Backpacking In Australia

Madeleine Wilson from the budget accommodation specialist HostelBookers offers a helping hand for organising your backpacking trip around Australia, whatever your budget. From cheap hotels in Sydney to self catering apartments in Perth they've got it covered.

Planning to backpack around Australia? Well, on the one hand there is a lot to think about, but on the other, this country is teeming with backpackers all in the same boat. You will find Australia totally geared up for helping you get the most out of your trip whether it is finding a fun hostel, enjoying cheap things to do and getting from one side of the country to the other.

There are also lots of work opportunities so if you find yourself running low on cash, put a couple of feelers out and you'll find fruit-picking opportunities, bar work or a few shifts behind the reception desk will tide you over.

Accommodation

Expect to pay between $20AUD and $35 per night for a bed in a dorm room. Hostels with private rooms can still be cheaper than hotels and will cost between $35-$50 per person, per night.

When you are choosing a place to stay look at what facilities properties offer. Free Wi-Fi or internet access will be important for backpackers planning their next stay or keeping in touch with family or friends back home. A hostel that throws in a free breakfast or offers self-catering facilities will help keep costs down while onsite bars or lounge areas can be great places to meet fellow travellers.

In Sydney, the Sydney Harbour YHA boasts spectacular views from the roof terrace with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour all in sight. They have a BBQ, laundry facilities a lounge area and fast internet. They can help you plan tours and point you in the direction of the top attractions.

If you are heading to Melbourne and fancy being near the beach, St Kilda is the city's seaside suburb. Base St Kilda is a funky hostel with a bar, pool table and dorms with en suite facilities.

Noosa is a surfing mecca and a must-see for anyone keen to try the sport. Nomads Noosa Backpackers offers free surfboard and bodyboard hire and they provide a free transit bus to the beach and national park.

Things to do on a budget

Hit the beach: Aussies love the beach. Extreme frisbee, surfing, kite-flying or throwing a few shrimp on the barbie, it's all happening here. And since it's free backpackers quickly fall in to the beach bum way of life whether in Brisbane, Byron Bay or Sydney's Bondi Beach
Explore Darling Harbour: One of the highlights of Sydney is the stunning harbour. You can spend hours wandering around enjoying the view and ogling the boats coming and going. But there are also hordes of street artists, buskers and some free entertainment to help you while away an afternoon.
Pedal around: In Adelaide you can hire bikes for free and explore the city limits. A fab way to get from a to b and sightsee at the same time.
Join a free museum tour: Bring dusty old history to life with a guided tour of a museum. The Museum of Brisbane offers free hour-long exhibition tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11am.
Explore the rainforests: Head inland from the Gold Coast and explore the lush Springbrook National Park with waterfalls, walking trails and some great lookout spots.
Get your caffeine fix: Melburnians love their coffee and the city is renowned for its cool and quirky coffee shops.
Soak up the sunset: Perhaps one of the best, Darwin is a stunner at sunset when the fiery balls descends over Darwin Harbour. With a glass of wine or a cold beer in hand, it's hard to top.
Climb to the treetops: The Federation Walkway in Perth is a 50m-high platform atop the grey gum trees.
Pop over to Tasman: Arty and fun, the Salamanca Market is a lively and colourful weekly market selling everything from coffee to craft.

Visas

The exchange rate as it is, Australia has been a more expensive destination recently. If you plan to visit for more than one month, you might want to consider picking up some work during your trip. As soon as you start earning yourself some Australia dollars, your money will go further. You should make a decision about whether you want to work or not before you arrive so that you apply for the right type of visa.

Working Visas

If you are aged between 18-30, you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa (the equivalent for travellers from the United States is the Australian Work and Holiday Visa). You can stay in the country for up to 12 months and work for each employer for a maximum of 6 months. There is also the opportunity to extend this visa to 24 months.
This visa, at the time of writing, costs $450 AUD.

You may apply for all the above visas online. It is advisable not to commit to travel arrangements (such as booking and paying for flights) until your visa has been approved).

Finding Work

There are hundreds of websites out there to help backpackers find work in Australia. The most common jobs include fruit-picking, au pairing, helping out in hostels and bar work.
Your hostel is a great starting point to look for work. They often have job boards or can put you in touch with employers directly.

Several websites to try include:

Thejobshop.com.au
Backpackerjobboard.com.au
Taw.com.au

It's worth noting that if you want to pick up some bar work you will have to complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol training course. For some states, an online RSA course costing $55 will cover you but other states might require you to complete a 1-day course at one of the centres in the cities.

Why not combine your work and play! Volunteer to work at one of Australia's exciting food or music festivals and you won't have to fork out for a ticket. Find out which events take your fancy then take a look on the main website for job opportunities.

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