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Backpack & Budget

A Koala's Pace in the Land Down Under

October 02, 1994|LUCY IZON

For the past five years a budget transportation-accommodation service known as Kiwi Experience has been a success in New Zealand. A similar service, called Oz Experience, will begin operating along the east coast of Australia Nov. 1.

The Oz Experience is designed to provide flexible bus transportation and economical accommodation suitable for backpackers and independent budget travelers.

The service allows travelers to move at a leisurely pace taking time to see and do things along the way. The three passes mentioned below are valid for up to six months. Bus passes for shorter segments of these routes will be available by Nov. 1.

The Bruce Pass costs $218 and is valid for travel from Sydney up Australia's east coast to Cairns. You could travel it in a minimum of 10 days, if pressed for time.

Oz Experience guarantees at least three departures a week throughout its network, so customers can move at the pace they choose.

Along the route stops are made for adventure activities such as canoe trips, surfing, hot-air ballooning, camel trekking, snorkeling, bungee jumping, tandem sky diving and white-water rafting.

It is also possible to purchase accommodations with your transportation pass. With the Bruce pass, accommodations for 12 nights would cost $136.

If you decide to stretch the trip out, you can just pay for the additional nights of lodging.

Accommodation is at lodges and backpacker hostels. Each hostel lodges four to six to a room. However, many of the hostels have double rooms. Upon arrival, travelers may move up to a double by paying an additional $4 to $6 per person, per night.

The Cobber pass, valid for travel from Cairns to Sydney, costs $167. The minimum time you'll need to make the journey is seven days. A package of nine nights' lodging costs $105.

The Boomerang pass, valid from Sydney to Cairns and back, costs $339. The minimum time it would take to complete the journey is 17 days.

An accommodation pack for 19 nights costs an additional $192.

For further details, contact Oz Experience, Ocean World, West Esplanade, Manly 2095, Sydney, NSW, Australia 2095, telephone 011-61-2-977-2688.

Another very helpful tool for planning an Australian adventure is the comprehensive, free publication, Destination Australia. The 1994-95 edition is available.

The 136-page magazine includes details on where to go, what to see and how to do it, with maps. Its accommodation listings range from hotels to hostels and campgrounds.

For a free copy of Destination Australia, contact the Australian Tourist Commission at (800) 333-0262.

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