Magnetic Island, Townsville, QLD © Tourism and Events Queensland
Australia's best hostels
Australia has backpacker accommodation to suit every taste (and budget). We've rounded up a few of the best.
By Deborah Cooke and Carly Spek
Whether you’re planning a Red Centre adventure or just want to relax on an empty beach, Australia has an incredible array of affordable accommodation options for backpackers. Book in for a couple of nights or settle in for longer.
Sydney Harbour YHA
Where: Sydney Harbour
This hostel is the perfect base for exploring the abundance of adventures on offer in Sydney. Located in the historic Rocks precinct – and over an archeological site – the Sydney Harbour YHA offers both dormitory accommodation and private rooms, all with their own bathrooms. The pièce de résistance, however, is the large rooftop terrace with views of iconic Sydney Harbour – the ideal locale for a picnic with new or old friends.
The Surf House
Where: Byron Bay
When it comes to affordable, fashionable and friendly accommodation in Byron Bay, The Surf House is your go-to. Perfectly situated in the heart of town, this unique hostel is only a short stroll away from the town’s best bars, restaurants and boutique shops. Grab a complimentary surfboard and learn to surf before enjoying the hostel’s rooftop bar. Choose between modern shared dorms and private rooms fitted with an ensuite and balcony.
Perched in the heart of Cairns, the award-winning Gilligan’s has everything you’ve dreamed of for an epic stay, including a resort swimming pool, bars and a night club. Enjoy some alone time in one of their private hotel rooms or make some friends in a shared dorm. If you’re an eco-conscious traveller, Dreamtime Travellers Rest, a couple of blocks over, is an excellent eco hostel alternative set in an old Queensland home with a gorgeous tropical garden.
This hostel is incredibly well situated – across the street from Federation Square, right in the centre of Melbourne – but that's not the only drawcard here. When you're not busy exploring Melbourne's best rooftop bars or weaving your way through art-adorned laneways, United Backpackers Melbourne has spacious common areas, a movie room, basement bar and a big kitchen to make the most of.
Port Lincoln YHA
Where: Port Lincoln
On the tip of South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, Port Lincoln draws travellers for its shark cage diving and swims with impossibly cute Australian sea lions. The award-winning Port Lincoln YHA is the ideal location from which to do both (along with everything else the region has to offer). The team are incredibly welcoming, the place is spotless and the tariff is ridiculously low, meaning you can spend more on the exciting adventures that await.
Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse
Hobart is hot right now, thanks to a new generation of young chefs, a growing community of craft brewers and the extraordinary Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Explore all that’s happening in the Tasmanian capital from Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse. A former private home, Montacute is probably the most upmarket budget accommodation option on the east coast, with fireplaces, antique furniture and a broad timber deck.
Fremantle Prison YHA
Freo, as it's affectionately known, doesn't disappoint, with great food, a vibrant arts scene, fabulous bars and excellent beaches. This World Heritage-listed former prison, transformed into a YHA hostel, is a great base to explore it all. Stay in the original cell block (ghost sightings need to be reported directly to staff), or in one of the well-preserved guard's cottages. There are private rooms and dorms as well as a spacious commercial kitchen.
Where: Magnetic Island
A largely unspoilt patch of green just off the coast of Townsville in Far North Queensland, Magnetic Island boasts divine beaches, a fringing reef and a laid-back ambience. Located in Nelly Bay on the island's southern end is Nomads. Charming A-frame cabins are scattered through the bush with stunning ocean views. Take advantage of the hostel's pool or make friends whipping up a meal in the communal kitchen.
Alice's Secret Travellers Inn
Where: Alice Springs
It’s probably not much of a secret anymore – but don’t hold that against Alice’s Secret Travellers Inn, located in Alice Springs. In a quiet street a short stroll from town, Alice’s is only small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in eccentricity. The owner's quirky touches range from painted-tyre plant holders to funkily decorated old caravans repurposed as accommodation. The perfect stopping-off point on your way to, or from, Uluru.
Beaches Of Broome
Before you head off into the Kimberley, treat yourself to a couple of nights at this slightly-more-expensive option in Broome on the Western Australia coast. For a bit above normal backpacker rates, you’ll enjoy a little resort-style living at Beaches of Broome, with its great pool, café and bar. The hostel is within walking distance of Broome’s famed Cable Beach, perfect for checking out the beach's equally famous camel rides.