With wide open spaces, world-class surf, vibrant cultural scene and unique wild life, Australia appeals to a range of long-haul travellers, from country hopping backpackers to once in a lifetime honeymooners.
The high cost of long-haul flights to the Antipodes has been prohibitive for many would-be visitors, as well as Australia’s relatively high cost of living compared to cheaper Asian countries nearby.
However, with Australia’s historically strong currency, the Australian dollar, steadily declining in value since July 2011, the land down under is becoming a more affordable holiday destination.
Australia is not usually considered a budget destination but if you’re careful with your spending it’s still possible to make your money go a long way, especially with the current exchange rate. It’s possible to survive on as little as $70 AUD a day if you camp, or sleep in hostels, avoid eating out too much and take public transport wherever possible. Many younger travellers come to Australia on a working visa and getting a job can be the best way of stretching your funds and making your trip more affordable.
For those with a bigger budget, it’s possible to stay in comfortable hotels and dine in local restaurants for around $100 and $200 AUD per day, depending on which part of the country you’re visiting. By avoiding the tourist hotspots and heading off the beaten track to Australia’s smaller towns you can enjoy Oz’s famous laid back culture for significantly less outlay. Travelling out of season will also make your money go further.
Expect to spend more between October and February, which are summer months in the southern hemisphere. For those who want to splash out Sydney and Melbourne are ranked as two of the world’s most expensive cities. However, as the Australian dollar falls against the pound, these cultural highlights of any trip down under are becoming more affordable to British travellers.
Australian Dollar exchange rate
The Australian dollar has been decreasing in value since mid-2011, which is good news for the foreign traveller. However, it’s well worth checking the exchange rate before you leave and throughout your trip as it can vary day to day.
Australian currency tips for travellers
- The Australian dollar is divided into 100 cents and its coins come in denominations of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents, as well as one and two dollars
- Notes come in denominations of 5 dollars, 10 dollars, 20 dollars, 50 dollars and 100 dollars
- Order your currency in a range of denominations, making sure you take some smaller banknotes as some places may not be willing to take payment in $AUD50 or $AUD100 notes. It is usually possible to specify whether you would like to receive your currency in big notes, small notes, or a mixture of the two, but if in doubt try to break into a couple of your bigger notes before you leave the airport.
- The Australian government levies a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on almost all purchases. Visitors to the country are entitled to a refund of this tax on any purchase over a minimum value of $AUD300, no more than 30 days before they leave the country. This scheme doesn’t apply to all goods and those that do qualify you must be able to wear or carry as hand luggage onto the plane. But it can be a way of saving a few extra dollars on your overall holiday spend, particularly if you have done a lot of shopping.
Want to keep track of your spending?
One dollar is currently equal to approximately 0.59 pounds, so the easiest way to get a rough idea of how much something costs is to multiply the price in dollars by 0.59. A ten dollar souvenir will cost £5.90, a $40 AUD meal will be £23.60 and a $150 AUD hotel room will set you back £88.50. Don’t forget that calculator! Remember that exchange rates can vary, so the rate given is only approximate.
Australian dollar facts
- The Australian dollar is the sole currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, which includes Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island, and is also used in the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.
- Australia was the first country in the world to switch to synthetic polymer (‘plastic’) bank notes, which were first issued in 1988, and had completely replaced the old paper bank notes by 1996
Get your Australian currency from the Post Office
We make it easy to get your Australian dollar for your holiday:
- Order online or in your local Post Office branch, up to five days in advance – minimum order value of £400 applies online
- Order online before 3pm on a working day for free next-day delivery to your home or your nearest Post Office branch. Where an online order is placed on a Friday and delivery to your home is required on a Saturday, there will be a charge of £1.50.
- Search for your nearest branch here
- 0% commission, competitive rates on over 70 foreign currencies
- Show your Post Office receipt, and we’ll buy back your leftover Australian bank notes commission-free
- Order foreign currency online
- Or call us on 0845Calls to 0845 numbers may be charged at up to 5p per minute from a fixed line and calls from mobiles can be considerably higher. Calls may be monitored or recorded for training and compliance purposes. 8500 900.* Lines are open 8.00am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday
*Calls may be recorded, monitored and used for training and compliance purposes