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  1. #1
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    Australia: the expensive country (A traveller's dilemma)

    The Backpacker
    Ben Groundwater is Fairfax's globetrotter on a shoe-string.
    Follow Ben on Twitter @bengroundwater


    $10 for a beer? A trip overseas makes you realise how expensive everything is in Australia.

    I'm really trying hard. I don't want to be that guy. But I have a feeling I'm starting to crack.

    Everything's so expensive! Everything in Australia, that is. It's crippingly, shockingly expensive.

    No one wants to know about the cheap beers and the lovely breakfasts and the nice accommodation that cost next to nothing.

    And that's the thing you notice when you get back from a long trip overseas. It's not that your friends all have more children than they used to, or that the Labor Party is more of a shambles than it used to be, it's that everything in this country seems far more expensive than anywhere else in the world.

    No one likes that guy, the one who whinges about how much cheaper everything was when they were overseas. They don't want to listen to you bang on about the 50-cent beers and the two-dollar dinners. So you have to try to keep the outrage to yourself.

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    But come on! I went to a bar in Melbourne the other day and ordered a schooner of beer. Normal old beer. "That's $10 thanks," the bartender said.

    I looked up. "But I'm only having the beer."

    "Oh, sorry," she said, punching a few buttons on the register. "That's $8."

    Eight dollars! For a beer? What I wanted to do, of course, was turn around to my friend and have a whinge, to tell him about the €1.20 beers I was drinking in Seville (they weren't the full schooner, but they were still pretty darn cheap). I wanted to tell him about the £4 pints in so-called "expensive" London.

    But instead I just reached into my wallet, eased out a lobster and prepared to take the pain.

    It's not just booze that hits you though. I'm back from a long stint away, so I'm catching up with a lot of friends, and it's all started to add up.

    Brunch is expensive. A great concept, obviously – but expensive. When you're used to paying a dollar or so for a meal in Iran, or slightly more for dinner in Burma, getting stung $18 for some eggs and bacon first thing in the morning can be a bit hard to get your head around.

    Do you know what it's like buying breakfast in Spain, you want to ask people? You can go to a bar and get a toasted roll with tomato, olive oil and jamon iberico, plus a coffee with milk, for €3. Three euros! You'd be lucky to get the roll for that much here.

    Getting around is expensive. I had to pay $6 in Melbourne just to buy a Myki card. Not to get anywhere – just to have the pleasure of using the system. I could have talked someone into driving me clear across Iran for $6. I could have ridden trains in Berlin all day.

    Oh, and then there's rent. I'm looking for a flat at the moment, and it's sometimes hard to work out whether the advertised rates are per week or per month.

    But hang on, I'm thinking. I was paying €300 a month in Seville. My friend in Phnom Penh pays $200 a month. And here I'm staring down the barrel of $300 a week for anything that's got a roof.

    This is one of those traps. You can't start thinking that costs in Australia should be the same as they are overseas. It's ridiculous to believe we should be paying South-East Asian prices every day (although it's galling to know how cheap things are in the UK and Western Europe compared to here).

    You have to try to put out of your mind the fact that everything was so much cheaper a few weeks ago, or it'll drive you crazy.

    And no one here wants to hear about it. No one wants to know about the cheap beers and the lovely breakfasts and the nice accommodation that cost next to nothing. No one feels sorry for the guy who just got back from a long trip overseas.

    You can't complain; you don't want to be that guy. Just open your wallet, pull out a few more lobsters, and try to smile.



    Read more: Australia: the expensive country

  2. #2
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    When in OZ, i keep the prices of stuff here (Thailand) to myself, If you want to be a billy no mates like willy, its best to keep those stories under you akubra.
    Its just as well, the food is superb but i would end up a fatcrunt in no time.
    There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking

  3. #3
    Member Bazzy's Avatar
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    A bit of a rant.

    Most things are relative, one of the the blog comments points out that, yes, the price of a beer is high, but so is your own wage.

    But as for the cost of real estate - fook me. Social unrest might be the only way.

  4. #4
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    The author of that article visited me in my village in Ubon a few years ago - great bloke.

    He failed to mention airfares though. I can fly from Perth to Bangkok and back twice for what it costs me to get to Sydney return.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    I went back to AUS recently after almost 4 years. It is bloody expensive, especially alcohol and ciggies. Lucky I don't smoke or drink much these days. Deisel is 50% more than in Thailand.

    Good to see the price of buds has not risen in about 20 years. The quality is heaps better. So I can still buy a 1/4 oz of primo weed for $80.

    Going out is expensive, that's due to alcohol tax, even if you're not drinking, a coke will be like $4.

    But shopping at woolies or Coles and eating at home is not too bad. And the country towns are noticeably cheaper than the cities not to mention much more pleasant places to be.

    What I don't get is how these lefties in government just tax the shit out of everything, promise a budget surplus, then come out saying "oh sorry there will be no surplus coz stuff happened that we didn't predict"

    Paying primo for the privealage of living in a police nanny state ... the excellent education system almost makes up for it.

    All in all though it's a beautiful country, one I never intended leaving for good. It's a crap place to live if you're poor though.

  6. #6
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    Ooh a whingeing Aussie thread. where's 9999 ?




    ^ oh there he is

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan
    the food is superb
    yes, it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by MeMock
    The author of that article visited me in my village in Ubon a few years ago - great bloke.
    Did he really ? I like his writing, it resonates.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999
    not to mention much more pleasant places to be.

    Excepting local pubs and nightclubs, country or city they can be fekiin dangerous, becoming like Cardiff or London.


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    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazzy
    But as for the cost of real estate - fook me.
    Bargains to be had in the country right now. I'm looking at Goulburn (spelling?), now anyone who knows this town will call it a shit hole full of sheep fuckers. But it's 1 hour drive to Canberra and less than 2 hours to Sydney, car or bus, has everything you need, and you can get a decent 3br home for $250K, and the market is still on the way down.

    In lovely East Gippsland you can buy a nice affordable home, Sapphire Coast too, but they're a little far (about 3 hour drive) from the nearest big cities.

  10. #10
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    I'm quite suprised that Aus is so expensive, but shocked that they have a government and laws and stuff.

    I thought the Aussies just got pissed all day and swore at each other a lot before beating each other senseless.

    Live and learn eh?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MeMock
    The author of that article visited me in my village in Ubon a few years ago - great bloke.
    Did he really ? I like his writing, it resonates.
    Yeah it was part of his trip around the world which he turned into a book. I did a review of it here: 5 ways to carry a goat | Family life in rural Thailand & Australia

  12. #12
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    I was just going to take issue wih willies 10 dollor beer but looking at last nights bill_crown lager 6 dollars small bottle and Chang 7.50 a small bottle

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    Yeah he's talking inner-city trendy place prices. I was paying $4-5 at country pubs on my recent road trip for a schooner. $15 for a bloody good mean, can still get a decent feed for less then $10.

    VB is about $14 for a 6-pack

    Beer Chang about $22

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999
    I was paying $4-5 at country pubs on my recent road trip for a schooner. $15 for a bloody good mean, can still get a decent feed for less then $10.
    you sound like an Abo


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    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    ^ outta greens mate thanks for making me laugh. That's one thing about country towns - the Abo contingency. Adds character and they stick more or less to themselves. In Darwin and some outback mining towns they still segregate abos and whites at the bar.

  16. #16
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    No they don't 9999.

    Some Aboriginals prefer one drinking establishment while Non Aboriginals prefer another. No segregation, just personal choice.

  17. #17
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    Voluntary segregation if you like. Fact is, abos are not welcome in white bars (by the patrons) and vice versa.

  18. #18
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    In my experience the patrons do not make them feel welcome neither do they make them feel unwelcome. They basically ignore them as they do not know them. People tend to drink at a place where their mates are or people of a similar background.

    No difference to a foreigner choosing a western style pub over a Thai one.
    News is what someone, somewhere is trying to suppress - everything else is just advertising.

  19. #19
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    ^ Right, Falang bars, Thai bars. Abo bars, white bars.

  20. #20
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    Yes but in Thailand you can call them that on the sign out the front!

  21. #21
    Tonguin for a beer
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    I'm travelling around WA right now and am feeling the cost of it. Some things are reasonable others aren't. Just a pie and coke is $10 at a shitty cafe. A carton of beer $50. Worse, six packs are a ripp off, you should be able to buy them for 1/4 the price of a carton. They go on about binge drinking here then rip you off if you just want a couple.

    The trick is to do your own cooking. I'm lucky in that I have my brother camper rig to use and have loads of mates places to stay at. I'm still spending a lot though as we are eating out and drinking heaps!
    Fahn Cahn's

  22. #22
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    Hi Bung,
    WA is indeed the worst place for a decent feed/drink and a half reasonable price. Perth is a shocker but the regional areas are actually a little cheaper which is something different. Every town has its little gem as well, the trick is trying to find it.

    Where are you now and which way are you heading?

  23. #23
    Tonguin for a beer
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    I spent Easter at a mates place in Jurien bay and now we just got to Albany. We're heading around the SW coast for 10 days then back to Collie to drop my brothers camper off, a couple of days back in Perth then back home. I'm with my 11 year old son, first time here, he's lovin it!
    Last edited by Bung; 03-04-2013 at 08:13 PM.

  24. #24
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    Wow - some nice places you have mentioned there. A shame you didn't make it up to the Kimberley though!

  25. #25
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    stay at the Albany Hotel, really nice old building.

    08 9842 3337

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