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questions about living cheaply in Australia
5:34:40 AM

Im a avid climber from Norway that has recently started thinking of taking a good while off from work to climb around the world.

Australia is one of the countries that looks really interesting, and has come with great recommendations from the people Ive met whove been there.

Currently Im at the "research stage" of the expedition, nothing is locked down yet. Im mainly trying to figure out how much money Id need to survive each month.

Obviously I have about a million questions, so here is the first barrage:

Is a car necessary?

Is it possible to live close to the major crags?

How much do I need for food? Think cheap, but not dumpster-diving cheap

Is it possible to camp for free?

What time of year is best for climbing?

How is July and later?


6:47:11 AM
as a north american who spent 7 months climbing in oz:

a car is necessary if you want to visit numerous crags, but you can get a small, cheap backpackers car in any big city and sleep free pretty much anywhere in oz. i paid for 5 nights of lodging the whole trip. a tent is necessary if you cant stretch out in your car.

i ate from the supermarkets everyday. probably only ate chinese takeout 3 times the whole trip. look for half price bread and salad stuff and fruit. i rarely drank alcohol cause i preferred to put that cash into the petrol tank.

climbed in numerous areas and did not pay very much in fees.

the biggest expense, daily, is petrol and the price fluctuates. as you drive around, keep an eye out for the cheap chain of petrol shops. also, try to give lifts to other climbers and share the petrol. i got by on $10 a day for food or less, some days, maybe $3. if you want to go really cheap, just eat noodles and beans, but good nutrition helps your climbing so i ate lots of salads.

go to the local op shop or tip for various things you might need, extra blanket, pants, shirts. no need to buy anything new.
6:50:28 AM
On 27/05/2010 zappfe wrote:

>Is a car necessary?

Depends where you go. Arapiles is about the only place that's super easy without a car. You'll meet people who have cars and might be able to go other places with them
>Is it possible to live close to the major crags?

Do you mean live like in a house? Arapiles and the Blue Mountains are the only real options there. Camping or living out of a car is pretty easy at most crags.

>How much do I need for food? Think cheap, but not dumpster-diving cheap

You can get a loaf of bread for $1.50, litre of milk $1.10, tin of baked beans or tomatoes, 75cents, 500g cheese, $4, bananas about $2 a kilo Does that give you an idea? Despite recent claims on this forum that Australia is expensive (compared to UK/Europe), I don't think it is at all. Except for beer which you can't buy in the supermarket at preposterously cheap prices. That'll be about $40 a slab.
>Is it possible to camp for free?

Depends where you go again. Arapiles is $2 a night. Frog is $4ish, Buffalo is $21ish. Plenty of free options in the grampians, a few in the blueys, Moonarie, free.
>What time of year is best for climbing?

At risk of sounding like a broken record, depends where you go. Most of Victoria and Moonarie, Spring and Autumn are ideal, summer is managable at Araps and Gramps. Tasmania and Buffalo, summer. Queensland, winter. Blueys is a gamble any time of year! Any time but winter really.
11:21:29 AM
Most importantly we have a very good range of drinkable local wines in the $5-$10 range, so you need not worry about Scandinavian prices in this area.

Need a car - yes but depending on how much you plan to use one you could rent from the mjor cities from somehwere cheap like Bayswater for $25 per day. Otherwise get a second hand one from about $2k.

In general you can climb year round in Oz, seeking out either shade or sun as appropriate, but each are will have thier best season eg Araps is probably spring/autumn.

Araps also probably has the best climber camp set up with lots of long term visitors where it's easy to meet partners. It also has some of the best climbing in the world (in my experience).

Enjoy yourself.

11:40:29 AM
If you look around or are lucky you can pick up a decent car for less than 2k.

I picked my van up for $1600 three years ago. It had 12 months rego and I didn't need to spend a cent on it for the first year. Evanb recently picked up a good cheap Subaru for less than 2k.
12:02:49 PM
On 27/05/2010 wallwombat wrote:
>If you look around or are lucky you can pick up a decent car for less than
>I picked my van up for $1600 three years ago. It had 12 months rego and
>I didn't need to spend a cent on it for the first year. Evanb recently
>picked up a good cheap Subaru for less than 2k.

You gotta remember though at the end of your trip you can sell the car again. So if you treat it well then you may end up paying virtually zero for a car
12:27:26 PM
I just came back from a year in Norway, basically:

-fresh fruit, veg. here is half the norwegian price
-meat is almost a quarter of the norwegian price here (except salmon)
-public transport here is much worse, but cheaper
-beer/wine here is about half the norwegian price, spirits around a third
-free camping is possible here but not nearly as easy as in Norway, you can usually find a place but you have to be a bit more 'out of the way'. Finding a spot near crags shouldn't be a problem.
-there's no winter in australia

hope that helps
12:39:40 PM
food get an idea from supermarket catalogues of "specials " Coles , Woolworths or IGA Aldi It will give you a good idea of prices as usually 20% plus discounts on normal prices . Petrol around $1.30 to $1.40 a litre and has been up to 1.70 a few years ago. LPG is around 60 cents a litre but duel fuel cars tend to be more of a maintainance problem and lpg can be hard to find in some rural areas Distances are large melbourne brisbane 1700 km Melbourne araps 350 km . Rego around $500 pa in victoria which include personal accident insurance (Medical ) damage to your or other cars optional depending on your risk profile . Cars need a roadworthy certicate to transfered and should come with one or else the car can't be sold registered .If you get travel insurance make sure it will cover ambulance as very expensive should you need it

12:48:04 PM
the thing to remember about the car is that you are essentially renting it for the time you are here, not really buying it.

chances are if you spend a little more on the vehicle, it will last the whole trip and can sell it for 80%+ of what you paid. thus you take what you lost on the vehicle, divide it by the length of stay and that is what you rented it for.

public transport and climbing dont mix well.

1:23:58 PM
If you're willing to walk a couple of km to the crags, carless is not always terminal. I've managed OK at Moonarie, Nowra, Araps and the Blueys on numerous trips. On the other hand, it ain't Europe, and it will certainly be easier and more convenient to be petrol-mobile.

One Day Hero
3:27:24 PM
Moonarie without a car is silly advice! Strong chance of no other climbers being there and then it might take days to hitch out.

So, here are some guidelines which I would follow to maximise climbing pleasure in Oz

1) In Australia everyone has a car, you should follow this trend

2) A large station wagon will be cheaper than a van and allows dry sleeping in rainy emergencies

3) Try to make sure that your long trip includes March, April and May as this is the golden time of year (climb almost anywhere, and won't have many rainy emergencies)

4) If you start before March, Tassie is really good

5) If you stay after May, migrate north as the weather dictates

6) Do not drive away from Araps/Gramps/Moonarie if the weather is still good.......except when driving to another of Araps/Gramps/Moonarie
(I recently met a Swiss guy who left perfect conditions and good crew at Taipan to check out the famous 'Attack Mode' at Nowra...............upon seeing the "Stellar Line", he said a few rude words!)

7) Don't let blinkered locals talk you into visiting dogshit crags like Mitre Rock, Wingello, Tianjara, Giraween, the poxy sandstone thing near Launceston, any rock within 2hrs of Adelaide or Melbourne.......unless they offer a guided tour and you're trying to get into their pants!

8) Spring is not as good as everyone says it is. In wet years, a lot of climbing areas go directly from 'cold and wet' to 'warm and wet'

9) Don't pay attention to the people who tell you that 'winter here won't be a problem for a scandinavian'......unless you are the particular type of scandinavian who enjoys camping and climbing in 5 degrees and drizzle! (there are lots of good winter crags in Oz, but forget Victoria)

10) I've heard very good things about Scando granite. Australian granite will most likely be a huge waste of your time

1:15:35 PM
Dont forget to register with couchsurfing. com or the likes. I ve used it here and in numerous countries and its been great.
5:13:26 AM
wow.. that was 11 fast and useful answers. Thanks everyone!

When I asked about living near crags, I mainly thought about camping / living in a tent.. It seems the answer to that is "yes, but it costs a few dollars per day".

It seems its time to do some maths to figure out a budget:)

8:25:58 AM
On 29/05/2010 zappfe wrote:
>wow.. that was 11 fast and useful answers. Thanks everyone!
>When I asked about living near crags, I mainly thought about camping /
>living in a tent.. It seems the answer to that is "yes, but it costs a
>few dollars per day".
>It seems its time to do some maths to figure out a budget:)

You may also wish to consider some casual work while you are here but will need to apply for the appropriate visa BEFORE YOU TURN 31. (Probably best to do this in your home country) If granted, the visa remains in force for 12 months.

Visit the Australian Department of Immigration website for more details:

Here is just a little of the important information:

Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)

Who is this visa for?
You should read this information if you are applying for your first or second Working Holiday visa.
This visa is for people aged 18 to 30 years of age, who are interested in a working holiday of up to 12 months in Australia.
Important: Applicants must have turned 18, but not turned 31, at the time of visa application.

Norway is one of the participating countries in this arrangement.

11:12:24 PM
The major supermarket chains (Coles and Woolworths) also provide petrol discount coupons at the bottom of your receipt when you spend over a certain amount of money in one transaction (valid in certain petrol stations). It doesn't save you much money though. Seems to me I only every save $2 or $3 on a full tank. Still - a saving is a saving...

If you're staying in one spot a while, it would be handy to try and find out what time of day, or what day of week, the major specials happen. For instance, perhaps a certain Woolworths store might discount their meat on Wednesday afternoons.
3:26:35 AM
So, Im back again, and this time Ive done some maths!

Are these two budgets looking reasonable? They are both for 30 days.
I guess the reality would be something in between though.

Best Case:
Living expenses : 60 dollars or 2 dollars per day
Food: 360 dollars or 12 dollars per day
Gas: 270 dollars, or 9 dollars per day. approx. 181 kilometers (this would be a month where Id be pretty much stationary at one place like the arapiles)
Misc: 90 dollars or 3 dollars per day
Total: 790 dollars or 26.5 dollars per day

Worst Case:
Living expenses: 300 dollars or 10 dollars per day
Food: 640 dollars or 21.5 dollars per day
Gas: 450 dollars or 15 dollars per day Approx 300 liters of gas. This would be moving between the major locations.
Misc: 180 dollars or 6 dollars per day
Total: 1580 dollars or 52 dollars per day.
7:20:50 AM
if you are only going to have 30 days, don't boher moving between major locations. Choose somewhere like Araps-Gramps or the Blueys (both of which have lots of different crags to keep you entertained) and hang out there for a month. It would just be frustrating to spend a week here and there and the distances in Australia are somewhat large. It takes 14 hours to drive from Araps to the Blueys.

9:08:04 AM
Yeah...what Wendy said.

You made it sound like you were coming out for here for a few months. If I were you only had 30 days I'd put the visit off until September and just base myself at Arapiles and look at doing side trips to the Grampians. You won't need a car as you should be able to hook up with other climbers at Arapiles. It wont end up costing you that much at all.

9:24:50 AM
One thing that you might have already considered is that some O/S climbers come to Australia without shoes, or a rope, or harness or whatever thinking that they will just pick one up over here. Almost universally, if those climbers are operating on a pretty tight budget, they find that they have blown their budget with that single purchase. If at all possible bring all of your climbing gear (especially rope and shoes) with you, or at least be prepared to spend the sort of money that Steve from Rockhardware (sponsor of this site) charges. The Aussie dollar is pretty strong at the moment meaning that gear will be really expensive (relatively) if you are coming from O/S.

On a personal note, if I had 30 days to travel to a beautiful new country like Australia, but with climbing in mind, I would want to see as many different places as possible - Araps/Gramps/Blueys in September, spend some time in Sydney and do the touristy thing up the North Coast of NSW. Yes, less climbing time and it will be a lot (!) of driving but 30 days is quite a bit of time and even when driving you get to experience our kulcha in little country towns much better than if you were to spend a week in one of our big cities IMHO. July can be a pretty cold and wet time of year down south but maybe check out the Blueys (generally cold at that time of year, some sunny areas) and then head up the coast checking out a few lesser known places (central coast), doing a bit of touristy stuff (Byron Bay) and head to Frog Buttress near Brisbane. Then again if climbing is priority 1-10 and you are coming to Australia only to climb in July then pick a spot like Araps/Gramps and hang out for the best weather. World class.

I know that my travelling suggestion might be expensive, but I did a quick look on and travelling from Melbourne > Natimuk (arapiles) > blackheath (blueys) > Byron Bay (touristy backpacker beachy town) > Brisbane represents about 2500 km of driving. Throw in abother 500 km for incidental driving and you round out at 3000 km or an average of 100 per day. Asusming you do a full driving day every now and then it should be doable. The roads generally allow you to drive averaging 90-100 km/h with speed limits of 100-110 km/h. Petrol costs - about $1.20/10 km so you would have to budget $360 in petrol. You camp cheaply at Arapiles, for free in the Megalong Valley in the Blueys. You can sleep in truck stops/rest areas on the highways. Anyway - just food for thought. (assuming fly into Melbourne and out of Brisbane - booking internal flights on can be pretty cheap and I have found they have become a lot more reliable, otherwise Qantas (expesnive, reliable), Virginblue (mid-range, generally reliable), or tigerairways (can be very cheap, I have vowed never to fly with them again).
10:37:14 AM
seems reasonable estimates for best and worst senarios but the car could exceed these amounts as you have to turn it over within 30 days if buying and presumably at the older car level which carries inherent risks of breakdowns and repairs as well as the difference buying and selling .
Rent a wreck might be cheaper ! .
Also it costs between 15 to 25 to get to and from airports to city centres. Trains buses and discount airfares are generally cheaper than petrol for only one person in the car over most distances Food and living can be adjusted to meet budgets but transport can be the huge variable and to me is by far the major outlay for your trip so the quality of how you move around will dctate the costs . There are tollways in the major capitals . (melbourne,sydney and brisbane ) which are expensive for casual use and can be hard to avoid.

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