OzSail, Whitsundays, QLD © Tourism and Events Queensland

OzSail, Whitsundays, QLD © Tourism and Events Queensland

How to plan a backpacking trip

The visa you need for a backpacking holiday in Australia depends on how long you plan to stay. A holiday of less than three months requires only a tourist visa, also called an Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601). This visa allows you to enter Australia as many times as you wish within a 12-month period, and stay for up to three months each time.

To stay longer than three months, you’ll need a different visa. A visitor visa, also called a Tourist Stream (subclass 600), is a temporary visa that can be granted for a stay of three, six or twelve months.

Neither a tourist visa nor a visitor visa allows you to work in Australia. If you’re looking to work during your holiday, consider applying for a Working Holiday Visa.

The best place to find out about the visa application process is the Australian Department of Home Affairs website. When you’ve selected your chosen visa, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for applying.

At a minimum, you’ll need to provide personal details and prove your identity, usually with a passport or similar document. Some applications will also require proof of funds and health records.

Depending on the visa, you’ll be asked to apply either online or with a paper application. If you apply online, you’ll need to first create an ImmiAccount, which will allow you to complete your forms, attach documents and submit the application. If you apply by paper, you’ll need to download and print the appropriate forms from the Department of Home Affairs website.

The length of time you plan to spend in Australia will affect how much you will need to save for your trip. It's a good idea to do some research and get the top tips for travelling on a budget before you arrive.

The good news is that there are loads of incredible things to do in Australia that won't break the bank, which means you can stay and enjoy your holiday for longer. Find great hostels in almost any city as well as an incredible array of cheap eats to keep you fuelled.

If you're applying for a Working Holiday visa, you will need to show proof of savings equivalent to AUD $5000 in your bank account. On top of your savings, you should also have a return air ticket or enough funds to pay for a flight home.

Australia is a large continent with varied climates. It's warm and tropical in the north (even in winter) and cooler the further south you go. This means there are spectacular things to see and do in Australia at any time of the year, with each season offering its own remarkable array of adventures. Find the best time of year to begin your Australian backpacking holiday depending on your dream itinerary.

With so many diverse places to explore, you'll likely want to visit multiple destinations in Australia. There are many different ways to get around depending on your time and budget.

Australia's budget airlines are a great place to start if you want to city-hop as fast as possible. Check out Jetstar and Bonza for their latest deals and offers. If you want to experience the magnificent landscapes and towns between destinations, a road trip might be more your style – you can book a car or campervan in any major city and most regional towns. 

If you're not interested in driving, consider taking the train or even getting a pass for easy, affordable bus travel.

When travelling shorter distances, you can enjoy the fresh air by walking, hiring a bike or hopping on public transport. Some cities even offer free public transport within the city centre! It's important to note that there are different ticketing systems in some regions. It's a good idea to check what type of tickets a destination uses before you arrive.

With friendly locals, vibrant cities and gorgeous landscapes, Australia is a great place to travel solo, which is an important thing to know when planning your adventure. You can choose to meet fellow travellers and make new friends by joining guided tours and staying in hostels, or rejuvenate in blissful solitude among Australia's incredible natural attractions.

While it's great to be as flexible as possible when you're backpacking, it can also be smart to plan ahead for the bucket list experiences and destinations you don't want to miss.

The opportunities for adventure in Australia are limitless, so your plans will really depend on the type of person you are and the things that interest you the most. If you love wildlife, pay a visit to the quokkas on Rottnest Island. Foodies can search for hidden bars in Melbourne, while adventure seekers will adore mountain biking through the wilds of Tasmania.

If you want to try something new while meeting fellow travellers, there are great single and multi-day tours for backpackers. You could drive over sand dunes on a 4WD adventure, or explore the Great Barrier Reef aboard a sailboat.

Your packing list will usually depend on which parts of Australia you're visiting and what time of year you decide to travel. If you're planning to shred on the slopes of Australia's best ski resorts, or island-hop through the Whitsundays, your suitcase contents will likely look very different. Before you start organising your ultimate packing list, do a little research on what weather to expect during the season you'll be visiting in.