This post is the third post in a series about the cost of traveling in Australia, this time about eating and drinking and how to keep it cheap. Keep reading next week for the budget guide to tours and activities.
Think eating and drinking in Australia is as simple as “putting another shrimp on the barbie?” Think again. Eating and drinking here costs twice as much as it does back home. It keeps the cost of traveling in Australia high, but there are a few things you can do to avoid blowing your budget.
Eating and Drinking in Australia
Dining out typically starts at $10 AUD for a basic meal and goes up from there. Lunch is obviously the cheaper meal of the day so it makes sense to eat more earlier. I typically spent at least $40 on every trip to the grocery store, which would last me a week or two.
All I heard while I worked at a bar frequented by American travelers was, “For a country that likes to drink it sure is expensive to do so!” And it’s true. I would pay no more than $5 for a craft beer back in the US, but $5 AUD wouldn’t even get me the low quality stuff. Getting drunk hits your wallet hard.
How to Keep It Cheap
While there are great restaurants worth trying, try to cook for yourself most nights of the week. Groceries can add up so split with friends and roommates. Go to Coles or Woolworth’s to buy ingredients for something like spaghetti bolognese or chicken curry that can be saved for leftovers and is cheap to cook.
When you do go out, be on the hunt for lunch specials or pub meals, which typically include a main, side and salad for something like $10 AUD. Avoid touristy areas like Sydney’s Darling Harbour if you don’t want to overpay and instead head out to the suburbs. Eat street food. A meat pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels shouldn’t cost you more than $4. Go family style with friends, ordering a number of smaller plates and sharing.
Drinking will be expensive either way, but if you don’t really care what you’re drinking your best bet is goon, also known as cheap boxed wine. It costs around $20, but I can’t be held responsible for your hangover. Even the classier wines are the least expensive thing to drink since they are locally produced. Look for happy hours or backpacker bars for the cheapest drinks. Do you think the cheapest beer from back home will be the cheapest in Australia? Think again. The import costs are high since Australia is so remote, so pick whatever the region’s top local beverage is. Many restaurants also allow you to bring your own wine.
Yet again, avoid certain touristy areas if you don’t want to get charged double for drinks. Also be aware that areas known for the nightclub scene, namely Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley and Sydney’s King’s Cross, charge high covers in addition to drink costs. If you’re visiting wine regions like the Yarra, Hunter, Margaret or Barossa valleys, you can essentially drive up to the vineyards and cellar doors for free samples of their wines. It gives you a buzz for free. They also offer cheap bottles of unlabeled wines.