Australia is a vast and captivating continent that promises adventure amid diverse landscapes and vibrant cities. Although it is true that Australia can be a pricey destination, backpackers on a budget might be surprised by the treasure trove of affordable experiences on offer.
Whether it's camping in the vast expanses of the Outback, attending free cultural events in major cities, or visiting the most beautiful parks in Melbourne, Australia offers a myriad of activities that won't strain a backpacker's wallet. Here are 10 things to do in The Land Down Under that are light on the pocket but won't compromise the backpacker spirit.
Australia is filled with raw natural beauty, iconic landmarks, and dramatic landscapes. Luckily, backpackers on a tight budget can take in the sights without completely depleting their travel funds by embarking on some of the most beautiful hikes in Australia.
Traverse the breathtaking landscapes of the Blue Mountains and choose from one of the many hiking trails in the national park. In Victoria, hardcore hikers can attempt the multi-day Grampians Peaks Trail. Those looking to take on the entire 164 km trail can expect to pay $262.35 per person, but this price is dependent on two people sharing a tent. Backpackers on a budget will be pleased to know that many sections of the trail can be accomplished for free if they opt for a day hike. While in Victoria, avid hikers will also find Wilsons Promontory National Park. Located in the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, this is another fantastic free park that showcases Australia's diverse ecosystems.
Backpackers looking for laid-back hiking trails in Sydney can admire the beautiful coast during the Bondi to Coogee walk. This picturesque walk is 6 km long, and it goes past a few of Australia's most infamous beaches. Along the way, backpackers can stop for a dip in the sea and enjoy some refreshments at an ocean-front café.
Savvy backpackers on a budget can enhance their Grampians Peaks Trail adventure by strategically integrating Kalymna Falls Campground, Plantation Campground, and Wannon Crossing Campground into their itinerary. No advance booking is required, and these grounds provide cost-free overnight stays. Check the website for any important updates on campsite or road closures.
Hiring a van could be a cheap option for backpackers who plan to travel to Australia for at least a month. Living out of a van could potentially cut costs on accommodation, transport, and even food. With a small kitchen on board, budget-conscious travelers won't have to rely on expensive restaurant meals.
Backpackers who enjoy being behind the wheel can hire a van from an established rental company, such as Britz, Spaceships Rentals, or Travellers Autobarn. Camplify connects people in need of a rental vehicle with RV owners. As the Airbnb of the rental vehicle world, backpackers can score a small campervan for as little as $20 per day.
On average, travelers can expect to spend around $157 per day in Australia. With campervan hire costing as little as $20, there is the potential to save $137 per day, which is over $4,000 over a 30-day period. Make a reservation outside of high season for the best prices.
Britz – from $70
âââââââSpaceships Rentals – from $65
Although van life can certainly be a budget-friendly way to explore Australia, it is important to account for extra costs, such as petrol, campsite fees, and insurance and booking fees for the vehicle itself.
Federation Square is the cultural center of Melbourne, and it is an essential stop for any visitor to the region. Those with a penchant for architecture can appreciate the modern buildings in the square, such as The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI).
Art aficionados can find plenty of events to keep them busy all year round. There are often free festivals and exhibitions to attend and free movies to watch in Fed Square.
Backpackers on a tight budget can still savor the diverse flavors of Australia by exploring local markets. From the bustling stalls of Sydney's Paddy's Markets to the iconic Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, where a hot jam donut at the American Doughnut Kitchen costs just one dollar, there are plenty of budget-friendly culinary delights to relish.
Pho Street at the Cairns Night Markets is a fantastic place for backpackers to devour authentic Vietnamese eats, like a hearty Banh Mi or a spicy bowl of Bun Bo Hue. There are many things to do in Adelaide, and visiting the Central Market should be high on the budget-conscious backpacker's list. It is an established marketplace where hungry travelers can fill up for less than $10.
While Australia's first underwater hotel might not be out of the frugal traveler's price range, there are still plenty of ways one can enjoy the country's underwater world. Backpackers can dive into Australia's marine wonders on a budget by visiting one of the continent's many amazing underwater destinations with their own snorkel gear. Although snorkel sets can be hired from local equipment rental stores around Australia, it is cheaper for backpackers to buy the gear outright if they plan to snorkel a lot.
Those new to snorkeling can try to spot reef sharks, turtles, and rays in the stunning Turquoise Bay. Clovelly Beach is another fantastic place to marvel at vibrant marine life, while Jervis Bay boasts beautiful white sand beaches and clear, unspoiled waters. Hyams Point, also known as Little Hyams Beach, is home to colorful fish, including the vivid Blue Groper.
As with many places around the world, the waters in Australia can be unpredictable. Exercise caution and watch out for strong currents before going further out to sea. If in doubt, ask an expert at a water center nearby. They can give advice about the changing currents and offer information about the local marine life to look out for and what to avoid.
Unlock the secrets of Australia's cities with free walking tours. Join guides in Brisbane's cultural precinct, Sydney's historic Rocks district, or Melbourne's street art-laden laneways. These informative strolls provide insights into local culture, architecture, and history and are a great way to get to know a city.
Although these tours are advertised as free, tips are most welcome. I'm Free Walking Tours offers a range of tours in Sydney and Melbourne, while the Brisbane Greeters also offer a diverse range of tours that introduce visitors to the city's culture and architecture.
Explore Melbourne's history aboard the City Circle Tram, a free and convenient way to tour the city's landmarks. Passengers will uncover the tales of Old Melbourne while enjoying a cost-free tram journey.
The rugged scenery and ancient culture make the Outback one of the most incredible places to visit in Australia. Outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience the rustic charm of the Outback without splashing out should consider pitching a tent at one of the many campsites in this vast area.
From the surreal landscapes of Mungo National Park to the remote location of the Flinders Ranges, campers can choose from a number of unique areas to camp in the Outback. Camping under the stars gives backpackers a chance to get close to the raw beauty of Australia and offers an authentic Outback adventure on a budget.
Pack enough water! Backpackers should always bring spare water for their camping trip and research where the nearest reliable water sources are located. Savvy travelers can invest in a portable water filter to help create potable water wherever they go.
Backpackers visiting the capital can gain insight into Australia's wartime sacrifices and contributions at the Australian War Memorial. Located at the top of Anzac Parade, this poignant site is free to enter and offers visitors a solemn, contemplative experience.
Backpackers can pay tribute to those who died in war and can learn about Australia's military history at the museum and archive. This site is run by volunteers who provide free daily tours for those interested in finding out more about the nation's wartime efforts.
Seeing the Northern Lights is a top bucket list entry for most travelers, but many have not heard of the Southern Lights. Lesser known and considered to be more elusive, the Aurora Australis can be viewed in the southern skies.
For a mesmerizing celestial display, head to Tasmania. There are plenty of affordable accommodations where backpackers can watch this enchanting natural light show without blowing their budget. There are several amazing spots to see the Southern Lights, with Cockle Creek and Bruny Island being excellent bases for this natural wonder.