Astronomical Australia

Sarah Britten finds out how costly visiting Oz on the cheap can be…

Reading over your credit card statement is part of the ritual of overseas travel for South Africans. With your currency in long term decline against everyone else’s, forcing yourself to come to terms with exactly how much you spent requires both fortitude and a commitment to living on baked beans for the next few months.

I thought it would be interesting for South Africans who might consider traveling to Australia to share how much it cost me. Bear in mind that I stayed there for two weeks and was able to save on things like accommodation in Sydney. My friend Chris is unemployed at the moment so I could hardly expect him to pay for internal flights and accommodation. (In any event, we always booked a twin room and didn’t pay per person, and car hire would have cost the same regardless.)

So here’s some of the damage, rounded off.

Flights, accommodation and car hire:

Jetstar (flights for two people to Melbourne and from Adelaide): R6026

Car hire: R5252 (medium sized sedan for 7 days – cheapest price on rental cars.com) + R1,223.87 (Chris paid for the petrol; if he hadn’t, the total cost for the car would have been around R9,000)

R2634.92 – Melbourne hotel (cheapest I could find – three nights)

R1479.22 – Portland motel (one night over the Easter Weekend)

R2910.26 – Adelaide hotel (cheapest I could find online – three nights)

Including my flight from Johannesburg to Sydney, the bill for flights, accommodation and car hire came to around R40,000.

Food was relatively pricey, and I did my best to keep costs down. Here’s a selection.

Breakfasts (for two):

R171 – River View Deli (coffee, raisin bread, bacon roll)

Farm Café at the Collingwood Children’s Farm R416

R332.33 – Hahndorf Inn (mushrooms and bacon and pancakes – which we shared – plus coffee for two)

Lunches

R181.41 – Katoomba (two sandwiches)

R340.24 – The Rum Diary, Melbourne (sandwiches, beer and cider)

Dinners

R585.84 – Stalactites, Melbourne (lamb for Chris, small vegetarian dish for me, drinks and dessert to share)

R333 – Blue Train Café in Melbourne (pizza (which we shared) and drinks)

R1236 – Il Gambero, Melbourne (I paid on my card; the others gave me cash)

R800 (dessert) – Svago, Melbourne

Wine averaged around R140-R150 a bottle. (Alcohol is very expensive in Australia.)

Transport:

R158.60 for less than an hour of parking at Sydney Airport

R156.73 – train ticket (one way) to Sydney Airport

R114 – return ferry ride for one

All told, my two weeks in Australia cost in the region of R46,000 – and that’s with Chris picking up the tab for petrol and some meals and drinks. How entire families afford to travel anywhere is beyond me.