Money & costs
Australia is affordable by Western European and American standards, but certainly not a budget destination compared to say Southeast Asia. Your biggest costs will be accommodation and transport.
If you’re a midrange traveller hiring a car, seeing the sights, staying in hotels and motels, and enjoying the fabulous food and grog, budget for $110 to $160 per person per day. In cities you can push that figure up by $50 or so, but in less-touristed areas you can reduce it by around $30. Escalated petrol prices make multi-week road trips in a 4WD an expensive affair, but small, economical 2WDs are still wallet-friendly.
Travellers with a demanding brood in tow will find there are many ways to keep kids inexpensively satisfied, including beach and park visits, camping grounds and motels with pools and games rooms, kids’ menus and youth/family concessions for attractions.
At the low-cost end of travel, if you camp or stay in hostels, cook your own meals, restrain your urge for entertainment and move around by public transport, you could probably eke out an existence on $70 to $80 per day; for a budget that realistically enables you to have a good time, aim for $100 per day.
Changing foreign currency or travellers cheques is usually no problem at banks throughout Australia or at licensed moneychangers such as Travelex or Amex in cities and major towns.
Taxes & refunds
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a flat 10% tax on all goods and services – accommodation, eating out, transport, electrical and other goods, books, furniture, clothing etc. There are exceptions, however, such as basic foods (milk, bread, fruits and vegetables etc). By law the tax is included in the quoted or shelf prices, so all prices in this book are GST-inclusive. International air and sea travel to/from Australia is GST-free, as is domestic air travel when purchased outside Australia by nonresidents.
If you purchase new or secondhand goods with a total minimum value of $300 from any one supplier no more than 30 days before you leave Australia, you are entitled under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) to a refund of any GST or WET (wine equalisation tax) paid. The scheme doesn’t apply to all goods, and those that do qualify you must be able to wear or take as hand luggage onto the plane or ship. Also note that the refund is valid for goods bought from more than one supplier, but only if at least $300 is spent in each. For more details, contact the Australian Customs Service (1300 363 263, 02-6275 6666; www.customs.gov.au).
The ubiquity and convenience of internationally linked credit and debit card facilities in Australia means that travellers cheques are not heavily relied upon. Nevertheless, Amex, and other well-known international brands of travellers cheques are easily exchanged. You need to present your passport for identification when cashing travellers cheques.
There are no notable restrictions on importing or exporting travellers cheques.