Top tips for backpacking Australia
Before hitting Australia's shores, get some backpacker basics.
From budget accommodation to cheap eats, Australia is a backpacker's paradise. You can lie on the sand one day and dive with sharks the next. Whether you're licking up lavender ice cream in Tasmania or road tripping through the Red Centre, your backpacking journey is sure to be unforgettable. Check out these essentials to make the most of your Australian adventure.
When it comes to finding budget accommodation, Australia has plenty of options. There are hostels in every major city and tourist centre, offering single-sex and mixed dorms along with some private dorms for couples. Hostels not only provide affordable rooms but also often host social activities like barbecues and outdoor bars. Sydney Harbour YHA even boasts a rooftop terrace with incredible views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
Australia is a vast country with landscapes ranging from rugged and mountainous to cool and coastal – but don’t worry, there are many easy ways to get around. If you want to travel large distances in a short amount of time, book a flight with one of Australia’s domestic airlines, like Jetstar and Tigerair, which service all major cities and most regional centres. For those with more time to explore, hire a car or campervan and soak up the scenery on one of our unforgettable road trips. You might find yourself weaving through ancient gorges or cruising alongside grazing kangaroos.Show more
Obeying the road rules
If you’re gearing up for a road trip, know the rules before you go. Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. In cities and towns the speed limit is between 50 kilometres and 60 kilometres per hour (about 30 to 40 miles per hour), and on country roads and highways, the maximum speed is usually 110 kilometres per hour (68 miles per hour).Show more
Seeing the sights
In Australia, there are countless tour companies catering to young, adventure-seeking travellers, especially in 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. Alternatively, you may prefer the hop on-hop off buses, which allow you to move around a city without the restrictions of an organised tour. Some companies even provide discounts for student and hostel travellers.Show more
Eating like a local
Australia is renowned for its fresh, local produce, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy it without breaking the bank. Farmers’ markets are held in all the capital cities, where you can sample everything from lemon myrtle ice cream to artisan cheeses and tropical fruits.Show more
Whether you prefer buzzing beer gardens, cosy wine bars, private clubs or pumping nightclubs, Australia’s nightlife caters to every taste or whim. In major cities, like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, your options are boundless, while Perth and Adelaide are renowned for their alternative music scenes and Darwin for its great pubs. In regional cities, like Byron Bay or Cairns, enjoy laid-back venues with quality cocktails and food. The Gold Coast is known for its theme parks and endless beaches, but it's now also a hot spot for craft beer, great food and exciting nightlife.
Internet & mobile phone access
Australia is well-connected, and you won't have trouble using internet and Wi-Fi in major cities. You’ll find public wireless hotspots in many cafés, restaurants and fast-food chains around the country. Most hotels, hostels, campsites and caravan parks provide internet on site, too. In addition to cities, Australia also boasts more remote places that have less connectivity. In very remote areas you can try to get access at Community Resource Centres (CRCs) or local libraries. Mobile phone access may be a challenge in remote or wilderness areas, so always plan ahead and tell someone where you will be staying.
Adventure in Australia
Australia is an adventurer’s playground, and we’ve got plenty of activities to get your heart racing. Abseil in the Blue Mountains, 4WD across South Australia's rugged Flinders Ranges or drive the majestic Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Adrenaline-chasers will love activities like white water rafting through Tasmania’s World Heritage wilderness or jet boating through the Horizontal Falls in Western Australia.Show more