Exploring Australia From The Left

austastar

New member
Hi,
Enjoying the read so far, you seem to be having fun in our back yard.
Looking forward to your experiences in freighting the vehicle across the ditch, I gather their quarantine is strict.
Cheers

Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Hi,
Enjoying the read so far, you seem to be having fun in our back yard.
Looking forward to your experiences in freighting the vehicle across the ditch, I gather their quarantine is strict.
Cheers

Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk
I am happy you are enjoying our adventure.

I wrote up our experiences shipping in the travel planning sub forum. The biosecurity and safety requirements were definitely a challenge! I will post an abbreviated version in this thread in a few weeks.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Wilson’s Prom and Baw Baw NP
By Jen.

Since we were already pretty close to Wilson’s Promontory National Park, we figured we would spend another day there. We only spent one day last time, so we gave it another try. We tried to do the walk to Squeaky Beach (a several km trek), but ended up there after only about 250 m. Oh well, at least we got to hear the sand squeak underneath our shoes.



That didn’t take any time at all, so we were able to check out the next walk: Lilly Pilly Circuit. This is a path through the forest leading to a gully where a micro-climate of rainforest exists. They have a unique crayfish there called the Lilly Pilly Burrowing Crayfish. This tiny crustacean builds an underground network of tunnels. Apparently they have been seen climbing trees as well!



Crayfish burrow and chimney.



On our way back, we saw a long snake.



This is what some eucalyptus gum looks like.

Walk concluded, we decided to head north out of the park.


Because Australia.

Next and last stop before we had to head back and prep the van was Baw Baw National Park. For day one, we visited Mushroom Rocks, which is part of the Australian Alps Great Walk.






They didn’t really look like mushrooms to me, but they were fun to walk around.



A colorful moth!

The next day we decided to head up Mt St Gwinear Track.



Spotted grasshoppers, possibly in the process of mating.


https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_ssQ0GbBBuw/WkB2i5zOJOI/AAAAAAAAvj8/ALgKBP56w68TtExVz3qGmeTAj1BVndP2ACHMYCw/s1600-h/DSCN17643
They beautiful colors and striations of snow gums.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence

The single view out over the mountains and valleys.



We made a stop at the dam before we went back into Melbourne to prepare.


FUN FACT 1: In Australia, instead of mailboxes, they have letterboxes. They don’t pick up mail to be sent from these boxes, so there is no “flag.” Additionally, they don’t have a standard for these letterboxes. They can be any size and any distance from the road. The letterboxes are often very creative. We have seen everything from appliances (washers, driers, microwaves, etc.) to buckets to artistic sculptures of cows or people.


FUN FACT 2: Even before we arrived in Australia, we had heard of their “road trains.” Although spoken of with extreme caution, I was excited to see one. A movie that we watched implied that they were these extremely long semi with multiple trailers in tow. I wanted to see one in action! But, from the time we arrived in AUS, Jonathan and I were in argument about what defined a road train. I thought that being a train meant it needed to have at least 2, preferably 3 trailers to qualify (otherwise it is just a simple semi or tandem trailer). But Jonathan thought that it was just what they called their semi trucks/trailers. Well, sadly, he was correct. A road train consists of any length/combo of semi truck and trailer. And, their road trains are limited to a maximum length. So, the truck part looks a bit different than those in the US. They are taller (more often a cab-over) and not as long, so that they can fit more trailers behind them.


 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Saying Goodbye

By Jen.

November 21st began our week-long preparations for shipping the van out of Australia and into New Zealand. Needless to say, this meant a lot of cleaning, which meant a lot of awkward positions for both us and the van.


Trying to clean under the van without breaking our backs.

Since NZ requires a safety inspection that won’t let cracks over a certain size pass on a windshield (windscreen here), we also had the windscreen replaced. Unfortunately, that meant we lost the 3M Crystalline clear tint we had on it, as it is illegal to install it here and no installer would do it. It will be missed as it blocks a lot of heat from entering the van.


We did the window in 2 steps, removal then installation, so Jonathan could repair under the seal and prevent future rust.

Everything inside and outside the van got scrubbed to remove any dirt and insect or plant matter.


This ended up being a bit more thorough then expected, as we forget to install the dash seal before we reinstalled the windshield, so the only way to put it back in was to take apart the dash.

On Monday, since our shipper didn’t pay attention to the words “carnet” and didn’t quote us for processing a carnet (and wanted to charge us and additional $225 for it), we had to make a trip to the customs office again to process it ourselves. We were told they now require 24 hours processing and that we would have to return the next morning. So, we made our way to our AirBnb apartment. After we arrived, we discovered that I had inadvertently booked a place without wifi, which wasn’t going to work for us. So, instead of being able to unload and unpack everything there, we would have to wait until the next place on the next day. At least we got all our washing done.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QRHg3G9qJuY/WkB4HHtPcWI/AAAAAAAAvlE/e-zo3Wwu87UbjCr-ylAFZqZHZ0JtlMHkgCHMYCw/s1600-h/IMG_20171125_0843332
Fun moth-like creature in a parking lot.

With those 2 new developments on Monday, our Tuesday was going to be jam-packed. We had to finish cleaning and packing the van, go to pick up our carnet from near the airport, cross the city to drop off our luggage at the new AirBnB, find a car wash and then drive to the port to drop off our van.

Cleaning took a bit long, but carnet pickup went smoothly. On the way to our AirBnb, the truck in front of us very suddenly jerked left and hit the left side of a parked car. We were fine, but we stopped just long enough to make sure the driver was OK, then continued on. We were just thankful we and the van were fine and were reminded why you want to avoid street parking.

Finding a manual (wand) car wash is a strangely difficult thing to do. It is hard to google, as mostly only the full-service or automatic ones are advertised. Finally, we found one and Jonathan quickly gave the outside a final wash.

Lastly, we tried to find the drop-off point for the van. Somehow, what I saved in my calendar, wasn’t what my shipping agent had told me. All the signs seemed accurate, but it wasn’t lining up with all the rest of instructions, and my drop-off contacts weren’t answering their phones. So, upon further investigation, we realized my address didn’t match what the agent gave me. So, we went over there instead. Well, that location didn’t exist at all! By this time, it was already at the end of the drop-off window (before 1pm on each day). We still had another day available to drop it off, so at this point, it was just a matter of figuring out where I really needed to drop it off. So, I called her while I checked the locations’ websites. The agent wasn’t any help; she had never been there, nor had she directed anyone there before. The website said a completely different address, so we tried that. This looked like a success, but as we pulled up, we accidentally ended up in the line for the secure area and we didn’t see a way out. We pulled off to the side and waited until their was a gap in the line and went the wrong way down a one-way to get to the visitor’s car park. By that point, we had attracted the attention of people working there, and after a getting a scolding for performing an illegal maneuver, we were directed to a shack to get instructions.

Armed with our export paperwork, we visited the shack. The staff there helped us get in contact with the appropriate contact (after several failed attempts). Finally, we got someone on the line, and when we asked to verify the procedure and he found out that we were already there and parked in the car park, he said he would be out in 10 minutes to pick up the vehicle for us (saving us from having to take induction courses and drive it in ourselves). Sure enough, a bit later, we were met by him and handed over our keys. When he found out that we planned to walk to the nearest bus stop, he had his ride drive us there, which was a great help. Overall, very friendly and helpful and we didn’t have to come back the next day, even though we had arrived late.

Now, we just had to wait for the ship to depart on the 3rd. So, what would we do with our week without the van? Well, we needed to research and prepare for New Zealand still (I still had a large list of to-dos for that). Plus, there were a few locations to visit in town. Lastly, we planned to do some walking with packs to help prepare our bodies for the tramping in New Zealand.


We visited the Carlton Gardens.



And the Museum of Melbourne






Colorful birds on our walk.



The Melbourne skyline as the clouds increased and started to pour for 3 days straight.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence

Melbourne’s very own colony of flying foxes.






Day 1 of rain, view from the dock.



Day 3 of rain, can’t even reach the dock.

Then, finally, on the 3rd of December, we saw that the ship set sail with our van on it. Then the next day, it was time to leave Australia and head to New Zealand.

FUN FACT: In the US, “trolley” refers to a street vehicle that normally runs on rails. Here, those vehicles are called “trams.” A “trolley” is what is referred to as a shopping cart in the US. “Pram” is a baby carriage.

FUN FACT: Most of Australian schools have a dress code. What is interesting is that while they have these nice and proper uniforms, the uniform includes these crew/ankle socks (climbs up the leg to just under the calf) that look ridiculous paired with shorts/skirts. It is used for both male and female attire and is common even into adulthood. I don’t personally understand this fashion, as it doesn’t look good on anyone. Perhaps there is some practical reason for these socks?
 

Cornered

New member
FUN FACT 2: Even before we arrived in Australia, we had heard of their “road trains.” Although spoken of with extreme caution, I was excited to see one. A movie that we watched implied that they were these extremely long semi with multiple trailers in tow. I wanted to see one in action! But, from the time we arrived in AUS, Jonathan and I were in argument about what defined a road train. I thought that being a train meant it needed to have at least 2, preferably 3 trailers to qualify (otherwise it is just a simple semi or tandem trailer). But Jonathan thought that it was just what they called their semi trucks/trailers. Well, sadly, he was correct.

I just wanted to let you know that YOU were correct about road trains.

A road train has two or more trailers, but excludes what we call a B-double (that's a 20' trailer and a 40' trailer behind it). So 2 x 40' trailers would be considered a road train, and it's common to find triples and quads of various configurations.

The maximum length for a road train on public roads is 53.5m (175'), although you can find longer rigs on private agricultural and mining roads.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Hey! For those who might be following, I have started posting the New Zealand part of our adventure over in this thread.



Australia Summary

We did it! We circumnavigated and crisscrossed Australia. Here are some statistics and answers to common questions about our trip.

Capture

  • Time
    • Day entered 1: 16-Jan-2017
    • Day left 1: 1-Aug-2017
    • Day entered 2: 25-Aug-2017
    • Day left 2: 4-Dec-2017
    • Total # of days: 298
      • Nights slept in van: 265
      • Nights slept in tent: 9
      • Nights slept in hotel/etc.: 24
      • Nights paying for lodging: 61
    • States:
      • Most time spent: Victoria, followed by Western Australia
      • Least time spent: New South Wales
      • Most paid camping (ignoring hotels): Queensland
      • Least paid camping (ignoring hotels): South Australia and New South Wales
  • Distance
    • Driven: ~49,385 km (~30,865 miles)
      • State with most distance driven: Western Australia
      • State with least distance driven: Tasmania
    • Hiked: 544.1 km (340.1 miles)
      • State most hiked: Tasmania (by a long shot, nearly twice as much as 2nd place)
      • State least hiked: Western Australia (knee injury didn’t help)
    • Fuel fill-ups: 81
  • Money
    • Total spent: $21,769.98 USD ($27,910.2 AUD)
      • Consists of the costs of traveling full time in Australia, including insurance, etc.
      • Does not include gear or van conversion costs
      • Does not include shipping costs or flights
      • States:
        • Most total cost: Victoria (probably because of costs associated with shipping, ie hotels, and registering)
        • Least total cost: New South Wales
    • Average cost per day: $73.05 USD ($93.66 AUD)
      • State with most average cost per day: Queensland
      • State with least average cost per day: Northern Territory
    • Average cost of diesel: $1.317 AUD per liter ($3.693 USD per gallon)
      • State with most average diesel cost: Western Australia
      • State with least average diesel cost: Victoria
  • Favorite Experiences (in order of appearance)
    • Tasmania in general
    • Victoria:
      • Alpine NP (the mountains are different diversion and nice and cool in the summer heat)
      • Great Ocean Road in Victoria (very beautiful)
      • Glenelg River Kayaking
    • South Australia
      • Mt Remarkable NP (one of our first experiences of red earth, nicely contrasted against green plants)
    • Western Australia
      • Ningaloo reef (snorkeling and whale sharks)
      • Karajini NP (beautiful gorges)
      • Windjana Gorge NP (views of freshwater crocodiles)
      • Tunnel Creek NP (a fun, free cave walk with glowing eyes)
      • Purnulu (Bungle Bungle) NP (fun geological shapes)
    • Northern Territory
      • Hayes Creek – Butterfly Gap (loved the butterflies)
      • Trephina Gorge Nature Park (beautiful little park that escapes most of the crowds)
      • Finke Gorge NP (it was quite the adventure to go down the “severe” 4WD road)
      • Spotting feral camels
    • South Australia
      • Head of Bight Whale Watching
    • Victoria
      • Grampians NP
    • Queensland
      • Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP (kayaking down the river was wonderful after so much desert)
      • Millstream Falls NP (Little Millstream Falls were such a charming place)
      • Atherton Tablelands (wonderful weather, beautiful rainforest and sights, interesting creatures)
      • Daintree NP (tropical rainforest experience)
      • Spotting wildlife (cassowaries, tree kangaroos, platypus)
      • Kayaking in Byfield NP
      • Lamington NP (old forest with variety of climates and interesting wildlife, e.g. blue crays)
    • New South Wales
      • Mount Kaputar NP (Sawn Rocks)
      • Mt Kosciuszko (climbing the highest point on the flattest continent)
    • Victoria
      • Raymond Island (koala spotting)
      • Phillip Island (penguin spotting and great views)
    • And of course, meeting great people along the way! Thanks for those who opened their doors to us and helped us along!
  • Why Australia?
    • It is said that islands are the crucibles of evolution. At Australia, it really is like stepping into another world and you can see how being isolated from the rest of the continents for so long has affected its development.
    • There are lots of interesting wildlife.
    • You can readily see how humans impact the environment.
    • It is a English-speaking that has its very own and entertaining twist.
    • It is a vast country (about the size of the US) with large portions still largely unpopulated. Makes for some interesting adventures.
    • Lots of free camping and others who enjoy being outdoors.
    • Wildflowers everywhere and all seasons. They may not always be prolific or large, but you are bound to be able to find a wildflower in bloom wherever you go.
    • Friendly people.
  • Food
    • Nothing too interesting here. The scene has benefited greatly by the influence of the SE Asia.
    • Modern Australian seems to be a fresh and seasonal ingredients cooked in a flavorful (and not fried) way.
    • Uniquely Australian:
      • Beetroot on on burgers.
      • Pumpkin as a savory ingredient, including in sandwiches and pizzas.
      • They are awfully proud of their water quality and taste.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Overland Travel in Australia

By Jen.

Did our journey through Australia inspire you to do the same thing? Or, perhaps you just found this page as you searched for how to prepare for your own journey. This post will discuss what we recommend for anyone else looking to explore Australia by vehicle.

Check out the accompanying post: Shipping Vehicle to Australia or NZ

Choosing a vehicle
You have 3 options for your overland trip:
  1. Rent/hire a vehicle.
  2. Buy a vehicle.
  3. Bring your own vehicle.
Renting a vehicle is pretty standard. Most people have done it. Make sure to verify whether you are able to drive on unsealed roads. However, this doesn’t make sense at all if you will be traveling for more than a few weeks.

Buying a vehicle in Australia is a great option. Most campervans, etc., will hold their value, so you are likely to be able to get most of your money back when sold. And, all this is generally required to register your purchased vehicle is a local address. Just borrow a friend’s or your hotel’s, etc. The cons are fairly obvious. You don’t truly know its history or reliability, and you have to arrange for a sale at the end. We didn’t want to travel around Australia’s outback in an unreliable vehicle (not that all of them are, but it is important to know our vehicle and be able to fix it), and we didn’t want to stay in country when we were done trying to sell it, or try to sell it remotely from another country. Those were just hassles we didn’t want, though many people do it with minimal trouble.

Obviously, we chose to bring our vehicle over. Why? We had a heavily-modified campervan, suited perfectly for us with established reliability. Plus, we were visiting more than just Australia, so it made sense to bring it along. We knew we would be in Australia for close to a year, and in New Zealand for several months. Our travel style is low cost using free/cheap camps and cooking our own meals. Our vehicle greatly supports this. When you take the cost of shipping and divide it over that time, the non-refundable cost was worth it for us.

Preparing the Vehicle
All vehicles in Australia, regardless of import status, are required to have liability insurance. In Victoria it is state run and called TAC. Other states are similar. It is an accident insurance that only covers medical bills. If you are renting, you obviously don’t have to worry about this, but if you are buying or bringing a vehicle, it applies. There are plenty of instructions on how to buy a vehicle and get it registered, etc., in Australia, so I will focus on how to handle it for if you are temporarily importing your own vehicle.

Compulsory Third Party Insurance
To temporarily import a vehicle, you either need to pay the value+GST of the vehicle up front to customs, and get reimbursed when you export it, or have a CPD Carnet for the vehicle. The non-carnet option requires an import authorization, and is generally only applicable to vehicles that meet Australian Design Rules (Right Hand Drive). Australia’s government has good instructions on their website:
Then, before you can drive the vehicle on Australian roads, you have to go and get compulsory third party insurance (CTP) (aka greenslips). Most places won’t have had to do this before for a temporarily imported vehicle, so you will probably have to guide them along. And, the provider varies by state:
For Victoria, you will have to visit a VicRoads location and explain that you are temporarily importing a vehicle and need to obtain TAC. They have a special form for this. It is called the Application for a NON-Registered Vehicle Transport Accident Cover. They will look it up and then be able to help you. Again, this will require a local address in addition to your registration number from overseas.

It is not too expensive. It only cost $402.60 AUD for our van for the whole year.

Insurance
Now, while not required, it is highly recommended to get insurance. TAC is not vehicle insurance, it only covers medical bills for an accident, not any damage to vehicles or property. We had a hard time getting comprehensive/collision insurance. No one would insure a temporarily-imported left hand drive vehicle. The only company that was able/willing was Ken Tame. If you have a CMCA membership, you can get a discount on the insurance. Actually, I am not sure if you can obtain the insurance without a CMCA membership. The insurance coverage was pretty good, but required that all drivers have a CMCA membership. It wouldn’t cover anyone else driving the vehicle, either. We ended up using it to replaced our cracked windshield before shipping to Australia.

The downside to this insurance is that they only offer 2 term options: 6 months or 12 months. And you don’t get reimbursed for the months you don’t need. But, the cost for a campervan is really cheap compared to a regular van. We paid $613.65 AUD for 12 months cover (in the US we paid that much USD for 12 months cover for much less vehicle value and didn’t cover our belongings). We set our own agreed-upon value, which required a valuation. We had this done online by Internet Motorhome Valuations for $135 AUD. As a note, they use the term “excess” for what we call a “deductible” in the US.

image


Registration Plates
We actually got pulled over in Tasmania for not having a front registration/license/vehicle number plate. Oklahoma does not issue or require them for the front, only the rear. According to the rules of the carnet and the international motoring convention, temporarily-imported vehicles are not required to comply with the registration and roadworthiness rules of the destination country, only of the country of origin. Regardless, he was upset and issued us a warning (actually had it mailed to our address in the US!). So, to appease the local enforcement, we spent $10 and had an image of our plateprinted and laminated. Then we taped it to the front of the vehicle. They haven't had an issue with it since. Rather than try to argue, we recommend doing the same if you don't have a front plate.
Preparing for the Road
CMCA or ACC
Jonathan had become acquainted with many Australians through the Sprinter forum, and many of them recommended joining either CMCA or ACC. They offer auxiliary benefits, such as access to certain campgrounds, etc., including discounts on things like insurance. You can also network and go to gatherings, etc. Since the insurance we found required CMCA membership, that is what we joined. The only benefits we utilized were insurance and campgrounds, and actually only once or twice on the campgrounds. It can be useful, but really not required.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Store Rewards Program
I recommend obtaining rewards memberships at the supermarkets. I joined Woolworths Rewards. Its reward system is terrible; you have to spend $2000 to get a $10 discount. But, you earn points at certain Caltex (petrol/gas) stations (and 4 cents off per litre) as well at the Woolworths stores. So, I saved $30 over the 11 months I was there. The points earning are much more rapid at the end of the year (starting in October) than the rest of the year.

I believe Coles also has rewards system. Not sure if IGA does as well. While Woolworths is only available at fairly large cities, Coles is often available at medium-sized towns, especially in mining towns. Coles partners with Shell stations. IGAs are everywhere. Do whichever you prefer, it will pay off.

Australian Bank Account and/or Credit Card
We didn’t do this, but we wish we had. Our American credit cards (Capital One, as we earn 1.5% cash back and have no exchange fees) require a signature for nearly every purchase, even the $5 ones. Definitely got old pretty quickly. Australia uses a RFID-reading technology called Paywave, which just allows you to wave the card in front of the reader and be done with it. No PIN or anything. Probably less secure, but much more convenient.

The other issue with our American cards, besides the signatures, was the inability to purchase fuel from 24hr pumps. In Australia, unless it is a 24hr pump with a special payment system (very rare), you have to pay inside. And the stations are not open 24 hours. So, it limits when you can get fuel, especially on Sundays. Timing was never an issue for us, but the 24hr unmanned pumps were so much cheaper! Often 10 cents per litre cheaper! That, in and of itself, would have made it worth it to get an Australian card. We did try the unmanned pumps. They wouldn’t accept our credit card because it didn’t have a PIN. So, we tried our debit cards (which we did verify work at ATMs), but it wouldn’t accept that either. They require Australian accounts.

So, if you will be there for 6 months or more, take the time and set up an account. As an added bonus, you then can withdraw cash without ATM fees (if your US card doesn’t already provide that).

Not sure how to transfer the funds to your account? You have a couple of options. Perhaps the simplest is to use your American bank accounts transfer rate (ours was about 4% off the actual exchange rate) at the ATM. For us, not only was the exchange rate not the best, but we also had ATM fees at the ATM and at our bank for the withdrawal. Alternatively, you can ask your Australian bank to do the wire transfer, but they will probably offer similar rates. We found the best option was to use a third-party wire transfer system. OFX is our current system of choice. They take about 3% from the exchange rate, but don’t charge you any additional fees and can ACH-debit your accounts for no additional charge (takes 5 days, though).

Route
You should probably do a bit more research than we did and determine you route before you get there. We didn’t really have any plans, but it did work out all right. Your strategy should be to be in the south in the summer (Dec-Feb) and the north and center in the winter (Jul-Sep). You can do the east and west coasts in the spring and fall. We started in Melbourne in January, and went to Tasmania in February. Although crowded in Tasmania at this time, we wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Even mild Melbourne was experiencing 40+°C (104+°F) while we were down in Tasmania, where it was quite pleasant. Upon returning to the mainland in March, we could have made a clockwise or counterclockwise circuit, and either would have worked out. I made the call to go clockwise, and our timing was nearly perfect for staying in cool-to-warm weather and avoiding the heat.

Port
Besides the season, probably the other biggest factor in determining your route will be your arrival port. For shipping, we found out that all the east coast cities from Brisbane to Melbourne have the same rate for shipping, whereas Perth was a different rate (more expensive from the US). Also, we later found out that Brisbane is where the quarantine inspectors get trained (so goods are inspected more thoroughly there), so probably avoid that one. But everywhere else is fair game, depending on your needs. The only reason we chose Melbourne was that we knew more people there and had an offer for use of tools and storage.

School Holidays
Look up when the school holidays are, as the roads and the campgrounds get packed during that time. We often tried to visit less-popular locations for a week or two while they passed. Accommodation rates may increase substantially during this period as well.

National Park Passes
Each state administers its own national parks. Some charge entrance fees, some don’t. For the ones that do, it was useful to pick up either a holiday or annual pass. We found this website useful:
Camping
When we traveled through Canada back in the day, we had to wing it on where we would camp. Nowadays, they have handy apps for that. We purchased WikiCampsAUS for our travels and found it worth it. The app itself is somewhat poorly planned out, but it is useful and powerful, allowing you to look through crowd-sourced data for exactly the type of campground (or dump station or anything else) that you want.

Also, in many western towns public alcohol consumption is banned, avoid the rest and camp areas closest to these towns on the weekends, as locals often drive there to party late into the night.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Fuel
We used the app Fuel Map Australia to figure out where the stations were and what price to expect. GasBuddyalso worked, but was not as complete or up-to-date.

Phone and Internet
In Australia, our Project Fi plan was partnered with Telstra (the largest mobile provider in AUS, originally government-run). This worked great as Telstra had reception nearly everywhere, even when other carriers did not. This meant we had unlimited text and were charged our US rate of $10/GB for data. WiFi calls to USA were free, while WiFi calls to AUS were about $0.04/min. Cellular calls were $0.20/min. So we did pick up a Telstra SIM and put the minimum amount of credit on it for the few calls we did do (maybe 10 calls the entire time). The best part of that, though, was that we could access the Telstra Air hotspots. They had these in most towns and meant that we could get unlimited WiFi without using our phone data whenever we could find a functioning one. Of course, sometimes they were so slow it wasn't worth it, but many times it was useful.

Otherwise, internet is hard to get. They don't really have any internet cafes (we saw two the entire time). Libraries (especially Tasmania) can be a great source, but not always. Internet in general is terrible there. Case in point, the Ukraine has better bandwidth than Australia... :(

Water
There are mostly 3 types of water taps in Australia: 3/4" BSP straight (most popular), 1" BSP straight (more common in West Australia), and a threadless small tap. Also, many of those taps come with a quick disconnect fitting already on them. We were able to make our 3/4" MPT female fitting on our water hose from the USA fit onto the 3/4" BSP male end of the water faucets by using a second rubber washer. However, to make things easier for us, we went to a Bunnings and grabbed:
This is by no means necessary, but it made it much easier and quicker to adapt to different taps. This allowed us to either use a quick disconnect fitting to attach to one already installed (without having to thread it on or off) or to attach screw it on to either type of tap without having to deal with a twisting hose. If you are mostly staying near the populated areas only having a 3/4" connection is fine. But, if you head into the outback or West Australia, I highly recommending having a 1" adapter.

Additionally, we found that our 25-foot hose was really not long enough. Many of the water fills were not conveniently located and that length was insufficient, so we upgraded to a 50-foot hose, giving us up to 75 feet of reach.

Leaving
There wasn’t anything too tricky about leaving the country when you are done either. If you bring your vehicle, you have to export within an year or before the carnet expires, unless you get some exceptions or extensions, etc. Since we did the carnet route, we had to get it stamped on the way out as well (another 24-hour processing), but other than that, there wasn’t any other requirements.

Summary
It was surprisingly easy to travel across Australia. For the long-term traveler, seeing AUS by vehicle is the only economical way. It is hard to mess it up. But, if you do, there are plenty of kind people out there who will help you out. So, enjoy yourself and have fun. I highly recommend this adventure.
 

Paddler Ed

Adventurer
Phone and Internet
In Australia, our Project Fi plan was partnered with Telstra (the largest mobile provider in AUS, originally government-run). This worked great as Telstra had reception nearly everywhere, even when other carriers did not. This meant we had unlimited text and were charged our US rate of $10/GB for data. WiFi calls to USA were free, while WiFi calls to AUS were about $0.04/min. Cellular calls were $0.20/min. So we did pick up a Telstra SIM and put the minimum amount of credit on it for the few calls we did do (maybe 10 calls the entire time). The best part of that, though, was that we could access the Telstra Air hotspots. They had these in most towns and meant that we could get unlimited WiFi without using our phone data whenever we could find a functioning one. Of course, sometimes they were so slow it wasn't worth it, but many times it was useful.

Otherwise, internet is hard to get. They don't really have any internet cafes (we saw two the entire time). Libraries (especially Tasmania) can be a great source, but not always. Internet in general is terrible there. Case in point, the Ukraine has better bandwidth than Australia... :(
Generally, the fixed infrastructure in Aus is a bit hit and miss - but if you have an Aussie mobile plan, even pay as you go, you get a load of data. Boost (who run on Telstra) offer 20GB/month, unlimited calls to 20 countries (including Germany, the USA, UK and Canada) for only $30 for 28 days (so about $1 a day), unlimited calls and texts and unlimited streaming on Apple Music.

Some shopping centres have wifi, as do town centres, so there's not so much of a demand for internet cafes.
 

trucktale27

New member
I bookmarked this thread because I'm enjoying reading your report and checking those photos. It's so fascinating and definitely worth my time.
 
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