Down Under – Getting Around

After settling the accommodation, it was time to plan how to get around and from point to point. Since this is a road trip with two children in toll, the most obvious choice would be rent a car and one that allows us to pick up the car from Brisbane and return at Sydney. Only bigger rental companies offer this feature at an additional cost of A$100. But it sure beats paying more for the domestic flights.

Through Google I found out there are basically three kinds of car rental sites – one for the big multinational brands such as Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Budget etc., one for sites that aggregate quotes from these brands so you can view in one location all the available cars and rates and there is one for the local mid-range car rental companies.

There are of course pros and cons with each outfit. For the multinational brands, prices are higher but they offer larger selection of cars, more rental outlets for pick up and drop off and also the feature that allows me to drop the car in Sydney.

Using the sites that aggregate the quotes, I found out that Thrifty offered the best rates among the various car rental companies. However as each rental company has its own permutation on what each rate quoted comprise of, the car grade and the pick up outlets, I was actually better off going to the individual site to find out more.

On the Thrifty site, I was able to rent a medium sized car – Toyota Camry or similar for 10 days at a total cost of A$570 including tax and basic insurance. For the insurance, most of the bigger companies require an excess of about $3,000. To cover the excess, I would need to take up additional insurance which would cost about A$250. Doesn’t seem like a very fair deal to me.

In addition, I would need to rent child seats for my children (the Australian government is pretty strict about this) and the rental cost between A$55 to A$80. I was probably better off buying a seat myself from Singapore and lugging it along.

Anyway later I decided to do a check on the local car rental companies. I suppose because Australia is so big and to allow everyone a share of the pie, restrictions were placed on where the cars can go. Some outlets only allow pickup and drop off at Brisbane which doesn’t serve my purpose and some only allow travel south up to Coffs Harbour.

I finally chanced upon Britz which have branches in Australia and New Zealand. I suppose it is mid-range. They have a mid sized wagon for rental by the likes of Mitsubishi Outlander or similar at A$640 for 10 days. As this car is higher and has 4-wheel drive, we were glad to pay the difference. The best part though was finding out that the insurance coverage included in the rental only has an excess of A$250! So that settled the car rental part.

The other consideration is airport transfer and this was easily taken care of as both Brisbane and Sydney airports have their prescribed airport shuttle. From Brisbane to city center, we could take the Airtrain which cost A$39 for the whole family. From city to Sydney, there is the train shuttle or private minivans, both of them will cost about A$45 for the family.

Within the city, I paid a little more and chose hotels that are within walking distance from the main attractions so that would alleviate the need for public transport hopefully. In Brisbane, I do plan to take the River Cat to visit the markets in New Farm while in Sydney I will take a ferry across the harbour to Manly. The guide books recommend the fish and chips there.

So this about sums up getting around Australia. Of course there’s always the handy legs to fall back on if anything goes wrong. Ha ha.

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