Competition for your dollar is fierce so prices are good and quality is ever increasing. Plus all sorts of incentives are often thrown in, such as free pick-up,drink vouchers, internet use or discounted tours.Check the listings in TNT Magazine when you arrive to find one that suits your needs.Those wanting to stop-off and work, or just relaxin’ one place for a few weeks or months, are well catered for too, with share accommodation and other good rental options.Those with a taste for the outdoors will be able to find plenty of space to pitch a tent. Another great option is a camper van – the most flexible and cheap way to travel and sleep. If you’re in the bush you can give the old-fashioned Aussie pub a try, or get in amongst it on a farm stay.


The range of hostels in Oz is excellent. From beach huts and tree houses in Queensland to mountain cabins in Tasmania, you’ll be amazed that you’re actually staying in “budget” accommodation. Many of the hostels, although in many cases individually run, are part of one of the big backpacker chains – Nomads, Youth Hostel Association (YHA), Base and VIP, for example. All provide self-catering accommodation in a warm,relaxing atmosphere, with friendly staff who have a knowledge of the local area. You can become a member of any or all of these organisations for a small fee, and receive discounts on accommodation and tours when you book with them.

The hostels that are not part of any of the above chains are not necessarily inferior in any way, you just don’t get the advantage of the group benefits. The cheapest beds in hostels are usually bunks in dorm rooms, where you share the room and amenities with others (they can be as small as four-bed dorms, up to as large as 16-bed dorms). Most hostels will have double and single rooms too, and sometimes the option of ensuite bathrooms. Some may even have self-contained units. Many hostels now also have swimming pools, bars, pool tables, BBQs, bicycles,surfboards for hire (sometimes for free) and more.Larger hostels often arrange lots of social events too and run their own tours. If you’re travelling alone it’s no problem meeting like-minded types.

Most hostels have a shared, self-catering kitchen(which means you have to clean up after yourself)and many have courtesy shuttle-buses that greet travellers when they arrive in town (though you sometimes need to call ahead to arrange pick-up).You’ll constantly bump into people who have been to where you’re going, so ask around to find the best places.

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Most hotels will be above a budget travellers’ price range. However smaller motels can be surprisingly cheap, especially if you’re getting a room for a few people.

Share accommodation

If you’re keen to meet people, or are craving a little bit of normality during your adventure around Australia, share accommodation is another great option. For a low price you can rent a room in a furnished fl at, sharing the facilities with other travellers. There are several good agencies specifically designed just for backpackers. For a similar price to a hostel, you can have your own private room with bills included (though you usually have to commit to staying for a few weeks). An agency will ensure the house is well maintained, provide rental receipts and references (handy for renting later) and so forth.


Private share houses can be cheaper, but not always as well maintained. Make sure you inspect the property fi rst and insist on receipts before handing over cash.One of the best ways to start looking for a place to stay is on the various notice boards around town and in the backpacker travel centres. This informal way of finding a home can prove to be the cheapest,as most people will only ask for a couple of weeks rent up front and usually waive the hefty deposit.

Private renting can be tricky as most places are unfurnished. You’re better off looking for “houseshares”, in the paper, on hostel noticeboards or at This can also be the best option for finding a short-term solution, and meeting Aussies in the process, with many people sub-letting their room while travelling themselves.Most renting requires a “bond” – a down payment of at least one month’s rent, which is used as a caution deposit and is refundable when you move out unless you’ve damaged the property. Rent prices vary from location to location. Sydney would be the most expensive for example, as is being near the beach generally – though being near the sand is still possible.

Gay & lesbian travellers

There are many hostels that cater for gay and lesbian travellers, especially in the bigger cities,notably Sydney. Most tourism boards have some form of gay and lesbian travelling handbook with a directory of accommodation, bars and clubs. There is also a Rough Guide to Gay & Lesbian Australia which may be of help.


Australia presents great opportunities for campers. The countryside and weather are perfect for pitching your tent and experiencing the land at its most natural.There is nothing quite like getting back to nature,gazing at the stars at night and sitting next to a roaring fire (if you can get over the whole shitting in a hole thing). Tents are easy to buy (check out hostel notice boards). Better yet, adopt the Aussie tradition and buy yourself a swag, a canvas sleeping bag complete with built-in foam mattress that allows you to sleep out under the Milky Way.

Remember that permission is needed to camp on private property and there may be local regulations or restrictions against camping. It is advisable to carry portable stoves or gas cookers, as open fires are often banned due to the risk of bush fires. Always make sure you have a supply of fresh water.

National Parks: Australia has more than 2,000 national parks, natural reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, which can make camping really special.National parks allow camping in designated areas (from as little as $6 per night) and some allow bush camps for a small fee. If spending extended periods in national parks, make sure you let the ranger know your plans. Some of the parkland is vast and we wouldn’t want to lose you!

Camping Tours:
For those who don’t have their own vehicle or equipment, an alternative is an organised camping tour. It’s a great way to see the country without having your head stuck in a map,and many of the tour guides prove to be the most outlandish characters you could ever hope to meet.

Caravan Parks:
Australia has an extensive network of caravan parks. Most cost between $20-30 a night and tend to have basic amenities and barbecues for cooking, although some have recreational facilities.On-site vans: These are a relatively cheap alternative to carrying a tent, especially if there’s a group of you. They’re found at most caravan parks.

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For many of the smaller outback towns this is the only accommodation option. They are not unlike British B&Bs. Rooms are unsophisticated with just abed, sink and a communal toilet and bathroom down the hallway. A cooked breakfast is usually included,but self-catering kitchens are rare. A great place to meet true blue Aussies.

Farmstays & homestays

Another great way to meet locals, these cost more than hostels but can be worth the money.Guests choose whether they’d like to spend their days relaxing on the verandah, fishing or bush walking, or getting their hands dirty with hands-on farm jobs: riding, gathering cattle,grooming horses, riding quads or motorbikes.See our Queensland section for more details (p32). Farm stays mean you can get involved with the farm work (and maybe even earn some extra cash)and home stays allow you to live with Australian families. Check out for more info.

If you’re a little short on cash, consider taking part in the Willing Workers on Organic Farms programme, where you’ll get a free bed in return for a couple of hours work a day. So-called wwoofing also often counts as the regional work you’d need to do if hoping to extend your Working Holiday Visa for a second year. See for more info.

Booking ahead

The natural inclination for most independent travellers is to not plan too far ahead. However, it’s a good idea to pre-book the first few nights of your trip, especially if you’re arriving in peak periods (Christmas and NYE in Sydney for example should be booked months in advance). Most places allow you to book rooms online via their websites.It is also a good idea to be aware of special events taking place – for example, the Australian Open in Melbourne during January – may affect availability of rooms.