose with playful juvenile sea-lions.
For a complete break from driving, train from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and explore beyond the Three Sisters. Step off the often crowded sandstone escarpment onto some of Australia’s best walks. Follow in coal and shale miners’ footsteps to Ruined Castle for breath-taking views of Kings Tableland. Wander through the Valley of the Waters, where cascades tumble from mossy ledges, on which fairies must surely dance in private.
Accommodation (all budgets) is often just a stroll from trail heads – as are art galleries, gift shops and boutiques, in case your passion for exercise wanes. Don’t miss the Norman Lindsay Gallery in Faulconbridge (free for National Trust members) and afternoon tea in Katoomba’s Art Deco Paragon Café (and chocolatier).
Chocolate makers call Tasmania home, too, but there are other reasons to cross Bass Strait and check into Hobart. Ludicrously cheap flights from Melbourne leave cash in hand for enjoying the island state’s oysters, Atlantic salmon and ales.
With its spectacular harbour and 1270m scenic lookout (Mount Wellington), Hobart is an ideal base for day trips to Port Arthur and Bruny Island; the city’s adventure playground. Try to stretch your budget to a flight over the jagged Arthur Range and into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, otherwise accessible only on foot. You’ll land at Melaleuca, where you can spy on endangered orange-bellied parrots before heading to the local jetty to cruise beautiful Bathurst Harbour. Back in Hobart, the ghosts of convict ships crowd Constitution Dock (free).
Another fabulous destination for kicking back is the Sunshine State, and relaxing doesn’t come easier than on Fraser Island.The world’s largest sand island is the place to dip your toes in tea-coloured lakes and teeter on sandblows fringing deeper water; to look up at towering trees in shadow-filled forests and walk kilometres of ribbon-like beach; to watch brahminy kites wheel on wings of burnished copper. With vehicular ferry passage from $80, resorts, cabins, private camp grounds and kilometres of beach camping (beware march flies in summer), Fraser is a treasure chest brimming with treats which cost next to nothing!
– Be flexible about when and where. Destinations are cheaper and less crowded outside holiday seasons, and off-peak weather is rarely as bad as you fear!Midweek flights generally cost less than weekend departures.
– Compare the cost of petrol and time behind the wheel, to flying and hiring a car.
– When buying airline tickets, look out for sales and promotions, such as Virgin Blue’s “Happy Hour” and Jetstar’s “Friday Fare Frenzy”.
Compare domestic flights across airlines (except Tiger) at https://www.webjet.com.au.
I recently booked Melbourne-Darwin tickets on Jetstar for the Monopoly-money price of $224 return!
– Choose budget accommodation for most of your holiday and splurge on the final nights. You’ll remember the adventure of the former and the comfort of the latter.
– Last-minute accommodation sites like wotif.com.au offer great deals, but also check individual properties. Discounts for multi-night bookings are common.
– Cook as many meals yourself as you can. Make dining out a treat.
– Contrast guided tours with do-it-yourself. The latter often gives you more freedom, but the former can be better value and less hassle.
– National Trust membership can soon pay for itself if you visit a few properties.
As previously published in YOURLifeChoices magazine
Author ~ Melanie Ball
Nature by Numbers A SHORT MOVIE INSPIRED ON NUMBERS, GEOMETRY AND NATURE.
What is Etérea
Etérea is a graphic and animation studio that offers CGI services. But, what exactly is ‘CGI’? It can be defined as illustrations and animations made with the help of a computer (Computer Generated Images) allowing us to represent scenes, objects, designs, concepts, ideas, stories, in a three-dimensional way. These styles can be represented in a technical or artistic manner, according to the client’s needs or the nature of the project itself. If you are not familiar with the issue and yet interested in obtaining a better understanding of the whole process, you may turn to my essay “Introduction to 3D Animation” which although written a number of years ago is still a good introduction to the subject. Behind Etérea is a single person: Cristóbal Vila, with more than 15 years experience in publicity, graphics, illustration and digital
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller