TOP 10 | BUDGET TRAVEL
1The Top End Perhaps the biggest draw cards at this end of the Northern Territory are World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land to the east and the canyon, gorges and Bungle Bungles of the vast Kimberley region to the west.
Rental vehicles can be expensive because they need to be four-wheel drive to properly explore the outback, so it can be more cost effective to join a tour. Travel Wild (www.travelwild.com.au) have two-day guided camping safaris in Kakadu from A$385 (£256). If you’re looking for somewhere economical to stay, Darwin’s Barramundi Lodge (www.barramundilodge.com.au) is a real find, with an inviting pool and rates from A$40 (£26).
Sightseeing-wise, you can explore Darwin’s Esplanade on a hired bike, or better still, a motor scooter – this will cost about A$25 (£16) for two hours. For A$6 (£4) you can tour the historical World War II Oil Storage Tunnels below the Esplanade. For evening, catch a movie at the city’s outdoor Deckchair Cinema for A$12 (£8), or have a nosey at the food and craft stalls of Mindil Beach Market.
A u s t r a l i a & N Z | M a y 2 0 12
A camping safari in Kakadu can be very cost-effective www.getmedownunder.com www.getmedownunder.com TOP 10 | BUDGET TRAVEL
2Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef The Sydney to Cairns route – up, or down, the east coast – is the most popular tourist trail in Australia. And for good reason. Queensland has tropical rainforests, reef-fringed islands, squeaky-white beaches and reams of glorious sunshine. A cost-effective way to explore this part of Australia is on a Queensland Rail East Coast Discovery Pass (www.queenslandrail.com.au). For A$369 (£245), a ticket gives you unlimited stopovers in one direction between Cairns and Sydney (or vice versa). If you’re off to see the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns-based Great Adventures (www.greatadventures.com.au) has daytrips to the Reef from A$201 (£133), which includes snorkelling equipment, food and drinks, and access to Cairns’ Underwater Observatory.
To rest your head afterwards, Trinity Beach Self Catering Accommodation, north of Cairns costs from A$78 (£51) per night for two people if you book via www.discoveraustralia.com.au.
Queensland boasts many squeaky-white beaches
3Red Centre The thousands of kilometres of multi-coloured dusty deserts, bizarre rock formations, an endless sense of space, mystery and dreaminess are what makes Australia’s outback landscape unique. The best way to experience the outback is to do a road trip. Australia, with its long, empty, sun-baked roads is a country begging for road trips.
Any good outback road trip should include the Red Centre and it’s big three rock stars: Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, all incredible sights in their own ways. A three-week booking for a campervan, collected in Darwin and dropped-off in Sydney, in say July, costs around A$49 (£32) per day, booked through www.vroomvroomvroom.com. In some ways campervanning around Oz is living the Australian dream: you can go where you want, stop where you want and sleep where you want – you’ve got the freedom of the great open road.
If you’re planning to spend time in Uluru, hotel accommodation can be pricey, but camping at Ayers Rock Campground costs from just A$36 (£23) per night, or a cabin, accommodating up to six people, costs A$150 (£99) per night.
Enjoy the freedom of the open road in the outback
4West Coast The eastern seaboard may seem like the coast with the most, but some would argue that the west is where it’s at! You’ll find unpeopled beaches, dolphins that come to shore to feed (at Monkey Mia), eerie and alluring rock formations (such as The Pinnacles) and gorge-ous rusty red national parks (Karijini).
To see the west coast on the cheap, Greyhound currently have a ‘Mates Rates’ deal, where if you buy two tickets for their Broome to Perth route – from A$353 (£235) direct or a A$419 (£278) ‘Flexi Fare’ – the second is 50 per cent off. Under 14s’ tickets are also 50 per cent off. The advantage of the Flexi-Fare is that you can hop on or off the bus whenever you like.
For guided expeditions in Western Australia, Adventure Tours (www.adventuretours.com.au) run good single and multi-day trips, with regular discounts.
In Broome, Kimberley Klub YHA is a backpackers resort with a luxurious resort feel. It has tropical gardens, a swimming pool and a poolside bar, and it provides regular shuttle buses to Cable Beach. Prices start from A$19 (£12) but if you like your own space, a double room costs from A$63 (£41) per night.
Western Australia will impress with its quirky rock formations
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A u s t r a l i a & N Z | M a y 2 0 12