’ve been set a task via Moneysupermarket.com of writing a blog on where I would go on a dream holiday with a budget of £1,000. Well, here goes...
The rules for their Grand Adventure Competition are that the cash doesn’t include the flights, and I’m drawing an assumption that the money is for one person. But it just so happens that darling husband also has a spare £1,000, so he’s coming, too.
I’ve been to Australia before when I was in my twenties but the old man hasn’t so it would be lovely to show him some of the sights I’ve seen.
When I went we were all on a budget of much less than £1,000 and toured eastern Australia in a campervan for six weeks. That’s all five girls and three guys. Yes. Eight people. In a campervan built for six.
Having reached my 40s, I’m not prepared to rough it quite as much, so firstly DH and I are going to check into a comfortable Sydney Travel Lodge hotel for three nights at £142 each when we arrive on 18 March this year.
The temperature should be 25°C in Sydney. In Cairns, tropical northern Queensland, it might top 28°C but the area’s wet season should be behind us. Well manageable.
Anyway, back to Sydney. After that long flight we’ll be hopping in a taxi to get to the hotel so let’s say that’s £12 return each and so far my spend is £154, KERCHING!
We’re going to limit ourselves to a daily food budget of £15 a day each because using our Rough Guide we’ll be able to sample some really great inexpensive food, especially in Chinatown.
So, based on a 14-day trip, not including the long flight there and back, which will shave two days off the holiday, we’ll be spending no more than £180 on food each. (£334)
Getting around Sydney we’ll be using public transport so we are going to stick to a budget of £30 each (£364).
And we’ll be checking out the free tourist attractions, which include walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge, so we’ll have a great view of the harbour; the Sydney Opera House; The Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour and a day at the beach plus the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Next stop is a plane trip to Cairns in Queensland for nine nights. The cheapest online flight I found was £112 each return for early morning flights (£476).
This is where the adventure begins as we’ll be hiring a four-berth campervan – yes, we’d like a little elbow room (with aircon) - at around £160 each for the 5 nights. (£636)
Our fuel budget is £50 each. That means at today’s Australian fuel prices we should have 600km of driving in one tank and more to tour the region. (£686)
Our campsite accommodation is going to cost a maximum of £20 a night for two, which comes to £50 each. This way we’ll get to do to see Port Douglas, and visit a lot of the local attractions in and around Cairns. (£736)
Places on the agenda to visit for free are the Crystal Cascades, where we can take a dip in the natural pools there and sit back while we look at the views, or go walking; Lake Placid, again also has places to take a dip and lots of big lizards walking around (goannas).
The Mountain View Hotel is recommended as a good place to hang out as it has a shady creekside hotel, great for sizzling afternoons. We want to go to a crocodile farm, if it’s in the budget and check out some Aboriginal culture, too.
On our camping trip we intend to eat like kings on a budget of £30 a day between us, and I’m not talking meals out. It’s going to be barbies, barbies, barbies all the way.
Australians love their barbies so much that there are free static gas barbecues set up all over the place for day trippers that we’ll be making use of.
Given that we won’t be spending the full £15 daily food quota I think we’ll be able to eat self catering for under £7 a day each so instead of £75 it’s only going to cost us £35 each – a saving of £40... bar-gain. (£696)
Once we give up the van we’ll have the last four nights in an inexpensive Cairns hotel (£30 each per night) before the flight to Sydney and a connecting flight home. (£816)
But before going home we also want to chill out for free under a palm tree in one of the nearby beaches of Trinity, Kerrawa and Clifton, popular with locals as well as tourists as well as see some of the local wildlife.
There should also be time for a day cruise to Green Island in the Whitsundays so we can snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, £52 each). (£868)
So we'll have over £100 left for additional sight seeing, such as the crocs! But we’ll also be spending some time on our balcony into the evening, too, watching the fruit bats flying around in the nearby trees as we sip a couple of ‘tinnies’ of Fosters and send text messages home comparing weather reports. BEWT, MATE!