Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vanuatu vacation and exchanging money.

A member of the family is off on holidays to Vanuatu. The task of getting a couple of hundred dollars local currency was put in my hands. What I find interesting about currency exchange is the considerable variation between money changers. I decided to share today's experience.  The aim was to change $200 Australian into the local currency of Vanuatu, which is Vanuatu vatu. This was a straight cash exchange.

American Express Box Hill

Located in Box Hill at the back of the Westpac branch.
I went to this branch of American Express because some years ago they never charged American Express card holders for exchanging money. This has now gone and there was an $8 charge.

All they had was $10,000 Vanuatu vatu which was $127.57 Australian. The following is the amount of money that could have been received if they had the cash.

$200 Australian dollars would be 15,678.

The exchange rate was 78.39.

Doncaster Shopping Town

None of the money changers at Doncaster Shopping Town had cash to exchange. But I thought this would a good opportunity to make a comparison of the different rates on offer. If should be noted that I've found many years ago you had to shop around. Who may have the better rates this time, might not have the better rate next time.

Travelex Upstairs

$200 Australian becomes roughly 14,500 Vanuatu

$9 fee

Exchange rate (estimated) 72.5
Tavelex downstairs (part of Harvey World Travel)

$200 Australian becomes roughly 16,278 Vanuatu vatu

$7 fee

Exchange rate (estimated) 81.39

Flight Centre

$200 Australian becomes roughly 15,114 Vanuatu vatu

No fee

Exchange rate (estimated) 75.57

What I also decided to do was to use an online service to check today's currency rates. Using the exchange rate was 87.256.

The thing with currency exchange is it can get confusing because fees are separate from the actual money converted. That makes it harder to compare. Also as you exchange more money fees become a lower percentage of the cost. The easiest way to make a comparison is to turn things around. To say how much would it have cost to get a certain amount of Vanuatu vatu.

Let's use the example of how much would it cost to purchase 15,000 Vanuatu vatu.

American Express: $199.35
Travelex: $215.89
Travelex (Harvey World Travel): $191.29
Flight Centre: $198.49

We can see from this the best value was from Travel (Harvey World Travel). In fact if you had wanted 15,000 Vanuatu Vatu and picked the wrong Travelex office, you could end up paying $24.60 extra. It really does pay to take the escalator one floor down and do a price comparison.

For this has been a good opportunity to compare foreign exchange outlets. I no longer need to drive to Box Hill, because there is no real savings to be had for small amounts. Next time I'll be happy to check Travelex (Harvey World Travel) and Flight Centre.

I should also add many years ago I used to check the city based foreign exchange offices. It may still be possible there may be better value in the city. This is worth considering if you work in or near the city.

Finally, one thing I don't know is, is it better to exchange money in Australia, or wait until you get to Vanuatu. I asked the question of one business and their reply was for the pacific area it may be better to take cash and exchange it when you arrive. On the return however it may be better to exchange their currency back in Australia. I do however think this is better to confirm.

I hope my family member remembers to note the exchange rate when they change Australian dollars in Vanuatu. That would help make future decisions.

- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. For local businesses, or business that can deliver to the area, please check

TAGS: Vanuatu hotels, le lagon vanuatu, vanuatu vacations

Monday, November 16, 2009

Templestowe Scouts 50th Anniversary

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I dropped in on the Templestowe Scouts 50th celebration. I've never been a boy scout myself, so it was a good chance to check out their displays and learn something new.

To my surprise I met up with some of the locals, so it was good to see familiar faces. I won't name any names, but I did manage to get a few good stories on the day;-)

Checking out the scout badges (sorry if I'm using the wrong terms) and the activities available to scouts was really interesting. The knot display always interests me, as I know some of those knots can come in really handy, but I've never learnt them.

To the chefs I want you to know I enjoyed the excellently cooked snag, smothered in a generous serving of delicious onions.

It really was good to see so many young people having a great time on the day. Thanks for the opportunity to share in the day.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tags: boy scouts, scout badges, boy scout, scout group, cub scout

Saturday, November 14, 2009

1st Templestowe Scouts 50th Birthday Celebrations

I've recently received a notice in my letterbox for the 1st Templestowe Scouts 50th Birthday Celebrations which is on Sunday 15th November, 10 am to 4pm, at Templestowe Reserve. The following is a copy of the brochure.

- Kelvin

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Changed road conditions at Templestowe Village roundabout (Cnr Anderson and James Streets)

Recently I was talking to a local resident and I mentioned how I thought the black bitumen next to the path at the Templestowe Village roundabout (on the corner of Anderson and James Street) was a bit of an eyesore. Their response alerted me to something I hadn't realised.

On the north-east side of the roundabout three new parking spaces have been created. The person said when they came around the corner (similar to the burgundy car in the picture) they were shocked to find a car pulling out (which had been parked where the white ute is parked).

I didn't realise this section of parking had changed and I'm glad my comment ending up informing me of the change. Do be careful with the changed road conditions at the roundabout. A small lapse in concentration could lead to a costly rear end bingle.

- Kelvin Eldridge