- Route Plan

   When we were working on the route for New Zealand it was an option for a 24 hours stopover in Sydney just for a few more money. This option was finally refused because New Zealand deserved all the time we could spend there and Australia deserves a whole long travel by itself. It’s now the time for that.

   When preparing a travel to Australia one has already got the mind it is going to be expensive: these are the most expensive flights from Europe and the cost of living is high too, so the average cost per day for accommodation and meals is going to be at the top of the level. Also, the exchange rate for Australian dollar with the euro is one of the worst in history at this moment in 2015.

   Leaving the budget behind, Australia is a huge country, with a lot of highlights, diversity and distance between them. With the time we can spend there we’ve chosen five spots, which could be the most touristic ones, missing the West, the islands and the Gold Coast among other places. These spots are: Melbourne, Sydney, Uluru, The Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Parks.

Itinerary in Australia

   With that, we look after how many days are needed to spend in every place and this is what we got for us:

 1: Melbourne (3 days). Two days for the Great Ocean Road, a scenic way following the coast with amazing landscapes and nature; and one for the city.

 2: Sidney (3 days). The biggest city in Australia. It is growing around a bay with iconic places as the Opera House or the bridge. We’ve taken two days to explore the city and one more for a trip to Blue Mountains.

 3: Ayer’s Rock (2 days). A place in the middle of the desert where thousands of tourists are going every year to enjoy the special rock formations in there, as the popular Uluru. These two days seem more than enough for that.

 4: Cairns (4 days). Two days for the Great Barrier Reef and two more for a trip to Cape Tribulation.

 5: Darwin (3 days). Two days for Kakadu National Park and one for the city.

   After that plan, the flight purchase allow us to add more days to Singapore which, after a search of the things to do in that city, we soon wanted to spend more days in there: it’s finally 3 days for it. One before getting Australia and two more after it.

   So, finally, the definitive route plan (number of day and where we sleep) is the following, starting by September 9th of 2015:

1: Singapore
2: Flight
3, 4 y 5: Melbourne
6 y 7: Ayer's rock
8, 9 y 10: Sydney
11, 12, 13, 15 y 15: Cairns
16, 17 y 18: Darwin
19 y 20: Singapore

   The total budget after adding the flights, hotels, cars and tours detailed below, is around 5800€ in total for the two of us.

- Flights

   When searching flight rates we soon realize the best option is flying to a nearer country and using one of the low cost airlines in the area to reach Australia. The best hubs for this seemed to be Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore. This last city is the closest to Oceania and, besides, the competition makes one can easily find flights to there by around 500€ with the best airlines.

   For September flights the best option for purchase is the offers appearing in spring, so we were checking them and chose the one from Qatar Airways in April. It was 520€ per person for the return flight to Singapore but, when we finally went to purchase it raised and we finally took the one from Emirates, by 513€.

   Finally, then, Emirates flights are like this, by 1026€:

09/09/2015   BCN 22:45     DXB    7:25 +1
09/10/2015   DXB   9:35     SIN   20:55
09/30/2015   SIN  10:35     DXB   13:40
09/30/2015   DXB 15:45     BCN   21:00
Total cost for flights is finally 1433€ per person.

   With these rates, the weight at flights cost is really in the domestic ones which, in this case, are a lot of them and with limited options. Domestic flights in Australia are almost entirely managed by Qantas and its low cost subsidiary Jetstar. As Jetstar uses the typical system for low cost companies of raising the rates for a flight as the tickets are sold, the best is getting the flights as soon as possible. This put us in a situation we never had before: having to get domestic flights before the ones from Barcelona. And that’s what we did, trusting in the spring offers and the bit of flexibility given by the days in Singapore before and after Australia.

   With this, in February we already purchased five of the six flights needed there, all of them from Jetstar: Singapore-Melbourne, Melbourne-Ayer’s Rock, Ayer’s Rock-Sydney, Cairns-Darwin and Darwin-Singapore.

   The only exception here is for the Sydney-Cairns flight, which we leave for later –and finally regret about this – because it was the only one with alternatives, as Tigerair does this route too.

   We purchased in February two multi-city flights and one single one. These are the following:

 -Multi-city: Singapore – Melbourne and Darwin – Singapore, with lunch and entertainment for the one to Melbourne and 5 kg more for one of the bags in the one from Darwin, by 1168 SG$.

 -Multi-city: Melbourne – Ayer’s Rock and Ayer’s Rock – Sydney, by 860 AU$.

 -Single flight Cairns – Darwin, with 5 kg more for one of the bags, by 425 AU$

   Waiting for the Sydney – Cairns flight only made it more expensive, whether in Jetstar or Tigerair. We finally purchased it in Juny to Jetstar by 428 AU$, including 5 kg more for one of the bags.

   Domestic flights are like this by a total cost of 1840€:

09/11/2015   SIN   9:00      MEL   6:45 +1
09/15/2015   MEL   9:30     AYQ  12:00
09/17/2015   AYQ  14:20    SYD  17:50
09/20/2015   SYD  20:30    CNS  23:40
09/25/2015   CNS  10:50    DRW 12:55
09/28/2015   DRW  6:05     SIN    9:10

Total cost for flights is finally 1433€ per person.

- Hotels

   Before start my search for hotels I did several attempts to use my Air New Zealand points to book a hotel from the airline website but, at the moment my country was detected I was always forwarded to places where I couldn’t get to the hotels. I finally called them and they managed my booking. I found out that, even with the points from flying around the world with them, I had no enough points for a single night in cities as Melbourne or Sydney. I only got some options when I asked about hotels in the cheapest city we were going to be: Cairns.

   These options were actually two, from which I chose the Bohemia Resort for the first night. This makes us think the best option for the following nights because, as we wanted to leave our baggage there for out two days trip to Cape Tribulation, I booked three more nights in the same place by 237 AU$.

   For the rest I did my usual research at booking.com with a clear idea about the location preferred for each of them and looking for rates not exceeding 100€ as far as it was possible. The chosen ones have been:

 - Our first night in Australia is thought to be spent in the Great Ocean Road. We looked for a place in Port Campbell, which is close to the Twelve Apostles and allow us to see them at sunset and sunrise. We’ve chosen Port Campbell Parkview Motel & Apartments by 149 AU$.

 - For the two nights in Melbourne we see the best value for money in a sort of apart hotel sited in the city center by 252 AU$. City Tempo Melbourne CBD is a very good option by 80€ per night.

 - There are limited options in Ayer’s Rock and all of them within Ayer’s Rock Resort. There are some offers in their website, but none we could take advantage from for the two days we’re going to be there. We found out is a bit cheaper booking from booking.com and there is no availability at Outback Pioneer Hotel, so we make our reservation at Outback Pioneer Lodge. Accommodation here is always expensive and we pay 530 AU$ for these two nights.

 - For Sydney we soon were attracted by hotel The Bayswater Sydney. We haven’t found anything wrong on it. We pay 457 AU$ for all three nights.

 - In Cape Tribulation we were attracted immediately by the Rainforest Hideaway and, as there are only two rooms on it, we get ours at once by 149 AU$.

 - We went for something top level in Darwin in order to compensate the one in Cairns and the camping night we’re going to spend in Kakadu. We finally take two non-consecutive nights at DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade by 152 AU$ each.

 - At last, we keep in mind our three nights in Singapore must be at the same hotel. After a deep search we’ve chosen Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen by 168 SG$ each.

   This makes a total cost for hotels of 2078 AU$ + 504 SG$ = 1700€.

-Rental car

   At the beginning it looked like we should rent a car in every of the five spots in Australia. It could generate a problem as, based in our experience with the deposits, five ones could lock most of our travel budget.

   We needed to discard some of them: In Sydney we could use public transport for going everywhere, including Blue Mountains.

   For Darwin we decided to take a tour and avoiding the car and the worries about crocodiles and other dangerous fauna in the area.

   Finally, we thought about using the transport options from the Ayer’s Rock Resort and saving one more car.

   So we booked the car for Melbourne and Cairns with the same local company: Rent@Bomb. After the first contact, on both sites we were told we needed to take a Premium car if we wanted to drive out of the city.

   The cost for all three days in Melbourne is 171 AU$ after applying the maximum excess reduction. Two days in Cairns are 80 AU$ with the same insurance and excess reduction.

   This makes a total of 160€ for hired cars.

   Somehow, there are some other hidden costs here once we’re back as in Melbourne we were charged 60€ from our deposit for the kilometers above the limit.

   Other costs coming with the cars are the unavoidable tolls in Melbourne, which are cheap, but need to register at CityLink website and buy a Melbourne Pass in order to pay them, otherwise the car company charge you an extra of 25$ for every toll they must pay in your behalf.

   We found out too visitors must rent a car at Ayer’s Rock Resort as far as it is possible because the alternatives are more expensive and offer a worst in terms of exploring the National Park.

-Other expenses

   The cost of living in Australia makes there are no cheap tours for us.

   For the two days in Kakadu we’ve chosen Kakadu Dreams. Rate is 350 AU$ per person plus park admission fee.

   For the Great Barrier Reef we’re going with Seastar. It’s 195 AU$ per person.

   We’ve looked after having a second tour on the Great Barrier Reef at a different spot and we’ve chosen Reef Magic, which is a different type of tour. Rate is 199 AU$ per person, to which we’ve added 22 AU$ more for the van pick up/delivery at our hotel.

   There are two smaller tours for Sydney: at one hand we have the Opera House tour to see the interior. This has been purchased from its own web site by 33.30 AU$ per person. On the other hand we’ve got two places in a cruise to watch the whales close to the Bay of Sydney. We’ve taken this from the Captain Cook cruises web site by 59 AU$ per person.

   This makes a total cost for tours of 1672.60 AU$, around 1080€.

   There is another fixed cost when traveling to Australia as they have an ETA system similar to the one for the US. It is easily done from their web site by 20 AU$ per person: http://www.eta.immi.gov.au

   Detailed plan, then, is like this:

Day Night Morning Afternoon
10 Singapore Flight Flight
11 Flight Singapore Singapore
12 Port Campbell Great Ocean Road Great Ocean Road
13 Melbourne Great Ocean Road Melbourne
14 Melbourne Moonlit Melbourne
15 Ayer's Rock Flight Ayer's Rock
16 Ayer's Rock Uluru Uluru
17 Sydney Ayer's Rock Flight
18 Sydney Sydney Sydney
19 Sydney Blue Mountains Blue Mountains
20 Cairns Sydney Sydney
21 Cape Tribulation Cape Tribulation Cape Tribulation
22 Cairns Cape Tribulation Cairns
23 Cairns Great Barrier Reef Great Barrier Reef
24 Cairns Great Barrier Reef Great Barrier Reef
25 Darwin Flight Darwin
26 Kakadu Kakadu Kakadu
27 Darwin Kakadu Kakadu
28 Singapore Singapore Singapore
29 Singapore Singapore Singapore
30 Home Flight Flight