For the month of September, we were in Australia. We finished our stay on a family owned permaculture farm in Casino, spent one night in Surfer’s Paradise, and then drove up to Toowoomba for a 6 week housesit. While in Toowoomba, we celebrated Sydney’s 10th birthday and made some good friends.
As I have mentioned before in our previous budget for August, our three-month long stay in Australia has been filled with ups and downs. On the positive side, we have made some good friends along the way, which has made each place we have visited feel a little like a home and the wildlife of Australia is truly fascinating. But we have also found that anything remotely connected to tourism is insanely expensive. This has really limited some of the activities we would have liked to have done, but we felt like we couldn’t justify spending the money. For example, after our housesit in Toowoomba we had thought about seeing Fraser Island, but it just was way too expensive for us.
So how did we do during our second month of being in Australia? Excitingly we had our cheapest month so far on our around the world adventure. We spent a total of $1501.92. This works out to $50.06 per day or $16.69 per person per day. Through the month of September $1 USD equaled approximately $1.13 AUD.
We spent a total of $785.36 on food. Further broken down, we spent $662.23 on groceries and $123.13 on dining out. A couple factors helped keep our food costs down for the month of September. For six days of the month, we were doing a HelpX opportunity on a permaculture farm in Casino where we helped out in exchange for food and accommodations. We also really tried to avoid eating out to minimize food costs. Australia is definitely one of the most expensive places we have encountered on our around the world adventure for eating out. Admittedly we did splurge and go out for Chinese food for Sydney’s birthday.
Fortunately groceries are significantly cheaper versus eating out. Before we had arrived in Australia, we had been told by fellow travelers that the place to shop for groceries was at Aldi. After comparing prices at other supermarkets such as Coles or Woolworths, we concur. Aldi does not have a lot of options, but definitely has enough options to do the majority of your shopping there and will help you save money.
Our next biggest expenditure for the month was for transportation. We spent a total of $425.43. We rented a car for 13 days to drive up from Sydney to Toowoomba for our house sit. The vehicle rental fell between the budget months of August and September, so it has been divided between the two. September’s portion of the car rental was $281.58. One thing that we learned from our experience about renting a car in Australia is be aware of potentially hefty one-way fees. We paid a shocking $200 in way one-way fees to pick up the car in Sydney and drop it off in Toowoomba.
During our house sit in Toowomba, the owner was generous enough to let us use her car. However we found Toowoomba to be a very walkable city, so we walked most places. This helped us save money. Most of the fuel cost reflected in September’s budget was for getting from Casino to Toowoomba. Our fuel costs for the month were $126.09. On average fuel cost about $1.50 AUD per liter or $1.33 USD. This works out to be about $5.03 per gallon. This is not the most expensive fuel we have encountered on our adventure, but is still more than in the US. We also had the miscellaneous cost for parking and tolls for a total of $14.02.
Our expenditures for lodging were $136.38. This was for the one night stay in Surfer’s Paradise and for internet while at the hotel. Lodging in Australia is definitely not cheap with most accommodations for a family are $100+ per night. To help us keep on budget while in Australia, we have had to be creative. We did this several ways.
During our gap between our house sit in Melbourne and Toowoomba, we decided to try out HelpX. For little over a week, we helped out on a permaculture farm near Casino, Australia in exchange for food and accommodation. During the week, we learned a little about the principles of permaculture, planted things, built things, and made new friends. Overall our experience was very positive. HelpX has opportunities worldwide and offers a wide range of experiences from helping design websites, to childcare, to helping out on a permaculture farms.
Another way we found to help keep our lodging costs down was housesitting. We were lucky and secured a house sit for 6 weeks in Toowoomba through Trusted Housesitters. Although Toowoomba was definitely off the beaten path, we had a nice stay. We enjoyed taking care of the four cute furry friends and some chooks (chickens). Thanks to my daughter’s outgoing nature, we were also able to connect with some other homeschooling families and one family especially really took us in and made Toowoomba feel a little like home. It was very sad to say goodbye to Toowoomba and Bernadette and family.
Like I mentioned, housesitting is a great way to keep costs down. However, it is very competitive. My advice to you if you are interested in doing housesitting apply as soon as the position is posted and just keep on applying. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t hear back from people. The right house sit will come along. We have talked to several people who have said that they received hundreds of applications when they posted their house sit opportunity. Also, on average for each house sit we have done we have had to apply to 20 to 30 opportunities. Here’s a tip, before leaving try do some house sitting in your local area to build up those references.
Our next biggest expenditure for the month of September was for miscellaneous items for a total of $86.76. This included for 2 books, a haircut, adapter plug, hat for Kerri, some small birthday gifts of Sydney, and party supplies. Sadly, I lost my beautiful Italian sun hat, but was able to find a replacement. A sun hat for me is one of my must have objects while traveling. While in Toowoomba, we also celebrated Sydney’s birthday. We bought Sydney some small gifts and were fortunate enough to invite our new friends over for birthday party for Sydney. We had fun playing pin the tail on the horse, eating cake, and even made octopus piñatas.
We spent a total of $66.99 on entertainment. This included going to a homeschooling gym class at the PCYC in Toowoomba, seeing the Equine horse show, horse riding and doing a “fossil dig” at the mall. During our month we were very fortunate to be invited to a homeschooling gym class and the opportunity to meet up with several families. Sydney had a blast. Sydney requested for her birthday to go see the Equine Show in Toowoomba. During the show she was able to learn a little about how to take care of a horse, the different breeds and also see the different styles of horse riding. While in Toowoomba, we were able to locate some really cheap horse riding group classes for Sydney at $30 AUD for 2 hours of riding.
One nice thing about Australia is that most National Parks are free and most cities have some phenomenal parks with BBQ’s and play areas for kids. We found this especially true for Toowoomba and we really enjoyed the parks around the city. We were fortunate enough to be in Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers and all the parks were beautiful with all the flowers blooming.
- Try to drop off the car at the same place as pick up as one way fees can be hefty
- Housesitting is a great way to help keep costs down. Just keep in mind it is very competitive. Apply early and be prepared to apply to lots of opportunities before getting selected.
- HelpX is another great way to help keep costs down. This is by far less competitive and has opportunities worldwide.
- Most of the National Parks are free. Save money by getting out and enjoying nature and perhaps even get a glimpse some of the iconic animals of Australia.
- Shop Aldi, it will save you money on groceries.
Australia has been full of ups and downs, but we are so glad that we had the opportunity to spend 3 months in the country. We have made some good friends along the way, experienced a bit of Australia of the beaten path, and seen some really cool animals.