Backpacking Australia: East Coast.
This page is my overview of backpacking Australia, covering the East coast, some tips, general things to know, transport and accommodation options, general costs and my overall experience.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie oi, oi, oi! ….Welcome to straya!!!
Backpacking the East Coast of Australia is…Well in a nutshell, a party; it’s a booze filled binge up or down the coast.
The East coast is the most popular and heavily backpacked coast which contains most of what Australia is famous for; it’s a well trodden booze filled beaten path. Home to cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, stunning beaches, exotic animals, famous landmarks, Incredible islands, world wonders, Fraiser Island, the Whitsunday, the great barrier reef, and even rain-forests.
As a backpacker in Australia you’re just as likely to go on an all day booze cruise as you much as you visit an attraction, seeing and doing things becomes secondary to partying. In fact most tours incorporate booze into their trips; select from a number party boats to take you out to the Whitsundays, booze out to the great barrier reef, go on a castaway trip and sit around a fire in the middle of nowhere with a crate of cheap beer or a box of goon.
You might be thinking I’m painting a false picture of but you ask anybody who’s budget backpacked the East coast and see if they tell you any different!
A few tips:
- Learning local Aussie lingo will help you understand the locals. (Especially if they are bogans)
- It actually gets cold in winter (Who knew!) so pack accordingly to what time of year you are going.
- In Melbourne you are likely to experience 4 seasons in a day sometimes.
- There are some amazing beaches, famous ones like Bondi are very commercialized and not necessarily the best.
- Hostels regularly hold nights out, in most cases there’s always a free drink and its great way to meet other travelers.
- The famous Kings Cross in Sydney is not as notorious as it once was.
- There are plenty of camper-van rental and backpacker travel agents to organize trips up the east coast.
- Check hostel boards to see if anybody else is heading in the same direction as you.
- Try not to miss places like Fraiser Island and the Whitsundays.
- Doing a 4×4 off roading trip on Fraiser Island will be an experience you wont forget.
- You can also jut buy a hop on and hop off bus ticket and travel independently.
- DO NOT ASK FOR A FOSTERS IN A BAR – Aussies hate it.
- As well as the famous places there are plenty of hidden gems throughout the east coast.
- Make sure if you book a skydive, you’re not going diving the next day. (I had to double check that)
- If your hostel has long-termers staying there, don’t be afraid to talk to them, just don’t ask them where they’ve been or where there going straight away – Long-termers hate that.
- Cooking for yourself or with others in the hostel is much cheaper than eating out.
- Shop around for the best prices and the trip that suits you best if doing the great barrier reef.
- Aussies can be quite blunt and their lingo can take some getting used to. Don’t take it personally and they like to say ‘cunt’ in every other sentence, don’t be offended if your called a ‘sick cunt’, ‘shit cunt’ or just ‘cunt’.
- Be prepared for long journeys nothing is close to each other in Australia.
Some things to be wary of:
- Getting stuck in the first place you get to (months can disappear)
- If you are English, be prepared to be called a Pommy by every Australian you meet.
- Australia is expensive, so be prepared for your initial money to drain. If you are planning on doing a working holiday, work is readily available as long as you’re willing to find it.
- Australia has some of the worlds deadliest animals including poisonous spiders venomous snakes, sharks, crocodiles and jelly fish. Be careful on land or in water.
- Bull sharks swim in Sydney Harbor.
- Dingo’s run free on Fraiser Island, however if you are there during mating season you are not likely to encounter one.
- Like all countries there are some areas you should be careful of or stay away from.
- Pay attention to signs on beaches in regards to going in the water; the signs are there for a reason. (Water Current and swell warnings, shark warnings, crocodile warnings etc.)
- Australia has some of the highest UV levels in the world, you can get sun burnt in 20 mins without protection during the summer months.
- Be aware for how much your drinking on boat cruises (Seen a few people fall off boats or think it would be funny to go for a swim)
Basic things to know:
Language spoken: English
Other Languages spoken: Bogan
Currency: Australian Dollar
Backpacking in Australia is – Expensive.
To check live rates click here XE.com
The most common visa’s for backpackers are:
- E-Visitor – Tourist visa, lets you stay up to a period of 3 months but you cannot work with this visa.
- Working holiday Visa subclass 417 -Available for people between 18 -30, initial 1 year stay and you are able to work with this visa
- Work and holiday subclass 462 same as above but for nationalities not available for working holiday visas.
All visa can be applied for online through Australia.gov.au or through travel agents or via bureau agencies online.
Things to know when budgeting for backpacking Australia:
There’s no way around it, backpacking Australia is expensive but not impossible and there are ways to get around it. However be prepared you will spend a lot of money on alcohol.
If you’re planning on going to Australia just for a few months on a tourist visa you will need a much larger budget than if you were to go South East Asia or South America. Traveling the East Coast for just a few months you will want to and see as much as you can. You’ll need about $40-$50 dollars a day, if not more including transport, accommodation activities, eating and drinking.
However if you’re on working holiday visa there is a silver lining, you can work while you travel and when you’re earning Australian wages which are high, the costs seem a lot more relative and easier to manage. A lot of people just like I did, Will find a base, work full time and save money for a trip up or down the coast.
While I lived in Sydney, working full time I could easily spend $50-$60 dollars a day and think nothing of it because the wages made the costs relative. While I was spending this amount I was still able to save for my trips.
While traveling up the coast there is an immense amount of hostels to choose from, staying in larger bed dorms can bring your cost down quite considerably. A large amount of your budget will go on transport no matter how you chose to do it; whether that’s traveling independent on a greyhound bus, or paying for a full package deal on a hop on-off bus. If you chose to rent your own vehicle you will be spending a lot on petrol as it’s not cheap.
Australia is country where it’s actually cheaper to organize your activities from a backpacker tour operator like Peter Pans before hand. You can get group discounts traveling in a group, and adding activities together makes it cheaper than paying for them separately. I traveled up the East coast with a group of friends from my hostel in Sydney. We booked all our activities before hand but traveled independently which worked out cheaper than paying for everything separately.
Eating out is expensive, Alcohol will drain your money but there are ways of saving costs. Cook for yourself in bulk, cook for a few days, simple things like spaghetti Bolognese, chicken and rice can stretch and fill you up. You don’t need to live of instant noodles. With alcohol, buy cheaper imported beer or cheaper spirits, go out on hostel nights and claim your free drink. Or if you really want to scrape the bottom of the barrel there’s always goon. What is goon you ask? You don’t want to know what it! But every backpacker in Australia has had to drink goon at some point or another.
As you can see I haven’t gone into too much specific pricing, as prices always change and information becomes irrelevant. However if you are looking to compare live prices here is a couple of good sites for live comparisons to help you: numbeo and expatisan.
Although there are long distances to cover getting around Australia is fairly simple, especially well trodden paths like the East coast. There are a number of public transport options, you can choose to travel in groups on various East coast tours, travel independently on coaches like greyhound or even rent or buy your own vehicle.
Buses – Public bus, runs regular within cities.
Metro – reliable and cheap.
Taxi- Very expensive option.
Greyhound – Buy a bus pass for your whole trips (Hop on-Hop off)
Rent/ buy camper vans – Juicy camper vans.
Car share with a group.
Domestic flights – Jetstar
Hitchhike – Not as dangerous as you think.
As the east coast is such a hotbed for backpackers there is such a wide range of accommodation wherever you are.
- Hostels – Range from small quiet, party, to large hotel like franchises. (short-term or long-term)
- House/apartment shares – It’s common for groups of backpackers to rent homes to call their own on short-term leases.
- Traveler houses – A cross between hostels and houses, purely full of fellow backpackers.
- Couchsurfing – Very popular in Australia.
- Air BnB – Rent a room for some privacy.
- Camping/Camper-van sites – Pitch up a tent on a secluded beach, in national parks or designated camping areas.
- Volunteering – Exchange work for accommodation.
My Overview of backpacking Australia:
Australia was where it all began for me, it was my first ever backpacking trip and the first time I ever traveled solo.
I spent two years there on a working holiday but I did what so first time backpackers do; got stuck in Sydney, worked, drank and partied the first few months away. When I say the first few months, I mean the first 8 months! Yes I can hear you all wondering how I did that for 8 months but this is what can happen when you arrive in Australia, especially as a first time backpacker.
I was a newbie to backpacking and backpacking through the East coast was made so easy for me and everybody else that backpacks it. Looking back I will say backpacking through Thailand was an education into backpacking and Australia is like a beginner’s guide or getting into the pool from the shallow side.
I say this because it’s just so easy to backpack (apart from getting stuck in one place for too long) everything is laid out for you. For first time backpackers as I was back then, It will teach you the fundamentals. Things like staying in hostels, looking after yourself, how to survive on little or no money, packing and unpacking constantly, making friends and introduce you to long-distance journeys. Yes you can learn this in any country but it’s made easier in Australia.
In the two years I spent there living, traveling, partying and working. I had an amazing time, met incredible people, involved in some of the best parties and saw and did so many amazing things.
Traveling the East coast.
For me just being in Australia was the biggest achievement of my life back then, it was a country I had always dreamt of going to and I was able to finally be there. Traveling up the east coast I ticked off so much from my bucket list, to say I called Sydney home, that the iconic Sydney harbor bridge had gone from something I saw on TV to just being that bridge I crossed daily. Traveling up the east coast I was able to experience so many incredible things and places some of which I’ve listed below.
Some of my highlights:
Friends that turned into family.
The crazy parties.
The kings cross (Back then)
The countless sunrises on the beach.
Booze cruises around Sydney harbor.
General life in Australia.
Flying a solo plane.
Sky dive over the great barrier reef.
The great barrier reef.
Witnessing humpback whales just out the sea in front of me.
Some of my dislikes:
Weather in winter (it’s not meant to be grim like England)
Running out of money all the time.
Having to actually work.
Aussie tax bullshit.
Having to do farm work to get a 2nd year visa.
My Route backpacking Australia:
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