This question has been raised many times by my friends and on orkut as well who were coming for the first time, how much money to bring? Also the final few weeks are the best time to organise your finances to have a stress free journey.
Off the mark, about 3000 dollars is a good amount to get as it is both enough to sustain your first few days and also not very difficult to organise. That will be about 1 lakh rupees.
If you have a friend or relative who will organise your accomodation when you land, then a lesser amount should do. About 2000 dollars is the absolute minimum.
The major things you will be spending on is accomodation for the first few days when you are looking for a place to rent. Backpacker places/Motels charge anywhere between $20 per night to $50 per night depending on the type of room and sharing.
The other thing is travel, the trip from the airport would also cost you depending on where you are going. Again, check with your university to arrange for travel, you can save some money. Melbourne has a service called Skybus which will get you to the city for about $15. You can look for a backpackers place or a motel in the city itself. Other cities have direct trains or buses to their main city.
Your books and rent bond will also cost you a bit. All of this is before you can find a job.
I have seen that the best way to get money is to buy Travellers cheques. These are insured and can be recovered if you lose them. Most banks accept travellers cheques for a small fee. Keep about $200 in cash. If you can arrange it then get a credit card, it is the best way to have money and of course is accepted any where.
Update: If you are planning on bringing more than 10,000 dollars, you will have to declare it at the customs entry point.
American Express Traveller Cheques