Australia is such an amazing, large and diverse country. With desert, tropical and city landscapes there is a lot on offer for the traveller.
Very popular with backpackers, thanks to the working holiday visa scheme on offer, it is full of likeminded people taking up the offer to work and travel a new place at the same time. You will often find hostels full of traveling/working visitors and also the job opportunities for the can be fairly easy to find thanks to the internet.
Australia is full of iconic sites from the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef. Though, there’s only so much justice a photo on a computer can do- you have got to go experience it for yourself!
Unfortunately, Australia is an incredibly large country, which a lot of travellers seem to underestimate. So, that road trip you planned from the west coast to the east coast is extremely unlikely. It is probably smarter doing a road trip from Gold Coast to Sydney.
The local currency is the Australian Dollar
Check online exchange rates.
Cost Per Day
If you are thinking of backpacking Australia, you will be spending approximately $80 per day for one person. Some days you may spend more, some less, but it should even out.
Depending on how long you are in Australia and which country your passport is from will depend on whether or not you need a visa to enter the country. Citizens New Zealand do not need a visa to enter the country thanks to the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement. Many European countries including the United Kingdom are eligible for an eVisitor visa which allows stays up to 3 months over a 12 month period and it is also free (Nov, 2016). There is also a visitor visa which costs, though you can stay up to 3, 6 or 12 months.
On the other hand there is the ever popular working holiday visa for those between the ages of 18 and 31. Though, it is only eligible for residents of certain countries and you will need to complete certain work to meet the visa requirements when in Australia.
When to visit
The high season in Australia is during December to February, also known as the summer. During this period, there are an influx of tourists as people come to visit the summer, locals have school and work off and because of this, accommodation prices increase.
Generally, the best time to visit Australia is during the spring or autumn, otherwise known as March- May or September- November. Here, there will be less tourist around and it won’t be so incredibly hot.
If you are thinking about travelling in the middle of the year aka winter be aware that it can be quite rainy in some regions. This means you won’t be getting those hot Australia days on the beach you dream of. Accommodation prices will be a lot cheaper, though often popular attractions and activities will shorten their opening hours, but not by much.
Sleeping on a budget
There is such an established backpacking scene in Australia which is perfect for the budget traveller with hostels galore. You should have no issues finding yourself a bed for the night.
Travelling alone? Try out a hostel and expect to spend between $15 -$30 a night for a bed in a dorm.
Travelling with multiple people? Consider staying in a basic hotel with prices beginning at around $70. When these are split between enough people it can often end up cheaper than staying in a hostel.
Want more options? Try looking at Air BnB, there are loads of options!
Tip: If you are wanting to stay in a hotel, but not spend too much money, sign up for the Group On Australia site and check out what is going. This is what I did and managed to get half price stays!
Australia is a freakin massive country! And thus, getting around between cities can end up being crazy expensive. For example these are the driving times between major cities:
– Melbourne to Sydney: 9-10 hours – Brisbane to Sydney: 12-13 hours
– Perth to Sydney: 45 hours – Sydney to Canberra: 3.5 hours
– Adelaide to Melbourne: 8-10 hours – Brisbane to Melbourne: 19-20 hours
– Melbourne to Perth: 40 hours – Perth to Adelaide: 32 hours
– Brisbane to Cairns: 22-24 hours
Flying place to place is often quite an expensive way to get around, though if you are on the lookout for specials and are quite flexible you can often pick up a bargain. Check out Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin and Tiger Air.
Busing is another option for you, just be prepared for the long hours. Greyhound is a very popular company and surprisingly affordable.
The last option and perhaps the most affordable is to rent a campervan. Rentals for a campervans generally start at $50 per day and sleep multiple people. This allows you to save costs on accommodation and transport, as well as giving you more freedom on the road.
Keen on a road trip? Check out My Favourite Escapes post on road tripping the east coast!
Food & Drink
So being from New Zealand I am use to paying ridiculous prices for food, though if you have just been travelling around South East Asia, prices here are certainly going to be a shock!
It is quite common to eat out at restaurants, though be prepared to pay $15 for a basic meal excluding a drink.
If you have access to a kitchen it might be cheaper to buy food and cook there than eating out, though you would be missing out on a culinary experience. Expect to spend approximately $80 a week if you planning on purchasing groceries.
Otherwise for the non-health conscience a fast food meal will set you back about $12.
Tipping service staff is not expected in Australia, though if you have good service the gesture would be appreciated.
While in Australia make sure you try some of the local cuisine. If you are brave try emu, kangaroo and crocodile. For the fainter hearted, give lamingtons, vegemite, timtams and a meat pie a try.
We have all seen those beautiful photos of Australia with the large harbour bridge and Opera House, well that’s Sydney. The picturesque city is built around the harbour and offers plenty of things to do. Take a walk across the Harbour Bridge if you are brave enough, sail the harbour and explore the famous Bondi Beach. Also if you are in the area head out to visit the Blue Mountains and experience the wildlife of Australia.
Perth, otherwise known as the most isolated capital city is located far on the west coast of Australia. Due to this reason, it is not the most commonplace for the traveller, though this doesn’t mean you should overlook it! It is a wonderful, chilled out city with some of the most amazing beaches which will not be overcrowded.
Queensland is a very popular place for backpackers. Containing the nightlight and touristy attractions of the Gold Coast, as well as the beautiful tropical rainforests of Daintree National Park. Make sure you set some time aside to explore the beautiful ocean off the Coast. With The Great Barrier Reef a diving or snorkelling experience is a must. If you are into diving why not try a liveaboard in Australia. Do not miss the chance to witness the ultimate paradise with a trip to Fraser Island or a few days in the Whitsundays. This is the perfect place to do a bit of a roadie and check out some of the best sights in Queensland on the Great Barrier Reef Drive.
There are some amazing things to see and do in the Northern Territory. Take a camel safari across the outback, see the rich red sand and experience the aboriginal culture. The capital, Alice Springs is the general travel hub for people exploring the state. Make sure you visit Uluru otherwise known as one of Australia’s best attractions!
Not really part of the backpacker scene Tasmania lies off the coast of Australia and is quite a different vibe than the rest of the country. With a cooler temperatures and a different climate this part of the country has quite a rugged terrain. Tasmania is the perfect place to go on a hike, do some adventure activities and see the beautiful Wineglass Bay. It is also only a ferry ride away from Melbourne so if you are in the area don’t turn down the opportunity to explore this gem of Australia.
Melbourne is a city with such amazing vibes, excellent eateries and a great nightlife. Being Australia’s second largest city it is also known as the cultural capital. Explore the numerous laneways within the city, take the tram out to St Kilda for a Beach day and explore the Queen Victoria Market. Other popular options include the Great Ocean Road as well as visiting the penguins on Phillip Island.
Want to try something different to save money?
Give working for your accommodation a try. Many hostels in Australia offer those who are staying a free place to rest your head if you are willing to help with cleaning, front desk and other general duties.
Another option is WWOOFing or Helpx.