• Australia offers budget-friendly hiking adventures in its stunning national parks, allowing backpackers to experience raw natural beauty without breaking the bank. Locations include the Blue Mountains and Grampians National Park. Cost: Free for visitors on foot.
  • Embrace van life in Australia to save money on transport, accommodation, and food. Campervan hire can be much cheaper than traditional travel methods, with prices starting as low as $20 per day. Cost: Depends on the rental company, but can be as low as $20 per day.
  • Immerse yourself in unique cultural experiences for free at Federation Square in Melbourne. Explore modern buildings, attend free festivals and exhibitions, and watch free movies. Location: Federation Square, Melbourne. Cost: Free.

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.

Related: 10 Essential Australian Experiences To Have When Visiting Australia

Explore Australia's Natural Wonders By Foot

Embark on budget-friendly hiking adventures

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.

Embrace Van Life

Live the van life dream and save on transport, accommodation, and food expenses

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Depending on the season and whether a long hire rental is required, hiring a campervan can be much cheaper than exploring Australia the traditional way.
  • Pick Up And Drop Off Location: Britz - Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Broome, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney Spaceships Rentals - Airlie Beach, Brisbane, Cairns, Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne Travellers Autobarn - Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney
  • Cost Per Day For Long Hire Rentals:

Britz – from $70

​​​​​​​Spaceships Rentals – from $65

Travellers Autobarn – from $36

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.

Discover Cultural Delights In Federation Square

Backpackers can immerse themselves in unique cultural experiences for free

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Backpackers can delve into Victoria's cultural past and enjoy enriching experiences without breaking the bank
  • Location: Federation Square, Melbourne, Victoria
  • Cost: Fed Square plays host to a variety of free events. Check out the 'What’s On’ section of the website to stay in the loop

Related: 10 Ways To Travel Italy On A Backpacker's Budget

Go On Culinary Adventures At Local Markets

Visit local markets to feast on delicious dishes at affordable prices

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.

Discover Australia's Underwater World

Snorkel for free at one of Australia's many underwater destinations

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Backpackers with a love for the sea can add a budget-friendly dimension to their trip by using their own equipment to explore the Australian waters
  • Location: Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia); Clovelly Beach (Sydney); Jervis Bay (New South Wales)
  • Cost: Snorkel equipment can cost around $23 at sports stores like Decathlon

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.

Free City Walking Tours

Discover Australia's cities with a knowledgeable guide without spending a cent

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Free city walking tours are a cost-effective way to explore local culture and history on foot. Backpackers can receive the local knowledge of a tour guide but without the typical expenses
  • Location: Sydney; Melbourne; Brisbane Check the official tourism website for other cities to see if they offer free walking tours
  • Cost: Free (plus tip)

Ride The City Circle Tram

Take a free tram ride and delve into the rich tapestry of Victoria's cultural history

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.

During the 60-minute ride, the City Circle glides past iconic sites like Parliament House, Princess Theatre, and the Old Treasury Building.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Riding the City Circle Tram is not only a free activity, but the tram also transports passengers to notable landmarks and allows them to hop on and off at 28 different stops
  • Location: Melbourne, Victoria
  • Cost: Free

Related: 10 Most Beautiful Parks In Melbourne, Australia

Go Camping In The Outback

Save on pricey hotel costs by camping under the stars

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Transportation and accommodation can be costly in the Outback. Backpackers can avoid these expenses by pitching a tent and immersing themselves in nature
  • Location: Mungo National Park; Flinders Range
  • Cost: Average daily rate for powered campsites is $50

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.

Visit The Australian War Memorial

Commemorate Australia's military history at this free site

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: The Australian War Memorial offers free admission and free tours and is a notable landmark for any traveler's Canberra itinerary, especially if they are a history buff
  • Location: The Australian War Memorial, Canberra
  • Cost: Free

Watch The Southern Lights Dance—for free!

Witness one of nature's most enchanting phenomena completely for free

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.

  • How It Helps Travelers Save Money: Apart from the cost of accommodation, backpackers don't have to pay a penny to watch the Southern Lights.
  • Best Locations to see the Southern Lights: Cockle Creek; Bruny Island; kunanyi / Mt Wellington
  • Cost: Free!

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