Rob poked me me earlier today with some suggestions for the infamous Cairo -> Melbourne route, which got me looking into it a bit more. Long story short, I did actually find a route, via Singapore Airlines, for something like $850. Much more reasonable.
However, when I add all this up, I’m still looking at ~$3,600 just for the flights, given that for whatever reason MEL -> SFO anytime in September is waaaaay expensive ($1,800+, one way).
At $3.6k, I’m not really happy with the ratio of getting there to being there… the latter should never be more than the former, imho. But what I think I’ll do is track down an actual travel agency, go in, and see what magic they can work. There’s one in Palo Alto which I wandered past a week or two ago, claiming here to Australia for $800 or something like that… off peak, obviously, but then I’m pretty hugely flexible with dates, so, maybe…
Obviously time is passing, so as noted I’m looking now at September rather than August. Still trying to think up other options that don’t quite involve not travelling at all this year. :/