Here are some tips about exchange rates, Australian currency, and making a purchase in Australia...
Cash - Money.
If you are visiting from outside Australia you will need Australian dollars. Very few places will accept foreign currency; even US dollars or Euros.
Changing most foreign currency or traveller’s cheques is no problem at most city banks and licensed money changers. However, banks in the smaller outback towns aren't always able to make complicated transactions.
Before heading off on your adventure, DriveWA recommends that you have sufficient Australian money to last you until you get an opportunity to obtain more. It is also useful to have some of it in the form of traveller’s cheques. Some outback shops and businesses will also accept traveller’s cheques (denominated in Australian dollars) and credit cards.
For details of the main currency values against the Australian dollar please see the currency converter you can access from this website, http://www.xe.com/ucc. NB: Please be aware that this site can be read in six languages other than English.
Cash in the Outback
It is a useful plan to open a Commonwealth Bank passbook account if you want to have money at your disposal almost anywhere in WA. It is one of those old-fashioned booklet style accounts where your transaction history is typed, or handwritten.
All post offices and post-office agencies (such as news agencies and general stores), even the very remote ones that don't have the electronic facilities to handle cash cards, will often handle a passbook as it is very simple to write in withdrawals and deposits; which makes this option particularly useful. A passbook account can be opened, on the spot, at any Commonwealth Bank branch.
Credit cards are widely accepted in the outback; but by no means everywhere. This particularly applies to very small businesses that may insist on cash or traveller’s cheques.
Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly recognised; American Express and Diners Club are not as common. Depending on your card, cash advances from credit cards are available over bank counters and many automated teller machines (ATMs).
If you're planning to rent a vehicle; make a reservation at a hotel; make an airline reservation; or buy something over the internet/phone, a credit card can be more useful than cash and will be a minimum requirement in most cases.
Tipping and Bargaining
Tipping is not necessary in Australia, and is uncommon in the outback. It's only customary to tip in more expensive restaurants, but is certainly not expected. If the service has been especially good, 10% of the bill is considered generous. Taxi drivers don't expect tips; though they will not decline if you decide to leave the change.
Bargaining is not common, and in most instances you'll have to pay the indicated price. You may try bargaining in markets and second-hand shops.
Saving money whilst escaping
There are many great ways to save money on your DriveWA adventure. Plan carefully; get yourself a DriveWA membership card; or perhaps consider going with a group for a big adventure or weekend away.
One option is to take more people with you; current friends, sporting, adventure, travel groups, or perhaps a group of old school friends. If you travel in a group, you can achieve savings on almost all forms of transport, accommodation, tours etc.
Commercial airlines, buses, train companies, and hire companies are all likely to offer very attractive fares to groups. The larger the group, the better from this perspective. Accommodation may also be significantly cheaper if you can offer a larger booking.
Local travel agents will sometimes help you get a group together; as they can work up a commission entitlement whilst helping you save money on your DriveWA adventure.
Buying a reasonably sized new, or second hand, vehicle which is big enough for you to share with others, to reselling at the end of the trip is often an economical option.
Small Groups on Small Buses
The savings do not only apply to people travelling in cars. Buying or hiring a small bus may be a great way for two or three families, or a small group, to DriveWA economically. A modern, small bus is quite safe, comfortable, and spacious.
You need to check to make sure that you do not need a special license. This will depend on the size of the bus you buy or hire.