Australian Cultural Exchange: Money

What we thought was wrong. We were thinking, Oh, the Australian dollar is like what the Canadian dollar used to be, especially for those of us living across the border, you know before the American dollar went to the toilet. Much to our dismay, the fates of both the Canadian and Australian dollars are the same: they have reached near equality to the American dollar. Of course, I’m pretty sure that has little to do with the achievements of those two countries’ dollars and more to do with the aforementioned fate of the American dollar. We’ve sunk to their level. Even when we were registering for the conference a few months ago, it seemed like there was some semblance of a discount in the exchange. Whenever we exchanged cash, there was between 95-99 Aussie cents to the American dollar. So for all intents and purposes: the same. Especially when all but the Melbourne airport exchange charged a small obnoxious fee.

Stuff’s expensive in Australia, yo! If the exchange would’ve been more in our favor, things would’ve balanced out, but thanks to our president (and I blame him ’cause it’s easy), there was no balancing out nothin’.

Things we noticed that are particularly expensive: Food/Going out to eat or getting coffee; books; CD’s; movie tickets.

Food is probably what we spent most day to day money on, I’d guess. Even McDonald’s was a little like Whoa! But we sure weren’t going to eat at McDonald’s every damn day (though like I said, yay for their coffee.) I’ll get into what we ate later, cos you know that’s important. But things were often more expensive than they are here across the board. When an omelet is around $10 or more, you know things are a little scewed.

The average price of a CD is about $25. Their sale stickers often say “Only $19.95!” What? Not on sale. We hit up both chain and indie stores. Some cool used places too where things were cheaper, but still. Books were ridiculous. We found some really cool bookstores, but I wasn’t about to pay $40 for paperbacks that looked interesting enough, but not enough for a spur of the moment purchase. Ernie found Australian plays, including one that we saw at the congress, so that was worth the cash. I jotted down some titles that are probably available here, or at least where even after the import, I could still probably get them cheaper.

We went to see a movie in Sydney. Tickets were $16. Hellawhat?! We saw the new Indiana Jones (which was fun, and fun seeing it with Cate Blanchett’s people). Maybe cos it was the day after the opening at the theatre where Miss Blanchett attended the premier, or the particular time, or what. Don’t know. But ‘spensive! For $16, I want to ride in the jeep with Harrison Ford myself!

So, that’s money. We took some change with us out of Australia’s economy. Hope it doesn’t miss it too much. We tried not to, but being the caffeine addicts we are, the only coffee place we found in our neck of the Sydney airport didn’t take plastic, and we’d spent all our Aussie cash. I tried to exchange $10, but with a bloody $3 fee, we wouldn’t have enough. So I exchanged a $20, bought our coffee and some gum, and just said to hell with out. Their change is funny. The $2 coins are the smallest coin, except for their nickel. Their dollar coins are a little bigger. Their 20 cent coins are bigger than our quarters. Their 50 cent pieces could really do some damage. They got rid of pennies about 20 years ago, and round up or down at the register. And I guess they tried introducing a $5 coin, but the people rebelled. Just like the US gov’t trying to shove dollar coins down our throats every once in a decade, the Australian people have their limits.

Okay, I go for real now. Peace be with you and all that jazz.


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