Australia has changed. We can tell by the Coke bottles.
The first thing we did after clearing customs at Sydney airport was to buy a Coke, since we were both thirsty. It costs AU$3.50 and we found that expensive, considering the Canadian and the Australian dollars are roughly at par and that a bottle of Coke is less than CA$2.00. But we figured it must be because we bought it at the airport, where everything is more expensive.
We were wrong. A quick look inside convenience stores and supermarketstaught us that a small Coke bottle is indeed AU$3.50, and that water can cost as much. Are you serious? How can it be so expensive?
And it’s not just the Coke. Everything is more expensive. Double rooms average $100 in backpacker hostels. Some fancy hostels charge $40 for dorms bed and $20 daily Internet access fees. Come on people! This is way overvalued.
Food is still affordable though, although fruits and veggies are as expensive as in Europe. We ate in Chinatown and got rice and noddle for $15. At night, we use the hostel’s communal kitchen and cook to save money.
Granted, it is the high season in Australia. First, it’s summer down there, and then we are close to Christmas. Plus, Oprah is coming to Sydney (?!) next week and some people are actually excited about it (I never truly understood the Oprah phenomenon, if someone cares to explain…).
But the country is much more expensive than it was seven year ago, even considering the inflation. The unemployment rate is very low right now, about 5%. Australia is booming, thanks to the mining industry in the Western part of the country.
Some things haven’t changed though. The Opera House and the Bridge, two of Sydney icons, are still here. Phew.