An Invitation to Visit Australia

Posted by Arlo on Apr 11, 2012 under Postcard Valet, Travel

As I mentioned previously, Oksana and I have decided to spend a year living and working in Australia.  However, we’re trying very hard to replenish some of the savings we burned through traveling around the world, so playing the tourist isn’t something we’re planning to do while we’re in Brisbane.  Though it’d be a shame to live an entire year in Australia and not see anything outside of Brisbane…

So we’re making plans.  Plans which may involve you, especially if you’re one of our friends or family members (or pretty much anyone on our Facebook or Twitter list!)

Although I haven’t really had the opportunity (yet!) to share what happened on our Galapagos trip – the one where we invited friends and family to come along with us – both Oksana and I viewed it as a big success.  We had 5 people join us in Ecuador; a good friend, his cousin (who we’d never met at all), and a family of three I barely knew in passing.  We all hit the streets of Quito, found ourselves a luxury cruise at a reasonable price, flew out to the islands, and spent a week together on a boat.  Afterwards, our friend stayed an extra week with us in Ecuador, where we took him on a day trip into the jungle.  I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.

Solo travel has its own rewards, but there’s something immensely satisfying about sharing adventures with other people.  For that reason, I’m not only glad I got to travel the world with my wife, but I’m also thankful that other people joined us, as well.

I know that many people consider Australia to be on their “bucket list,” that is, a place they want to visit before they die.  If you’re one of them, why not consider joining us Down Under later this year?

Oksana can’t get away for more than a weekend at a time, at least not while she’s still working.  You’re welcome to come visit us in Brisbane, of course, but if your goal is to go sightseeing around Oz, we won’t be able to travel around ourselves until November.

We have a few things on our must-do list, so we’ve decided that Oksana can’t afford to work right up until the very last day before our visas are set to expire.  She’s thinking about turning in her resignation letter around the first of November.  That’ll give us a month (or two!) to do the tourist thing.

Here’s what we’re thinking:

  • There’s a total solar eclipse passing over the northeastern tip of Queensland on the morning of November 13th.  How cool is that?! I consider it to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we cannot miss!  Everything else we’re planning will revolve around that.
  • Ever since we first learned to SCUBA dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Oksana and I have looked forward to the day we could do it again.  We plan to at least do a 5-day live-aboard on the near reef, and perhaps do a 7-day on the more spectacular outer reef… if other people are interested and we can find a way to pay for it.
  • Since touring Cairns wouldn’t be new for us, we’re thinking of renting a camper van and driving down the coast, after our dives, just to see something new.  We’ll still have our apartment in Brisbane, so we can either stop there or continue on down to Sydney (or Melbourne?) and fly home from there.

Those are just ideas for now.  Once we get a list of people who might like to join us, we can brainstorm more together.

How much will it cost?

Good question, but a hard one to answer.  Let’s break it down.

Airline tickets from the States look like they might run a hair under $2000, round trip to Cairns.  This is assuming  you’re flying from somewhere in the continental US and not waiting until the last night to make reservations.  If you have some frequent flyer miles saved up, it’s possible you could knock a big chuck off of that price.

Diving can be expensive.  I think it’s safe to say that Oksana and I would like to go with Deep Sea Divers Den again, because we know what we’d be getting: A giant stateroom on a plush catamaran with 3 meals and up to 4 dives a day.  This should cost about $900-1000, depending on whether or not we share our cabin with two others.

Not a diver yet?  Not a problem!  You could take a 5- or 6-day course – the same one we took in 2008; and one of the best vacation decisions we’ve ever made! – and pay roughly the same amount of money.  The only catch is that the first two days would be spent in a classroom and a pool before you get out on the reef.  I’m sure we could coordinate this so you could dive with us, if you wanted to.

For those with no interest in diving, there’s plenty to see and do around Cairns.  You could pay for a snorkeling day-trip out on the reef, go island-hopping on a sailboat, take a tour into the Daintree rainforest, head up into the Tablelands and do something hiking, visit a crocodile farm, or any number of other things.  After our diving excursion, we could all meet up again and set off down the coast.  (Heck, we may even be able to plan things so that you don’t even need to come to Australia until after we’re done diving, which could be especially handy if you have a limited amount of vacation time.)

Recently we invited a couple from Holland over for dinner when they passed through Brisbane.  They had rented a camper van and had been driving all over eastern Australia.  Sounded like a great way to travel and save money.  They told us they spent about $65/day on the van and all the necessary insurance, but the ones I’ve browsed online are a little more expensive.  The good news is that they have ones that sleep four for around $100/day.  That’d be only $25 a day for both transportation and lodging (as campgrounds and both cheap – if not free – and plentiful here.)

I could think of nothing cooler than to have enough people to warrant getting two or three of these camper vans and shuffling traveling companions around every day!  And there’s no reason people have to rough it in koala- or kangaroo-infested campgrounds, either (as if you that doesn’t sound cool in its own right!)  Anyone that wanted to spend the night in a hostel or hotel would be more than welcome.  We could just meet again for breakfast in the morning!

It’s hard to give you a good ballpark figure on what a trip like this would cost because not everyone is going to be able to stay the same length of time nor want to participate in the same excursions, but let’s take a shot at an all-in, two week vacation.  You’re looking at $2000 for the flights, $1000 for diving, and $700 for a camper van.  Gas (petrol!) is more expensive here, closing in on $6/gallon.  We might put 3000 kilometers on a car if we go all the way down the coast to Sydney.  Call that $1500-$2000 for gas (ouch!), but if we put four people in a van, we can divide up the cost of that, too.   We’re getting close to $4000 before food and other expenses, such as random tour fees and hotels.  All in, $5000 per person should be a safe bet, though.  Yeah, I told you Australia was expensive, but hey!  Arguably the coolest thing of all – the total solar eclipse – will be free!  (Let’s just hope it’s not cloudy that day!)

You don’t have to decide right now, based on that $5000 number.  Do your own research, see if you can knock things down by using frequent flyer miles, bringing a friend along to share expenses, or just skipping certain parts of our proposed itinerary altogether.  Maybe we can work something out.

Next Step

So!  Interested?  Even just enough to get more information before making a decision?  Then fire me an email or speak up on Facebook or Twitter or something.  I want to use the next week or so to gather up the interested parties and create an email list (or a Facebook group or something) where we can all brainstorm together about dates, costs, activities, and such.

Come on!  Oksana and I would love to see you.  And you… well, you deserve to tick an item off your bucket list!