Since i'm not working and may not be for awhile, plus i'm bored i will just post what i went through in short.
I originlly did searches through Expedia, and they just kept trying to send me to Seattle then LA and then Sydney. So i changed my tactics, may not affect you but you never know. I booked one way trips in the off peak times of the week, flew from Anchorage direct to Honolulu, then after two nights there I flew to Sydney. On that leg I flew Jetstar, it was cheaper but terrible terrible food and service, like sub economy, now my return trip from Brisbane to Honolulu was on an A320 by Hawaiian, definitely the best flight I ever had, felt like first class, so if possible fly Hawaiian. If you have never been to Hawaii you can easily get a flight out of most west coast airports. Or you can sit in a plane for 14 hours from LA to Sydney. It was only 10 hours from Honolulu to Sydney, 9.5 coming back. The 787 is an awesome plane.
Keep an eye on the exchange rates, banks usually charge a small amount, the AUS dollar was .73 last year so they sold me the Aus dollar at .77, roughly 4 cents higher per dollar, most exchange boothes in the aus terminals are close to that, maybe a small amount more, spend it before you come back as i took a loss converting Aus to US dollars back home.
Customs wasn't bad, best to declare ANYTHING if in doubt, they are very strict about what can come into the country and they will fine you in a heartbeat. Pack light, i packed too heavy, had to pay extra for excess luggage, its especially bad on any domestic flight there, strict weight limitations. Don't count on any electrical devices working even using a voltage converter, you can get the 220 volt 50 cycle rated usb chargers at any airport. I had issues using a converter, may have led to my cell phone and tablet having battery issues. On that subject I bought a prepaid Vodaphone sim card for my Samsung S5, popped it in and had data, internet, local and long distance, you get a different phone number, cost me $40 Aus.
Renting a car is easy, but make sure its damage free first before you pick it up. I rented a Toyota Camry Altise, its really a big car compared to most on the road, if you do rent an SUV be prepared to deal with narrow roads, narrow parking spots, gas wasn't really expensive, at least not to me in Alaska where its been over $3.50 a gallon. The favorable exchange rate helped a LOT, our US dollar was worth about $1.44 aus.
Watch out for the sun, its brutal, very easy to get too much.
Food is great there, i still cannot find food back home as good as i had in Oz, and definitely try out local wines, my favorite was Brown Brrothers i think it was. Oh and try the lottery, i won more often there than anytime in America.
I rented three different vacation homes, you can do searches, they were Stayz and Homeaway. Very easy to do online and secure, in Oz they love to do everything by debit card. Oh and don't speed, they love to fine you for that, luckily I was never caught. And be VERY cautious on the roundabouts, they are everywhere, get your right view down first, many time i looked by habit left first, keep that head on a swivel, read up about traffic rules, especially about left and right turns and stop signs. Many side streets don't have them.
One other note, if you need receipts for purchases you neeed to ask for one because 99% of the time they won't give you one.
I had a wonderful time there, for almost all of my time there I stayed in a vacation rental home south of Adelaide, on average it was less than $75 a night usd, in AUS dollars from $80 to $110. If you smoke its a good time to stop, a pack of smokes can be $40, a PACK. I get a carton here in Alaska for $24, you can only bring up to 50 cigs into the country. Ask away for anything else. I would love to go back again. But not during their summer, was way too hot for me.
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