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Backpacker Essentials

Get an overview of Australia’s budget accommodation, travel, tours and more.

Before hitting Australia's shores, get some backpacker basics. Learn about our budget accommodation, which ranges from classic country pubs to huge hostels. Find out more about the options for exploring Australia, whether you want a 4WD adventure, epic train journey or a hop-on-and-off backpacker bus. Brush up on the key Australian road rules, find out where you can log on with your laptop and get the low-down on Australian tour companies. It's all here, in bite-sized pieces!


When it comes to budget accommodation, Australia has loads of options. There are hostels in every major city and tourist centre, and strong competition helps to keep standards high. Camping and caravanning is a great way to see Australia’s spectacular outdoors.  Pitch your tent in a national park or head to one of the many well-equipped camping and caravan parks. Other ideas include motels, country pubs (ranging from rustic to romantic) and holiday rentals (an economical option for big groups). You can also deepen your Australian experience, and pick up some new skills, with a stay on a farm or sprawling outback station.

Sydney, NSW. © Anson Smart

Sydney, NSW

Travel - getting around

Australia is a vast country, with a huge range of ways to explore it. Hire a car, 4WD or campervan and immerse yourself in the scenery on one of our unforgettable road trips. Or if you want to cover large distances in a limited time, book a flight with one of Australia’s domestic airlines. They service all major cities and regional centres. Rail journeys offer a unique insight into Australia’s size and diversity, while coach and bus travel is a convenient and economical option. Keen for a trip across water? Consider the ferry between Melbourne and Devonport or a cruise around iconic spots such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kimberley and tropical Top End.

Driving laws – obeying the road rules

You’ll need to know the road rules before embarking on your classic Australian road trip. Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60km/h and 50km/h in some suburban areas. On country roads and highways, the maximum speed is usually 110km/h. For your safety, drink-driving laws apply, and drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Motor cyclists and cyclists must wear helmets. An international visitor may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver’s licence for the same class of vehicle. You should carry both your home licence and international licence when driving.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, NT. © Tourism NT

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, NT

Tours – seeing the sights

Booking tours is a breeze in Australia, which has a highly-organised tourist infrastructure. Tons of companies cater to young, adventure-seeking travellers, especially in popular destinations such as Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef. If you have limited time or are travelling alone, small group tours can be a convenient, cost-effective way to see the sights and meet other travellers. Or you may prefer the hop on-hop off buses which get you from A to B without the restrictions of an organised tour. Some companies may give student and hostel traveller discounts.

Internet & mobile phone access – logging on

You won’t have trouble logging on to the internet in Australia. Internet cafes abound in cities, large towns and major tourist hubs. Most hotels, hostels, campsites and caravan parks provide internet onsite. In very remote areas you can try to get access at telecentres or local libraries. Travelling with your laptop? Sign up to an Australian broadband plan or utilise the wireless hot spots in hostels, cafes, restaurants and fast-food chains across our cities and tourist and business hubs. Mobile phone access may be a challenge in remote or wilderness areas.