Backpacking Australia: BEST Tips For Budget Travelers 2024

Come find out all you need to know when it comes to backpacking Australia. This is the perfect guide for budget travelers, whether you are heading over on a working holiday, or a shorter trip exploring some of the top spots!


Welcome to the land Down Under! This is such an amazing, large, and diverse country. With desert, tropical, and city landscapes there is a lot on offer for those backpacking Australia.

If you’re an adventurous soul with a passion for exploration, backpacking through Australia is an experience like no other. From stunning coastlines to breathtaking landscapes, this diverse country offers an abundance of unforgettable moments that will leave you in awe.

So grab your backpack, put on your walking shoes, and get ready for the ultimate adventure as we delve into the world of backpacking Australia.

Very popular with backpackers, thanks to the working holiday visa scheme on offer, it is full of like-minded people taking up the offer to work and travel to a new place at the same time.

You will often find hostels full of traveling/working visitors and they provide a great atmosphere where you can meet new people.

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 travelers seem to underestimate. So, that road trip you planned from the west coast to the east coast is extremely unlikely. Though that’s why I am here.

So strap in as I tell you all you need to know about backpacking Australia, from money matters, prices, tips, and where exactly you should visit on this adventure!


Backpacking Australia On A Budget: All You Need To Know

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How I Book Cheap Transport In Australia: 12Go Asia


What Is The Currency In Australia

Australia uses the Australian Dollar (AUD) as its currency. Each note has a different color, and they’re made from a plastic material, making them pretty durable and waterproof – perfect for your backpacking Australia adventures! Aussie coins might be a bit confusing at first, as the $2 coin is smaller than the $1 coin. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it in no time! Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, and contactless payments are the norm. So while it’s good to have some cash on hand for small expenses, you don’t have to worry about carrying a ton of cash around. Remember, always keep an eye on the exchange rate and bank fees when managing your money.

Check online exchange rates.


Entry Requirements For Backpacking Australia

Before you board your flight to the Land Down Under, it’s essential to get the legalities in order. Australia has quite stringent entry requirements and it’s crucial to adhere to them to avoid any hiccups at the border.

Depending on how long you are backpacking Australia and which country your passport is from will depend on whether or not you need a visa to enter the country.

Citizens of 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.

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 an ever-popular working holiday visa for those between the ages of 18 and 31. However, 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.

You will also need to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay and have proof of sufficient funds and proof of onward travel.

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How I Book Cheap Transport In Australia: 12Go Asia


Travel Budget For Backpacking Australia

Creating a comprehensive travel budget is absolutely essential for your Australian backpacking adventure, ensuring a worry-free and truly enjoyable trip.

As you embark on this incredible journey, it’s important to keep in mind that Australia, while offering countless priceless experiences, is known for its relatively higher cost of living, which makes budgeting even more critical.

Let’s dive into some specific budget considerations:

Accommodation: One of the popular and budget-friendly choices among backpackers is staying in hostels. This not only helps you save money but also provides an opportunity to meet fellow travelers and share stories.

Hostel prices typically range from $15 to $40 per night. However, do keep in mind that factors like location and season can influence these rates, so plan accordingly.

Food: When it comes to saving on food, your best bet is to explore supermarkets and local markets. Cooking your meals can be a cost-effective option, with an estimated daily expense of around $10 to $15.

However, if you want to treat yourself occasionally and experience the local cuisine, a budget meal at a restaurant can range from $15 to $20.

Transport: Australia’s vast and diverse landscape means you’ll be covering long distances during your journey. It’s worth considering investing in bus passes, such as the Greyhound pass, which can provide you with flexibility and cost savings for longer trips.

Additionally, budget airlines can be a viable option for covering larger distances within the country.

Activities: One of the major highlights of backpacking in Australia is the wide range of activities available. From snorkeling in the magnificent Great Barrier Reef to exploring the breathtaking Outback, there’s something for everyone.

It’s advisable to set aside funds specifically for these experiences, as prices can vary from $50 to $200 depending on the activity and location.

Overall I would recommend budgeting $75.00 to $90.00 per day when backpacking Australia. Some days you may spend more, some less, but it should even out.

Remember, flexibility is key when backpacking Australia. Be prepared to adjust your budget as you go, as some experiences are simply too good to miss out on!

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Best Time To Backpack Australia

So when’s the best time to visit Australia? Well, mate, the answer is anytime really! Australia is such a diverse country that there’s always something amazing to see or do no matter when you decide to visit.

That being said, it’s worth keeping in mind that Australia’s seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is from December to February, autumn is from March to May, winter is from June to August, and spring is from September to November.

If you’re after some beach time and don’t mind the heat, Australia’s summer is the time for you. With temperatures often soaring into the 30s (that’s Celsius, folks!), you’ll have plenty of opportunities for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. Just remember your suncream!

The summertime is also the high season. During this period, there is an influx of tourists as people come to visit during the summer, locals have school and work off and because of this, accommodation prices increase.

For those who prefer milder weather, autumn and spring are beautiful seasons to explore the cities and the countryside. Think less crowded tourist spots, mild temperatures, and stunning seasonal changes in flora. This is my preferred time to backpack Australia.

Winter in Australia is quite mild compared to many other countries. If you’re a snow bunny, the Australian Alps in the southern states get decent snowfall. On the flip side, it’s a great time to explore the tropical north without the extreme heat and humidity.

Ultimately, the best time to go backpacking Australia depends on the kind of adventure you’re after. But rest assured, there’s never a bad time to enjoy this wonderful country! So, when are you packing your bags?

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Sleeping In Australia 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. Whether you are looking for a 5-star hotel with a view over the Gold Coast, a backpackers hostel in Sydney, or cheap hotels in Brisbane, there is something for everyone and all budgets in Australia.

Travelling alone? Try out a hostel and expect to spend between $15 -$30 a night for a bed in a dorm.

Traveling 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 want 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 on. This is what I did and managed to get half-price stays!


How I Book Cheap Transport In Australia: 12Go Asia


Getting Around Australia On A Budget

So, you’re wondering how to explore this vast, beautiful country without busting your budget, right? Well, fear not, budget-savvy travelers! Australia is chock-full of affordable ways to get around.

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

For starters, if you’re planning on visiting multiple cities, low-cost airlines like Jetstar or Tiger Airways often have great deals. Just make sure to book in advance and pack light, as these budget airlines can have strict luggage allowances.

If the open road is calling your name, consider renting a campervan. This gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace, and you’ll save a bundle on accommodation costs.

Sites like Gumtree often have second-hand vans for sale, too, or you can check out relocation deals where you can drive a campervan back to its home base for a heavily discounted rate. Rentals for campervans generally start at $50 per day and sleep multiple people.

Train and coach travel is another budget-friendly option. While it may take a little longer, it’s a great way to sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning Aussie landscape. Check out the Greyhound bus service which many backpacking Australia use, or the extensive train network which covers most major cities and regional areas.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of your own two feet. Many Aussie cities are very walkable, and there’s often lots to see and do close to the city centers. Plus, it’s free – talk about a win-win! So, with a bit of planning and flexibility, you’ll find that even on a shoestring budget, Australia is your oyster. Now, go on and start your Aussie adventure!

Keen on a road trip? Check out My Favourite Escape post on road-tripping the east coast!

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Food & Drink In Australia

Whether you’re a foodie, or just someone who loves to try new things, Australia’s culinary scene is sure to impress. So, come hungry and leave your diet at home, because this Aussie food adventure is one you won’t want to miss!

Australia is a gastronomic delight, a melting pot of cultures that’s reflected in its diverse and tantalizing cuisine.

So being from New Zealand I am used 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 a minimum $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 $100 a week if you planning on purchasing groceries.

The fresh seafood is a must-try – whether it’s barramundi, a quintessential Aussie fish, or prawns on a barbie! And who can forget Vegemite? This iconic spread might be an acquired taste, but it’s as Australian as it gets.

For those with a sweet tooth, you simply can’t miss the Tim Tams and Pavlova. It’s a bit of a friendly feud with Kiwis about who invented the Pavlova, but no matter who it was, we’re just glad it exists!

Now, let’s wash all that down with some good old Aussie drinks. Seriously, the coffee culture here is strong, with local cafes serving up some of the best brews you’ll ever taste.

And for the wine lovers out there, Australia’s got you covered. From the exquisite reds of Barossa Valley to the crisp whites of Margaret River, there’s a vineyard (or a hundred) waiting for you to explore.

Tipping service staff is not expected in Australia, though if you have good service the gesture would be appreciated.


Top Places To Visit While Backpacking Australia On A Budget

Australia boasts a plethora of incredible destinations that are bound to leave a lasting impression. Here are a few must-visit places to include in your Australia itinerary:


Sydney

From the moment you step foot in Sydney, you’ll be captivated by its stunning skyline. The majestic Sydney Opera House, with its distinctive sail-like design, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as the ‘Coathanger’, are two of the city’s most renowned landmarks. No visit to Sydney is complete without a walk around Circular Quay where you can enjoy spectacular views of both these iconic structures. But Sydney isn’t just about iconic landmarks! The city serves up a vibrant culinary scene, bustling markets, and a nightlife that is second to none. The city’s multicultural influences mean you’ll find food from all corners of the globe – from aromatic Thai dishes in Newtown to mouth-watering Italian fare in Leichhardt. And let’s not forget about Sydney’s gorgeous beaches. From world-famous Bondi to family-friendly Balmoral, the city’s beautiful beaches are perfect for sunning, socialising and surfing, and even trying out the coastal walks in Sydney. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or it’s your first time on a board, Sydney’s beaches have something for everyone.

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Perth

Perched on Australia’s western coast, Perth combines the best of urban living with the serenity of natural beauty. Its sunny weather, stunning beaches, and laid-back lifestyle make it a must-visit spot on any backpacking Australia itinerary.

Perth’s city life is as vibrant as it is diverse. The city center is teeming with stylish bars, world-class restaurants, and chic boutiques. But the star of Perth is perhaps its stunning coastline.

Here, you can soak up the sun at Cottesloe Beach or take a ferry over to Rottnest Island, where you can snap a selfie with the adorable quokkas.

The city’s cultural scene is also not to be missed. Art enthusiasts will love the contemporary works at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, while history buffs can plunge into the past at the Western Australian Museum.

And be sure to explore Kings Park, one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner-city parks.


Queensland

Queensland, affectionately known as the Sunshine State, is itself a shining gem in Australia’s crown. This tropical paradise is an alluring blend of stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant cities teeming with culture and adventure.

First on the list is the glamorous Gold Coast, a surfer’s paradise with golden sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Spend your days catching waves, soaking up the sun, or exploring the lively city lined with trendy boutiques, cafes, and a bustling nightlife scene.

Remember to visit the famed theme parks, like Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World, for a dose of adrenaline and fun!

Up north, you’ll find Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. This tropical city is a haven for nature and adventure lovers, offering opportunities for diving, snorkeling, liveaboard in Australia, and boat tours to explore the majestic underwater world.

Plus, Cairns is just a stone’s throw away from the ancient Daintree Rainforest, where you can embark on a journey through the world’s oldest living rainforest.

Then there’s Brisbane, Queensland’s sunny and sophisticated capital city. With its dynamic arts scene, world-class restaurants, and quirky laneways dotted with cafes and bars, Brisbane is the perfect urban complement to Queensland’s natural wonders.

Do not miss the chance to witness the ultimate paradise with a trip to Fraser Island or a few days in the Whitsundays. Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, Fraser Island, and Magnetic Island are just a few of the picture-perfect retreats that offer incredible snorkeling, hiking, and wildlife encounters.

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.

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Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is another treasure trove waiting to be explored. Widely known as Australia’s final frontier, it’s a place where bustling city life meets the tranquil essence of nature.

Darwin, the capital city, is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, offering an eclectic mix of Asian food markets, Indigenous art galleries, and pearl boutiques. Life happens outdoors here with open-air movies at the Deckchair Cinema, sunset cruises, and the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Market.

Don’t forget about Kakadu National Park just outside the city, a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise, teeming with saltwater crocodiles, kangaroos, and a myriad of bird species.

Further south, you’ll find the majestic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The park not only houses the iconic Uluru but also the striking rock formations of Kata Tjuta.

The heart-stopping sight of Uluru at sunrise or sunset is an unforgettable experience. The park is also a great place to learn about the local Anangu culture and Indigenous history.

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Tasmania

Next up on our Aussie adventure, let’s head south to the island state of Tasmania! This charming spot is a hidden gem that’s brimming with stunning landscapes, a rich history, and a thriving food and wine culture.

Tasmania’s incredible natural beauty is simply undeniable. From the rugged beauty of Cradle Mountain to hiking Freycinet National Park, it’s a nature lover’s dream.

The island is teeming with unique wildlife too, so keep an eye out for the infamous Tasmanian Devils and adorable wombats! If you’re a hiking enthusiast, the breathtaking Overland Track is a must.

But Tasmania isn’t just about natural beauty. The state’s rich history is beautifully preserved in places like Port Arthur, a former convict settlement now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Walking through the site, you’ll get a vivid glimpse into the harsh conditions of Australia’s early penal colonies.

And let’s not forget the food and wine! Tasmania’s cool climate makes it a haven for winemakers, so wine lovers are in for a real treat. The island is also renowned for its local produce, from fresh seafood to artisan cheeses.

Hobart’s popular Salamanca Market is a great place to sample these delights and get a taste of the local culture.


Melbourne

Melbourne, often hailed as Australia’s cultural capital, is an eclectic mix of modern innovation and rich history. It’s a city that’s buzzing with energy, teeming with creativity, and bursting with flavors.

For the coffee connoisseurs, Melbourne is your paradise. The city is famous for its thriving coffee culture, with an abundance of cafes lining the streets, each offering a unique brew.

Melbourne is also an art enthusiast’s dream. The city streets are a canvas showcasing stunning street art, with murals, stencils, and paste-ups adding color and character to the urban landscape.

And let’s not forget about Melbourne’s pulsating food scene. It’s a melting pot of cultures, with restaurants serving up a smorgasbord of global cuisines. From Italian to Thai, Ethiopian to Greek, you’re in for a gastronomic journey in Melbourne.

The Great Ocean Road, St Kilda, the Yarra Valley, and the Dandenong Ranges – Melbourne is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty that’s just waiting to be explored. And if you’re an animal lover you can’t see visiting the penguins on Phillip Island.

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Why Not Volunteer In Australia?

Give working for your accommodation a try. Many hostels in Australia offer those who are staying a free place to rest their head if they are willing to help with cleaning, front desk, and other general duties.

Another option is WWOOFing or Helpx.


How I Book Cheap Transport In Australia: 12Go Asia


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