Heading off on an Australian adventure? Here’s what to pack.
By Leah Dobihal
If you’ve decided to backpack in Australia, you’re probably looking forward to throwing your bag on your back and setting off on your adventure. But with so many climates and activities on offer, packing can be a challenge. Here’s what to bring along for a smooth trip.
Your visa and passport
Two things you can’t enter Australia without is a valid visa and your passport. If you haven’t yet applied, use the visa finder on the Department of Home Affairs website to decide which path is right for your plans.
Many Australian visas are electronic, which means your visa is linked electronically to your passport number rather than mailed to you in paper form. This allows airport staff to review your visa when they scan your passport. While you aren’t required to bring a physical copy of your visa information when you enter Australia, you do need to ensure you are entering the country on a valid visa.
Be sure to also pack your passport, which is essential for entering Australia. It’s also recommended that you carry a photocopy of your passport as well. If you happen to lose your passport during your holiday, a photocopy can help your consulate order a new passport for you.
A travel converter and adaptor
To charge and use your electronic accessories in Australia, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct plug, as well as a voltage converter if necessary.
Australia uses voltage 230V 50Hz. If your home country does not use the same voltage as Australia, you’ll need to pack a voltage transformer, which adjusts the outlet power accordingly. Check the label on your electronic appliances to see which voltage is used.
If your electronic appliances do operate with the same power as Australia, you’ll only need an adapter so that your accessories will fit into Australian outlets. Be sure to purchase an adapter that changes the socket type from your home country’s configuration to Australia’s.
On a backpacking trip around Australia, you’re sure to enjoy plenty of sunny days. But it’s important to remember your sun safety while you’re soaking up the rays. Use the recommended SPF 50 sunscreen, and bring a brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face. If you plan to spend long days on the beach, a long-sleeve shirt or dress is also a good idea. Of course, don’t forget your sunglasses, which will come in handy while you’re walking the coast of Bondi or sipping beers in a brewery courtyard.
A smart outfit
In general, Australia is a laid-back place. But some venues in larger cities require dressier clothing. If you’re looking to hit the casinos in Melbourne or rooftop bars in Sydney, be sure to pack at least one outfit that will get you through the doors. Typically, torn jeans, rubber sandals and athletic clothing are not allowed.
Whether you’re swimming below a waterfall or climbing into a calm rockpool, water shoes can make your aquatic adventures in Australia much more comfortable. Also called aquasocks or wet shoes, water shoes protect your feet from the hot sand, sharp rocks, and rough terrain you might encounter as you explore. They’ll also allow you to keep your everyday shoes dry during water activities like kayaking and paddleboarding.
Australia has over 25,000 kilometres (almost 16,000 miles) of beautiful coastline. With the ocean at your fingertips, consider packing a camera that can capture the underwater magic.
In the Great Barrier Reef, you can snap a photo of vibrant coral, graceful sea turtles and hundreds of species of fish as you snorkel through the clear water. Across the country you can see humpback and southern right whales jump from the water; bring along your waterproof camera in case of a splash.
You want your backpacking holiday to be as stress-free as possible, which is why travel insurance is a must. Insurance can help you in a variety of situations, from a missed flight to a medical appointment.
Make sure to buy a travel insurance policy that covers any activities you plan to do while you’re in Australia, like snowboarding and skydiving. It’s also important to know how to contact your insurance provider and make a claim. Keeping a copy of your policy in your backpack is a good idea in case you need to use your insurance during your holiday.
Clothing you can layer
Australia is a big place, with weather that varies across the country. The northern states, including Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, typically enjoy warm weather for most of the year. States to the south, like Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, tend to experience cooler winters.
Because of Australia’s diverse climate, it’s a good idea to pack clothing that can be layered. This way, you can add layers in cooler destinations and stay comfortable in warmer destinations.
Don’t forget - Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere and experiences opposite seasons from the Northern Hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter, and September to November is spring.
Your international driver’s license
While your passport is needed to travel in and out of Australia, your international driver’s license is also a backpacker essential. Your license is required if you choose to hire a car during your holiday; be sure to keep it with you anytime you’re driving. You may also need to show your driver’s license when you’re picking up the hire car.
An unlocked phone
If you want to use your mobile phone in Australia, a prepaid SIM card is your best option. To use a prepaid SIM, you’ll need an unlocked phone. After you’ve arrived, you can simply visit any of Australia’s popular networks - Telstra, Optus or Vodafone - to choose your level of data and talktime.